Miss Musings

A modern miss provides commentary on sociological and psychological issues concerning politics, the media, literature, and everyday observances.

No College Allowed: Shaking up the Education System

With a beginner’s mind, I am heading off to university in the Fall. But how would I feel if I had not been socialized to believe college opens doors? What if you hadn’t either? Would you still have your degree and merely wonder how your fingertips would tingle on a plane ride to Paris or Rome? Would you still have not written your dream novel because you were too busy studying, instead of doing?

 

collegegirl

 

I urge you, my reader, to get hypothetical. It’s dreadfully fun.

Imagine: no college allowed… we just can’t go. Period. No college is allowed because no college truly exists. Suddenly, we sit in a world where after high school, our options are dramatically different.

Since no world can exist without some silly social stigma, imagine that the hot thing to do after high school is to receive technical training. You do not have to be a plumber or an electrician; you can still be a lawyer or an engineer or whatever else your heart desires. After school, you sign up to work directly with a company through a shadowing program, hence you “watch and learn” instead of read, memorize, test, repeat. By emphasizing experiential learning, shadowing, and true “technical education,” perhaps we could skip the fluff and go straight for the main course of learning: hands-on discovery and training.

Some of you may still crave the classical “liberal arts” education. While on-the-job training is more applied and interdisciplinary than the modern collegiate experience, exposure to great literary works and mathematical proofs has great mental merit. Well, after being homeschooled for ten years, I learned that the classical education is easily attainable through individual motivation and inquiry. There are libraries and museums that one could spend the day at and learn more than one would in a lecture hall. That’s the thing about classical education: it’s ubiquitous, and often, free.

Too often in our modern world people do not value technical careers – programmers, security analysts, and other BAS and AS degree level jobs. Yet, if our culture shifted from the high school to college mentality to the high school to job mentality, we would not just have educated people: we’d have a trained society, one of workers who can follow their dreams with freedom directly after high school. We would have members of society who obtain classical education through public centers: libraries, museums, book stores, and community theaters. All in all, our world would have no unemployment and no meaningless memorization. We would have choices in our education system, as we would develop it ourselves.

Let’s take the blindfolds off of our children that have “go to college” written in bold inside; let’s put modern education in the blender and mix it up if we truly want to be interdisciplinary.

February is National Career and Technical Education Month, as proclaimed by Fla. Governor Rick Scott. Photo courtesy of the Public Domain. 

FAQ’s about homeschooling

“So what school do you go to?”

“Oh, I’m homeschooled.”

“Yeah… sorry, I should have sat you down for that one.”

Me on the outside:

This is awkward.

Me on the inside:

As one could imagine, I have faced many curious people during my ten year long homeschooling journey. Some people let the questions occur organically and within the subject of conversation, others choose to get me alone and rapid-fire questions and assumptive remarks at me, as if they want to take me to some anti-homeschooling shelter. I, frankly, am quite burnt out from being screened for a. social anxiety b. loneliness and c. lack of education. To all of you who choose to interview homeschoolers, here are some personal responses to your burning questions #nofilter.

Is homeschooling isolating?

Why, yes, it is isolating in a sense. You learn at home. You are not waiting in line to use the bathroom or eat lunch. You spend plenty of time in your house, listening to music while doing online classes or worksheets from textbooks. It’s an introverts’ haven. Yet, if you are craving the ever-overrated social experiences, you can seek those out literally anywhere. Or you could just go back to school if you can’t handle some alone time doing – you guessed it – school work. 

Do you like being homeschooled?

To be honest, I like it less and less when I am asked these types of questions all the time.

Joking (sort of) aside, homeschooling has been fine. Public school would have been just as fine, but it was not what I chose to do. Homeschooling is always a choice, not something people are forced into. It is a way of life, like waking up early or late, or choosing work before play.

Why did you start homeschooling?

Ah, the commonplace question home, private, and public schoolers alike ask. To this day I am still unsure of how to answer this question. The easiest way to do so is through an illustration: homeschooling has evolved over many years, and people’s opinions of it have evolved in tandem. I entered homeschooling right in the thick of high intolerance for unorthodox education. My sister wanted to take Algebra I in early middle school, and was told she could not advance to that level unless she wanted to walk to a high school alone during a school day. Talk about isolating! My mom was outraged that her academically-gifted child could not advance herself in math, and was able to foresee me being a similar situation. Now, it is the standard to be a year ahead in math in public school, and plenty of students take online math classes to get ahead. These opportunities were not available at the time my sister and I were considering homeschooling, so we just took a chance and dove into a strange new world. We voyaged through Shakespeare, math, science, and more at home. We joined co-ops, went to local homeschool meetups, and tried to look as publicly acceptable as possible. I am still not sure if all the effort was worth it, and I think we developed just as we would have in public school. Truthfully, we were never skeptical… everyone else was.

Don’t you worry about socialization?

Nope; I’ve got other issues to think about. I also find it ironic people ask me this long after we have had great conversations and really hit it off. It is as if they only started doubting my conversational and social abilities once they found out I was homeschooled… ha! Oh wait…

What do you do for school exactly?

I am fairly lax in the times I do my schooling, but I contribute many hours of my day to learning. No one forces me to, I simply love doing schoolwork (yep, I am THAT kid). I enjoy figuring out new things, writing essays, developing my thought process, and solving problems. When I am not doing actual “schoolwork” I am researching things, writing stories and poetry, watching TED talks, doing brainteasers, and reading the news. Information is out there, everyone, and I love to grab hold of it.

