After spending nearly three decades in the corporate world and with no real desire to sell another truckload of widgets, I’ve been looking into the field of education as a means to round out my working days. Maybe it’s an idealistic desire to see if I have the ability to change the world in some small way by influencing young people…or maybe I’ve just about had it up to here with adults who think they know the answer to every damn thing. Since I hold a college degree in education, but never really used it, I thought it might be time to research some career opportunities in the field.
Throughout my research, it seems that there are a few more options for children to become educated than there were thirty years ago. Public and private/religious schools are still widely utilized; however, charter schools, home schooling and now virtual learning have come into play. The number of charter schools seems to be growing at quite a rapid pace and they also seem to offer an adequate alternative for students who, for whatever reasons, don’t function well in their current learning environments.
I’ve also been doing a bit of research on home-schooling and virtual (on-line) schools and I guess this is where I begin to question what it is we’re really trying to accomplish with our young people today. If the objective is to pump as much information into their heads as possible then, yes, perhaps schooling within the home (with or without the aid of on-line learning) might suffice. It just seems that we might be setting up our kids to be “book smart” but also as social misfits who could very well have difficulty carrying on a conversation with anyone but those who are closest to them.
There are certainly some freedoms that go along with the home schooling concept. Educational freedom or the freedom to teach content that jives with what parents feel is most important can be a good thing. Studies show that kids who are home schooled fare as well on standardized tests (or sometimes better) than those children who attend an actual building which houses kids for the day. I suppose much, if not all, of how and what kids learn depends on the individual who is doing the actual teaching and their qualifications to even do the job.
There would also be the freedom of rigid time standards, as the morning rush out the door to get to school on time is no longer an issue. Although both of my kids made it to school on time, with maybe a few exceptions over the years, there were a few days when we had to roll through a few stops signs to make it there without being faced with the stigma of being “tardy”. I now find this interesting, because I don’t think I know even one adult who gets to a meeting or an appointment of any kind on time today. Apparently no one is telling kids that they need to show up on time after they pick up their diplomas.
It’s also said that kids are better rested if they are schooled within the home, as they are not faced with what seem to be earlier and earlier school starting times every year. It’s not unusual to see kids standing outside waiting for a bus on a cold morning while it’s still dark outside…while the parents watch from the window sipping a cup of hot coffee. As for kids being better rested, I know my kids could have slept until noon when they were teenagers and they would still be yawning until the evening hours when their world really came to life.
Lastly, it has been said that kids can be relieved of some of the social pressures that they face while attending school, such as bullying, petty arguments and other such interactions that take place on a routine basis. That may very well be true; however, it might someday come as quite a shock to some kids that they are going to face those same issues once they eventually get out into the “real world”, as adults can exhibit the same nasty behaviors at most any age. Having been punched in the nose a few times when I was a kid, it taught me several things to remember later in life, such as; when to duck, when to swing first and lastly (and most importantly) when to keep my pie hole shut.
I was very fortunate in that my kids were educated in an excellent public school system located in a relatively affluent northern suburb of Chicago. The parents and teachers were actively engaged in the process and the kids were educated in a clean and safe environment. I suppose if my kids were in a dangerous situation in which their safety was compromised on a daily basis, I’d be looking for educational alternatives. I’d also be looking for a way out of that neighborhood.
Perhaps a combination of various learning environments is what’s best for kids. Maybe attending a school where children can be exposed to the elements in life (both good and bad) and where they can take advantage of the knowledge offered by the many fine educators who have devoted their lives to teaching is a good thing. In addition, some additional coursework offered within the home and via the internet can supplement the areas in which parents feel the need to help their children gain a bit of an advantage over the competition. Keeping kids housed in a home-based learning environment, with little exposure to the elements to be faced in life, just seems like a bad idea to me.
I’ve always felt that there are three things people should not do. Barbers shouldn’t cut their own hair, lawyers shouldn’t represent themselves as clients and doctors shouldn’t try to remove their own appendix. I think I’m ready to add parents to the list as being their kids’ full-time teacher.