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Hello and welcome to my diary on homeschooling. I'm writing this after seeing a picture posted by my (arch-conservative, of course) uncle on Facebook created by a group called "Homeschooling/Unschooling". I'm here to tell you about the trials and tribulations one faces during and after homeschooling.

When asked where I went to high school, I hesitate for a second before responding. To this day, despite being asked this by dozens of people, I've never really felt comfortable discussing it. I've never figured out a way of conveying myself honestly on this subject without turning small talk into either a serious discussion or a dead silence where the other person is undoubtedly thinking, "... Oh." Most people who ask this question don't know me well enough to know that I'm an atheist, so it's likely that many think that I'm some religious whackjob who was indoctrinated by ultra-religious parents into accepting "facts" about evolution or abortion or other subjects popular with the reality-challenged community. Au contraire, mes lecteurs. Hell, I wish I had ANY facts fed to me.

Because, you see, my answer when asked about my high school is often to say this: "I was homeschooled. Sorta. It's complicated."

If you'd care to hear my account, follow me below the thingie. The orange thingie. Yeah, that thingie.

I live in Texas. It's very unfortunate, true. Only in Texas can something like this happen. Well, Texas and the several other homeschooling-friendly states in America. You see, Texas requires no accountability whatsoever to the parents of homeschooled children. You write a letter to the state informing them of your desire to homeschool, and that's that. No truancy officer comes a-knockin'. No social worker checks in. You don't have to submit any curriculum for approval by the state board of education or the local school board. Nothing, nada, rien, and zilch. You just disappear into an educational black hole, at the mercy of whatever your parents choose (or don't choose) to educate you about.

Which is how the most disturbing homeschool programs can be found legal: There's nothing to stop them being illegal. No accountability exists to ensure the child's educational well-being, and so really, anything goes. In my case, "anything goes" meant a program called "unschooling".

Unschooling, in its essence, is the theory that children can educate themselves. I am not trying to pull a fast one on you. People really believe this is true. Unschoolers think that children will not learn unless they are curious about the subject and are willing to take the initiative to learn about it. In unschooling theory, a child might see his father working on a car engine and ask, "Dad, how do car engines work?" Cue the parent instructing the child on the mechanics of revolving crankshafts driven by the explosive reaction of fuel causing a volumetric expansion of air against a piston housed in a cylinder which, through lubricated ball bearing action, turns translational energy into rotational energy. If you're curious, yes, I had this conversation with my very mechanically inclined father, and no, I didn't actually understand it until I went to engineering school and could augment his words with things like "volumetric expansion" and "translational/rotational energy", both of which would cause my high-school-educated father's eyes to glaze over. Not that he's dumb, mind you, it's just that his knowledge of car engines is much less theory-based than I find comfortable, given that his knowledge comes from decades of experience poking around under the hood. But I digress. This is not a diary about car engines.

My father took me out of school after the first few months of 6th grade. The public school in my neck of the woods was shameful and insufficient to meet my needs. (I did mention that I lived in Texas.) I'm not tooting my own horn when I say that I was a bright and curious child, eager to learn but highly discouraged at the snails pace one finds in K-12 education. If I remember correctly, it was my idea to do homeschooling. After begging and pleading and sharing stories about being discouraged from reading (this was true, mind you) and the general incompetence of the teachers and the general cruelty one finds among young children just starting to become pubescent, my father relented, and so the Great Experiment in Homeschooling began.

The original plan was not to do unschooling. En fait, my father wanted to buy me into some decent homeschooling plan that would give me some structure to my learning. Sadly, these things are expensive, and this was circa 2003 when the economy wasn't great for my father's line of work. (He started a dump trucking business in partnership with his ex-wife literally one day before 9/11. There was no money for construction of infrastructure or anything like that while we were busy ensuring the de-construction of Afghanistan and Iraq. Needless to say, it eventually went belly-up.)

The plan was for my mother, talented in English, to teach me reading and writing. My father, deeming himself more apt for mathematics, opted for that route. Without the aforementioned materials, though, my education lagged for around six months. Then my mother died, and my father, busy as he was trying to make ends meet in the Bush economy, had no time. And so the Great Experiment in Homeschooling became the Great Experiment in Unschooling, whereby I was taught nothing by no one.

It wasn't meant to be this way. My father insists that he wanted me to go back for high school. But by that time, my social skills - ever precarious, given my precociousness - had deteriorated to nil. I'd developed a strong agoraphobia which, though much less problematic, plagues me even today. (It is difficult to have social contact with one's peers when you don't go to school.) More begging and pleading ensued in which I decided that I did not want to go to high school under any circumstances. Dad, though he knew it was wrong, relented. Personally, I suspect that my mother's death had affected him in such a way that he just couldn't say no to me any more.

With that in mind, I'd like to invoke the "Home Rule" rule here on DKos and respectfully ask that any comments not include any withering criticisms of my old man. He did the best he could with what he had, and emotional trauma does bad things to people.

In short, for the time that I'd ordinarily have spent in middle school and high school, I had no formal English or mathematics or history or social studies. Given that I had a computer, an internet connection, and a lot of free time on my hands, I spent a lot of time being raised and educated essentially by the internet. My English skills were honed in forums and through the fiction books I'd buy from time to time. History came mostly from Wikipedia. Social studies through the political debates I engaged in frequently online. (Incidentally, you can thank the internet for taking me from my original Christian conservatism to liberal atheism.) If my "education" gave me anything, it's the ability to read, write, and debate extremely well - reading and writing all day has a tendency to do that. I've gotten compliments on my argumentation skills from very many people, even some on the "other side". So there's that, I guess.

Suffice it to say, this continued until I was 17. The plan all along had been for me to go to college. I've known what I wanted to do with my life since before I even left school. Aerospace engineering was where it was at for me. Now, luckily the State Board of Higher Education in Texas doesn't really regulate the universities in this state - the universities expect quality, and so they don't just let in any Tom, Dick, and Harry. Turns out that one needs either a high school diploma or a GED just to apply. So the goal became, "pass the GED".

It wasn't hard. The GED test is a lot like the SAT, except the math part is less abstract and the other four parts mostly just test your ability to read and write. With some mild effort in an algebra book - a subject I'd never studied until that time - I was able to pass the math portion barely and ace the other four parts without sweat. So that obstacle was down. But in retrospect, the math part was disturbingly easy. Any high school student who didn't sleep through algebra could've passed it. (Then again, my opinion of others' math skills is mostly shaped by the engineering students I've met in college, so take that as you will.) But I struggled with it. And here I am, wanting to be an engineering student!

So of course, I didn't even bother to apply to Texas A&M or the University of Texas. I applied at the local community college to get my basics out of the way and catch up on mathematics. I did very well there, but since I didn't take any physics or chemistry or calculus, my application to A&M was rejected. So I spent another year at another community college doing calculus, physics, and chemistry. I did well there, but nothing special. Somehow, after asking a couple professors for letters of recommendation, I got into all three schools I applied for. Cue me in the summer/fall of 2011 finally going to the University of Texas, my dream school, for aerospace engineering.

Funny thing about UT. When you go there, you find out that everyone is smarter than you. This is doubly so in my case, given my deficiencies from high school. My lack of foundation in the basics troubled me for a very long time. For instance, I've never taken a geometry class in my life. Everything I know about geometry has come from my own intuition and by noticing tricks and techniques in lectures, examples, and books. For all the beginning engineering students reading this diary (there are loads of you, I'm sure...), trust me when I say that geometry is your new god. You can't do anything without an exceptional command of geometry. I'm lucky in that I have an intuition for geometry, but for the first few years of college, it plagued the hell out of me.

While I can write like crazy, my style is mildly haphazard, prone to errors with the finer points of grammar (for instance, commas plague me), and isn't well-suited for academic-style essays. To this day I struggle with things like MLA citations (or, in my case, AIAA-standard citations). These are the kinds of things that would have been ameliorated with a high school English class or two.

I currently speak two languages, English and French (hence the name and the random French expressions strewn throughout my diaries). Prior to last year, I was monolingual in English. This is unfortunate, because I happen to greatly enjoy learning new languages. It's a passion I only recently picked up, since it was only recently that I had an opportunity to study a foreign language. (Note that my entire family is your stereotypical monolingual xenophobes.) If I'd had the opportunity to study French in high school, it's possible that I could be trilingual now in either Dutch or Spanish, two languages I hope to learn after French.

These academic challenges are bad enough, but the greatest damage from homeschooling is the social aspect. As I alluded earlier, homeschooling in such an isolated environment left me socially damaged. I struggle with it to this day. It's a problem I doubt I'll ever fully recover from. I even had a psychological evaluation in which the initial conclusion was that I was an aspie. (This was later determined to be a misdiagnosis. My isolation did bring on many of its symptoms, however.)

Socially, I'm probably at the level of a fourteen year old, despite being twenty-two. Conflict resolution is difficult for me when in a verbal conversation - but given that I spent most of my formative years on the internet, text-based conflicts are usually no problem for me whatsoever. Being randomly greeted is a challenge that I've only recently programmed myself to deal with - a random "hey [Le Champignon]" might elicit an awkwardly phrased "hi" or a simple nod of the head because I'm too tongue-tied to respond properly and enter a conversation. Needless to say, for a long time, forming real friendships was difficult. It still is, though I've recently started having some success. Group settings, especially school-based ones involving projects, are awkward nightmares. This problem will almost certainly hurt me in the job market. Everyone wants team players. No one wants awkward engineers who don't fit into groups.

To sum it all up, homeschooling left me academically and socially marred compared to my peers. I acquired few advantages and many disadvantages that only a lifetime will undo. I can only imagine how much worse it would've been had my father been inclined to give me a religious education. It's one thing to be intellectually starved. It's quite another to be given intellectual junk food. It's a travesty that states like Texas would allow this.

I'll close with this. If the local schools are too low quality for your standards, then do what I plan to do with my future children: Supplement their education. As an engineer, I feel like I'll be able to greatly supplement my children's mathematics education with after-school tutoring using an incentives-based approach. Try something like that with your children, if you have the time and the energy. At the very least, you'll get to spend more time with them. But for your child's sake, don't homeschool them. It's not worth the damage done to their psyche.

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  •  Tip Jar (255+ / 0-)
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    Azazello, wilderness voice, mwk, weck, Eileen B, Shippo1776, Lorikeet, karmsy, linkage, Dustin Mineau, Ted Hitler, ExpatGirl, blue jersey mom, serendipityisabitch, northsylvania, Pilotshark, lcrp, elwior, Thisbe, nzanne, chimene, MKinTN, Matt Z, ferg, ciganka, blueoregon, grog, tampaedski, Leftleaner, ybruti, DavidMS, madmsf, eru, kyril, Remembering Jello, TexMex, Aunt Pat, Polly Syllabic, CorinaR, earicicle, Carol in San Antonio, SoCaliana, BluejayRN, samoashark, Sandino, Eddie L, Horace Boothroyd III, TheDuckManCometh, Shelley99, commonmass, FG, bastrop, leesuh, northerntier, Born in NOLA, middleagedhousewife, varro, AllanTBG, patbahn, LucyTooners, pvasileff, cosette, 1toughlady, La Gitane, samanthab, Steven D, Amayi, CyberHippy, ontheleftcoast, leeleedee, mph2005, CA Nana, dkmich, slowbutsure, BocaBlue, Jodster, NormAl1792, bibble, roses, tobendaro, annan, sow hat, twigg, Sandy on Signal, Lujane, Mortifyd, implicate order, Cassandra Waites, Dave in Northridge, quill, poliwrangler, NYFM, GeorgeXVIII, Ckntfld, Vatexia, VelvetElvis, thomask, marleycat, Ice Blue, Its a New Day, Sylv, Eyesbright, pimutant, OleHippieChick, greengemini, cybersaur, MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel, JosephK74, Vita Brevis, karma5230, RockyMtnLib, Wee Mama, gooderservice, minidriver, roberta g, DaNang65, Boston to Salem, blue in NC, knitwithpurpose, Smoh, Lusty, sostos, SteelerGrrl, JWC, quarkstomper, filby, Matilda, Oh Mary Oh, sea note, Anjana, cantelow, VTCC73, pixxer, Ekaterin, monkeybrainpolitics, yoduuuh do or do not, rapala, where4art, murrayewv, Aaa T Tudeattack, Sophie Amrain, joegoldstein, also mom of 5, Unitary Moonbat, SaraBeth, Dick Woodcock, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, sturunner, NCJan, Catkin, illegal smile, 207wickedgood, CwV, msazdem, dotdash2u, Elizabeth 44, bartcopfan, wildweasels, democracy inaction, CcVenussPromise, catwho, mole333, ichibon, on the cusp, Nailbanger, ramara, Pat K California, IndieGuy, envwq, Going the Distance, CharlieHipHop, Jollie Ollie Orange, AaronBa, JDWolverton, armadillo, aaraujo, doingbusinessas, YucatanMan, wdrath, Calfacon, texasmom, parse this, ATFILLINOIS, aseth, nuclear winter solstice, PinHole, Black Max, jarbyus, edsbrooklyn, Arctic Belle, emelyn, JayC, sable, MRA NY, Happy Days, peregrine kate, Mark Mywurtz, bluedust, chira2, eeff, petral, Linda1961, RuralLiberal, juca, tofumagoo, not a cent, Vacationland, Diana in NoVa, historys mysteries, Kingsmeg, tommymet, Brecht, jck, allensl, carolanne, George3, Robynhood too, emmasnacker, Calamity Jean, silentpawz, Eowyn9, TracieLynn, eyesoars, daveygodigaditch, cpresley, jessical, benamery21, la urracca, zukesgirl64, vahana, bkamr, bink, alba, solesse413, This old man, suesue, EJP in Maine, flitedocnm, sara seattle, Dood Abides, WearyIdealist, msdobie, Stripe, profundo, riverlover, HedwigKos, Bonsai66, Byron from Denver, genethefiend, Ohkwai, dpwks, ivorybill, zerelda, Tommy Aces, ginimck

