Of all of the objections I have heard about self-directed homeschooling, this one tops the cake. Apparently, school teaches the exact things needed to learn properly as adults, and when you remove a child from an authority-dictated, subject-by-subject approach to learning, you are setting your child up for failure. I guess I should apologize right now to my stunted children for setting them up for failure… except that I think that objection is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard.
First of all, stop and think for a minute about how you actually learn as an adult. You get to choose what you learn about. You get to choose how much of it you will learn. You get to choose which resources you will use to learn the material. You get to choose how long you will study the material. You get to choose how you will study the material. You get to decide when you’re done with the process. Your job might require that you learn something new, but you chose the job. You can quit your job if the terms of employment are unacceptable to you. Does any of that sound like how kids are taught in school or at home with schoolish approaches to education? Are kids whose classes and curricula are chosen by someone else really being prepared to learn the way they’ll learn as adults?
I respectfully and completely disagree with the assessment that “School teaches exact things needed to properly learn as adults.” That’s what the DOE and the NEA have hoodwinked people into believing. Have you looked at school drop-out rates? At functional illiteracy rates? Have you asked graduates how much of the information that they supposedly learned in school they use, or even remember, as little as a year or two later? The answer I get when I have asked that question over and over again is that adults use very little of what someone else deemed important for them to learn in school and remember even less of what wasn’t important or relevant to them.
How about talking to employers? Are they happy with the quality of prospective employees coming out of school? What I’m hearing is a litany of complaints that graduates cannot write well, do not have the skills necessary to compete in a 21st century job market, and lack the interpersonal skills necessary to cooperate in the business sector. The overwhelming majority of those potential employees are coming out of a system wherein the underlying philosophy of education is that it is something someone else (an authority figure like a teacher or a parent) doles out to you in small doses over many years, whether you are interested in it or not.
On the other hand, if engaging with life and your passions teaches you the exact things you need to properly learn as adults, what happens? Well, I have a 17 year old who recently wrapped up an internship with Congressman Trent Franks’ office and employment with Alex Meluskey’s Senatorial bid campaign, and was recruited for a position with the Americans For Prosperity. The real world skills he’s gaining by forgoing the what we think of as the traditional, brick-and-mortar approach to school have far, far surpassed what he would have learned otherwise. And that is just one example from one of my own kids. There are tons of other stories of highly successful, motivated children who did not receive what we currently think of as a traditional K-12 education.