Do you have… you know… friends?

I have as many friends as I need. Not everyone you smile at at school is your friend, you know. But yes, I’m fueled up in the friend department (and this question tends to make people feel awfully inadequate in their search for friendships, BTW).

Are all homeschoolers alike?

Absolutely not. Homeschoolers range in ages, creativity, logic and reasoning ability, race, religion, gender, ideas, talents, exposure to people, critical thinking skills, public speaking strengths, interests, and more. Sounds a lot like public and private school, eh?

Remember, if you still feel the need to ask a homeschooler questions, do not feel discouraged to do so. There is nothing wrong with curiosity! Just note that the frequency of your question may be so high that the person’s patience for that question may be next to non-existent. Also note that judging a homeschooler’s xyz abilities JUST because he or she is homeschooled is quite distasteful. We certainly respect all forms of schooling, knowing that we are in the minority, which promotes tolerance of all types of people in the homeschooled community. We want you to learn, if that is the sole intent of questioning, but not at the expense of common courtesy. Sensitivity and some social awareness are necessary prerequisites to jumping into a grill fest. Tread softly!

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Have questions or comments about homeschooling? Leave them in a comment below!

What it’s really like being homeschooled

We are hiding... our awesomeness.

We are hiding… our awesomeness. Image Source: http://singaporehomeschooling.com/

 

“You’re homeschooled? Oh… cool… yeah… so, don’t you worry about socialization?”

Oh, don’t I ever! I go to the movies with my friends on weekday mornings, shop at Target at 8AM, and go to parties and dances on the weekends. Sometimes I worry I socialize too much… wait, that’s not what you meant?

According to a quick poll among my fellow homeschooled friends, this is one of the most common comments we receive after outing ourselves as homeschooled to our peers. People frequently assume that because we are not sitting in a classroom for seven hours a day, breathing the air of our fellow teens, that we can’t hack it in the real world, which is obviously a social one. I mean, why else would teenagers be texting each other all the time and stammering when they talk to their own parents? It’s a social world, and we are simply sitting ducks with our impeccable communication skills and unique insights carefully honed during our time learning outside of the classroom.

Speaking of not learning in classrooms, it is only natural to assume that homeschoolers are not “well educated.” We are not educated like everyone else, so there has to be something fundamentally flawed with how we learn. Right? Right??? Perhaps I should just let my SAT scores and plethora of Jane Austen quotes do the talking, but I will elaborate instead. Homeschoolers learn three-dimensionally. We communicate with adults more frequently than our colleagues, so we tend to have more mature grasps on worldly issues spurred by such conversations. For example, while some of my public schooled peers were chattering on about Twilight, I was seeking just one kid who could talk about the fiscal cliff with me in as great depth as my father could. As a homeschooler I also took accredited classes online and read myriad books on topics ranging from Japanese culture to holocaust and genocide studies. While I took the classes to put toward my credibility as a student, the other things I learned, yes, for fun. I know I am not the only homeschooler who feels so alienated by ignoramuses that I take it upon myself to constantly be outperforming my public schooled peers. This is merely an obligation I feel for my fellow unorthodox students. In short, homeschoolers feel pressure to prove themselves as smart in order to avoid people questioning their intelligence; reading between the lines, this may mean that we are in fact more educated than some of our colleagues because we have to prove our abilities, not just skate by on general education.

Not all reactions to being homeschooled are negative. Some of my friends have heard remarks like “wow, you’re so lucky!” and “that means you get to sleep in, right?” Both of these statements still come from a place of ignorance, but they are a little less hurtful than comments like “so do you live on a farm?” and “I would miss socializing too much.” Yet I must say, the worst comments are the ones not even said at all – the glares, the stares, the looks of utmost horror, and of course, the newfound disinterest in befriending such a “weird” kid.

Since I have been homeschooled for ten years, I have faced all of these reactions after telling people that I am homeschooled. Admittedly, I was ashamed to admit my homeschooled status, because as soon as I would be getting along with people my age, once I outed my education situation, I was suddenly:

  • Living on a farm
  • Uneducated
  • Socially awkward
  • And totally friendless

 

All of these things are far from true, yet it is hard not to feel like you’re trapped in a “homeschooled closet” when everyone has the same opinions of you based on how you have chosen to be educated. People fail to realize that homeschoolers come from diverse backgrounds. I cannot even count how many times I have asked kids “why did you start homeschooling?” because I know that every story is different. People homeschool because they have learning disabilities, have high aptitudes, felt slowed down by traditional education, wanted more time to pursue the arts or sports, were bullied, or simply liked to learn a little bit differently.

In the end, we homeschoolers are just kids and teens trying to make it through puberty. We have to seek out friendships and work hard to show people that we are “just like everyone else,” and yet completely different in our own special ways. Some of us dual enroll at colleges, others take classes online, and others just stick to the books. Few of us live on farms. All of us have friends. Finally, we are all just students, even if we aren’t initially treated as such – but some of us may have published books or ridden rollercoasters all day on a Tuesday.

If you haven’t talked to a homeschooler yet, I highly recommend you give it a try; you will be surprised, and most likely, delighted.

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