My younger son wants to go to school. I won’t let him.

It’s clear to me that he has no ability to understand why school is crushingly terrible. I mean, most adults can’t even see it.

The reinforcement kids get about school is incredible. The ads on TV talk about how important it is for kids to succeed in school. All the sitcoms make school look totally fun because all the plot twists happen there. People ask children what grade they’re in, like your school grade defines something important.

So I decided that there is no way to ask a kid to decide whether to go against all of this and leave school. Some kids love school and some kids hate school. But none of that means that school is better for the kids who love it.

In fact, I think school is worst for the kids who do the best. Because if you get used to being told you are smart and good for learning what someone tells you to learn, then it’s a rude awakening when no one gives you gold stars as a young adult. And it’s a rude awakening when no one tells you what to do as a young adult.

The kids who do have the hardest time transitioning out of school are those who are most successful and comfortable in school.  The worst case is the kids are too scared to leave school. They try the real world, hate all the jobs (who doesn’t hate entry level jobs, anyway?) and they run back to school to get some advanced degree in liberal arts that wastes time and money and gets them no closer to a job.

The other problem with kids who are good at school is that people tell them they are great and they begin to think they can do anything. It’s a trick, really. Teachers tell kids who are easy to deal with that they’ll do great in life because it’s in the teacher’s interest to have well-behaved students. These kids graduate and people have been telling them their whole life that they’ll be great and then they have an internal crisis because they never feel like they are living up to their potential.

Megan McArdle takes on this topic in her book, The Up Side of Down: Why Failing is the Key to Success. She points out that when kids go to school, sail through their classes, and receive praise for being smart, they are learning that “being smart is not about overcoming tough challenges. It’s about finding work easy.” 

I took a picture of this sign at our local Chinese restaurant. In the rural Wisconsin area where I live, going out to dinner is special, and everyone wants food that’s familiar. The Chinese family that owns this restaurant is so smart. It’s the only Chinese restaurant I’ve ever seen that serves fried cheese curds. This is a great example of how you need to be able to solve problems when there is no right or wrong answer. If your kid loves school, your kid loves the idea of solving problems in a world where things are black and white. But no adult lives in that world, not for very long.

 

51 replies
  1. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    Wow, this post resonates so much with my school experience. Until later high school, success in school was the source of my happiness and my identity. Only in college did I realize that school left me with a paralyzing fear of failure. It took me years to connect my chronic procrastination to fear that I couldn’t do something well. So with procrastination, I forced myself to choose to do something perfectly or to not do it at all. I’m 26 and after college, I had to completely rebuild my understanding of learning and success. And it was freeing! Sometimes I wonder how I would have turned out if I hadn’t gone through compulsory public schooling.

  2. karelys
    karelys says:

    oh sad! that kid was me! school wasn’t a good experience in any area besides instilling false confidence that I was so smart and that I was destined to success as long as I hit all the right spots and earned all the points in school (like in a video game).

    Then becoming an adult and having to make decisions like “lean in to work or have a good life with family and friends” was very disorienting to say the least.

    There are ways, I think, of creating a black and white, follow these exact steps to success environment for children who need that. For example, if a kid is mildly interested in golf (my first example because my husband loves golf) then sign her up for all the tournaments in the area and make a workout plan, a meditation plan, and a practice routine and tell her to follow the steps EXACTLY and track the progress. The tournament is test day.

    The difference with this is that if they do really good thanks to their dedication, then they can actually play in bigger leagues and prizes are involved (sometimes silly things like hats – who cares you won! or sometimes big money and sponsorships and being famous).

    Any sort of focused interest group will have that church quality to themselves. You know, like when you go to church and everyone is encouraging and everyone is patting themselves in the back when they are acting as close as possible to the tenets of the church? same as school. Or corporate America. Or any group really that thrives when the behave mind takes place. It sounds negative but it can be really good. Just look at cross-fitters. They get in shape because it’s kind of cultish and the mentality just takes a hold of you.