    TX-17 (Bill Flores-R), TX Sen-14 (Kirk Watson-D), TX HD-50 (TBD - Likely Celia Israel-D)

    by Le Champignon on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 10:08:11 AM PST

  •  in my days as an engineering manager (84+ / 0-)

    in electronics

    Group settings, especially school-based ones involving projects, are awkward nightmares. This problem will almost certainly hurt me in the job market. Everyone wants team players. No one wants awkward engineers who don't fit into groups.
    what I wanted were applicants who knew how to do engineering and could prove it by passing my technical test.  In my world being a team player meant working diligently on your piece of the project. Socially awkward engineers are par for the course.  No problem. No one is looking for you to be the life of the party, unless you have modest technical skills and want to go into marketing.
  •  Thank You - N/T (10+ / 0-)

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 10:45:06 AM PST

  •  This is an important topic (60+ / 0-)

    and you have a "birds-eye" view of the controversy in education, so I'm tipping and recommending you.

    My reservation would be that you fail to make the case that "homeschooling is bad." Perhaps it really is. But your so-called "deficiencies," in social skills and in general cultural knowledge, in the scheme of things, may NOT be a sign you're truly behind your peers in these areas. Or at least not as badly as you think you are!

    Behind being shocked when we hit college and find out that "we're not as brilliant as we think we are" (and I sure remember that one!), we get a little older and we realize we truly aren't as exceptional in any way as we might believe at first.

    You're no dummy, clearly, and you have already come a long way from your roots. Your perspective on your homeschooling experience isn't absolute but likely will continue to evolve.

    Take care.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 10:48:07 AM PST

    •  Worked for us (43+ / 0-)

      We homeschooled our two daughters into high school, when they wanted the social experience of being with other teens and asked to attend specific schools.
      My wife is a professor, I was a Techie, and we did a quasi-"unschool" routine, augmenting their math learning with a couple of daily programs and seeking a tutor in writing essays. Otherwise it was museums, reading, discussing in the home, and so on.
      My older daughter did fine in high school, excelled in undergrad, and is starting grad school in the fall.
      My younger daughter is a 2nd year high schooler, has a 4.0 GPA for the both years, the highest grade in chemistry and pre-calc in the school, and seems to be just fine in terms of social adjustment.
      Our friends in our home-schooling community, all doing it for non-religious reasons (and all pretty much liberals), have all sent very successful children off to college and into the world.

      I think, like almost anything, it's what you bring to the situation that matters. If you both strive for excellence and constantly discuss interesting things you are exposed to, and facilitate your children to also explore the interesting things in the world, and you have a supportive home schooling community in your area, then it seems that kids grow up just fine this way.

      •  One of my good friends had a daughter who (27+ / 0-)

        begged to go to high school for her junior year after homeschooling her whole life. She was desperate for that social experience (she had tons of friends through other activities she was involved in, very home schooled kids "stay home."). After only one semester she wanted out. She was so used to being able to have free time for activities and in high school started taking most of her classes at the community college so instead of spending 5 days a week for a year on calculus she only had to do it in a semester.

        She still enjoys her friends, but does not want to waste 5 days a week in school from 7:30-3:00 with homework after that.

        In our area, the best high school option for bright kids in my opinion is the home school charter school. The kids attend community college and the school pays for their books. They graduate high school with high GPAs, their GE out of the way and they look way better on paper than their counterparts from the public high schools that waste kids time all day long.

        "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

        by voracious on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:51:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  School is about learning more than just (15+ / 0-)

          facts and figures.

          Part of high school and social situations is learning that you don't get everything your way. Sometimes you're going to excel and by virtue of lots of practice or being naturally good at something you'll be ahead of people around you. There are a lot of real life situations where you have to work with team members who maybe aren't as strong as you, and sometimes you have to sit through things you don't like or aren't interesting to you.

          I understand the other aspects too. I got straight A's in HS easily even though I used to sleep or read books under the table during my into courses because we moved before my first year of high school and the new school was so much easier.

          I was 2-3 years ahead in math in high school and ended up having to do independent study my last year because I finished all of the courses my high school had.

          When I was doing independent study in math I didn't really feel like doing that when I could be playing games, reading, hanging out with friends etc. So I ended up basically blowing off most of that course and didn't really learn anything from it.

          If I was in a class with a teacher who wasn't a parent and I had to pay attention and sometimes take tests it would have helped me a lot.

          This is coming from an independent person who does almost everything alone and likes my own time and my own schedule.

          When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

          by PhillyJeff on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:05:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Another part of high school is learning to live (19+ / 0-)

            with assholes day in and day out. I am so sick and tired of hearing how school teaches us about real life. Bullshit.

            School is nothing like real life. And for the most part, people go to work every day at different types of jobs and do not have to suffer the social and work situations created by school.

            My kids just had to sign academic integrity contracts at their school. One of the punishments for violating the contract is teachers will not be allowed to write letters of recommendation for you. One of the examples given for cheating on this contract is doing more or less than your fair share of work in a group project. Give me a break.

            At our local school kids are breathalyzed on the way in the door for dances and some sporting events. A zero tolerance policy for fighting means that if you are hit by a bully, you both get suspended. If you intervene to stop a fight, you will probably be suspended as well. Kids hate to go to dances because they only dancing done is "grinding" and it makes them uncomfortable. The homework load is ridiculous. One of my son's classes has a homework assignment due online tonight by 5:30. So don't plan on taking this holiday off, you have homework due.

            The kids I see who have chosen the homeschool pathway for high school are better educated and have more free time to participate in dance, theatre, volunteering, and other activities. They take a wider range of classes so they have completely different career aspirations from the AP kids who only take AP science classes and never get exposed to the humanities.

            "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

            by voracious on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:34:48 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I have to disagree (2+ / 0-)

              If high school teaches kids to deal with assholes day in and day out, how is that not a good thing?  The real world is full of assholes.

              The real world is full of a lot of the same bullshit as high school -- rigid schedules, pointless meetings, peer pressure, popularity contests, nasty bosses, etc.

              Anybody can get book learnin' at home, but book learnin' is only a small part of what we get out of an institutionalized education.

              It's important to gain the social skills that allow us to succeed in a world full of assholes.

              They tell me I'm pretty amusing from time to time working with 140 characters or less.

              by CharlieHipHop on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:02:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm with you and the diarist (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                CharlieHipHop, suesue, earicicle

                Some of the most important lessons I've learned in life were learned at public k-12 school but that weren't part of the curriculum.  I think it's arrogant for parents to think that they can give their kids the same educational experience themselves that they would otherwise get at (just about) any school in the holistic sense.

                The very concept of homeschooling violates my liberal sensibilities because by its very nature, it undermines the concept of public education, which is why it is so popular on the right.

                Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

                by democracy inaction on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 06:21:04 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well. (5+ / 0-)

                  Homeschooling doesn't violate my liberal sensitivities at all, since I've personally witnessed a major daily dosage of conservative positions and principles at our local public schools. That's why I'm so supportive of the public school teachers I know; they've got a huge challenge every day to get past the curriculum and administration to be able to actually teach anything effectively. For us, we had the freedom and ability to facilitate our child's learning at home (and on the road), so we did.

                  The other thing I'll say is that parents don't give their kids anything; they facilitate the child's learning process. The "holistic" experience of learning takes place everywhere, from anyone, at any time. Taking your time in a museum exhibit, reading each placard so you get the historical and cultural context of the art piece, is far more of a learning experience than the usual dry facts-and-names that you get in history class. Example: I found a book that looked at the great Western composers through their historical times. It was filled with interesting facts regarding the political, cultural, and social environment in a composer's time. My daughter and I went through the whole book and we both learned an amazing amount about European history and historical culture. A lot about the composers too.

                  The discussions we had in this and other cases showed me that children are natural liberals, when there's no conservative dogma being taught.

                  •  So you're fine with conservatives indoctrinating (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    bkamr, bluehammer

                    their children about how liberals are evil, religion is the literal truth etc?

                    That's another problem with homeschooling. At least in schools there is supposed to be a curriculum that is agreed upon and allows kids to learn on their own. For kids who aren't as lucky as you to have you as a parent, it might be the only chance they get.

                    School is nothing like real life. And for the most part, people go to work every day at different types of jobs and do not have to suffer the social and work situations created by school.
                    I don't understand the vitriol behind some of these responses. People absolutely deal with assholes at work and in different other situations every day.

                    The solution is to end bullying, train teachers better, design better programs, have more compassionate staff etc.

                    I understand that people don't want their kids to be the guinea pigs. If public school is not the answer then you should be advocating no one go to public school. If public school is ok for "those people" but not our kids then we have a problem here.

                    When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

                    by PhillyJeff on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:34:40 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
                    Homeschooling doesn't violate my liberal sensitivities at all...
                    First, the term I used was "sensibilities" not "sensitivities" so there's that; and if the concept of homeschooling doesn't violate your liberal sensibilities, then I'm not convinced you had them in the first place.

                    You can rationalize it any way you want but I stand by what I said.  Homeschooling by nature undermines the concept of public education, which is a cornerstone of liberalism and if eroding one of the cornerstones of liberalism doesn't offend you, then I have a difficult time believing you're any kind of liberal at all.

                    That's why I'm so supportive of the public school teachers I know...
                    Pulling your kids out of public school to teach them at home is not being "supportive" of public school teachers.  It could in fact be considered rather unsupportive.  I am also unsure how you define "supportive" in this context and I'm not sure that I want to know.
                    The other thing I'll say is that parents don't give their kids anything; they facilitate the child's learning process.
                    Then let me rephrase what I said before: I think it's arrogant for parents to think that their kids can get from them the same educational experience that they would otherwise get at (just about) any school in the holistic sense.

                    Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

                    by democracy inaction on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 05:08:16 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Since when do we deal with assholes (5+ / 0-)

                All day? I'm sorry but I do not believe that we have to suffer through abuse and other problems that many high schoolers have to prepare us for life later. I'm not convinced that is necessary preparation for adulthood and I think if it can be avoided it should.

                "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

                by voracious on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 08:32:39 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  High school is both exactly (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                not a cent, ClapClapSnap

                like the real world, and completely unlike the real world, at the same time.

                I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

                by CFAmick on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:48:43 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Did it ever occur to you that the typical school (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FloridaSNMOM, radical simplicity

                environment actually teaches some people to be assholes? I'm sorry that your life requires you to deal with that kind of person.

              •  fail fail fail fail fail (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FloridaSNMOM, radical simplicity

                "We should send our kids somewhere really crappy and brutal to get them ready for their crappy lives"

                and

                "you gain social skills by surrounding yourself with knife-wielding drug addicts"

                I'm not buying that.

          •  Some kids don't learn to "deal with it" (6+ / 0-)

            I'm fucking sick and tired of hearing that being abused teaches a kid something, other than what it feels like to be abused every day.

            The majority of kids learn social rules by osmosis. But some of us don't learn that way. And when we are incarcerated in sent to public schools, our wonderful "socialization" consists of abuse and rejection. It sucks, it's terrible, and by and large teachers do nothing to stop it. My friends whose Aspie kids went to public school do not feel that their children were "socialized."

            Spare me your claptrap about how school is like real life. It's nothing like real life. In real life, if you are abused, you get to leave.

        •  Home schooling shouldn't be painted with (18+ / 0-)

          a broad brush and neither should public schools.   There are tons of public school kids with high GPAs entering universities with 20 or so advanced placement credits.   One of them is my oldest grandson.  

