[In this post, I address homeschooling. My definition of it may be unique and shocking to some. I had a particularly negative experience not because homeschooling itself is bad, but because it was used as a medium through which to control my life in a mainly isolated environment. It was spiritually and emotional destructive, and I was NOT taught a legitimate education. There was very poor accountability not just between me and my parents but between my parents and HSLDA and the school I was homeschooled through.
When I throw around the word “homeschool” in this post, the context is relevant when homeschooling is specifically:
– Exclusive of any extra-curriculars or without most subjects taught through outside classes
– A method of preventing children from socializing or experiencing the outside world WITHOUT the intention of easing them into it
– Necessary in order to prevent CPS from knocking at your door
– Recommended by religious leaders who argue that the world is something to be afraid of
I do think that homeschooling through charter schools is a good option. Full-blown HOMEschooling, however, is not, in my opinion, a good idea.]
I’ve been on Pinterest a lot lately, looking up lifehacks and tips for how to study well. I’ve taken a few dance classes before, but this will be my first official semester in college. I’m pretty nervous for it, but I’m also so excited. I’m going to make friends! I’m going to take classes from real live professors and have real live peers. I’ll be taking actual tests! I’ll be sitting in a room taking notes and I’ll be expected to turn in papers and homework assignments.
“How pathetic does she seem,” you might be snickering to yourself, “that she actually wants to take classes and be responsible for homework?” but look dude, I was homeschooled. The only test I ever took was the SAT, which I freaking bombed. The only high school classes I ever took were taught by my friends’ parents, or were peer-taught (which only sort-of worked out). Or–and this was the case most of the time–my mom was my teacher. But that’s basically another way of saying that she picked out my textbooks, wrote up my quarterly reports, graded me with a wonky letter system (which made it impossible to formulate even an unofficial GPA), and ultimately made me responsible for my own education.
It’s been a funny observation of mine that it’s treated as such a newsflash to new college students that they’re now responsible to do their homework and make time for studying without accountability. I’ve had to do that myself since I was 12.
I don’t know if I’m complaining here or not. I’m a very independent person, and because of the way I was schooled, I have a pretty reliable work-ethic now which serves me daily. However, my older brother really suffered because of this school-system. He needed more accountability to get his work done, which really wasn’t ideal. It would be him in his room for hours struggling over an essay that he just didn’t get how to write, and once written, it was edited, sent back to him to struggle through all over again, and after my mom was finally satisfied, it was tossed and forgotten. It wasn’t graded. It wasn’t particularly acknowledged.
So don’t take away from this post that homeschooling is The Shit. It wasn’t for my family and it’s typically not in general. But hey, I’m not vouching for the public school system in this situation either. From what I’ve seen, and as my boyfriend put so well, “public schools cater to extroverts and punish introverts.” They can tend to stifle children’s creativity and discourage learning by presenting it as a chore instead of the privilege that it is. Any institution whose priority is to mass-produce one single type of ideal student is inevitably going to cramp the style of those who don’t fit inside the cookie cutter. And when we’re being real, that simply can’t be helped.
Ultimately, I’m not a fan of extremes; in fact, a large quest in my life has become to establish personal moderation, along with practical adjustment to the outside world. Did anyone see Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? It’s a show about a young woman kidnapped and raised in a post-rapture cult who was rescued and returned to the modern world. It is the story of how she readjusts to life as a free person. Sometimes I feel like her, because I too was raised in a cult; only I wasn’t living in an underground dugout. I grew up believing in bullshit well-seasoned with some truth. In a way, readjustment has been harder for me because it’s not all black and white. And it’s complicated.
For instance, in a perfect world, homeschooling might work. Parents would lovingly raise their children with actual truth, and they’d surround them with a legitimate support-system of good friends and involved family. Children would get their work kept in check by responsible adults, and slowly they would be taught how to shoulder their own responsibilities. They would experience a wholesome upbringing that catered to their personal strengths and weaknesses, and made their transition from childhood to adulthood a smooth, practical one. Students wouldn’t be bullied, forced into molds they weren’t meant to fit into, pressured in unhealthy, unhelpful ways, or raised with methods that handicapped their passage into adulthood.
This, however, is reality. Reality can’t promise those things, even with the most well-meaning parents. In my experience, (which may not be absolutely true for all) homeschooling is the territory of typically abusive idealists who won’t accept what today’s world has for them. They attempt to set up an unrealistic, synthetic utopia in which to keep their children “sheltered” and pure for as long as possible. In their ideal world, their children will grow into strong men and women of whatever religion or conviction they stand firm under, and will continue what their parents began by also raising their children inside this utopia, all the while themselves somehow never stepping out of it.