  3. Cate
    Cate says:

    Interesting. I almost followed that path. I did well in public school, went to private liberal arts college, graduated in total fear (English major) and took the first job that came along. However, the same skills I used to do well in college came in handy at my job. You have to work, even when you don’t want to – and so on. I got tired of this business-oriented job, and was planning to go back for my master’s, mostly because I wanted to live in NYC for a while. But lo and behold, I met my now-husband, stuck around, and landed in the perfect job for me. I think life is too complicated to say that school does not equal the work world. In my experience, work is easier than school, and more fun and creative. Many of the same skills apply, however.

  4. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    At first I thought the photo was a school lunch special because they always have unhealthy food choices for kids. Anyway, I bet the food there tastes great, but it’s so difficult when I’m trying to raise healthy kids and only prepare organic or gluten-free, refined sugar-free foods; and then it’s all shot to hell when we go places where we are required to eat out and there are no vegan options or gluten-free options.

  5. Joanna
    Joanna says:

    If you really believe in child-led learning, then you have to embrace the idea that sometimes your child will head in a direction you don’t like. I forwarded this post to my son, who was homeschooled until he left for college. This was his response:
    ” This annoys me. Right off the bat, the attitude of “my kid doesn’t know what’s best for him, other people don’t know what’s best for him, only I am capable of making that decision for him” sets an awful precedent for that kid’s self-esteem and education as a whole. Yeah, I personally think common school systems are poison to creativity and self-driven learning, but there are plenty of reasons to want to go to school, and this author is opting to push her agenda over listening to what her son wants.

    Any amount of “media propaganda” about school can be counter-balanced with an open dialogue.”

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Um, her son is 8 years old. Sorry, he still needs an adult to help him out with this decision.

      • Rachel
        Rachel says:

        I get your point that her son is probably too young to make this decision for himself, but I agree that the content of the rest of the article reads like no kid, especially one that wants to, should go to school.

        Penelope, is there an age where you would consider letting them “try out” school? I don’t know a lot about unschooling, but I thought a major tenet of the idea was self-directed learning, and if that self-direction leads the kid to want to test a traditional school environment, do you go down that path?

    • Weschool
      Weschool says:

      Joanna, child-led learning is based on interests of the child. It doesn’t mean that the parent no longer exists. I believe that those of us who say no to school, even when the kids say they want to go, are holding up our end of the bargain. It’s called parenting.

      A parent’s job is to know their child and steer them in the right direction. There are some “calls” that parents need to make and school is one of them… Just because a child says they want to go to school doesn’t mean a parent has to send them… That is not parenting.

      • Joanna
        Joanna says:

        Of course, a parent’s guidance is essential! But Penelope didn’t indicate that she provided guidance, she said “I won’t let him go.”
        My point, and that of my son, was that Zehavi’s desire to go to school should be respected and openly discussed so he can begin to learn what goes into making important life decisions. I hope, in truth, that’s what actually happened.

  6. sunship
    sunship says:

    I agree with you that there are a lot of problems with the public school system, and that in many individual cases homeschooling is a better choice. And sure, in many cases children aren’t able to have enough information or context to make real decisions that affect their lives, so the adults around them need to make them.

    But I wonder why you are so uncritical of institutions like the nuclear family and “corporate capitalism”/”wage slavery”/whatever else you’d want to call the current economic system. If anything, you argue that a major failure of school is that it disrupts or fails to meet the needs of these other two institutions. School is pathological, but no less so than these other two institutions in their current forms. The only reason to single out school without considering the problems in the other two is a vulgar (to me) pragmatic argument. (ie. Q: “maybe young adults really SHOULDN’T have to work uninspiring entry level jobs and would do more good to humanity and the cosmos by doing a dissertation on German diplomacy.” A:”Nope, that will never fly in the ‘real world’.”)

    In reality, I suspect that they are three faces of the same problem – how can we preserve and balance the benefits of community and individuality in a massive, complex technological civilization. And we are all working to solve those problems in the individual situations we face. (Which you are doing by homeschooling and creating this blog.)

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Very interesting comment. And I would push this even further… I believe homeschooling will be the main path of education in the future, with computers and online education as the main model; traditional schools will be around for the poor but will be a thing of the past, on it’s tombstone it will read Common School-Industrial Age 1800-20??.

