One of the objections aimed at homeschoolers is that they can’t possibly be experiencing ‘the real world’, and that their parents aren’t able, without the assistance of professional educators or the traditional classroom, to prepare their children to live in it.
The truth is, the public school is where the disconnect is most obvious. In Real Life 101: How Do We Make Students Aware of the Working World?, Ilana Garon realizes that in her own classroom, kids simply do not know how to connect what they are learning with possible future careers. When discussing whether or not their school resources could support their educational or career goals, the student’s main complaint was that “their core courses were pointless.”
“Really? Which ones are pointless?” I asked.
“All of them,” several kids responded. “When am I ever going to need Shakespeare? Or Geometry?”
“Well, what do you want to be when you grow up?” my patient co-teacher inquired.
“Astronaut,” said two of them, in unison. “Actress,” volunteered a third.
I was incredulous. “You want to be astronauts, and you think you’re not going to need math?” I turned to the actress. “Or English?”
No, they told me. They were certain that most of what they were learning in high school was totally irrelevant to their future career choices. Except for a few kids who muttered “Yo, these naive people are making me tight!” and rolled their eyes, my 10th graders seemed confident in their position.
Apparently the public school classroom is not the magic pill that prepares kids for real life challenges. If students cannot make the connection between mastering mathematical concepts and working for NASA… raise your hand if you want to ride a space shuttle with these kids in charge?
And here I was feeling bad that I had told my kids that most entertainers were as dumb as dog hair. Suddenly I’m OK with that assessment!
The classroom is not, and is never going to be, the most effective or efficient place to teach life skills or help kids correlate course material with real world applications. Real life and the real world are outside of the classroom, and that is where homeschool families live.
This is also an important reminder to homeschoolers not to forget that we have a tremendous opportunity to help our kids prepare for their futures in a way that is authentic and organic. We cannot slack off in coaching our kids to make those connections between information and application. We can’t look longingly at yellow school buses and brick buildings full of children and wonder if our kids are getting the best education.
THEY ARE. But you have to be on guard against discontent and discouragement, and press forward with character building, educational goals, and career objectives. There is no need to speculate about the quality of public education, because in spite of their teacher’s talents and efforts, boatloads of taxpayer funds, new standards and methods and programs, kids are still graduating with no idea if the last 12 years are of any value to them. If they don’t think they are going to need the knowledge they’ve spent all this time acquiring, did they internalize anything?
Our task is clear, and our lifestyle has been chosen. I do not intend to look back, or look around for ‘something better’.
If you have ever wondered if traditionally schooled kids are getting a better education, how did reading the above linked story make you feel?