          He is 19 and in his third year at Michigan State University.   Because of his high ACTs scores, advanced placement credits, and HS grade point, MSU waived all his general ed/pre-reqs and turned him lose to register for classes he wanted.    This would have allowed him to finish his undergrad in less than 3 years, but he decided to pursue two degrees instead  - BS in Environmental Geosciences with a concentration in Geophysics and a BS  in Social Science: Socio-Environmental Interactions. He takes 18 credit hours a semester, carries a 4.0,  made the Dean's list all three years, works 15 or so hours a week, is founding father of a fraternity, and networked himself into an internship this summer doing research in his field at the University of London College, where he is hoping to do his grad work.   He's been to New Zealand and Panama and can't wait to add Europe to his global experience.  He wants to do research and teach at University.  

          Nobody pushed him but him.   Home schooled or public schooled, the individual child makes the difference.  Despite all the challenges and lack of structure this diarist experienced, he had the interest, drive and  self-discipline needed to learn and get ahead.  So did the public schooled boy I described above.  Not bad for 19.

          What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

          by dkmich on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:56:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My son is in a similar situation with his (6+ / 0-)

            public school education and will also enter school without having to take GE and plans on double majoring. But I'm a little sad because I think he would have loved college history and he never has to take a class. His AP classes are not good replacements for college classes. They were far more labor intensive, and less interesting.

            "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

            by voracious on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:23:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  He might as well get a double degree (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              voracious, texasmom, peregrine kate

              like my grandson instead .   I mean, why not?   He was also counseled to skip a masters degree and to go straight for the doctorate.   Life is so very different.    When I talked to my 16 y/o grandson about careers, he said that most of the jobs his generation will do haven't even been invented yet.   He wants to be an engineer, he's just not sure which kind.  We think engineers will still exist, but who knows.    

              Your son's hard work will pay off, and he will have a blast. Just think of all the opportunity he will have to explore and create his brave new world.    I am sure our kids will do a better job of the future than we did.

              What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

              by dkmich on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:47:04 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Running Start (3+ / 0-)

          The program you are describing is called "Running Start" in some areas.  It is talented Jr/Sr High School students go to community colleges with the school district paying tuition.  For the self-motivated student, it is great.  The best can graduate from HS with two years of college credits.

      •  Yup. Homeschooling is hard work for the parents (7+ / 0-)

        ... At least if they're doing it right.

        You have to help your children find and follow their passions, and find ways to enable them to learn the skills they need (reading, writing, 'rithmatic, critical thinking, how to interact with humans, etc.) through it all.

        I think most parents who homeschool go into it with lots of motivation and determination to create a great education for their kids (yes, even the religious ones - even though they're sadly misguided regarding basic science). Unfortunately, once you get into the nitty gritty of doing this every day, for years, many parents lose the enthusiasm, but are still reluctant to put their kids into a system they believe is likely to leave their kids even less well prepared than a not-great homeschool experience. In those cases, an awful lot depends on the parents, the individual child, and the school system. Some will be less well prepared than if they'd gone to school, some more, and some the same.

        I know many people who don't understand the massive structural changes that have occurred in public education over the last 30 years. Secular homeschoolers tend to be all too aware of these changes, which is why it's hard for many to make the choice to send a child to school if homeschooling turns out to be too hard.

        Public school today is not even related to the system in which most of us grew up. In much of the country, it's NOT preparing students to be successful as adults. It's preparing them to fill in bubbles on a test, and to give lame, uncritical answers that they think the teachers want. In the local high school, my son's friend was given math homework in his junior year in which he had to place numbers on a number line. It woud have been fine as a 3rd grade exercise, but this was fricking pre-calculus, and he had an entire worksheet of mindless, pointless number-line ranking, instead of complex questions that would require a good 20 minutes of thought and analysis per question (which is what pre-calc was like for us, back in the day).

        Seeing that made us VERY happy to be homeschooling. Our son, two years younger, was working on problems like: determining where on earth a particular person was located based on the lengths of shadows cast by that person and another person of the same height, when they both stepped outside at the same time, and you knew their latitudes and a couple of other data points. He had to measure the shadow of the person at his location, and determine its angle relative to a certain point, then do the calculations to figure out how the differences between the data from the two different people could enable him to make an educated guess about the other person's location. He was teaching himself JAVA, so he could program a video game in conjunction with friends.  He took physics, because he wants to be a robotics engineer, and knew he would need to understand physics, among other things. He's currently learning the AI he needs to program a quad-rotor to fly autonomously between two points, and avoid obstacles, based on sensor data. He's also doing an internship in which he'll be helping MIT students design a DIY workshop based on his experience.

        He's able to do this because we unschool. It gives us the flexibility to leap at opportunities that arise in a way we couldn't if we were locked into a specific curriculum with specific timelines for learning specific things. If we were curriculum-based, we'd be too busy trying to make deadlines to be able to throw everything into the car and go meet some random college students two states away, on the off chance something might come of it.

        Part of the problem is that "unschooling" has been given many definitions. The one we use is best described as "child directed learning." We don't use a curriculum. Instead, we seek the materials and experiences that will support our children's interests, while building a scaffolding of the skills that enable them to become enthusiastic life-long learners.

        I think too many people who launch into "unschooling" are really doing "uneducating." There's a difference.

        Unschooling is much, much harder than curriculum based teaching, because you have to pay very close attention to your children, you have to learn about them, their learning styles, the methods that work to keep them engaged, etc.; then you have apply what you've learned by researching options for keeping them moving forward - and you're doing it all in real-time, pivoting according to what does and doesn't work for your child at that moment in their educational career.

        Our older child has graduated and is planning on college (after participating in an absolutely amazing gap-year opportunity). Our younger one is pursuing his dream with passion.

        In the mean time, we're working with local parents, teachers, and school administrators to change the local school system. We've got a unique opportunity as the state switches from NCLB to Common Core. The schools will be able to get away with a transition year in which the standardized test results won't count, because the curriculum isn't in place, yet (of course, it still has to be administered, pointlessly). This means we get to work out a curriculum that will give the kids the kind of place-based, project focused (not all projects are done in groups) learning that will enable them to learn critical thinking, to learn that learning is fun, and to learn that education is relevant to their real lives. It won't be quite as customizable as homeschooling, but if we do it right, it will be leaps and bounds better than the rote memorization, breadth instead of depth, limited focus on test-taking that has characterized education for the last couple of decades.

        BTW - You would be STUNNED at how much time is spent on testing in many districts. It's quite literally insane.

    •  "Homeschooling" (15+ / 0-)

      is a many faceted subject.

      In some instances it is undeniably bad, but in others it can be simply a different experience.

      Home-schooled kids do not have to miss out on contact with peers, many HS parents form into groups, and set about education very seriously.

      The real issue is the complete absence of any oversight and accountability.

      As goes Texas, so does Oklahoma and no one should be proud of the educational achievements of either of those states.

      I see no good reason to burden parents with reams of documents demanding accountability, and I see even fewer reasons for simply ignoring the situation and allowing parents to make poor choices with zero accountability.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:21:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree about accountability (14+ / 0-)

        A couple of years ago, we had a fire in our home.  The cleaning crew spent several weeks in our home.  One of the cleaners was homeschooling her daughters, she brought them with her to work.  The girls were about 8 or 9 and had never been to school.  

        They just sat quietly and didn't do much most of the time.  It was obvious they were told not to make noise, run around, etc… the usual kid stuff.  I couldn't stand it and started trying to find educational things to do, like puzzles and books.  The girls were behind in reading and writing, but at least they started to come out of their shell.   Soon they were laughing and would ask me questions.  I felt such sadness for them.  They needed to be in school while mom worked.  

        It turned out the dad and mom were divorced.  He came from a prominent, right-wing family and his father had served in the legislature until he was caught in a scandal.   I guess the mom felt she had to home school to be a good mother; yet, she was hurting them in the long run.  I think it is abuse to not educate your children so they can be independent and self-sufficent.  

         

        "The war was expensive to the South as well as to the North, both in blood and treasure, but it was worth all it cost."- General U.S. Grant, Chattanooga campaign

        by Sandy on Signal on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:38:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Agree w/ most of your comments, but... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg, Calamity Jean
        As goes Texas, so does Oklahoma and no one should be proud of the educational achievements of either of those states.
        ...I have to say that I took Calculus in my Oklahoma public high school, such that I was able in college to test out of Calc I and Analytic Geometry and got halfway through Calc II before I saw anything new.  

        (NOTE:  this is my standard reply when the subject is "our failing public schools".  Granted, my experience was 35 years ago.)

        "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

        by bartcopfan on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 04:26:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem with Public Schools (5+ / 0-)

          is not whether or not bright students can make it through to college, and decent prospects. Those students tend to prosper in most systems.

          The problem is what happens to the students who need extra help, or those for whom a little extra encouragement, and an energized curriculum and faculty with access to good materials and facilities, would make a difference.

          They are the students who can fail to reach their potential.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 04:34:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No arguments there. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            twigg, Calamity Jean

            I certainly support smaller class sizes and robust, engaged instructors, counselors, and other support staff who can give that extra 'ooompf'!  You know, everything the Republican'ts oppose.

            "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

            by bartcopfan on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 06:38:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  The problem (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bluehammer, Sandy on Signal

        The large part (85-90%) of homeschoolers have an ideological agenda, part of which is controlling their kids' ability to interact with people outside their Christianist cult.  And part of the problem is that relatively few parents have the ability to teach at the level I'd expect in a high school.

        I also consider education to be an important social good.  If the schools are bad enough that homeschooling is the only option (that's the other 10-15%), maybe people need to be angry.

    •  he spent two years.... (5+ / 0-)

      in community college trying to catch up.  At the end of his career, he will never get the wages from those wasted years back.  And he is smart.  So imagine what happens when someone is less gifted.

      He has social adjustment problems which bother him.  At least respect that he is uncomfortable in those situations and wishes he had more social time as a high school student.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 03:26:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Having spent 40 years in education, (10+ / 0-)

      my view of home-schooling is that it's either feast or famine.

      Done well, homeschooling is excellent, as it should be. The child in essence is receiving private lessons as opposed to group lessons that public school students receive. In math competitions, for instance, it isn't surprising to find homeschooled students consistently placing toward the top.

      OTOH, in many, if not most, instances, the parents don't have the necessary self-discipline required to successfully home-school. It requires organization and focus and the firmness and temperament to keep the child on task. It also requires patience.

      To be blunt, I doubt I would have been effective homeschooling my son. When he was struggling with math, I found myself frustrated. All the wonderful patience I possessed in my classroom seem to vanish when tutoring my son. Fortunately I was wise enough to recognize my own deficiencies and I asked one of my math students tutor him.

      In the final analysis, while homeschooling works for some (and IMHO is an appropriate method in those instances), in most instances we find that homeschooled kids returning to public schools are far behind their peers.

      The key is self-awareness on the part of the parent.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:25:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As a community college professor, (5+ / 0-)

        I agree with you.  I admire those parents who are able to provide a well-rounded, in-depth education for their children using their community as their classroom.  However, most of my students who have been home-schooled lack very basic literacy skills.  Most, I think, wish they had experienced a different education that prepared them better for the next steps in their lives.  

        "I seek to rise with workers, not rise from them.” – Eugene Debs

        by IngThing on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 06:59:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Also, the diarist seems to think (3+ / 0-)

      that the experience in a Texas public high school would have been wonderful, both socially and academically. Well, maybe so.

      But maybe not.

  •  Many, many thanks for this diary. (39+ / 0-)

    I have great sympathy for your dad. It must have been very hard for him when you mom passed.

    My problem with unschooling is that I never would have learned math without a structured environment. I use statistics on a daily basis, but I am glad that I was required to take math through calculus and statistics. I am also grateful for all the French and Latin that learned in high school. I never could have learned them on my own.

    I particularly like your final paragraph. There are lots of opportunities to supplement the education offered in the local public schools. Many community colleges will allow high school students to take courses for credit. All three of my kids took classes at our local cc while they were students at our local public high school.

    Wishing you lots and lots of good luck.

    •  They didn't call it unschooling when I was (6+ / 0-)

      a kid, but I went to a couple of important experimental schools.  I was the opposite of you.  In those environments my math and science skills rocketed, but my English and writing skills were not up to par.  

      Those schools focused on creativity in self expression through language and writing which was great, but the instruction lacked the demand for structure - the basics of what was correct English and sentence structure.  I was allowed to be e.e. cummings before learning to be E.E. Cummings who knew what rules he was breaking and why he was breaking them.  

      French was also a grind for me until I had the opportunity to live in France for a summer.  Without the grind prior, though, the experience in France would have been a waste of time.  