      This should also somehow collapse the current economic model i.e. communism or capitalism what have you, and something new will take its place. Don’t know what that will be, but it has to be something different, something digital. Industrial age education/corporate ideals will go away together, and I’m thinking replaced with technology education/corporate ideals/global ideals. Interested to hear your ideas since you brought it up. :)

      • Linda Lou
        Linda Lou says:

        College and high school public education will collapse first … because there’s no need for daycare, and online instruction will become such a superior learning environment compared to a classroom with 40-1000 students.

        My 15 yo is coming through the system just as the foul Common Core is getting unleashed on his school and just as online early college is becoming widely available with quality. He will go to high school sophomore year for band, PE, French, and sports. For science classes with labs he’ll go to the local university. For everything else he will go to early college online at an elite private school until he is 17 or 18. He might also pick up a bookkeeping certificate along the way.

          • Linda Lou
            Linda Lou says:

            Yes and what’s really ironic is that Common Core is factory model to an extreme. It takes us backwards decades if not centuries. I think it serves no one except Gates, Murdoch, InBloom, Pearson, and the increasingly fascist federal government. ALL of those folks put their own kids in PRIVATE schools or homeschool their kids!

            What’s incredible is how everyone, even the brightest, march along with the status quo. Kids are in K-12, working diligently! Going to elite universities and piling up debt! So few look at the trends and says, oh gee maybe there is a better way to prepare my kid for a very different world they will be entering!

  7. Amy K.
    Amy K. says:

    Penelope, you’ve buried the lede. We already know how you feel about school.

    The real story is that Zehavi is still asking to go to school roughly 6 months after you first posted about this. So, there is a need that isn’t being met.

    What do you think you could do to alleviate his loneliness so that he stops asking to go to school?

    It’s ok that everything isn’t always perfect in homeschooling. We’re starting soon and I for one am eager to hear about the challenges and rough spots.

    • jdhale
      jdhale says:

      I also have a homeschooled daughter who occasionally expresses wishes to go to school, and I calmly state we, as a family, make a different choice. We make a lot of different choices relative to others, and I accept, as a parent, that this is a difficult concept for children.

      My daughter’s interest in school is wholly social. She has no interest in the academic aspect, so it’s not as though I feel her education would be improved in school. Our local school is a 5-minute walk from our home, and we have many friends who attend there — I accept that at times she will want to be with those friends at school. However, sending her there would compromise my values and what we think is important as parents.

      Sending your child to a place where you feel hours upon hours are wasted for the purpose of socializing, in our view, is inefficient. It seems stupid. Our daughter has many friends whom she sees regularly, and socializes appropriately for her age. 35 additional hours per week, just because recess looks fun, is a choice we think is ill-advised. We are not against things like part-time enrollment for individual classes, but full-time school just isn’t an option for our family in our current circumstances.

      Others don’t share this view. That’s fine, that’s who the schools are there for.

  8. Ale
    Ale says:

    Hi, I’ve been following you Penelope since quite a lot of time. I agree with people like you who say that the current school education system is broken, so I don’t want to add nothing more to this point.
    What I think, though, is that there are plenty of other things that can be learned only in a public school, that you can’t teach yourself at home. It is social skills, and this is also something you talk about very often here in your blog. I understand your particular problem with Asperger, but I want to talk more in general. As a parent you can teach everything you think is important for the future of your kids and you can also add your personal experience (that in your case, Penelope, is very valuable). But you can’t teach social skills, and this is something that is tipically learned on your own skin during the public school period of your life. Confronting yourself with your class mates, sometimes fighting with them, approaching new friends during the break, fighting with the teacher and more in general facing all those normal small problems and experiences in a class made of people very different to each other .. well, all these small things are fundamental to create your own personality. More than education, the social experience made in years of public school have a huge impact in building your personality and, as far as I can see with my life, I would they are as important as maths/physics/economics/whatever you can teach by yourself. I’ve met genius (really, genius) during the school and only those ones with high social skills now have a very good job with a high salary and an interesting life.
    Last, but not least, the friendships made during the years of public schools are typically the most important ones of one’s life. We are humans, after all.

