Yesterday I went to an orientation event for a local home school ‘network.’ This is a school, organized by a mom several years ago, which offers classes, outings, and social events for children who are home schooled. The mom spoke about her two disparate children: a daughter who learned to read at 2 and a half and graduated from college at 22 with four degrees (including a law degree,) and a son who didn’t read until the ripe old age of ten. Probably neither of her children would have thrived in a traditional school setting, but they are both well-adjusted, successful individuals today. I found her story very intriguing and also encouraging.
The seminar was held at a local church, in an informal setting. The speaker addressed many questions from the audience. I am very interested in this school, which provides a “bona fide” diploma and transcript for every graduating student, but only because of the teaching opportunities it offers. When the topic for questions finally turned toward the paperwork, I left.
That is not to say I am unconcerned with paperwork. The school takes pride in being very disciplined with record keeping, and they insist on parents attending a two-day seminar regarding school records. This is probably a good thing, given the current policies and regulations our “free” society lives under. For the school, they must comply with federal and state laws, and for the parents, this gives them a sense of security regarding the validity of the school.
But many parents are overly concerned about the paperwork. This is understandable, though, because we are brainwashed to expect a good public education and assume it will lead to even better things. The paperwork proves value! Although now, everyone knows, grade inflation has caused diplomas to be worth, well, not even the paper they are written on. A diploma barely may get you into college, these days. Why is that? Because of the breakdown in our educational system.
This speaks to an entire world/life view. General studies colleges mainly teach how to be a good employee. The most successful people I know did not graduate from college. Think of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson. They are entrepreneurs, people who think out of the box. Like my friends, they are not employees, people who depend on an individual employer, a large corporation, or the government, for a paycheck and a retirement account. College is certainly useful if you want to be a lawyer, a doctor, or an engineer, perhaps, but beyond that, college does little to prepare young students for the real world, except to teach them to seek out a boss, somewhere. That attitude trickles down to the lower schools as well.
Education should be a life-long endeavor. People who stop growing their brains stop using their brains, and then the brain starts to atrophy. If we, as a society, allow the focus to be entirely on college – and then getting a good job – the message is that education stops where real life begins.
Is this too subtle? I don’t think so, but you may disagree. I like the home schooling method, because it brings education into the every day lifestyle. It is no longer “go to school to learn, come home to regrettably do home work, then have the rest of your time unencumbered.” Our school happens full time. It is a way of life. I want my kids to go to college, but only on their own terms, with an end-goal and a plan – not as another step to avoiding reality. How many kids do you know who are still trying to find themselves while spending copious amounts of money to be educated? Then they graduate, but cannot find the job they imagined. How could they? What do they know of real jobs, to conjure up a realistic one, after they’ve been virtually sequestered inside school walls their entire lives?
I am preparing my kids for life-long learning. A diploma won’t speak to that. It’s like a birthday card for a toddler.