      I had the option of going to a very unstructured high school where kids were allowed to skip classes as long as they turned in their work, but decided to go for the more structured environment because of my experience in the two earlier schools.  I needed structure and deadlines, etc.  I was great at imagination and getting caught up in dreams - I needed the grounding to make them real, though.

      Honestly, my experience is one of the reasons that I am not at all in favor of the Obama Administration's heavy push towards online education.  I think that people need to be with people in the same room - and most - not all - most kids need that exposure to other humans - peers and teachers in a learning environment, imo.

  •  You beat up on yourself a bit. (37+ / 0-)

    For example:

    To this day I struggle with things like MLA citations (or, in my case, AIAA-standard citations). These are the kinds of things that would have been ameliorated with a high school English class or two
    I went to public school in Texas in what was supposed to be a good school and took college track classes. I didn't own an MLA until my second year in university. Your writing is better than most of my cohort at U. London. You'll be fine.

    "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

    by northsylvania on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 10:50:10 AM PST

  •  Many home schooling efforts ultimately become (21+ / 0-)

    the "unschooling result" that you describe.  Part of education at any level is learning to interact with folk who make up the world around you.  This does not mean that you have to like everyone or their views.  However, you cannot learn to make informed choices without at least some exposure to real people.  The Internet is not an adequate substitute.

    When all else fails, try thinking!

    by edtheengineer on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 10:52:50 AM PST

    •  There are homeschooling groups that allow kids (14+ / 0-)

      to meet regularly. It doesn't have to be so isolating. The problem is that there's not enough structure to ensure that parents are doing it in a healthy way. And it is sad to give up on the public school system. I understand that no one wants to sacrifice their child to a bad system, but when people say "fuck it, the system sucks" that's a self-fulfilling prophecy. We need to have an intelligent, no-bullshit discussion about education as a society, and right now, none of the people in power are prepared to have one.

      •  I often wonder if we had lived in one location (15+ / 0-)

        if we would have homeschooled or if I would have tackled the local system to be as progressive as possible. As a military family, homeschooling has served us well. It has helped us be flexible in a very unforgiving lifestyle.

        One of our fellow Kossacks wrote about a similar dilemma. His local inner city schools were failing horribly and most people who could help fix the system were moving once their kids reached school age. He chose what he felt was the middle of the road. They chose to stay but homeschool and joined up with other families that decided to do the same. They feel like their community is more vibrant and that their choices are actually making an impact on the community as a whole which will in turn have an effect on the local school. Homeschooling isn't always an escape... sometimes it's an investment in the community itself.

      •  It's geographically-dependent as well (11+ / 0-)

        A homeschooling group in the lily-white, ultra-conservative suburbs of Fort Worth, Texas is almost invariably going to be filled with the "Jesus, Dinosaur Rider Extraordinaire" types. One in Vermont or California might be much more reality-friendly.

        TX-17 (Bill Flores-R), TX Sen-14 (Kirk Watson-D), TX HD-50 (TBD - Likely Celia Israel-D)

        by Le Champignon on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:37:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  rural KY here speaking: (3+ / 0-)

          I was unschooling my kids mostly in the 90's and early 2000's in western Kentucky.  The homeschool groups here were not compatible with us as secular liberals.  But also the schools had some issues quite frankly too--William Faulkner was banned at our county high school (As I Lay Dying) and evolution was ripped out of a science textbook for elementary kids at a nearby county.

          That being said, we managed fine without homeschool support groups.  I got involved and became leader of a local U.S. Pony Club and my kids developed strong bonds there.  My son hung out with a schooled neighbor (older than him) who had a band and met a lot of people in our county. He learned IT at Easter Seals at age 14 and started working in a local business at age 17.   My daughter also did a lot in the community theater, volunteered at Story Hour at the library, volunteered with infant/toddlers at Easter Seals, and was in local youth and college symphonies, community chorus, a dance company that toured to schools and communities etc.  

          While my kids always knew a few other homeschooled kids (one took dance with her, one pony clubber begged in middle school to quit and homeschooled through high school), they also did appreciate as teens the opportunity to meet unschoolers from across the country at Not Back To School Camp in Eugene Oregon.  

          You don't need a homeschool group to find social experiences for your kids that involve diverse groups of people.   In fact, I feel our experiences were better because most of the time very diverse ages were involved in their activities, including adults.  

    •  I used to be very against homeschooling (11+ / 0-)

      I loved my public, socialist high school in England.  I believed all the stereotypes.

      Until my sister started homeschooling her older son, who was brilliant, but had social issues.

      She taught him so well he got a full scholarship to a very tony boarding school specializing in math and science - and ended up with a full scholarship to MIT.

      And she's not brilliant at math herself.  

      And he ended up with tons of friends who understood him.

      And one day, at my business, I had a bunch of homeschool kids for a visit.  And they were of all ages, and they were all getting along, and the older kids knowing how to deal with the little ones, and everyone far more comfortable with adults than I had ever experienced.

      And I realized - formal school doesn't help socialize you.  It restricts you to kids of pretty much your own age, with a smattering of adults.

      •  speaking as a Library Assistant, we went through (5+ / 0-)

        a time of some very out-of-control public school students. Several families of them, in fact. After a while they just disappeared and it turned out that when they started coming back they were polite, knew how to behave in the library and interacted together nicely as siblings. I asked what happened and it turned out they were being home-schooled. They told me that home schoolers get to go around to all things their parents do, and so no matter what age they are they learn how to interact with all kinds of people.

        We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

        by nuclear winter solstice on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:39:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  We hear that a lot (0+ / 0-)

        From ski area operators, to librarians, to living history performers, to museum staff: homeschool groups tend to be much better behaved, and better socialized than traditionally-schooled groups (public or private).

  •  Thank you so much for sharing this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, Oh Mary Oh, PinHole

    While I am open to the whole "unschooling" concept, your testimony gives anyone considering it a reason to pause.

    When comparing a possible alternative to the status quo, I think there is a danger of not doing a fair comparison.  If I compare the average result of the status quo (public school), to the idealized best case of "un"schooling, of COURSE unschooling is going to appear better.

    I think your story keeps things in perspective.  Thank you again for sharing.

    Our Dime: Understanding the Federal Budget

    by Dustin Mineau on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:06:52 AM PST

  •  There are of course certain cautionary elements to (17+ / 0-)

    home schooling - but there are equally as many to formal schooling, especially when it is in the wrong environment.  My children were homeschooled starting in the elementary grades (though they did both choose to go to some HS) because, frankly, the local schools simply could not provide an academic environment appropriate to their needs.  Now, given that I (at the time) was a certified public HS teacher (Math, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, General Science, Computers) and my wife is a professional piano teacher we may have had more experience in providing a good education, we actually did fall more into the model of "unschooling" than formal daily lessons.  So, the question is - how did it work out?  Well, my daughter, after graduating with honors from the Honors college, is very close to completing her doctorate in Psychology and my son, also graduating with honors from the Honors college (at a different university) is now an Army Officer completing the very competitive army aviation program to become a pilot. In short, don't reject the idea of home-schooling and even "unschooling" - or self-directed learning - out of hand. The one cautionary note is to make sure that there are adult mentors available to provide guidance, perspective and that very important element of having some means of checking progress. One key that you will find from homeschooling that you have that many others don't, is that you realize that you can learn without having someone else layout everything for you. That doesn't make it easier but you know that you can!

    Good Sense is Seldom Common

    •  Why (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leftleaner, Oh Mary Oh, UnionMade, mrkvica

      could the local schools provide an academic environment appropriate for other kids, but not your kids?

      Why would one teach other people's children in a public school environment, yet not feel it is adequate for one's own children?

      •  Mostly it came down to academic rigor - the public (10+ / 0-)

        schools just are not geared up to handle really gifted students. Much of formal classroom learning, especially in schools with high student to teacher ratios, inherently requires that the class be taught at a consistently low level. Yes, there are some schools and districts that try in one form or another to individualize the rate of progress for each student - SRS, workbooks, skill charts, etc., but the reality is that this is difficult, expensive and requires considerable training (of both the teachers and the students) in order to be effective. What do you do when you have a student who in 3rd grade is studying algebra (at home) but has a teacher who won't let them (in the classroom) go on to multiplication because he doesn't complete the addition worksheet perfectly in her arbitrary time limit?
        Personally I was fortunate to have taught for a year (long-term sub) in a private school that was explicitly and solely focused on the gifted. To give you an example - I was teaching calculus to 7th and 8th graders. The math counts team I coached got 2nd place in the state of CA that year.  Economic and location reasons in later years precluded me from being able to send my own kids there, so, we did what we could. As to my own teaching in the public schools - I was never satisfied with the watered down curriculum or perspective that the students couldn't/shouldn't be pushed. Sometimes I was successful; sometimes not. Some administrations (very, very few) supported me in this. In any event, as others have pointed out, the level of expectation and support in the home environment is a key factor in "success"- whether it is formal homeschool, unschooling, extension to what is taught in the school or even support for the teachers in the school.  

        FWIW - getting on my own pet peeve - I had to quit teaching (budget cuts killing full-time positions) and go back to my other profession (software engineer). It's ironic (and definitely not right) but with a graduate degree in molecular genetics and education I was making 1/6th what I make now as a software engineer. For some reason, and the why is not clear, there really does seem to be a long-term agenda by some to destroy education in this country for everyone who can't afford the best private education.

        Good Sense is Seldom Common

        •  No kidding. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW, radical simplicity
          For some reason, and the why is not clear, there really does seem to be a long-term agenda by some to destroy education in this country for everyone who can't afford the best private education.  
          I think it's partly to hamper the lower classes' ability to compete with the children of the 1% for the jobs of the future.  

          "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

          by Calamity Jean on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:11:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That *might* be one factor. I have a hard time (3+ / 0-)

            believing that anyone actually living in this country would feel that insecure. In my understanding, one of the common attributes of the 1% is a perspective that they are deserving of their station because they are somehow better than others. However, of those I've personally met who are in that group, I can say unequivocally that this is not a universal characteristic - most of those I've met in that group actually seemed to have a measure of humility and concern for others - but then, the circumstances of where I've met them were inherently such that only those who did feel this way would be inclined to be there. Now, if we are talking about foreign corporations and foreign owners of US corporations not wanting the US to succeed as well, THAT I can heartily believe. Does anyone really believe that these multinational corporations with major stockholders from some other country really have the best interest of the US at heart?

            In any event, I do know personally one reason for the decline - it started as a response to desegregation and mandated equal sharing of school funding resources to ALL the schools in a district/state. I was in Richmond, VA the year that the schools there were ordered to desegregate and start busing - that year, property measures to fund the schools started getting voted down and many, many private schools were started - often in people's basements, etc. The link is pretty clear: we don't like the public schools anymore - let's stop supporting them. I think this concept has formed part of the whole basis for the Tea Party and much of the rightwing.

            Good Sense is Seldom Common

            •  You're very probably right. This may also (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JeffW, radical simplicity

              have supported Reagan's stab, "The scariest thing to hear is 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.'"  

              If you're right, then as the older generation that DIDN'T LIKE integration dies off, and new generations that find integration normal take over, support for public schools may rise again.

              Whether that happens before Global Climate Disaster jacks up the death rate is an open question.  

              "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

              by Calamity Jean on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 10:57:21 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  And learning to teach yourself (4+ / 0-)

      is one of the most valuable skills I ever learned.

      Because you don't become an adult and have to stop learning.  If anything, the ability to constantly learn is more important than ever.

  •  I think... (12+ / 0-)

    that you unschooled yourself superbly.

    Relax, keep learning, and revel in the knowlege that you are at least as learned as your peers.

  •  You link the decline in social skills (12+ / 0-)

    to being home/unschooled.

    However, given the time frame involved, it's possible such a decline could have been, in part, a result of the biological changes from puberty.

    Kids go thru so many changes during that time frame they often "come out of" junior high school or high school literally different people than when they went into it.  For example, a good friend had two daughters, as he puts it "were chewed up" by the junior high school experience.  The social construct they dealt with, or in their cases dealt with resulting in many negative long-term consequences, probably begged for a home school approach for them.

    Thus, it's hard to pinpoint a single cause for such changes in social behavior.

    Fascinating story.  Thanks for sharing.

    "I'm not writing to make conservatives happy. I want them to hate my opinions. I'm not interested in debating them. I want to stop them." - Steve Gilliard

    by grog on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:20:51 AM PST

  •  Homeschooling (as opposed to 'unschooling') (10+ / 0-)

    is NOT inherently bad. But it does require a substantial amount of parental commitment.

