April 2, 2013
Studies on home schooling
This article on home schooling and studies thereof is rather interesting. A few comments:
The author tentatively suggests that perhaps a weakness of home schooling is that it doesn't sufficiently prepare students for the "soul-destroying" regimentation of life outside the home. She specifies two areas where this might be the case--deadlines and pointless (or apparently pointless) rules.
I would say that these are different. On the one hand, if parents are not forcing their children to meet deadlines, that's a problem. They should. I always point this out as a caution to parents who are about to start home schooling: Be sure that your child has projects that he has to turn in by a particular time. You might do a lot more of this in high school than in grade school. That's entirely appropriate. But make sure that he does it. Home schooling needn't mean schooling without any discipline. The same goes for making your students finish tests on time. Force them to learn how to do timed testing, even if this means having them do some standardized testing (or preparation using prep books) when this isn't strictly necessary. It will be good for them.
Pointless or apparently pointless rules are a bit different and do present a conundrum. The dilemma is this: You, as a parent, want to be a good boss, a good ruler. Good bosses or rulers don't make up stupid, counter-productive, or pointless rules just to haze their employees or subjects. (At least, I would argue so.) But in the world your kids will sometimes have to work for people who do demand a kind of mindless conformity. Do you need to pretend to be such a boss in order to prepare your students to work for such a boss?
I could not bring myself to do that, because it would seem to me to be wrong. My entire goal is to be as Solon-like as possible in my interactions with my children, including my interactions with my children as my students. I can't set that aside and deliberately be a jerk or a tyrant for a few days (or weeks, or months) just to teach them to work for jerks or tyrants.
But by the same token, I'm disinclined to say that it would be better for them to be in a school environment where they have to obey rules that I truly think to be poor rules just to "learn to do it."