The purpose of school is to get kids out of the house so parents don’t need to take care of them. But we can’t talk about school that way because if we did, any school would be good enough. So if you want to market your school, you have to differentiate it by focusing on superficial stuff.

For example, we talk about how much money people spend per pupil, yet we know that spending more money doesn’t mean better learning. And now educators are admitting that their data was theoretical and not real and we actually have no idea what works in schools.

Recently I’ve been reading advertising for schools. And I’m struck by the absurdity of the ads. For example, this bus stop ad that says sending your kid to and from school with homework can become a godly endeavor (even if homework does destroy families.)

And the more I look at how schools advertise themselves, the more I see that differences between schools have little to do with education:

College prep
For parents who don’t take college for granted, thinking it’s hard to get into.

Team leadership opportunities
If your kid can’t make the public high school football team, send him here. We’ll make him team captain.

Values-based school
It’s about religion. And if there’s no hyphen after values, then it’s illiterate religion.

Academically rigorous
We charge parents a premium to make them feel like their money will get their kid into Harvard

Focus on arts and culture
We focus on kids who are failing out of school

Find out if this school is right for your child 
It’s not, because if you have to ask, you are too low an achiever

What each of these messages does is distract us from the kind of education that works: a self-directed education. If you have a kid who learns what he or she wants to learn, then it doesn’t matter what adults are around him.

The marketing messages of schools say the same thing: The adults are here to direct your child’s learning because if you are looking for a school, you must think your kids don’t know how to direct themselves.

 

39 replies
  1. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    I agree with your statement that schools that market themselves as focusing on art & culture are geared towards kids that may be failing out of schools, but is that a bad thing? If there was a school in your area that focused on developing musical talent, like cello & violing playing, would you consider sending your sons there? It may not be just about marketing if the school legitimately works on helping its students develop their individual artistic talents. New Orleans has a public school like that called NOCCA. Several talented & financially-successful artists have graduated from there like Harry Connick, Jr., Marsalis brothers, etc.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m not sure. If it’s still school, then it doesn’t make sense to me. I think about this question a lot. There are some schools where all the kids are auditioning and traveling all the time and it’s not really school – it’s like a place to go when you’re not working as an actor or musician or whatever. I’m not sure. It seems like school to me for parents whose kids really don’t need school but the parents are scared to say they took the kids out of school.

      Penelope

      • Gwen
        Gwen says:

        I went to a school like that. Brooklyn Friends School. There was really cool science stuff going on too, but it was mostly about arts and humanities, and kids had the opportunity to focus down on what they wanted to do while mostly ignoring other subjects. I was the only student in both my Advanced Robotics and Technical Theatre classes – not I was the only kid who overlapped, but each of those classes had ONE pupil, and that was me. And I was also the Stage Manager for almost all of the school’s productions. Meanwhile my math genius friend who got kicked out of Stuyvesant for lack of focus got sent across the street to the polytechnic for math classes and mostly ignored his other classes while teaching himself to code, and so on. We were the private school in NYC for the kids who got kicked out of the other private schools in NYC. (Although I was there because I was one of the school’s two actual Quakers.)

        And from that experience, I think you have it right on the nose when you say this: “It seems like school to me for parents whose kids really don’t need school but the parents are scared to say they took the kids out of school.”

        YES. Most of us were focusing on what we wanted to anyway. Most of those kids would have been great at homeschool. But we had driven New York City parents who bragged to each other about our extracurriculars, so it was out of the question. We needed perfect SAT scores, AP classes, and a perfect spread of “reach schools” to “safe schools” with half a dozen entrance essays, and so on. Bah, humbug.

  2. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    Sorry for any typos. I’m on my cell phone & it is hard to type on my tiny screen. Time for an upgrade! I forgot to mention that students have to audition to get into NOCCA, so maybe that is the difference in the type of arts & cultural school you were referring to (one that has general admissions).

  3. Andrew
    Andrew says:

    How important is shutting off tv and Internet to “self-directed” learning? Or is binging on Minecraft or YouTube videos good enough? I think the drugs that our entertainment industry creates are so well designed/engineered that any 14 year old (aside from driven/obsessive types) can’t help but be sucked in if they were allowed to define their own daily agenda…

    • Jessica
      Jessica says:

      Yeah. I went to a Sudbury school to check it out. Every single child was siting in front of a screen, all day. The ‘teachers/guides’ were sitting there right along with them in the morning then again in the afternoon. Some we’re playing mine craft, some we’re watching Disney shows. The ‘teachers’ we’re pursuing their own online endeavors. I asked how my son would pursue his interests further, such as science, and they brought him a science book from an unused corner of the room. He’s six. I asked how would they help him find answers to questions and it was always about getting online to ‘look’ something up. That’s it. If he wanted to say go on a field trip to a museum or do an experiment he would have to have the know-how to bring it up in a meeting and then get other students to vote in favor of said activity. At 6.