    • Zellie
      Zellie says:

      School is not the only place social skills can be learned, and learning social skills are not a reason Zehavi needs to go to school. He’s already great at it.

      Learning how to manage social interactions happens when placed in social situations. We see how others manage, try out our own ways, and if we’re lucky, talk about it to a parent or mentor.

      School provides a place to observe and practice social interaction, yes, but I contend that the models are less than ideal and are largely things to overcome after school age.

      Interactions with mature, rational people outside school develop more useful skills more quickly. There are always different people in the community with whom to practice making friends and dealing with conflict. All better with a foundation of a stable skills.

  9. weschool
    weschool says:

    It’s interesting, Penelope…. Your article is about how school is portrayed as positive in almost all kids’ shows and people act like it’s what defines childhood and how utterly false all of that is (I agree)… and what do you get for responses? All of the people who are just waiting to justify school want to tell you to send him, now, because “….socialization…”.

    Honestly, it’s sad that after all of the amazing posts you’ve shared about homeschooling, most seem to have learned nothing. It’s obvious that your point is not that your son actually wants to go to school… he wants to go to the false idea of school portrayed by society… Good for you for being the parent… if you followed most of these commenters, your home would be filled with every toy and sugar loaded cereal known to man -kind, because all forms of media say they’re “Ggggreat!” and then your kids would want them. .. so, of course, you must give in (not).

    I hope that you are not swayed by these people who were just waiting for the tiniest sign of “discontent” so they could swoop in and declare “… see!? Homeschooling doesn’t work, so let him go to [government – run daycare] so the rest of us can feel redeemed for having done the same…”

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Aw this is sweet! I think she’s pretty much established that traditional school is a baby sitting service and I’m not so sure she’s changed her opinion just yet ;p

    • Amy K.
      Amy K. says:

      I don’t think the answer for Zehavi should go to school, but I am curious as to what a solution for more social time with friends could be.

      We are homeschooling next year, and yes, I do wonder about how my kids will make new friends. So far I’m guessing that any new friends will have to be fellow homeschoolers. Which is great, but they’re few and far between where I live so just finding them is a process. My kids see some nice boys at cub scouts, but haven’t formed outside friendships with them. The other boys already have too many friends from school and too many after-school obligations to have the time.

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        I think for Zehavi, he can never have too many friends, where probably most children are fine with 2-3 really good friends, he wants to know everyone. Probably this is going to happen for him with cello as he becomes more of a player in that arena. For my kids, we really do have tons of options, I would probably drive 16 hours a week places too if I didn’t live so close to what we have available.

  10. Linda
    Linda says:

    My family homeschooled together from second grade through high school. (Most of the time) it was a wonderful experience for all of us. My children always had the option of going to school, even though I hoped they wouldn’t make that choice. They also had been to school for four years, so we could have very real discussions about the pros and cons.

    I agree with all of your criticisms of school, Penelope. However, I think trusting your children to know what and how they want to learn is important–whatever the location and methods. There is a lot to learn from experimenting with a school situation…schools are part of our society, and like the larger community, can hold lessons (both good and bad) about life.

    I have seen, over the years, many homeschool families in power struggles over children wanting to try schools. I think it’s healthier to support children in such experiments–hopefully keeping the parent-child relationship strong and communication open–so, if and when the children are ready to choose differently, they always feel welcome at home.

    Please consider that trusting your child to learn what he needs to know may include allowing him the option to try school.

  11. C T
    C T says:

    It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. Many homeschooling families find great success with having their children in public school for just part of the day or in one-day-per-week school-run enrichment programs. Obviously, the choices for such programs vary widely by state and locality. Colorado happens to have a rich variety of such options.
    We have seen that part-time school attendance satisfies our kids’ wishes for social time and provides them with enough (but not too much) of the “school experience.” They’re going to spend all their lives interacting with people who went to school, and we (mom and dad are both introverts) would like them to be relatively comfortable with such interactions before becoming adults; we view their partial school enrollment as just one more “subject” they are learning to prepare for life.

