In Part One, I addressed the “lazy parent” aspect of this objection to life learning. Up next – I’m setting my kids up to fail. This one just drops my jaw. It’s simply nonsensical.
My children learn the same way we learn as adults; they’re just getting years of practice, with guidance, doing so before they’re 18, on their own, and holy cow! – have the freedom to finally start making their own choices! My children make the same decisions about how to spend their time as we get to as adults. My children have the basically the same freedom and flexibility to discover and explore their interests as we get to as adults. I could go on and on like this, but you get the picture. Since the overwhelming majority of their lives will be spent as adults, I don’t see how allowing them to learn now the same way they will learn as adults is setting my kids up to fail. If anything, I see it as empowering them.
But, the proof is in the pudding, so here goes:
Jarrod has traveled to different parts of the country by himself to take part in various advanced trainings for the US Naval Sea Cadet Corps. He just got back from three days in Michigan, where he attended Hillsdale College’s Liberty and Learning Youth Conference. Jarrod will earn the ranks of Chief Petty Officer (US Naval Sea Cadet Corps) and Eagle Scout (Boy Scouts of America) within the next four months. He interned in Congressman Trent Franks’ Arizona district office for over a year, and is now employed with Alex Meluskey’s Senatorial bid campaign.
Erica just earned her Petty Officer Third Class (US Naval Sea Cadet Corps) stripes. She has twice qualified for a national archery competition. She has devoted hours of her time and energy into teaching herself American Sign Language. Blessed with natural talent in visual arts, Erica has also learned incredible lessons in self-discipline, self-motivation, and attention to detail as she has sought out the resources she needs in order to continue to hone her skills with paintbrushes and pencils.
And Jillian? She’s not too young to get in on this action. This little girl doesn’t let anything get in her way. She has decided that she wants to learn how to read, and by golly, whether she enjoys the lessons or not, she’s fully committed to doing them. Each week during her horseback riding lessons, she’s learning to take responsibility for the care an maintenance of a horse. And, she has a website, Discover Math and Science With Jillian, that would have more on it if I had more time to help her with it.
That isn’t even close to an exhaustive list. Not one of my three kids has the same strengths or weaknesses. Their interests are wildly divergent. They don’t all need the exact same, cookie cutter education – not if they’re going to embrace their passions and succeed beyond their dreams.
I didn’t share this to pat myself on the back or brag about my kids (although, they are pretty awesome). I shared it because the objection that people who approach education like I do are setting their kids up for failure is unfortunately not an uncommon one. It’s also total bunk. Anyone else within the self-directed or unschooling community could make this same post about their kids. The only difference would be the activities and achievements of each child. I’m telling you, these kids do amazing things when they are empowered to make real decisions and chart their own courses.
There are some objections and criticisms of self-directed homeschooling that, while I still don’t agree with them, I can at least understand why someone might think the way that they do.
This is not one of them.
The belief that unschooled kids will be ill-prepared for the real world is so patently absurd that it’s hard to take it seriously. But, take it seriously, I will…and refute it with two simple questions.
What is this “real world” that unschooled kids won’t be prepared for?
It helps if both the critic and the self-directed homeschooler are on the same page as far as definitions go, so the first thing we’ll need to agree on is what this “real world” is. When I hear the term, “real world,” what I envision is the world that adults inhabit. The one where the available information is growing at exponential rates, technology and skills become obsolete at alarmingly rapid paces, and people are free to pick and choose which career paths they will follow and what to learn.
It is exactly that kind of real world that unschooled kids are prepared for because they experience it and live life in it alongside the people who matter to them their entire childhoods.
What do you do, as an adult, to meet the challenges in your “real world” living that you’re lacking the necessary knowledge or skills to handle?
Okay, so in the pre-launch stages of this blog, there was a lot – and I mean a lot – that I didn’t know about building a website, adding e-commerce, building a subscriber list, and managing social media. By the time you get to read this article, there will still be a lot that I don’t know about each of those things! But, I have an end goal in mind that is meaningful to me. And because it is meaningful to me, I am willing to sink hours of my time into learning what I need to know and answering the questions I have, and yes, even plodding through some things that I find excruciatingly boring.
That’s what adults do in the real world to stay on top of things…and unschooled kids spend their entire childhoods doing the exact same thing. I’m not worried about my unschooled kids being unprepared for the real world.