      There was an 8 year old in the program. I had a chance to talk to his parents. He was pulled out of public school because he was getting in trouble for talking back to the teacher. He was extremely bright and wasn’t being challenged, so to speak. So they enrolled him on this Sudbury school. They told me all he does is play mine craft. All day at Sudbury then all night at home. At 8. Everyday. Each day I visited I witnessed this. I also witnessed him talking about physics in a manner that flew completely over my head. His mom had little kids at home, she obviously doesn’t have the time to help him pursue things during the day. There aren’t many options I suppose, but sitting there for hours really seemed like a waste, maybe it’s not. But I’m not sure what that’s encouraging in terms of development.

      It just seems like so much more could encourage the kids in those settings, like a place where teachers or guides really help kids dive into whatever interests them rather than just backing off and saying it’s 100% the kids choice to pursue every amount of knowledge on their own in a democratic (popular vote) environment, which is ridiculous when the kids individual learning becomes restrained by exactly that- the restrictive environment.

      • Gretchen
        Gretchen says:

        Homeschool might work…and it might not…but this idea of letting kids do whatever they want all day is nuts. My kid’s pretty cool. She does interesting things and she will spend maybe 20 percent of her free time, if left to her own devices doing “educational” things…but she would also watch a lot of TV and play a lot of video games…also OK to do, but not in lieu of learning math, science, etc…and, you don’t know what you don’t know…

        • Gretchen
          Gretchen says:

          Also, I would think, even letting a kid self-direct their learning, they might need to be some “forced” or being compelled to finish things. I am envisioning a scenario where my kid would want to build a doghouse or a treehouse or something…self-directed, her idea…would be a great learning experience. So we research the plans, buy the materials, measure, cut, construct…lots of math, engineering etc…but my bet is she would fade before it was every finished if left solely to her own will. So in order for it to be worthwhile I’d still have to push her to keep working on it and finish (to be clear, she’s only 6, not 10, or 12…so I don’t think it’s a poor reflection on her that she might not have the attention span to follow through on a project like this without someone pushing…)

        • Kim
          Kim says:

          Having a taste for things, “academic” comes organically, not from institutional force, i.e. school. Imagine if someone forced you to eat creme brulee every day and set all of this superfluous rules and structures around you eating it? No matter how good creme brulee was, you would develop a serious aversion to it. That’s how education works, too. Kids are forced, by the school system, to believe that academia is this structured, graded, tested formula that has to work a certain way, no matter what. So it’s not a surprise that kids are always looking for a break from it. School children don’t
          “love” learning because the interest is cultivated by force, simply to satisfy the whims and desires of the system and those employed by it.

      • Matthew
        Matthew says:

        Jessica: I work at the Hudson Valley Sudbury School. I identify my particular school because, first of all, “Sudbury Schools” is a loose and informal designation; there is no formal relationship between schools. Of course, most schools which call themselves “Sudbury” have fundamental commonalities, but each school is also different. I’d be curious to know which school you visited, where staff apparently spend their time surfing the internet. That certainly doesn’t happen at our school.

        So please allow me to respond to some of the concerns you raised from my perspective as a staff at HVSS:

        1. When a student wants help in pursuing at interest, like your son’s interest in science, staff are available to help in myriad ways. Books and the internet do tend to be helpful for gathering information, but we’re also available to help think things through, teach analytic methods, etc. We bring in outside instructors when we reach our own limits. Students can take on internships or apprenticeships outside of school if they want to, and again the staff is available to help the, arrange that (it doesn’t happen much, in my experience though).

        2. If a student such as your six year old son wanted to take that field trip to the ____________, he certainly doesn’t “have the know-how to bring it up in a meeting and then get other students to vote in favor of said activity.” He does have to ask – either a staff or another student – for help navigating the system, but such help will – again – be happily and skillfully given, right through to completion. The School Meeting will approve the trip – that’s almost a guarantee; the only instance I can think of in which a trip would not be approved would be if it would take too much school resources to make it happen (say, horseback riding – that would have to be on the parents’ tab).