  12. Kate
    Kate says:

    Obviously homeschooling is a great option for some people, what about the folks who are not even capable of being decent parents, let alone properly educating their children? Or can’t afford to stay home with their kids? Good public schools are essential to the success of our society. If the schools are not good in your community, I would hope that you would band together with like-minded folks and work to make them better. What do you think is going to happen if the public schools fall apart?

    • Weschool
      Weschool says:

      “What do you think is going to happen if the public schools fall apart?”…

      People will be forced to think about their children’s education instead of only thinking about their own career path.

      Parents won’t be able to blame their lack of parenting skills or lack of responsibility on schools, or teachers, or systems.

      Children won’t be the pawns of every ultra-liberal special interest group out there.

      Families will be strengthened because they will be together.

      The list goes on and on and on…. With the best part being that kids will no longer belong to the State, which is the entire reason public schooling started in the first place.

      • Kate
        Kate says:

        I’m not sure what “thinking about their children’s education” is going to do for those people who can’t afford private school and can’t afford to stay home to educate their children (or are incapable of doing that). I guess we can just write them off? Perhaps we should re-imagine public education instead of abandoning it.

        • Linda Lou
          Linda Lou says:

          The public school I reimagine is a one room schoolhouse. It is multi age. Kids are pursuing their own learning and their own interests. They are gathering with friends to learn together in small groups. It is much like a democratic school (in fact there could be several rooms, with freedom of movement). Or perhaps like Acton Academy in Texas.

          It won’t happen, unless or until there is a collapse of the government. There are too many corporations and too many staff with vested interests in keeping everything exactly as it is. This is also why we will not have better treatments for cancer. It’s a huge industry.

          • redrock
            redrock says:

            Far be it from me to actually defend Big-Pharma – but cancer is an incredibly complex disease. What are you suggesting that the companies are keeping from us as an easy and cost effective treatment?

          • Linda Lou
            Linda Lou says:

            Any alternative to cut poison burn is shut down, and practitioners are shut down from even talking about alternatives to cut poison burn. Americans who are interested in alternatives often wind up abroad for treatment.

            There is plenty of info on alternatives online and I’d start with Gerson Therapy.

            Interestingly some electromedical approaches have reversed some cancers. There is one case at thebyway.org that comes to mind, written by an MD. But that is just one mouse….

            The bigger point is anytime you have a massive machine that is highly profitable, it will do everything it can to maintain itself, whether education or medicine. Please do not think that this does not apply to medicine.

          • Penelope Trunk
            Penelope Trunk says:

            Linda, What about the kids who learn kinesthetically? That one-room schoolhouse dream would be just awful for those kids.

            People who learn by doing cannot learn effectively in school. Learning by doing in a self-directed way is too chaotic for a school environment.

            Penelope

          • redrock
            redrock says:

            by no means do I think the medical establishment is infallible – but there are a huge number of hoaxes and false promises out there in the alternative medicine world – the vast majority lives on false assumptions on how the body works. And they are after money as much as big pharma – don’t get me wrong – I do think that there are a lot of good remedies to be found in alternative medicine, but there are many many charlatans. I honestly believe that if there was a great cancer cure in the alternative medicine world – we would know about it. Those I have known who pursued alternative medicine paths in cancer treatment just ended up with misery – and the alternative medicine practitioner blaming the patient – hey, you simply did not recover because you did not follow everything I told you, because you did not think positive enough etc.etc.

            Sorry for taking this blog topic off track Penelope…

      • karelys
        karelys says:

        So daycares came as the result of parents working and needing help with kids right?

        The marketing was that “hey! we’re state licensed so you can trust us!!”

        I think that if schools collapse then the work environment will have to make room for family. Maybe new programs will be born. Maybe some jobs will be more flexible with schedules or telecommuting when appropriate. Maybe some employers will realize that they could save lots of money on overhead if they didn’t have an office but everyone worked from their computers at different locations and met for lunch once a week or once a month.

        • Mary
          Mary says:

          As a business owner, the last thing I would want is my staff working from home with their children running around. As it is, they show up an hour lately routinely regardless of our agreed upon start time, they take weeks off in the summer when their kids have certain competitive events, and it’s clear the kids come first for them. At least when they are at the office, they are working reliably, with only the occasional phone call from home.

