Those interested in the homeschooling movement - and everybody should be interested in the homeschooling movement! - will want to read this interesting post by Alan Jacobs at The American Scene: "Confessions of a Christian Homeschooler".
Jacobs comes across as very reluctant convert, who really wants to remain faithful to the public schools. But a convert he is. Here's a quote:
"Wes is in the ninth grade now and we’re still teaching him at home and working with the co-op. We never imagined that this would happen — we simply knew that he would be in the local public high school this year. But when the time came to make that decision we just couldn’t pull the trigger. He’s in his third year of Latin now — taught by an extremely gifted woman, a superb Latinist with a doctorate in French from Vanderbilt — and the local high school doesn’t offer Latin. Nor do they offer anything resembling the course he’s taking in logic, or one that he’s just picked up: a comparative study of Plato’s Republic and the political philosophy of the American Founders. When we looked at the ninth-grade curriculum at the local high school and compared that with what he’s getting in this makeshift home-made system . . . Well, as I said, we just couldn’t pull the trigger."
I mean, wow. Latin? Logic? Plato's Republic? In the ninth grade? Is this nerd nirvana, or what?
Stuart Buck, in comments, makes some very astute observations, and references another article one ought to read: "Getting students out of the halls and into the classrooms" - an article which perfectly captures my own experience both as a student and as a teacher in the public schools:
"David...leans against my classroom door, his right foot against the doorjamb. ‘'David, in or out?' I again remind him. 'Make a decision.'
"The tardy bell has sounded, and I have asked him twice to take his seat in the English 12 class I try to teach. He doesn’t move. His head turned away from me, he looks into the school hallway as if waiting for — what? — friends? A fight? The 10:15 Metro bus to take him home?
"'David, sit down. Do your warm-up,' I again ask, my voice louder, more insistent. The class quiets down slightly, watching with lukewarm interest, another showdown between David and myself.
"I move toward David, wanting to hurt him for his need for confrontation and attention, wishing in some hidden, unspeakable, unteacher-like part of brain, I had a baseball bat, a pickax or an AK-47.
"I’m telling you this because I think you need to know about David. So much depends on the choice David, and every other American student, will make. In or out? Classroom or hallway?
"A ‘separate tribe,' as author Patricia Hersch describes our youth subculture, rules our schools’ hallways. Hallways are this tribe’s turf, the meeting and greeting ground where young people play out popular fantasies of violence, sexuality, and, especially, consumerism. The hallway rules are easy, the rewards immediate, and the rituals provide culturally approved media roles young people have been fed since birth. In school hallways almost everyone can be ‘'someone,' even, or especially, if that someone is a wannabe thug, pimp, player, roller or top 'dawg.'
"If you were to spend five minutes in my school’s hallways at class change or at the end of day, you would despair for our country’s future. Students screaming obscenities at each other, male students bullying and degrading, in the most graphic and unmistakable ways, female students (and the females usually laughing hysterically at each insult), fights between residents of one neighborhood vs. another, and enough anger to blow up a city block or, for that matter, a city.
"One of my 'better' female students, from Cameroon, Africa, described our hallways as 'opening a sewer, toxic poisons spilling over everyone.' She adds, 'There’s not a day I’m not afraid.'
"Finally, the only thing David can or will bring to our broken world is a defiant attitude of learned helplessness. We’ve taught many (most?) of a generation lessons in consumerism, boredom, violence, apathy, sexuality and fear. But not much else...
"David glances over at me approaching him, puts his baseball cap on backward and walks into the hallway. The entire class laughs and, with some students standing up, applauds."
...And that last is so horribly true. Losers like this are high school heroes. I don't see how anybody can make it through the public schools in America today without sustaining major psychological - or is that spiritual? - damage.