        3. Finally, you also worry that sitting around playing Mine Craft all day is a waste of time, especially for a student who is, say, a whiz at physics. First, there’s lots of good evidence to show that Mine Craft can have enormous benefits for its users. Second, doing something in an extreme, unbalanced way can a. cultivate focus; b. build particular skills quickly; c. offer great joy; d. allow one to “get it out of his system,” e. allow one to learn at an early age lessons about “wasting time” and “time management.” Besides all that, think of the underlying message kids at Sudbury (and I am sure many unschooling kids) get from their parents and the staff at the school: *we trust you to make the best decisions about what to do with your time. We believe in you.* It’s true that often kids do not choose to do the things we might choose to do (or choose for them), but if the alternative is entering the tangled and thorny forest of coercion and all the implications of reward and punishment, I’ll bet on the kids.

    • Karen
      Karen says:

      My kids do their share of binging on Minecraft and YouTube videos. Boredom does eventually set in and they actively seek out other things to do. As Penelope has asserted before, the real challenge for parents attempting self-directed learning is being OK with how your kids choose to spend their time and trusting them to make good choices for themselves. You never know what will prove to be useful – the YouTube video watcher of today may be the kick-ass movie director of tomorrow. Putting limits on favoured activities only increases the obsession and creates resentments; at least that’s how it’s worked out in my house.

    • mh
      mh says:

      Andrew,

      I think you underestimate people.

      I get what you’re saying — if you release children from their current schooling environment, a LOT of what they initially choose to do is going to look like goofing off. Because they have been taught (by school) to be compliant and uncurious and uninterested in the world around them.

      But humans are by nature wildly curious and creative. Imagine what innovations there would be if 20% of Americans weren’t bored 5 days a week, 200 days a year.

      • Gretchen
        Gretchen says:

        “…they have been taught (by school) to be compliant and uncurious and uninterested in the world around them…”

        “But humans are by nature wildly curious and creative…”

        I don’t know that that’s true. I think some humans are but the vast majority and just drones who want to be fed and comfortable. Nice people probably but I just don’t see this curiosity and creativity exploding out from people… is that all to be blamed on school. For millennia people were just workingstiffs, serfs, slaves…why would we be so much better now?…creative brilliance isn’t really all that common…

          • Andrew
            Andrew says:

            I’ve read this stuff. I’d like to conduct the same basic experiment but with a twist: drop iPads with all sorts of educational content loaded – no instructions. And an Xbox1 with ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and a 50″ flat screen. Let’s see how much learning about neuroscience happens…

        • Jayson
          Jayson says:

          I’d agree with the phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I’d hazard quite a few other things rank higher than boredom.

        • Penelope Trunk
          Penelope Trunk says:

          Wow. Gretchen, this is so incredibly cynical I’m just shocked. Really. It’s so insulting to people to say that they are not naturally curious. To me it’s the biggest insult possible.

          We each have something we are curious about. It may be people, it may be ideas, it may be nature. When a person looks dull and uninterested it’s because they don’t have a way to express their curiosity. I really believe this.

          I believe we are all good people. Born with curious minds and open hearts and it’s the job of each person to help encourage this spirit in ourselves and people around us.

          I wonder: maybe you have to fundamentally believe in the value of each person’s mind and heart in order to homeschool. Otherwise you couldn’t trust them to be curious and interested.

          Penelope

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            I’m not attaching curiosity or creativity to “goodness”…when you say…”I believe we are all good people…” That may be true, whatever that means…”good people”…but someone can be lazy and uninquisitive and also “good”…as in, not immoral…or…deserving of basic care and respect. Doesn’t mean letting children do whatever they please all day is the best way to equip them for life.

          • Violet
            Violet says:

            Finally, I see this fundamental belief that everybody has curious mind in writing.

            I find this belief very strange coming from a third world country. There were many who kind of “unschooled” since their rich landlord parents thought sending their precious sons to far-off boarding schools is too risky and really not worth much.
            We are not talking lack of opportunity for poor people here, but rich people with access to any item they want. How many were curious or interested? Surprisingly, not many. This was easier to see since they had many children, half-dozen a family at least. One or two among those would be curious enough to learn something, whether it is agriculture, politics, lives of other people, accounting, fashion or at least interested enough to carry out romantic affairs.
            There are a number of other lives spent being a rich landlord with comfortable number of servants attending their every need and doing nothing else. They regretted at 50-60 years of age that they lack fundamental skills to survive independently after most of their wealth was lost (- not surprisingly).

