Monday, April 11, 2011

Some good reasons to go to school

In response to my post, Some Good Reasons Not to Go to School some of the commentors came back with “some good reasons to go to school.”  To give the other side of the argument equal attention, I am posting them here.  With my thoughts embedded.  I look forward to getting more comments on this important conversation.  

Six Reasons to go to school (Jeff Branzburg)*

  1. Most parents need to work – some multiple jobs – to earn a living; homeschooling is not an option.
    • The Innovative Educator:  In home educating families, it is not unusual for parent(s) to work.
  2. Some home situations are untenable – child abuse, lack of food, etc.; school can provide a welcome respite, be a source of support, provide breakfast and lunch, etc.
  3. School can be a place where young people form connections beyond the family with adults who can guide and mentor them
    • The Innovative Educator: Many would argue that the world provides an even better platform then the school, where students are empowered to seek and make connections rather than be stuck all year with connections they have never asked for.  It is important to dispel the myth that home education means you are locked in the home.  For most it means you are free to explore the world with real connections, mentors, and jobs.  
  4. Learning does occur in school, as evidenced by many Nobel laureates who have been educated at and graduated schools
    • The Innovative Educator: I would argue that many of us who have accomplished much have done so despite, not because of, school.  Additionally, my hypothesis is that these said Nobel Laureates didn’t attend traditional public schools where rote memorization, worksheets, standardized tests and regurgitation rule the roost.  
  5. Many important subjects are taught in school, frequently by people with expertise in their fields
    • The Innovative Educator: What is important to you may not be important to me.  School managed to suck the love of learning even out of the subjects I enjoy.  The things I was told I would need to know one day, never materialized.  When I need to know something I learn it.  I do not think back 8, 10, 20 years to a boring class I took in high school.
  6. Spirituality in general is not emphasized
    • The Innovative Educator: Families for whom this is important sometimes have an issue with schools being rigid regarding the religious priorities for their children.  If this is important to a  family, this might be an issue. I am not suggesting the same accommodations for all.  I am suggesting that schools be more accommodating for those who request it.

Ten Reasons to go to school (Anonymous)
The Innovative Educator: I almost feel like a home educator/unschooler wrote this as the reasons below are misinformed and some misconceptions are in need of being dispelled.  
  1. Your child will become socially literate. (I can't tell you how many homeschooled kids I know who can't hack it socially because they were homeschooled.)
    • The Innovative Educator: This is one of the most prevalent myths about home educated students.  It’s as if people think they are locked in a basement away from interaction with others.  They are not.  They are with others of all ages drawn together by interests, passions, love of learning etc.  I am wondering how “anonymous” has found his/herself among so many homeschooled.  My guess is it is a result of perhaps the remote environment in which she lives rather than how the children were raised.
  2. Your child will learn how to deal with people who are different from them. I went to a school where racism and homophobia were prevalent, and I most certainly didn't turn out that way. You have to trust that your kids will take the lessons you've taught them out into the world.
    • The Innovative Educator: This sounds like an oxymoron. In one breath you explain that racism and homophobia are prevalent in school and the next you say you didn’t turn out that way. Regardless, home educated students learn in the world face to face and online.  As opposed to school where you are grouped by date of manufacture by design and clique by choice, you are exposed to those who are different.   If you truly believe that schools consist of those who are different than you, I suggest you read Jonathan Kozal’s Still Separate, Still Unequal: America’s Educational Apartheid.  I see it every day in New York City public schools.  For the most part you find schools segregated by race and class.
  3. Your child learn to respect and understand other people and cultures. It's not a bad thing to learn that everyone else isn't like your family.
    • The Innovative Educator: I’m not sure why you think home educated students who learn in the world and through life would think that.  They don’t.  Unfortunately, students in traditional schools don’t have as many opportunities for this lesson to become a reality as they are mainly surround by those of the same age, race, and as they move into high school same track i.e. AP, honors, regular, remedial.  
  4. Your child will develop a life away from you. I have a great relationship with my Mom, but she has her business and I have mine. You shouldn't raise your kid to be dependent on you. It breeds resentment.
    • The Innovative Educator: I’ve connected with hundreds of home educated students and parents and I haven’t met any who are raising their child to be dependent on them.  To the contrary, they raise their children to be learning independent and indeed extremely entrepreneurial.  
  5. Drugs, violence, rape, sexism, racism, hate crimes, homophobia, religious persecution, depression, and anxiety are EVERYWHERE. It doesn't do your kid any good to ignore them. Learning what all those things are, and what they look like is invaluable- you also learn how to avoid and deal with them.
    • The Innovative Educator: Wait, are you saying that kids should go to school to be exposed to that????  
  6. What, exactly, qualifies as an important subject to learn? Most kids aren't exposed to art or music until they get to school.
    • The Innovative Educator: Really?  I’m not sure where you get this idea, but from what I know and have read, art and music are usually activities pursued outside of school.  
    • In answer to your question, “What qualifies as an important subject to learn?” That’s easy. Expose the child to wonderful things then ask him or her.  
  7. I'm sorry, but a certain amount of creativity does go into academics and study. In fact, the majority of learning isn't really built off of pure intelligence, it's built off of an individuals ability to adapt to learn the material.
    • The Innovative Educator: The majority of learning happens when someone chooses to know something.  I did not learn the way we were taught in school.  I was great at reading. Memorizing. Regurgitation.  This got me good grades, but I the material I took in and spewed back out on the paper never materialized to learning for me. Other students and adults I've discussed this with agree.
  8. Your kid will connect with other kids who share the same interests, from similar backgrounds.
    • The Innovative Educator: Really?  I don’t know many schooled folks who have the opportunity to even explore their own interests much less connect with those who share them.  Half the year is generally taken with test prep these days and the other half is learning predetermined subjects with predetermined teachers with predetermined assignments.  Finding passionate kids ain’t so easy.  
  9. Your kid might become involved in athletics, which encourage personal growth, hard work both in the classroom and on the field, and gee, develop, some kind of passion.
    • The Innovative Educator: Wait?  I feel like this is a lay up.  Home educated kids are able to spend time in deep exploration of athletics and physical activity.  In fact many top athletes leave school so they can deeply pursue their love of the sport...or other passion.  Children in home educating families have a wealth of time to explore the physical activities they love with others who share their interest rather than for an hour on certain days doing the thing they may hate because it happens to be on the schedule for that time of year in the physical ed program.
  10. Passion is acquired through deep focus. It's not something that KIDS need to learn. They should explore, and have fun. Teenagers and young adults should find a specific focus to work towards. You shouldn't convince your kids that there's something really great out there for them that they're meant to do. That's a big fat trap that leads to a "the grass is always greener" mentality where a person doesn't develop a specific focus because they believe there's something better. It's a recipe for misery and a really simplistic viewpoint of a world that's much more complex.
    • The Innovative Educator: Here is where I’m sold this is really a home educating parent trying to make the case against school under the guise of a schooling parent.  We know school is a place where students have little time to focus on their passions.  Instead they’re driven to move by bells that ring all day long and move assembly-line fashion to the next room with no time given for solitude or deep thought.  
    • The Innovative Educator: You shouldn’t convince you’re kids there’s something great meant for them in the world???  Are you kidding?  I hope that isn't the outlook most parents have.  I certainly disagree.  Every person is meant for something great. 
*Note from Jeff Branzburg: My point in this comment is not to say that all should go to school; rather it is to point out the fallacy of some absolute statements such as "Learning does not occur in schools." There is no one right answer for all people; people are all different, and just as re recognize the existence of varying learning styles, various teaching and schooling styles are needed to support these learning styles.

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