    For a variety of reasons, I homeschooled two of my children. One for a single year and the other for two. In addition to a fairly rigorous commitment to making sure that everything in the mainstream school setting was being covered, a lot of time was also spent tending to the social side and ensuring that those skills were allowed to develop normally.

    A lot of amazing things can be done in relation to homeschooling and lessons can be taken into the real world (i.e. out of the classroom) in a way that just isn't possible in a formal school setting.

    I would do it again with my kids in a second.

    •  I was a forced homeschooler... (12+ / 0-)

      My daughter had a severe mental breakdown at the age of nine.  She was asked to leave her public, and a private school because of her issues.  Her psychologist suggested that homeschooling her for a bit would be the best thing for her.  Since I was unemployed at the time, we decided to do it.  Michigan has laws just like Texas.  All I had to do was go to the public school administration building and tell them she was being homeschooled.  That's it.

      Being her teacher was just like a full time job for me.  I structured everything, so we started and ended at the same time everyday.  We had lunch at the same time, (although I'd give her extra time if she was having a good day).  I made sure that we were covering everything she would have at school, and then some.  Bike rides were "gym class".  We'd take "field trips" downtown to the library or museum.  She loved to draw, so I made sure to have plenty of art time.  I would do lesson plans in the evening.  On top of being teacher, I was Mr. Mom at home, since I wasn't working.  I have much more respect for working moms now.

      I guess why I'm replying to this is because of the last line in your post.  "I would do it again..."
      I would not do it again, unless I had to.  
      We had a lot of fun.  I know she learned more from me than she would have at school at that time.  But the thought of being solely responsible for her education scared the hell out of me.  I know that I wouldn't fail, but the fear of messing up her life scared me.

      She is now a happy 8th grader.  She's not out of the woods, mentally, but teachers enjoy having her in class these days.  :-)

      •  homeschooling is an intensely (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM, radical simplicity

        personal decision.  Many parents are not going to want to do it, or feel they have the temperament, time, or skills or whatever.  And they should not feel any guilt for that, regardless of their child's needs.  And other parents may start out feeling inadequate or worried about their skills and find out if they relax and focus on being a caring parent, their kids will do just fine.  

        But no one proposes that all children that would benefit from homeschooling or unschooling should have that available if the parents are not so inclined.  Or that all parents should be so inclined.  

  •  First off I am so sorry (7+ / 0-)

    about your mother, that must have been so difficult for both you and your father.

    My recollection of middle and high school and watching my kids go through lead me to believe the main developmental things you missed were learning to deal with competition, coping with heartbreaking disappointment when things don't go your way, the joy of occasional victory amongst your peers, possibly making life long friendships, and being inspired by other adults.  The actual educational value in most subjects varies greatly by teachers and school districts  and it sounds like you took care of that at the community college level.  I personally missed out on certain aspects of a well rounded education at a private high school due to some very terrible teachers in critical subjects.  Like you some of those things I corrected on my own through self study and other deficiencies I have just lived with.  

    Most students don't come out of K-12 with a perfectly well rounded education.  Many also come out emotionally scarred from that social interaction you missed.  It is what it is and we get through life.   The best part of school is those great teachers that inspire and expose students to things they wouldn't have discovered on their own.  It only takes one to change a  life and give a new perspective.  

    My biggest objection to homeschooling is that as a parent you already teach your children what you know,are interested in and good at in everyday living, so the child misses out on the exposure to things the parent is not proficient in.  

    You approach with your future children worked for me.  When my kids got a brand new or lousy teacher, I supplemented their classwork at home if it was deficient. Very few teachers were totally worthless. For example the new teachers that didn't grade papers properly or couldn't handle class discipline, usually were very innovative and ran fun and exciting classroom projects.  I just stayed on top of things so my kids didn't fall behind the kids that had better teachers that year.  There is no way I could have provided my children with all the subject matter, social interaction, cultural perspectives, etc. that school provided.  I provided the parts I knew through travel, the arts. tutoring, museums, etc., but the schools provided so many things I would have never thought to do.  

    The only reason I would consider homeschooling a child is if the school system was destroying them or they had such a special talent that spending time in school was keeping them from pursuing it.

    Who knows maybe you are are more intellectually curious and self-motivated than you would have been having gone to school.  Sounds that way to me.  Schools have a way of knocking that out of you.

    •  a common mistake you make (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, radical simplicity

      is assuming that children will not learn things you are not proficient in if you homeschool.  

      Our son is a highly skilled IT professional entirely self-taught and believe me, we didn't teach him any of that.  

      We did get him started with an IT person at my husband's work at a rehab agency when he was 14, but he quickly surpassed his mentor in skills.  

      My daughter is a talented writer with 4 plays produced to high praise (Philadelphia Inquirer) and believe me she didn't learn that from me or in college since she only took one literature course and that focused on reading and interpreting literature.  

  •  You highlight the basis of my problem (14+ / 0-)

    With home schooling. While there are folks like ET3117 who do a lovely job, there is absolutely no quality control unless the family works with the school district. You happened to use the internet as a learning tool. You could have just as easily spent the entire time on D&D or an XBox.  People think they will educate their kids, but don't get around to it.  Without QC thousands of kids I. The US are at home and no one knows what they're learning.

    Having said that, I suspect you are doing better than you give yourself credit for. (Commas drive many people crazy.) It would be interesting for you to focus on history and social studies and see if you have deficits there. In general you appear to have taught yourself well, despite your circumstances.

    Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

    by Leftleaner on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:34:42 AM PST

    •  You have properly identifed a key element of a (6+ / 0-)

      successful education program - whether it is done via homeschooling, formal classroom or some futuristic direct neural manipulation - feedback! But this ties into an even bigger issue relating to all education = what is the goal?  And this is where I think the real battles in education lie - determining what the goal (goals?) of our educational system should be. Ask a 100 different people and I suspect you might well get back 150 different answers . Seriously, we as a society and country and as individuals have numerous and often conflicting interpretations of what the "goal" of education should be. And this explains many of the problems - should our educational system be focused on 1) providing well behaved workers accustomed to working regimented routines with enough skills to read and follow instructions and safety rules under the direction of authority, or 2) kept busy during the winter but taught enough to utilize "modern" farm techniques but freed up during the summer and early fall so that they can work the fields or 3) baby sitting while the rest of the adult population works or 4) transferring funds from the public to private corporations or 5) something else (!!!)?

      Any discussion of what works and what we should do in our schools or "why has the USA fallen so far behind" inherently needs to first answer the question - what is our goal. After we answer that, then we can begin to find solutions.

      Ask yourself, what do YOU think are education system is supposed to do?

      Good Sense is Seldom Common

      •  I'll take a stab (10+ / 0-)

        from a different perspective because I don't have kids.  However, I think it's an important perspective because parents sometimes have tunnel vision about their own children.  People like me who don't can offer a more objective, societal view; after all, who these kids become is important to all of us.  The following is what I would consider the minimum knowledge required to become a well-rounded citizen.

        1) Civics - a good understanding of how our government works, your duties as a citizen and your rights, and a basic understanding of some of the different forms of government around the world
        2) History - a basic understanding of how wars, struggles and human suffering happen, to avoid making the same mistakes
        3) English language - read, written and spoken.  Good grammar, vocabulary and spelling
        4) Math - a fundamental understanding
        5) Science - a fundamental understanding of the scientific method and the basic fields of science
        6) Health education - reproductive health, hygiene and nutrition.  Basic bodily functions
        7) Arts - a healthy dose of art history, and exploration into the creation of art.  I think this is extremely important because it is the only discipline that challenges you to think critically, to analyze, to dissect.  The skills you learn through art enhance anything else you learn.

        "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

        by La Gitane on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 12:34:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We've thrown in computer technology to this (5+ / 0-)

          and with that, you basically have our homeschool program.

        •  Another important function of school (4+ / 0-)

          is to teach children to cooperate and compete, to develop the social skills necessary in an urban society.  Yeah, that may include learning to be cogs in the industrial machine, but it also includes working in collaboration to further science and learning in all areas.  This is where the diarist feels the most significant effect, as he was essentially isolated for a number of years and didn't learn those important social skills that were a weakness of his to begin with.

          Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

          by Leftleaner on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:23:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I would also include, if done the right way, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nuclear winter solstice

            conflict resolution. It takes teaching by example both at home, and in school.

            It would appear to me that the more perspectives a child is exposed to, and the more people  of varying backgrounds a child is exposed to (along with other factors), the more likely that child can gain the skills necessary to resolve conflicts when they arise.

            I would think it a lot less likely that a child indoctrinated in a "Jesus Camp" environment to excel at this. A lot of fundamentalist Christian homeschool environments bring with them the whole Dominionist mindset. The world is there for Christians to assert and establish dominion. Those not like them are little, if anything, more than enemies to be vanquished and then subjugated. Someone not in their in group is, at best, an "opportunity for evangelism".  For some fundies, approaching that in any other way is to compromise with evil.

            Why else would these groups have in many cases trained their youngsters in debate competitions and put them through law programs at Regent University, for example?

            liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

            by RockyMtnLib on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 03:36:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I would tweak your history line... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          La Gitane, peregrine kate

          ...to make it not seem like such a downer.

          •  Haha - (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            vadem165

            Sorry - I thought about that after I posted it.  I guess I was really trying to find out what the most basic of all reasons to study history would be, and it would be to make progress; to avoid making the same mistakes of the past.

            I'll add studying the great sea-change moments in history that made our lives better.... the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, democracy, women's suffrage, civil rights...

            how's that?  ;)

            "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

            by La Gitane on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 03:24:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, thank you. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              La Gitane

              Also, I know it strikes many as boring and possibly not entirely relevant, but I DO think know basic names, dates, facts, etc. are crucial.  I can think of a few historically illiterate politicians who make that abundantly clear.

        •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM

          That's constructive.  (BTW, I also feel like we have all that pretty well covered in our homeschooling, though we do more music than any other single thing).

          I think the question that the diarist raises remains:  

          Should the state make sure that homeschooled children are receiving an "adequate" education, and if so how would the state do this?

    •  but what is the problem with (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, radical simplicity

      the lack of quality control?  Do you think the systems of quality control in the schools are working any better?  Or are they even worse with what is going on with standardized testing?

      No approach to education is going to optimize every child's development and messy as it is, homeschooling/unschooling on the whole has been found in research to do a better job that institutional schools as a whole.

      And of course you are going to find children whose lives are not optimized in either setting.  Some who suffer.  Some who experience long-lasting damage.  But homeschooling/unschooling outcomes are certainly no worse that outcomes for publicly schooled children.

  •  You're ascribing a lot to homeschooling (14+ / 0-)

    If you'd gone to school, you wouldn't have developed agoraphobia, you assert. In fact, if you'd gone to school, you wouldn't have been "socially damaged," you say.

    I'm amused by your rosy view about how wonderful high school is for people with not-so-good social skills, but I'm afraid that if you consult people who have weaker social skills about what high school was like for them, you will discover that the reality is nothing like your imagining. In fact, many people with traits similar to Aspies find that high school is, socially, bad beyond words. And yes, I do speak from bitter experience.

    Equally funny is your belief in the wonderful academic experience a bright child like you would have found in high school.  The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, I suppose.

    •  How does attacking the diarist help? (6+ / 0-)

      The diarist gave what seems like a heartfelt story about a difficult time in his or her life. He or she was careful to point out that not all homeschoolers go through this, and that public school may not be so great for others. You're basically attacking the diarist for no reason.

      Someone who was bullied should know better. I had a hard time in high school. I wasn't bullied that hard, and I'm sure I had nowhere near the difficult experience you had.

      I think you should apologize to the diarist for attacking his experiences just as you'd want an apology if someone had belittled your difficult high school experiences.

      When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

      by PhillyJeff on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:14:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Introspection is hard (10+ / 0-)

    I disagree with several aspets of your story, but I'm 68, not 22, and, trust me, it's a whole lot easier later. I also have a daughter who is homeschooling three (11, 10, 5) and my observation of the process is entirely positive.

    I will say that you weren't homeschooled—as you point out, you were unschooled and it's unfair to paint all of the homeschooling world with such a broad brush. Case in point: many homeschoolers are from the fundie religious spectrum, and their motives and curricula are vastly different from the secular approach my daughter follows. In other words, it's as unfair to paint the secular homeschoolers with the same brush as the fundie homeschoolers as it is to lump the unschooled in with the homeschooled.

    I don't have any intention of beating up on your father and it's certainly fair to say he had some, er, distractions, but many of your social as well as educational shortcomings absolutely stem from his decision(s) and approach.

    Nevertheless, I blame the state more than him. My daughter has homeschooled in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and now Texas. Her oversight experiences in the first four are vastly different from what you describe for Texas (she's only been there five months and we've not discussed that aspect). I will also say that because of the oversight she experienced she will likely not have difficulty managing her kids' education in Texas, but that's not because of Texas—that's in spite of it.