            This is especially true for some of the girls. They grew up to be such disinterested women that they don’t even know how to read “numbers” (their children had to draw a sketch of the number pad and make a picture book of order of buttons to press so that the person can dial the correct phone number).

            It is so amazing to me to continue to believe that every unschooled kid would learn to read, write and have number sense, when I know real-life examples of many people who couldn’t read, write or count beyond their fingers despite living among a general civilization with newspapers, magazines, TV, elaborate religious texts, and movies. That is putting too much store on internal motivation to do something hard when life is so easy.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            Rachel, I am all Alfie Kohn, attachment parenting and all that…I understand the pitfalls of coercion, rewards, punishment..IN THE HOME and in relationships, but unfortunately, that’s not the way the rest of the world works, so my personal take on it is that we must have one foot in each and a kid needs to learn how to navigate the BS side, too… I think it does them a disservice not to. I comment because the blog is interesting to me and I think some dissent is important, otherwise these things are just boring self-validating love fests…but I won’t comment too much on every single topic…

          • Rachel
            Rachel says:

            Gretchen, I guess that is where we disagree. I believe that a psychologically healthy individual is best prepared to handle any problems they encounter in life, and raising children in psychologically healthy environments is the best chance I have of helping them become such. I scratch my head when I hear people say I’m doing a disservice to my children by not exposing them to hurtful things (like the coercion, rewards and punishments that are inevitable in the school system), since life is full of hurtful things. I go back to my original point: my goal as a parent is to build a relationship based on trust and love with my child and to help them do the same with as many other people as they can. Of course they will interact with others in the process that do not love or trust them, which to me is healthy as long as that is the exception. School would make those things seem normal, so for us it’s out.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            Sorry, it’s hard for me to tell which “Reply” to hit in order to track the reply in the right spot. Maybe “doing a disservice” is too strong of a phrase…and I wouldn’t say that for *home* schooling, though I might say that for *un*schooling…which, to me, is preposterous! I don’t think that “coercion, rewards and punishment” in the context of business and capitalist society are necessarily harmful or bad or evil, if kept in context and in balance. I believe in a separation between personal and public relationships and home/work life…

          • Rachel J.
            Rachel J. says:

            Thanks for the belly laugh, Matthew. I also appreciated that last paragraph of your earlier comment:

            “sides all that, think of the underlying message kids at Sudbury (and I am sure many unschooling kids) get from their parents and the staff at the school: *we trust you to make the best decisions about what to do with your time. We believe in you.* It’s true that often kids do not choose to do the things we might choose to do (or choose for them), but if the alternative is entering the tangled and thorny forest of coercion and all the implications of reward and punishment, I’ll bet on the kids.”

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            This is all such idealistic nonsense. So many think your kids are uber talented snowflakes. So unique. People don’t pay you to do what you want to do, they pay you to do what THEY want (or need) you to do. There are only so many entrepreneurial ideas/jobs out there…only so much space for freelancers…and then, even if you are, you will also have to do what your CLIENTS and STAKEHOLDERS want you to do. There’s a balance to be had with educating kids.

          • Rachel
            Rachel says:

            Gretchen, sometimes you sound awful troll-like. But, giving you the benefit of the doubt that you are not just here because you enjoy the thrill of insulting someone’s carefully chosen philosophy then this is how I would explain why I agree with Matthew and not you.

            It’s because blogs like this one started me down the road of “What if kids are like me?” If they are, then whether or not they want to freelance for a living is irrelevant. I personally do not like a balance of being beholden to people who think that coercion, rewards, and punishments are necessary to “educate me”. In fact, when I sense that someone wants to “educate me” I start to feel resistent. But when someone is curious about me and my experiences and my interests and they want to learn *with* me, they want to see my world as much as they want to share theirs with me, that is when I feel open instead of defensive. It’s the people in my life who trust me and believe in me and tell me like Matthew said, that even if they would choose differently for me than I do, they’ll stay with me the whole way. That they believe my journey has purpose and hope. These are the people that make me better, that I feel liberated to admit my weaknesses to, and to ask for help from.

            That’s why I unschool. I want my children to grow up surrounded by people who promise to support and love them and that tell them the rest is up to them. Worrying what my children will do for a living is so far down on my list. I am committed to focus my time and efforts on building a relationship with my children where they feel connected and loved, and where they feel capable of giving that to others. If I can offer them an environment that invites this kind of an education, then I will happily weather anyone calling my thoughts “idealistic nonsense”. We’ll be fine.