          So as much as I love the lifestyle myself of homeschool and home business, the reason I hire people is so someone else is serving clients and I will have the flexibility to hang with my kids or leave the house sometimes. If others want that lifestyle they really need to become entrepreneurs, not employees.

          • Penelope Trunk
            Penelope Trunk says:

            All my employees work from home and half of them homeschool. It’s fine. We all take responsibility for being there for each other. We are a team, all invested in the idea of having fun, engaging jobs and being with our kids.

            I’m not saying that people home with kids work as hard as people at the office ten hours a day. We don’t work as hard at home. But I do think that you can run a company with people working at home. The company just doesn’t go as fast as other types of companies.

            Penelope

  13. Kate
    Kate says:

    And public education is a complex thing, too. The “collapse of the government” is not something to look forward too. We should be working to take it back from the vested interests before it’s too late.

    • redrock
      redrock says:

      you are right – education at all levels should not be seen as a simple black and white one-dimensional endeavour. And predicting the fall of college (and implying that their fall is necessary) and sending kids to benefit from college classes – how does that work out? By the way, it is infinitely more difficult to stay focused in an online class than it is in a classroom class. And it is a lot easier to promote discussion and engagement with in-class students.

      • karelys
        karelys says:

        It is harder for people to focus if their learning style is for the classroom environment. But we don’t have to have either or.

        The people whose learning style is one way could get together and make it happen. At a coffee shop, at a park, at the library, etc.

        The people who learn best at 11 pm, crossed-legged with a laptop…..maybe they can do that too.

        • redrock
          redrock says:

          well, it is more learning in a group with a person teaching/advising/mentoring – does not have to be a classroom. But 95% of my students find online lectures/teaching (even in 10 minute portions) mindnumbing compared to any in-person activity. It is even with all the interactive technology still not the same to take an online class – the student has to be very highly motivated to do it. On the other hand, if you are in a group, and even if you have a rough day, you often get pulled into the conversation and learning mode.

      • Linda
        Linda says:

        When higher ed crashes, we will still have higher ed, but a much smaller % will pursue it and it’s likely many universities will cease to exist as they were designed for another era. Online will certainly go mainsteam – for financial reasons if no other – and the quality will improve substantially. Really higher ed is necessary only for certain professions. Look at the data on debt, dropout rate, and % of graduates who wind up underemployed and I think you may agree where higher ed is headed. My parents are professors BTW so my personal interest is in the status quo.

        I think my son will choose a profession that requires higher ed, perhaps engineering or accounting. I want him also to be certified as a bookkeeper (or other practical skill) and trained in entrepreneurship via internships during his high school years – given the world he’ll be entering. So all eggs are not in the higher ed basket. We will not take on any debt for higher ed so we must be creative – his early college classes will cost only 155/semester credit at a top school and will easily transfer.

        My son doesn’t want to be chained to a desk in high school especially now he’s in a public school with overwhelmed teachers, rather than his private K-8. He loves online learning and he is getting high As in his online class. He can go to an excellent private school online rather than being subjected to Common Core and burned out teachers locally. The classes will count for high school and college credit simultaneously. It will free up his time to do internships and pursue a practical certification such as bookkeeping (and I will happily hire him as my bookkeeper). So for him it’s win win win.

        I’m certainly not looking forward to the collapse of the government or our constitution and it’s impossible to know how it will play out. But I am making preparations as I am able. I expect it in my lifetime. Please consider: peak oil, demographics of aging boomers, inevitable loss of reserve currency status, globalization (elance.com), US debt levels & entitlements, current location of the world’s gold, the fate of every fiat currency, the work ethic of today’s young, extreme “quantitative easing” and other implications of 2008 …. any of those issues, by themselves, have very major implications.

        As for taking the country back from vested interests….those vested interests now include over half of Americans who get a monthly paycheck from the government. Those interests include the likes of Gates, Murdoch, Pearson who took over public and private education throughout our land. Those interests include pharma. Then there is the NSA which allows for a turn key totalitarian state. The train left the station and we are on the ride.