Here’s the problem that I see: people get sick and have to deal with doctors in the outside world. People have to work in the outside world to pay for all the children they have. People travel all over the place, people meet friends with access to the outside world, people grow up and want to explore the outside world. And parents who attempt to sabotage their children’s efforts to peer through the windows into our world cause resentment, and the more severely the parents persist at this, the clearer it will become to their children that something is being hidden. At one time or another, those children will grow up and take a look.
Here’s what they’ll find every time: their utopia is foreign compared to the rest of the world. It’s a culture shock that would overwhelm anyone who knew nothing of it except that one day soon they’d have to fit in to get by, to make financial ends meet, to be anybody. It forces them to answer a detrimental question: which is true–their world, or this one?
Ultimately, the bottom line is always that Homeschool Utopia and Planet Earth cannot co-exist.
I could say so much about my experience with this here. But the point I’m trying to make is mainly that homeschooling can tend to under-prepare children for adulthood. On the other end of the spectrum, public schools can tend to overexpose children to unhealthy and unhappy mediums of living. But ultimately, which one prepares people for real life more? Which one consists of an education relevant to the world they’ll grow into, not out of? Not to be coy or anything, but getting married right out of high school and living in a mommy jumper with a dozen kids and a husband who got a degree in Character for the rest of my life is not ideal.
(What if he loses his job? What kind of job would he get without a degree that could support a dozen kids? Would I be able to get a job to support us?
Who would hire a lady in a jumper anyway?)
There are many reasons why I feel I must go to college, regardless of the fact that my parents don’t support it (for the same reasons that they homeschooled me).
“You’ll be badly influenced and become atheist,” they told me. “And the friends you’ll make with put garbage in your mind.” “The books you’ll need to read in your classes are full of filth and lies.” “IT’S A HUGE WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY.”
Honestly, I’m not really sure how they expect me to get by in the real world without having to deal with most of these issues anyway, degree or no degree. And what about the bigger question here–as an unmarried woman, how will I ever support myself without anything more than a high school diploma (from fucking HomeschoolVille)? I’ll tell you what’s a huge waste of time–flipping burgers for a living as a 40-year-old. But you know what’s a good financial investment? Paying for a degree that will get me a job with which to pay for itself later.
And what, I’m expected to never find myself in a situation where I have to decide whether I think atheism is my thing or if I’m going to stick to my childhood religion? The world is big. Bigger than colleges. People all start off small, but I don’t want to stay small. I want to expose myself to what life can offer, but I can’t do that if I’m too afraid of how poorly my identity and conviction will stand against Outside Influences. Such fear is only a testament to how little faith has actually been placed in my faith–if you can wrap your head around that one.
The same goes for friends. If my parents are so concerned that I’ll be easily swayed into thinking and doing stupid things, I’m certainly flattered that that’s what they think of my intellect, integrity, religion, and self-worth.
As for media becoming a filthy influence in my life… (uhm…I watch Orange is the New Black?) I think I’ll know the bullshit from the nuggets of truth. It’ll be just like sorting through my childhood all over again!
In summary, I’m going to college against my parents will.
And what an experience it will be! This is my chance to get back my education–all of the things I should’ve learned in high school will be repeated and expanded on here. My papers will be read by people who actually know what they’re doing, and I’ll have a chance to take a stab at getting an A in a class. I’ll join real study groups and have the chance to complain to someone else in my class about how killer finals are. Hell, I get to experience what finals are like. I’ve only ever heard of them before.
This is a dream that I’ve made happen. I applied for financial aid myself. I got myself into community college on my own. I went to Freshman Days, I read books on how to navigate school, I got on RateMyProfessor.com and picked out who I wanted to teach me, and I registered for classes. I paid for them with my own bank account. I am going to buy a parking pass and attend my classes and get grades and take finals and get my degree all by myself, no thanks to my parents and their medieval views on life.
Now it sounds like I’m bitter, but I’m not. (Don’t worry, I went to counselling for that already.) This is something that I’m proud of myself for doing. It’s the largest financial and time investment I’ve ever made, and I think it will be one of the most life-changing ones I can make at my age. I managed to figure it out independently (although not without a good share of blood, sweat and tears), and I feel like a better person for it. At this point, I’m happy with the way my life has gone.
You don’t, however, want your kids to be me. I took a year between high school and college just to get my suicidal, dysfunctional, naive, uneducated-as-fuck shit together. Don’t put your children through this by doing them the disservice of homeschooling.*
*Consider charter or private schools. You’ll make the financial investment in them now with a healthy upbringing, or in severe counselling, therapy, or even correctional schools later.