        • Rachel
          Rachel says:

          Gretchen, I guess my point is that I agree that of course children will encounter plenty of systems of rewards/puishments in adult life, which I’m fine with also. I just don’t see how purposefully signing them up for that as children will help them to navigate it as adults. And, whenever people throw around words like preposterous when speaking of unschooling, I wonder if it’s just a miscommunication? I really like the line from the Thomas Jefferson Education people, “Inspire, not require.” I think the word unschooling might make people think that the parents instead have the philosophy, “Ignore, not require.” When I use the term “Interest-led learning” everyone seems to feel a lot more comfortable. I’m sure some people unschool so they can ignore their kids but honestly, sending them to school seems like a lot easier of a way to accomplish that, so my guess is it’s pretty uncommon.

        • Kim
          Kim says:

          I think you answered your own question. Obviously, you wouldn’t see people many creative people because they’ve been conditioned that way. Also, creativity doesn’t just come in the form of painting a picture. It could mean finding ways to get food like many of the serfs and slaves had to back then. I’d even argue that the average teenager wouldn’t have the creativity to know how to survive under harsh conditions because rather than be trained to work with their environment and adapt, they’ve been locked up in school all day doing worksheets. What average school student knows how to grow their own food, if they needed to survive?

  4. sadya
    sadya says:

    Penelope what do you make of the shootings in schools, there have more incidents since Newton. Do parents end up blaming schools ?

  5. mh
    mh says:

    Penelope,

    I don’t agree with your interpretation of that photo.

    That photo looked like an advertising for a back-to-school religious service, to “bless” the backpacks. Students, parents, teachers getting together and praying for a good start to the school year, that sort of idea.

    But I agree that school marketing is ridiculous. “New and Improved Compulsory School!”

    In November, our city voted down a tax increase “for the schools” for the SECOND YEAR IN A ROW, and the wailing and lamentations have not yet stopped. We recently received a 6-page, 4-color glossy mailer from the district superintendent scolding the public for making such an uninformed decision. Shame on us.

    Because our district is “A” rated with small class sizes. Gotcha.

  6. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    Penelope that photo is hilarious!!! It’s a backpack explosion! It’s a backpack party… I wonder how many parents rolled their eyes at that one. Thanks for the weekend post!!

    Here is what my title for this post would be: You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

    Ok, full disclosure here for those who are wondering. My oldest daughter did three months of private school before I chose to homeschool, and we had a pretty decent experience (minus getting sick every three weeks). Here is what is on the page of the private, non religious day school my kid went to: Challenging, engaging, caring, small classes, high expectations, character, camaraderie.

    I was essentially paying big bucks for the same education I could get from the public schools because we have excellent school options here.

    Where my family lives there is ZERO diversity in our public school district. Diversity here is a few kids riding their skateboards. The public schools where my kids could go have ZERO kids eligible for the free or reduced cost lunch program. Zero. The average salary for the parents in this district is in the 6 figures. The nannies pick up the kids from school. The typical degrees held are masters degrees and above. It’s no wonder why the API for our district is the highest in the state, but the information is for *some reason* missing from all the ranking websites.

    Here is what they boast: Exemplary academic achievement and physical fitness. Outstanding, well-trained instructional staff, low class sizes, sustained partnerships. They offer a Challenge 21 program designed to be rigorous and relevant.

    The parents donate millions of dollars annually for the district to keep class sizes down to 20, to keep offering art and music programs when other districts cut them, provide docents and amazing afterschool opportunities.

    Am I crazy for not sending my kid to the schools in our district? No.

    I chose to homeschool because my daughters’ needs still couldn’t be accommodated even with all these great things. I also came to realize that I didn’t want to outsource raising my kids to anyone else. I care for and love them more than ANY teacher *ever* could, more than any administrator and I’m more devoted to them than any school district. I offer more field trips, more technology math and science, more music, more art, I can change things out that don’t work without public debate, I can incorporate books and interests that they care about without boring other kids, and I can feed them organic healthy meals all day. They have many different friends that they enjoy spending time with from swim team and our homeschool groups.