        • redrock
          redrock says:

          I don’t agree on your outlook, but I think this is not the place for an involved political debate. But I do think that education and high quality education is key to the future of humankind – and in that vein I do think higher education is critical. And for more rather then fewer people – and there are many different ways to achieve this and not all of them include the traditional idea of a campus college. In my profession I have followed many students – many on grounds at a university and many who did all their coursework via on-line classes – the latter requires an incredible amount of motivation and perseverance to do succesfully. Availability of a resource does not mean it is the best and picking and choosing a few online courses (even those of high quality) does not mean that you have a superb education which enables you to perform in highly technical jobs. It is not just accumulation of information it is processing of information which is critical and this is honed by communication and intense exchange of ideas and concepts. Yes, there are chatrooms, and facebook and skype – this works well for more structured communication but interestingly does not substitute for the informal conversation about ideas in the hallway. One of the big reasons Yahoo wants people to come to work rather then work in their home office.
          However, you have mentioned the elite on line high school – I would be curious to check it out if you don’t mind sharing the name of the school.

          • Amy
            Amy says:

            I really hated the couple of online classes I had for my tech college accounting program. It felt like a rip off; I wanted in person interaction with instructor and classmates.

            I also hated online 3rd grade my child tried.

        • Penelope Trunk
          Penelope Trunk says:

          Reality check: The type of brain that is a good entrepreneur is a terrible bookkeeper and vice versa. We all have a fantasy that we (and our kids) can be trained in a wide range of skills that don’t overlap. Because then, of course, you have a better insurance policy for employment. But we are only human. Including your son.

          It’s not fair for us to expect an impossible range of skills from ourselves or our kids.

          I recommend that you stop having proscribed dreams for your kid about bookkeeping and entrepreneurship and rather let him discover who he is and what is right for him.

          And, in the meantime, if you think those skills are so important, develop them in yourself — I bet you’ll find out pretty quickly that no brain is interested in both.

          Penelope

  14. Kathy Donchak
    Kathy Donchak says:

    A good friend of mine homeschools her 3 daughters, and also teaches another child with her own.

    Her middle daughter announced that she wanted to carry a lunch box and go to school, so her mom let her. This was for a 2 day a week preschool. Within a month, she missed schooling with her sisters at home, at the barn with the animals, she said he was tired of this school thing.

    They all are now taught at home again, but the girls outside activities seemed to have taken the place of “school friends”.

  15. Kate
    Kate says:

    The dialogue above reinforces my original point. Homeschooling may be a great option for some, but it’s not an option for many. Plus, people have different learning styles and needs, and require different learning environments to thrive. What concerns me is the possibility that those who choose to homeschool will then minimize their support for the education of the children of others. One potential value of public school is that all citizens can get some basic education so that they can be productive members of and participants in a democracy. We can’t survive as a nation without some type of education available (for free) to all.

  16. Kim
    Kim says:

    Kids who are homeschooled usually love the idea of school.

    When my kids used to pass by the local preschool gazing at the colorfully intricate play equipment, they would always ask why they can’t go. As if all they would be doing there is playing happily with other kids who are as nice or emotionally stable as them.

    I didn’t realize until I heard my mother relentlessly argue for school for my kids, that most adults who do so have a very quintessential idea of what school is. They can’t really remember their own experience so they accept the media’s perception of lots of friends who never judge, being actively apart of the generous array of extracurricular activities, loving and devoted teachers who are always more kind and relevant than your parents, and a completely positive socialization experience.

    The Stockholm Syndrome that schoolchildren have toward school will hurt them once they realize that it is nothing like the real world.

  17. Hank
    Hank says:

    This blog gives me a headache. The reader comments are even worse. I feel like I’m on a carnival ride and I want to get off. My head may never recover.

  18. Mrs. W
    Mrs. W says:

    I remember a time when my 3 oldest children all desperately wanted to go to school.
    At some point I realized that their only real impressions of school had come from my sister’s house where they would watch “High School Musical” and other glossy, well dressed movies and TV shows.
    One day I simply dropped the comment that in most schools children do not spontaneously burst into improvised song and dance (my children actually do).
    They were horrified. And suddenly, all their obsession with “going to school” disappeared.
    :)

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