Logan LaPlante is a homeschooler and he gave a speech at TedX University of Nevada where he talks about the purpose of homeschooling. The first thing I notice about Logan is that he does not have the regular fear that kids have in a roomful of adults. And he has a surprising self-assuredness. These are the hard-t0-define, nonverbal cues that homeschoolers give off to announce they are not part of the school system.
The self-confidence is great, but it begs the question: why? What is the point of giving homeschoolers that extra confidence they have because they live outside of the rigidity of school. What do you use that self-confidence for? In other words, what is the education for that homeschoolers give their kids?
I think there are three ways you can think about education:
1. Education is for getting a good job.
This is my natural tendency, of course. Because as a career coach, most of the people I coach in their 20s are people who don’t know how to find their passions. And they have no idea how to explore the world without specific assignments. My first thought is: homeschool could have prevented these problems.
Homeschool can give kids opportunities to focus on being great at something they are passionate about, and testing the limits of those tendencies, so that by the time a homeschooled person is 20, they have done all the entry level duties that plague their peers, and the homeschooler can move on to the interesting work of creating and leading.
2. Education is good for self-knowledge.
The problem with this view is that then we have a population full of people who think they spent their whole childhood preparing for the business world, so their life is a waste and a failure if they do not go into business.
This is a particularly acute problem for people who were clearly not born to go into business, like an ENFP, who is not only one of the least likely personality types to find solid footing as an adult, but also the most likely to fail out of college and the most likely to be suffocated by the rigidity of both school and work.
But if you tell an ENFP they were born to give meaning to people by growing a family, that frees them from the constraints of workplace expectations. Many of the sixteen types are like ENFPs. I just took an extreme example – someone who is very complicated and needs a lot of time with people focusing on feelings and intuition.
3. Education is for fun.
Because childhood is for fun. I am persuaded heavily by professor of economics, Bryan Caplan, whose book, The Argument for Having More Kids aggregates tremendous amounts of data to show that nature wins out over nurture in a big way. He says that the real thing parents can control is how enjoyable their kids’ childhoods are.
This is the research I remind myself of when I let the kids play video games for half the day and swing over a snow-covered ditch in our forest the other half; I tell myself education is about having fun. Kids are naturally curious and playful, and good education caters to those tendencies. As a kid’s desire for exploration veers more toward intellect and away from play, education will follow them.
A good childhood gives the child what he or she needs. Which is not, of course, sitting at desks and standing in lines and doing what they are told nine months of every twelve.
I wonder what most parents think education is for. You could do a mix of these three, I guess, but I think most people lean heavily toward one of the three. What’s clear to me, though, is that you don’t need a school structure to achieve any of these goals.