    For those who are concerned about self-directed learning, it’s because you are used to someone telling you what to do, how to do it, and when! Then after all that, taking tests just to “make sure” you understand what you learned, and then maybe taking another test just to make sure you understood the test. Starting self directed learning now, at this young age means you don’t need to regulate video games or tv. It means, you aren’t sitting there plying them with worksheets. Education is not *done* to someone. However, it does mean they can watch the discovery channel or pbs documentaries. It does mean they can go look up answers online. It means if they blow through math lessons like I go through tissues you can! You don’t need to wait three weeks to move to the next. If your kid needs help with reading, you can g-o v-e-r-y s-l-o-w taking ALL the time to make sure they get it before being forced to move ahead when they aren’t ready.

    Why do we gather here? Why does Penelope have a separete blog dedicated to homeschool? Because, this is an online community of homeschoolers who want to offer solutions and camaraderie for a shared passion; homeschooling our kids.

    To those who can’t homeschool or don’t want to, you are still in the majority, there is no animosity here. And just because I homeschool doesn’t mean that I don’t care about public education. I care more than anyone realizes, I just think it can be so much better than it currently is and that is why I criticize it all the time. But it can’t be changed if people don’t opt out. I encourage people to opt out. You don’t need to have my income or live in my neighborhood, or Penelope’s, or mh’s or Judy’s… anyone can homeschool. We’re just here to support eachother. But we’re also here because we care about others.

    • mh
      mh says:

      YMKAR, you sound like you are in a great district – Wow!

      I have to say, thugh, even if your high level of school options were available to me here, I would still homeschool. What got us to that decision was a personal decision to prioritize family time and travel. So we can take a month off in September or April and do these amazing trips – the Lewis and Clark trail, or the Natchez Trace, or Glacier National Park, or D.C.

      I think of what I would have to give up if I put my kids in school. Forget it.

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        The Lewis and Clark thing is awesome. And I love that last statement, too much for us to give up just to school on someone else’s timetable! That’s just it, all the trips whether for fun or educational are a big deal to us, we get individualized attention at the museums, low crowds at the sites because of our choices! It’s just one of many benefits.

  7. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    I made th above comment on Sudbury.

    I think a lot about Penelope’s- it’s not about school reform it’s about family reform article. Because it’s true. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree yada yada. Ymkas comment illustrates that further- her children will most likely be ok in audlthood regardless of homeschooling (i think in her children’s case it’s an added bonus to their lives) because of said children’s parental background.

    So today, I came across this article about a school in NZ abandoning rules on the playground and, surprise suprise, the children are happier and more engaged.

    As usual I start thinking- well of course! Awesome! Cool! More schools should do that! Why don’t they? What’s taking so long?

    Then I read a comment that, for me, blew my mind. Then it all made sense. Then once again I was left feeling like the US needs not only family reform but societal reform.

    Schools can’t change because we live in fear of being sued. We live in a letigious nation. NZ bans lawsuits of that nature, by having an insurance scheme backed by their government.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      I would agree mostly with what you said except about my oldest daughter, she would be *ok* in public school but her personality would suffer and I’m not going to do that to her. She is a shy, introverted, right brained artist with advanced math skills. She would not be served well in an all day brick and mortar environment.

      This is the other thing, research after research shows that kids learn the best with an individualized, customized approach. In the current model of education this is not sustainable, but we all admit it’s the best, education reformers and advocates say it’s the best. As long as you go with the flow there will never be a reason for schools to change to give our kids *the best way to learn*.

      I agree, our society is too litigious. But if there was a mass exodus from traditional public schools then they would have to create a better system that will attract people back. I have many many many ideas and thoughts on this, but it’s much too long to write in this post.

  8. Kristi L
    Kristi L says:

    Yes! If all the states are being pushed to adopt the Common Core State Standards how would schools have any individualized content? (If they mostly *do*adopt it).
    We tried a charter school for our oldest at first, it was 4 hours in class and the rest of the time homeschooling. But they dictated what, how and for how many hours you had to homeschool. They also had recess once a week. So we tried our local public school, at least they have recess every day, I didn’t realize it amounted to 45 min/day. For kindergarten! My husband spent a full day, and I spent many half days in our son’s classroom and after that we didn’t have the heart to keep sending him back. It wasn’t a place for people to learn, but a place for them to learn how to deal with school.
    You really don’t need a big income to homeschool, we are a family of four living on less than 25k a year. It’s not easy, but it’s better than sending our kids to school.

  9. Jackie
    Jackie says:

    It seems like having kids “self-direct” their education is a rather revolutionary concept. Perhaps schools can find a fine line between having a predetermined program while still allowing creativity and input from the kids? It seems as if “self-directing” is more of a matter of finding out what they are naturally interested or inclined after in terms of learning.

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