    What I've also observed in the communities in which she's practiced is that the children are far more "socialized" than in traditional schools. One's mileage may vary, as well, depending on the home school orientation (see fundie vs secular above). I was amazed to see five year olds developing social skills across the board with all ages in their teaching groups. Children rarely get that in traditional schools.

    As an Aspie suspect myself, I can say (in my own circumstance) that there are things you can lay at door of the autism spectrum and some you can't. Some of the things you describe are little more than bell curve distribution of social skills, and you may very well have suffered from them whether you had a traditional public education or not.

    Congratulations on your achievements to date, but ascribe the shortfalls to the poorly implemented unschooling effort which was out of your hands, and don't lump homeschooling in with it, because my casual observation is your experience doesn't at all reflect my experience with homeschooling.

    Best wishes in your future.

    LRod—UID 238035
    ZJX, ORD, ZAU retired
    My ATC site
    My Norm's Tools site

    by exatc on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:35:57 AM PST

  •  At a fundamental level (7+ / 0-)

    unschooling is education at it's most natural state; as a species, humans are naturally curious and are interested in discovering how things work.  Much of human innovation can be attributed to this natural curiosity.

    However, there are quite a few problems with this naturalistic approach to learning.  We live in a society where we expect individuals to be well-rounded to a certain degree.  Long gone are the days where the education of most individuals in the poor and middling classes consisted of learning enough skills to be able to carry out your father's work.  At the very minimum, we expect individuals to be literate, have basic math skills, and have some understanding of historical events.  When compared to universities in many other countries, the United States is one of the few that requires an extensive general education curriculum for all college students.  So regardless of whether you are majoring in physics, religious studies or art history, all students are required to have some exposure to science, history, English, philosophy and art.  Most students, if given the option would choose to study one or two subjects to the determent of others.  For example, I despise writing and I loathed having to take rhetoric and writing courses in college.  Obviously, it's an important skill I use on a regular basis (I certainly wouldn't be writing on Daily Kos), but I detest the subject.

    I have very mixed feeling about homeschooling.  I have a number of friends and acquaintances who choose to homeschool their children.  Their children are all extremely intelligent and very advanced for their age.  On the other hand, I worry about their development from a social level.  The children seem to be very comfortable with conversing with adults, but have more trouble interacting with peers in their own age group.  They seem to act more like miniature adults then actual children, which I think is a real shame.  

    •  No, it's not learning at it's most natural state. (3+ / 0-)

      Human beings have always learned from each other. This is just a silly argument. There would be no need for language if we just ran around in the woods being "curious."

      The scholar tradition is an ancient one. Education is not new.

    •  My experience with homeschooled kids is that (11+ / 0-)

      they do much better in mixed groups of children than they do with only kids their own age. But socializing only with peers your own age is something we have invented. In fact, it can be hard for many public school kids to make an adjustment to social settings where they must interact with people of many ages. Which do you think is the better life long skill?

    •  It's true that (4+ / 0-)

      unschooling is learning at its "natural state". But humans' "natural state", in this case, is weaker than the artificial state.

      I think of it like I would the difference between an "inventor" and an "engineer". Technically, the two are essentially the same. But the days of the inventor are long since gone. At most, you'll see a lone inventor inventing some widget with some practical value, but nothing earth-changing. No more Edisons on our horizon.

      This is because everything that can be made by a single person has, by and large, been discovered. These days, everything is done collaboratively. The Space Shuttle? Collaborative work by thousands of engineers. A modern turbine in a power plant? Collaborative work by dozens of engineers. So on and so forth.

      Gone are the days when one's natural curiosity would suffice for one's chosen profession. These days, one needs efficient, assembly-line education to impart as much knowledge as possible, as quickly as possible. That requires some structure.

      If it weren't for being forced, I would never have sat down and read anything from the Federalist Papers, nor would I be able to quote sections of the Constitution to Republicans. The government courses I took in college are likely why I'm on Dkos today. Sometimes one needs to be forcefully introduced to something by older, wiser individuals in order to give something a chance. Sometimes, one might find an interest they didn't know they had. Cue the school system.

      TX-17 (Bill Flores-R), TX Sen-14 (Kirk Watson-D), TX HD-50 (TBD - Likely Celia Israel-D)

      by Le Champignon on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:08:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've been around a lot of homeschooled/unschooled (11+ / 0-)

      children and, while I know what you mean, I can't relate to the conclusion you're drawing.  I find that, yes, homeschooled kids are generally speaking much better at interacting with adults than schooled children are.  I also find homeschooled kids to be more mature, more responsible, and more community-minded than schooled kids.  I don't think it's exactly true to say that homeschooled kids have trouble interacting with people in their own age group.  I think it's probably more precise to say that they have more trouble relating to schooled peers in their own age group, simply because they often have little in common with schooled children their own age.  I find that homeschooled children, when together with groups of other homeschooled children, relate wonderfully with one another.  I have found, over the years, that homeschooled children are less aggressive with one another, far less prone to bullying, shaming, or other exclusionary behaviors.  They tend to be very open and inclusive and quick to make other children feel comfortable.

      •  relating to schooled peers is an essential skill (0+ / 0-)

        Almost everyone I've worked with went to either a public or a private school. In many settings, difficulty relating to schooled peers means difficulty relating to everyone.  

        I related better to adults than to peers when I was a kid. When I became an adult, I had difficulty relating to other adults.  In my own experience, other adults expect you to have the same skillset their schooled peers have.  

        •  Schooled peers are wild animals (4+ / 0-)

          Skillset is one thing, but being in an environment where being physically and emotionally assaulted by your 'coworkers' is legal, if not encouraged, is not something adults have to worry about.  If there is only one legitimate argument for homeschooling, it is this.

          •  "being in an environment where being physically (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nuclear winter solstice

            and emotionally assaulted by your 'coworkers' is legal, if not encouraged, is not something adults have to worry about."

            Were that was true at many companies.

          •  Despite my own experience, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean

            I would homeschool my hypothetical children if they were being physically or emotionally assaulted in a public or private school, the school was unwilling to intervene effectively (which I understand is extremely common), and there were not other public/private school options available to me. I hope I would be able to ensure they got an effective academic and social education regardless, but I don't know for sure I would be able to; both the OP's parents and mine had good intentions.  

            My own homeschooling experience left me especially vulnerable to abuse as an adult. I know of other people for whom this has happened as well. Difficulty navigating socially can make you an ideal target, since you are less likely to see abuse coming, less likely to know what to do when it is happening, and less likely to have formed social connections who can or will help.

            I have also read accounts by multiple people who were homeschooled in order to hide abuse at home (as well as by people who were not homeschooled specifically as a cover for abuse, but who still experienced a great deal of abuse). The idea of allowing abusers to completely isolate their children like that is terrifying to me - it is one reason that I support increased oversight into homeschooling (which in some states means any oversight at all, or any oversight that is more than very minimal).  

          •  Wait (0+ / 0-)

            Are you dehumanizing children based on where they go to school? Children, like my sons, who go to a school, are like animals to you?

            I don't there's any problem in the world that's improved by thinking of your fellow humans on this journey as wild animals unworthy of your consideration. Especially not children. I hope I've misunderstood you.

  •  Given your situation and where you found yourself (11+ / 0-)

    I'm not so certain that your conclusion that everything would have been better if you'd gone to school is accurate.

    Homeschooling is certainly not for everyone. And certainly the State of Texas could and should make curriculum materials available for free to any homeschooler. (This is possible in California, for example.) Some kids and some parents are not well suited to it. Others do quite well.

    If the schools were as bad as you say for you, I'm not sure why you think it would have been better in high school. I hated high school. It was an emotional disaster for me. Yes, I needed the structure of the classroom deadlines, but I sure didn't need people ambushing me from around corners or taking my books away when the teacher wasn't in the room.

    You're also probably overestimating how well prepared your peers were for college. And yes, nearly everyone gets to college and finds out how many people there are smarter than them.

    Good luck in your future. Anyone with the discipline to notice their shortcomings and work on them and who can learn and problem-solve on their own has the essential skills to do well.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:43:17 AM PST

  •  This is such a sad story. (9+ / 0-)

    But I want to say that Unschooling is not always a failure. I have to admit myself laughing at a friend who chose that path for her kids. We live in a community that has a homeschool charter school and it has exploded in the last decade.

    Anyway, the person I know whose kids were "unschooled" ended up with both kids accepted to Stanford where one graduated in the top of his class in physics, and the other is still deciding if he will attend there next year.

    I have seen homeschooling be an incredibly successful path for some kids, and I have seen it a tragic failure.

    One of the cool things about your story though is your drive to educate yourself and to achieve. You didn't give up which is amazing. I think if you had grown up in our area, with a school devoted to an individulized learning plan for you and the resources to support it you would have had a great high school experience.

    "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

    by voracious on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:47:22 AM PST

    •  Anecdotes =/= evidence (2+ / 0-)

      Maybe unschooling is great. Maybe those kids both got into Stanford.

      Other kids (like the diarist) had an incredibly hard time.

      I'm sure many other kids out there who might have been as smart as your Stanford friends or the diarist never made it to any college because they needed a little help learning or didn't have the opportunity or never realized how fun learning can be.

      You can't just say "well my kids turned out fine" so everyone should be able to opt out of high school.

      If that's the argument, you should defend the religious fundies who homeschool their kids to teach them that evolution is lies from the pit of hell.

      When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

      by PhillyJeff on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:19:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh absolutely. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nuclear winter solstice

        I totally agree that a few success stories do not mean its a great idea. I just mean that people unschool in their own ways.

        "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

        by voracious on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:28:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Which means equally (3+ / 0-)

        you cannot take this diary and extrapolate either.

        As a public school kid who loved every day there.

        •  Yes, I realize that (0+ / 0-)

          But we are seeing what seems to be a lot of educated, involved progressives extrapolating their experiences to all homeschooled kids.

          I grew up in Philadelphia - not a bad area of Philly but in a major city. I went to a magnet middle school. There were kids like me who had educated, involved parents. There were also kids who were less well off. I don't know about their parents, but I'm sure at least some had parents who wouldn't have been able to teach them advanced biology, chemistry, math, history etc.

          Heck, my mom has a master's degree in education and I seriously doubt she could teach me chemistry although I'm sure she would try if she had to.

          For these reasons, homeschooling is not an option for most kids and won't be until we're able to do all of it remotely or online.

          So I'm a little wary when we see so many posts that seem to say that homeschooling must be better because their homeschooled kids do better in school than their peers, are more socialized, and have more time to do what they like since HS wastes their time.

          When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

          by PhillyJeff on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:44:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Better schooling is no guarantee that (4+ / 0-)

    the obstacles you identify in yourself would not exist anyway. That said, you obviously need no one to tell you that one must play the hand they are dealt in life, and strive to thrive.

    You seem to be doing so, and I seriously doubt you are going to stop any time soon. Keep working on those social skills, and I predict continued better times ahead.

    Are you sure you weren't just fishing for compliments? :)

    "Nothing happens unless first a dream. " ~ Carl Sandburg

    by davewill on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:52:54 AM PST

    •  Ha, no (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davewill, mrkvica

      Perhaps I understated my deficiencies. They are maddening and frustrating and they impact me every day. If I'm successful in life, it'll be in spite of my history, not because of it. And then one wonders how much better things would've been had things gone differently...

      TX-17 (Bill Flores-R), TX Sen-14 (Kirk Watson-D), TX HD-50 (TBD - Likely Celia Israel-D)

      by Le Champignon on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:14:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's better to let it go. (3+ / 0-)

        I was a very shy kid, looking back, quite obviously ADD. Consequently I was an indifferent student with a poor GPA and had no idea what to do about going to college. I went to community college as a path of least resistance, but still had no clue how I could go on to a four year degree)

        It was no help that my parents did nothing to encourage me to go. I always understood they didn't have the money to just send me, but they never even TALKED to me about the subject.

        After having my own kids, I began to seriously resent them not helping me in any way. After all, I now knew about financial aid, and scholarships for the first generation college applicants, and the like. That resentment phase went on for quite a while.

        One day, I just decided to let it go. My life worked out (back in the stone age, you could become a software engineer on sheer natural talent and chutzpah). In hindsight, they were wrapped up in their own impending divorce, and since neither of them had gone to college, they may have been as clueless as I was. And there's no guarantee that going to college would have made such a difference in my life...Even if it would have, that's just not the way things went down.

        So, wonder away (it's human nature), but don't accept limitations no matter where you think they might have come from. Your future is not set. The twenties are a time of profound growth, and any of us can grow at any time.

