Here’s this week’s photo from the GAP. It’s not my favorite. This one is. But now that my son has convinced me that we should go to the GAP each week after cello, I decided that I’ll document the new outfits. Maybe GAP will sponsor the blog or something. I should email them.
A mother came up to him and said, “Are you taking the day off from school?”
Which really means, “If you’re too sick to go to school you’re too sick to model new clothes at the GAP!”
My son gave the homeschool spiel, of course. And the woman said to me, “Oh, I really admire you!”
People say that to me a lot about homeschooling. But really I feel that if they read the research about education and school reform they would homeschool, too. It’s not even a decision with options. There is no way that educated parents are going to continue sending their kids to school. School is not anything that middle class kids need today.
Parents perceive that homeschooling is a choice to make. I don’t think that’s true. I think that soon parents will feel peer pressure to take their kids out of school. Here’s why:
The growth in the homsechool movement is among the middle class. The top earners of the world can do whatever they want with their kids. They are not looking at school vs. homeschool. They are looking at whether they should have the governess travel with them to Barbados for three weeks. The homeschool movement is largely the purview of the middle class who can see that the rich kids are not going to regular school and that their kids will get stuck on the wrong end of a class-based society if they go to a test-based school.
Educated women are most likely to stay home with kids. We already know that the most educated mothers are the ones who opt-out of the workforce. This is because they know they can afford to, and also they understand the risk-benefit analysis of keeping the kids in school.
Also, though, we know that women who choose to leave a high-paying job to stay home with kids tend to have high self-confidence. This makes sense since the only person who really sees all the woman does is her partner, so she has to make the decision because she is honestly doing what she thinks is best for the kids. The key way to boost a sense of self-worth in our society is to have high achievement at work. You have a to have a high internal sense of self-worth to forgo that path in favor of raising kids.
(Of course it’s a different story if you do not give up a big career. Many women have low self-worth and stay home with kids because they think that’s all they can do. But I’d argue that those women, for the most part, cannot attract a partner who earns enough money to support a stay-at-home spouse.)
The real world increasingly penalizes kids for following the school rules. Colleges are unimpressed with good grades. And colleges reward kids for leaving high school to pursue their passion. The workplace is reticent to hire kids with multiple degrees because it’s unclear if even one degree is necessary. The workplace also gives huge weight to internships and little weight to GPAs, so kids are, in effect, encouraged to spend their college years working rather than studying.
This means that kids who are in school are moving up the ladder that has nothing at the top. Unless you can get into an Ivy League school—which is sort of an intellectual seal of approval—there is no benefit to going through school to get to the top of the ladder.
Most kids have no shot at the Ivy League. But let’s pretend yours do. (Let’s just say you’re not lying to yourself about that.) Why make your kid slog through school just to get that Ivy League seal? If your kid is really so great the kid doesn’t need that seal of approval. The kid’s achievements will speak for themselves. The seal of approval is for people who don’t trust their ability to navigate the adult world.
In the last decade, we have come to terms with how there is no more corporate ladder, and people who try to climb it become gravely disappointed for all their wasted time and energy. The same is true today with the educational ladder. There is nothing at the top. And we are about to have a generation of people who are going to say they refuse to climb. And they will be right.
Today only the underpriviledged people still believe there’s a corporate ladder. Everyone else is taking responsiblity for their own career trajectory. Tomorrow, only the underpriviledged will believe in the educational ladder. Do your kid a favor, and stop the climbing now.