        "Nothing happens unless first a dream. " ~ Carl Sandburg

        by davewill on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:13:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Let's see (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gareth, Leslie in KY

        I left public school at 16. never got the opportunity to go to college because due to abuse I had to leave home and start supporting myself.  Even though my father was quite wealthy and influential.

        And yet I retired at age 46 a multi-millionaire.

        And I can sit here and be upset about how my life wasn't perfect.

        YOU make your opportunities.  Once you reach a certain age, you realize what happened in high school years, or even college years doesn't matter all that much.

        Because you need to be able to learn new skills your whole life.

        If this experience has helped to master that ability, you are well ahead of the game.

        There are these things called libraries.  Any deficiency you think you might have, you can go there and get educated on that subject.

  •  Interesting diary. I went to High School in Texas (11+ / 0-)

    but to a public magnet school with a concentration in the performing and visual arts (as well, at that time, in journalism, a program which I understand has been closed at that school for some time now) with a student body of about 600 compared to the thousands that would have been at the regular HS to which I was "zoned". I don't think I would have done very well socially or academically at the "zone" HS but I did get a good education (including two years of French you'll be happy to know, taught by a teacher with a doctorate) which left me prepared both artistically and academically to excel in college.

    The disparity between the quality of public schools troubles me greatly. They are underfunded and overcrowded in so many areas of the country unless they are "elite" ones like the one I attended. This isn't fair.

    You seem to have turned out very well in spite of your unorthodox education. You might consider, maybe because of it, in part anyway.

    Good luck at UT. It's a hell of a good school by any standards.

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:59:30 AM PST

    •  My father did (4+ / 0-)

      want me to go to a magnet school. I can't remember why, exactly, I couldn't go. One day, my school organized a field trip in which we went to one, and I absolutely loved it there. I felt truly at home. I think there were financial reasons or simple geography that forced me away from it.

      You're absolutely right about the quality of education in public schools, especially here in Texas. As an aside, this is why I like that Wendy Davis has made public education her #1 priority as a gubernatorial candidate. I imagine it could resonate with folks like us who had poor Texas school experiences.

      TX-17 (Bill Flores-R), TX Sen-14 (Kirk Watson-D), TX HD-50 (TBD - Likely Celia Israel-D)

      by Le Champignon on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:18:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It had to be the commute, because there are, or (0+ / 0-)

        were (this was in the early-mid 80's, so it's a long time ago, before you were born even!) no additional fees associated with the magnet schools, at least in Houston which was my experience. There was one for the performing and visual arts (both my brother, who is a kossack, went there and later taught there and another kossack I know also attended at the same time I did though he's a couple of years older and I didn't really know him), one for science and technology, and one for law and criminal justice. All three of these schools were outstanding, public, and free if you could get in. I suppose that experiment was a kind of precursor to charter schools except they were under the full jurisdiction of the school district. Entrance was competitive and reviewed each semester: if you didn't do well, you could be sent back to your "zone" school.

        I know many successful graduates of my HS, many in my class in fact. Much later, a very famous alum of my school is Beyonce Knowles.

        Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

        by commonmass on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:44:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Same thing in Georgia (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          commonmass

          I got a top notch education at a public fine arts magnet school.  The commute was hellish (2 hours on the bus in the evenings - 15 minutes on the bus one way and another 30 minutes on another bus in the morning) but the cost of the school was the same as any other public school: live in the county and pay taxes.

          Oddly enough, a lot of us ended up in IT.  I bumped into two guys who were one year ahead of me at a web conference last fall.  

          The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

          by catwho on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 04:35:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Hard to know the path not taken (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Le Champignon, Gareth, Leslie in KY

    I learned a lot about the potential pitfalls of homeschooling from your diary. It was educational. Thank you.

    I would never offer any criticism of your father, who sounds like most people: a good man who loved his son and who made the best decisions he could at the time. When you consider that the family was going through a period of intense grief, it is even easier to understand the decisions made.

    I think it is worthwhile for us to all think about how we were influenced by our experiences. What we can never know for sure is what would have been on the path that we didn't take.

    Some young people would look at their path through traditional high school and feel that they would have been a million times better off being home schooled the way you were, even if they didn't master commas or MLA citation.

  •  Great diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Le Champignon

    Keep up your French and start a Spanish class if you can.
    And thanks for your well thought out and well written addition to the complicated discussion of homeschooling.

  •  I was a homeschooling success story, myself, (9+ / 0-)

    But I was a product of drastically different circumstances.
    I was pulled out of high school by my highly educated parents due to severe educational deficiencies at the school I was attended and due to severe and ongoing bullying (which I diaried about, here).  Both socially and academically, home-schooling (and early college enrollment) was one of the best things to happen to me.  It definitely can be done well, but it's hard.  I had a number of advantages:

    1) My father is a PhD and scientist, my mother is also college-educated, and, because of my families fotuntate financial situation, could afford to be a stay-at-home mother.

    2) At the time, internet education programs were just beginning.  Stanford offered the EPGY online education program, which was excellent - AP level math, physics, and english classes, with personalized attention over online chat and phone.  I have no idea if the program still exists at that level of quality - the larger-scale modern online courses are certainly not.

    3) I live at a nexus of excellent universities, and about 15 minutes away from NCSU.  I was able to enroll as a 'continuing education' student there at the age of 15, taking a couple courses a semester in an 'organized' environment.  This also was very healthy, socially - I formed a number of lasting friendships there.

    4) The internet, NCSU, and a decent (relatively non-religious) homeschooling social group provided a substitute for the social life High School provides.  COnsidering how utterly destructive my semester in high school was (and how hard four years of that hellish nightmare were on my other geeky and queer friends), this was far, far better than I could have hoped for from traditional schooling.

    Is homeschooling a good option for everyone?  Definitely not.  Is it a good option for most people?  Definitely not.  Is it a good option for parents with the resources to do it right, and children with special needs?  Absolutely.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.  In my own experience, I saw other homeschooling attempts that were being done in wrong ways or for wrong reasons, so I can certainly see where you are coming from.  I suspect that your experience is more the norm than mine - but my experience is still real.  I feel I owe my life to home schooling, and I hope that readers here on dKos can learn from my experience as well.

    •  Reposted this comment as a diary (0+ / 0-)
    •  Well, that's the other problem with homeschooling. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica

      In the vast majority of the time, it means mom stays at home. When you let public schools erode, it's another form of backlash against feminism.

      •  True, to an extent, (6+ / 0-)

        In my mothers case, she was a stay-at-home mother before I began to homeschool, and has remained at home after my graduation from college.  I would say that 'housewife' was a career goal for her.  I find that sad - a definite waste of potential - but it was her choice.

        The concern doesn't quite feel real to me, tho, perhaps because among my friends and family, I know few couples for whom the typical gender dynamics are relevant.  One set of friends has a stay-at-home dad, another has two mothers, and I'm likely as not to be the stay-at-home parent if I was to have a child.

        I'm not sure I can see 'fucked up gender constructs' as a problem with homeschooling.  It is certainly a very real problem for society, but it doesn't feel right to blame stay-at-home parenting for the biases that are channeled into it.

      •  Also, to be clear, I like public schools - (9+ / 0-)

        If I owe my life and career to homeschooling in high school, I owe my life and career doubly so to Mrs. Beverly Filer, my middle school special ed teacher, who ushered me through a near-total inability to write to being able to write for fun, and from a near-total inability to interact with my peers to being a teacher and tutor and even a leader.

        I am strongly opposed to the continued erosion of public schools - but I also see homeschooling as a potential 'out' for parents who face a school situation that is already untenable.  Good schools are the best option, almost always (although even the best schools can have serious bullying problems, I think - and that alone can be reason enough to need to get your child out), but good schools are becoming rarer and rarer, as even the best teachers are forced to conform to the NCLB formula, or are forced to get higher-paying jobs like busing tables or greeting at walmart.  We definitely must fight for better schools for the future, but each parent has to choose to do the best they can for their children, now.

      •  It also means one parent can afford to stay home. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peregrine kate
        •  I think that's the more potent argument - (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peregrine kate

          There's a very definite 'privilege' aspect.  It takes an increasingly unusual set of upper middle class (or higher) circumstances to afford just one working parent, without massive sacrifices.

          Again, though, I don't feel this is a problem with homeschooling so much as it is a problem with society in general.

        •  Not true (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Debby, Leslie in KY

          my sister was a single parent (dad was in jail), and she managed to scrape things together to not only homeschool her sons, but the oldest just got accepted to MIT on a full scholarship.

        •  not necessarily (0+ / 0-)

          It does mean the family has to be resourceful and committed.  

          Where I live, people of all income levels are homeschooling, including some with kids on Medicaid.   So they are definitely poor.  

          For myself, I was able to work flexible part-time hours in home health and as the kids got older and more independent I moved to full-time by the time they were high school age.

          For a friend of mine with a child with ADHD, she and her husband worked out alternate work schedules combined with some childcare for the years their son needed homeschooling.  He then chose on his own to go to high school.  

          Not everyone is or can be  resourceful and committed to the degree needed.  But the notion that there has to be a traditional "dad works mom stays at home family" is not represented in the real diversity of homeschooling families.

      •  Uh--Wow. You know no one will value Women's (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catesby, paxpi

        Work, until women learn to value it themselves.

        My work at home would be very valuable if it wasn't equated with something that any drooling idiot could do one hand tied behind their back.

        And I am a Feminist.

        Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

        by GreenMother on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:43:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  But not always (0+ / 0-)

        many women enjoy the role.

        My sister was an executive at Bear Stearns before her husband left her high and dry, and yet she still made he own choice, a few years later, to scrabble the money together to homeschool her kids.

        And she is an atheist.

    •  I can agree with this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kalil

      You were lucky to have educated parents. Certainly if they have the time to make such an effort, it can be very worthwhile, and it sounds like they ticked all the right boxes on ensuring you had a comparable social life as well. That's why I intend to supplement my children's education in mathematics (and later physics/general sciences) - I, being an engineer, will be exceptionally well-positioned to give them such an educational supplement.

      TX-17 (Bill Flores-R), TX Sen-14 (Kirk Watson-D), TX HD-50 (TBD - Likely Celia Israel-D)

      by Le Champignon on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:29:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The irony (3+ / 0-)

    The irony here is that you - as an outlier - could easily be used by the homeschooling movement as evidence of its success.  The self-motivation you're gifted with puts you way on the far positive end of the distribution of people, and with that gift you're likely to have been successful regardless of your schooling.   But the argument that you're successful despite your homeschooling could be obscured by the argument that you're successful after your homeschooling.

    So it's important to note the survivor's bias here. The stories we hear about - in any endeavor - are success stories. The useful thing to make sure to emphasize is that you're a rare case, and you suffered through a lot that you should have been spared.

  •  We had a different experience with homeschooling. (12+ / 0-)

    We took our son out of school in 6th grade because he was absolutely miserable.  We live in the deep south, too, but we were raised in a liberal state with liberal parents.  Here in the south, our sons were being tormented because they didn't go to church, and didn't say "yes ma'am" and "no sir" to everyone who spoke to them.  The religious children were absolutely brutal to my kids.  So, they hated school.  

    However, my oldest son was more social at heart than my youngest, so he didn't want to homeschool.  My youngest begged me from kingergarten on to please not make him go to school.  Oldest son, who was a brilliant kid and always at the top of his class, finally gave up and dropped out of school in his teens and took the GED.  He passed with flying colors, took a job in a local store, and then tried one more year at a specialty school.  He got straight A's there, but never used his degree.  He's never gone back, and has a great deal of anger surrounding his school experience.  He will tell you now that it was staying in school that hurt his psyche.  He just realized it too late.

    Our youngest son thrived in homeschool where we did a fairly simple online curriculum in which he did most of it himself each day.  Then he'd be on his computer for hours.  He "unschooled" his way to a degree in networking, and is now a network administrator.  More importantly, however, is that although he isn't a person who is very social, and prefers time to himself, he can easily BE social with just about anyone.  He's extremely well liked by everyone, and people at his work think he's something really special.  They come up to my husband and I often and tell us how wonderful he is, what a great work ethic he has, how helpful he is to everyone, etc.  He won employee of the quarter in a 2500 person environment a few months back.  He will tell you, now at 27, that he had the best childhood he could imagine, and that homeschooling was the best thing he ever did.  That's HIS experience of it.

    My point is that each child and parent will handle the experience of homeschooling in a different way.  Each could thrive or suffer in that environment depending on their own specific genetic propensities as a human being.  There are SO many variables to consider that I just don't believe one should say never homeschool your child, or homeschooling the THE only way to go.

    I was scared to death the whole time my youngest son homeschooled.  I knew he was happier, and more at peace at home, but I thought that we might be ruining him for life.  Turns out it was the best decision we ever made for him, and I wish my oldest son would've stayed home, too.  Maybe he would've thrived more in the later years, but he just couldn't handle being away from all the action that school provided.

    Bottom line is...no regrets on our homeschooling/unschooling experience, but I wouldn't tell ANYONE it was THE way to go. Each family has to make that call depending on their child, and each child will process the experience in their own way.

    •  your youngest son sounds a lot (0+ / 0-)

      like mine.  I asked him at age 5 if he wanted to try school and he said "No."  I asked why.  He said "because I want to be just Calen."  

      He has always been on the "quiet" side socially.  But when he went to Space Camp at age 10 was given The Right Stuff Award.  Everyone he has worked with has always liked him.  He is now an IT professional running his own businesses (he has two), one of which is learning drone technology and working with cameras.  He is 26, close to your son's age.

      I think people always made an assumption when he was younger that he was quiet and watchful in groups because he was homeschooled, but it was just his personality regardless of where he had been schooled.

      My older child, my daughter, was the opposite--begging to be onstage when she was 4!  She loved classes and organized activities--but also her freedom to write for hours under a tree in the rain listening to music of her own choosing! So she also loved unschooling.

      But both of them are like yours--homeschooling was the best childhood they could ever imagine.  

  •  Excellent diary (0+ / 0-)

    You are obviously extremely bright. Best of luck to you going forward.

    I ask him if he was warm enough? "Warm," he growled, "I haven't been warm since Bastogne."

    by Unrepentant Liberal on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 12:26:54 PM PST

  •  Worked fine for me (8+ / 0-)

    I was brought up in central Illinois. My parents didn't like the schools there, so we "homeschooled".

    There were other homeschoolers in the area, but they were doing it because "zOMG EVOLUTION", so we didn't mix with them. Basically it was me and my three younger siblings.

    We went through various stages of homeschooling, unschooling, homeschooling, unschooling. All four of us read voraciously, played outside in the creek and trees, and eventually got involved with an after-school chess league this guy started at all the elementary schools in the area.

    When we moved to VT, we all tried the public school system. I didn't mind, and stayed in all through high school. My siblings hated it and went back to homeschooling. They're still smart. I applied to universities and got accepted into several. I'm in the honors program at the university I'm going to, and studying engineering. My little brother is a complete math nerd; he basically taught himself algebra, trig, and calculus, and reads Douglas Hofstadter for fun.

    I understand that this sort of learning—waiting to learn about something until you really want to learn it, and only learning it then—doesn't work for everyone. But it worked fine for me and my siblings, and is working fine for thousands of other kids.

  •  I think your comment about the mental (4+ / 0-)

    image that is conjured up when someone tells you they are "home-schooled" is accurate, at least as far as I am concerned. I have to admit that I immediately think of little kids being shown a picture of Jesus riding a dinosaur.

    I realize that the reasons to home school are many and such a stereotype is unfair. I know that a lot of people home school nowadays because they perceive the schools to be unsafe and it has nothing to do with ideology.

    The good news is that very shortly, no one you meet casually will inquire or care where you went to high school. You'll age out of that question. And on job resumes, people who have gone to college usually use that as their start point. I guess it could come up on a job application where they have those standard stupid blocks of questions like where you went to elementary school, middle school and high school. I might write "individual study program culminating in Texas GED" instead of "home-schooled".

    I think you have excellent writing skills and I enjoyed your piece very much.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 12:27:45 PM PST

  •  Not all homeschoolers are alike. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica

    Where I can certainly see the lure of homeschooling considering the condition of our education systems nationwide not all homeschoolers should be doing it. I have a co-worker that was "unschooled" as you say. She has a brother that has some medical issues which caused him great embarrassment in school. At the time her mom was influenced by a fundamental church and so decided to take all 3 of her kids out of public school and homeschool. Problem she was not equipped to be a teacher to her kids so she let them do as much or little as they wanted. I can tell you that they all suffered from the lack of stimulation needed to keep their interest in learning. My co-worker has a poor command of vocabulary, math skills but has overcome most of it in the 5 yrs I have known her. The sad part of it is she is bright enough to go further but lacks the self confidence to do so. Up until recently she was even uncomfortable going to meetings with outside groups for no real reason other than lack of self confidence.
    I do not want to paint a broad picture of unqualified homeschoolers as I know most parents that choose this route do so out of a real desire for their kids to get a good education. Just not all parents are good at it.

  •  Homeschooling and unschooling have worked for (8+ / 0-)

    us. It's a shame that you and your parents weren't able to have those conversations that might have changed that path they chose for you. I do believe, especially for high school aged children, that student choice should be seriously taken into account.

    Ironically, we also spent some time in TX and as a homeschool parent, I have to say those were some of our better years! We've also lived in a state that requires parents register with a church school even though we are far from religious and in states where they want your curriculum choices only to rubber stamp the papers without even reading them. The high point of our homeschooling, however, was a public charter school in CA.

    Ultimately, parents are responsible for their children. And although I believe it is the job of our government to provide basic education for its citizens, I do not believe we should mandate that every citizen be forced to attend school.

    If you would like to see some other positive homeschooling experiences from progressives, there are several at Education Alternatives.

  •  Interesting that no one (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leftleaner, tobendaro, mrkvica

    has mentioned so far the public commons notion of education, and its importance.

    We enter into the common enterprise of public education to create and strengthen the public space, create the space of citizenship and embark on a shared future.

    •  Whenever people take different paths through life (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catesby, liberalfrombirth

      the outcomes are bound to be different.  My children are certainly different people than they would have been had they gone to school.  I love the people they are becoming.  They are strong willed, independent, apparently unaffected by peer pressure (even when they're in the midst of their peers).  They have, as far as I can tell, very strong emotional cores.  They laugh constantly, get along well with one another (my two oldest are 13 and 10 and are still best friends), are curious and creative and funny and interested in learning and life.  They've never been bullied and have never bullied anyone else, have no social anxiety that I'm aware of, are not depressed, angry, rebellious, obsequious, secretive or rude.  They seem happy and well adjusted and mentally and emotionally mature and as well rounded as I could reasonably expect people of their age to be.  Did they miss out on some things that they might have enjoyed?  Sure, but who doesn't?  None of us can be or do everything there is to be or do.  We're all limited by our environments but also made strong by them, if we're lucky.  My kids have lived a different kind of life, one with more freedom and room for self-determination than most people their age, or older, can comprehend.  

      •  Again (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica

        All of the comments, that I have read so far, pertain to individualism.

        We have a public project in this country, democracy, which evolved in tandem with the concept of public schooling.

        •  Well you blink and your kids are grown and the (7+ / 0-)

          damage is done, if you live in an area with crappy schools.

          We aren't rich. We can't send our kids to some hoity toity private school--which BTW lots of wealthy "Individuals" do, long before home schooling made it's come-back.

          I don't see you correcting them. I see you bemoaning the fact that right now, middle class and poor families have the socialized risk of bad schools and the privatized success of private schools out of their reach.

          If the public schools can't do the job, we don't have the time to wait around on them. By then it's too damn late.

          You want to correct something--correct the broken system. Don't be casting the stink eye on people who are compelled to respond to a situation that is bigger than they can fix in the school career of one child.

          Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

          by GreenMother on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:58:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And as a public school student (0+ / 0-)

          who loved their schools, what is actually going on in today's public schools is a shame, and no one who who is the parent who doesn't fit in should take the blame.

        •  In tandem? (0+ / 0-)

          In point of fact, public schooling came about long after the nation was formed.  As late as the 1840s, there were only a smattering of free public schools in the country, and the majority of people educated their children at home.  

          "Common schools" existed since colonial times, but only enrolled boys and only a minority of those, and mostly they were not free.  Very few boys went on to "grammar schools," the forerunners of today's high schools, and these were not free.  The oldest private grammar schools (now called prep schools) were established in the late 18th century, predating compulsory and free public education by a half-century.

          The first compulsory school laws were passed in Massachusetts in 1852, and compulsory elementary school was not universal across the country until 1918.  

          It's correct to say that public schooling evolved alongside democracy in the sense that democracy wasn't arguably reached in this country until the mid-20th century, with the abolition of Jim Crow, around the same time that full public schooling was achieved with the abolition of segregation.

          However, it is equally correct to say that the tradition of private education in America predates the tradition of public education in America, and that the founders and leaders of our democratic experiment have always believed in the former sufficiently to use it for their own children.

          Public school has never really been as public as one imagines.  We have never all been in this together.  The small number of people who homeschool, though rising from 2 towards 3 percent, by no means represent the largest exception to the "common project" of public schooling.

          Looking at the post-segregation public school landscape, we can also see that in cities such as mine (Boston) public school has both declined in scope and in quality since busing.  A smaller proportion of the children of Boston (currently 74%, heavily skewed demographically) go to Boston public schools every year. We are witnessing the wane of public school, and it's not homeschooling that's doing it.  

  •  I'm a little taken aback at some of the responses (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leftleaner, UnionMade, mrkvica, catwho

    I understand there are a lot of people who are passionate about homeschooling. I don't doubt that those of you who homeschooled did a great job.

    Not everyone has well educated parents. Some kids have religious fundamentalist parents who don't want them to learn. Some kids don't know that they might like some fields of study because they haven't tried them.

    I don't see how you can logically attack religious fundamentalist homeschooling but still support progressive homeschooling. Those parents would just argue that they have different priorities than you, and their kids are growing up just fine (as they see it).

    You also have a lot of people LIKE THE DIARIST whose parents tried but unfortunately failed to offer the rich educational experience that you're giving their kids. That's an unfortunate inevitability of homeschooling.

    To not accept that ANY kids are worse off homeschooling is just not being honest about the situation IMO.

    When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

    by PhillyJeff on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:25:07 PM PST

    •  I, too, am frustrated with the anecdotal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      catwho

      evidence offered here.  The problem, as I stated upthread, is that we have absolutely no control over what happens at home.  I know of situations where children are homeschooled so they can babysit younger sibs while mom works, and no schooling happens.  I talked to a dad who got custody of his daughter after mom pulled her for "homeschooling", but never got around to the schooling part, so dad wanted the daughter put in special education classes to catch up.  Another parent had homeschooled by talking and giving her child books about whatever the family was interested in at the time, but never actually teaching the child to read.  There was a diary here a year or so ago by a guy whose relative was letting her sons play DS all day.  Then there are the fundies who are teaching their children to be Christian jihadists, or that math is evil, or whatever.  I can counter each positive anecdote with a negative one.  We have little data about these kids because they are off the grid for the most part.  

      Homeschooling is a recipe for disaster, anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

      Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

      by Leftleaner on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:39:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would challenge you (6+ / 0-)

        in a friendly way, to offer something other than anecdotal evidence to support this kind of conclusion.  So far, the actual evidence I've seen, shows that overall homeschooled children regardless of the approach are doing as well or better than traditionally schooled children.  I don't think it's fair to use anecdotal evidence to support a position while castigating anecdotal evidence that refutes it.  

        •  My point is that for every anecdote (0+ / 0-)

          in favor, I can find an anecdote with negative consequences.  There are studies of homeschooling, which I confess not to have spent a great deal of time researching.  However, a quick look at this study and the limitations noted in the abstract reflect my thinking on the subject.  Research involves looking at students who are connected in some way to a school or who volunteer to come forward.  Many states do not require any connection to a school, so parents pull their children out or never let them set foot in a school, and they are never included in the studies.  Therefore, the studies are undoubtedly biased in favor of those who want to be studied or who are working through the schools and paint a more positive view of home schooling.  I can guarantee that none of the students I referenced above would be included, the parents would be too embarrassed to allow it.  

          Aside from all that, if 80% of homeschooled students are doing average or great, and 20% are completely uneducated (and I suspect it is very unlikely that 80% are doing that well), are we really willing to lose 20% of this population?  Shouldn't there be some type of accountability?  Schools are required to test the bejesus out of students--up to six weeks of testing time out of the year where I used to work--but parents can go off the grid and the child is never heard from again. I am sure homeschooling is never going to go away, but surely we should expect that parents allow their children to be involved in some schooling activity for both social and academic development.

          Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

          by Leftleaner on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 03:26:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Correction (0+ / 0-)

            The limitations of the study are noted in the body of the report, rather than the abstract.  I find them very important.  I can't copy from the report as it is in PDF format.

            Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

            by Leftleaner on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 03:28:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  If you apply your points (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CcVenussPromise, Catesby, Gareth

      to public schooling you get the same data.  Some children are ill served by public schools just as some children are ill served by home schooling.  We need to strengthen and change our public schooling because it is vital for our nation and our citizenry.  Home schooling is not going to take over and it will never be the norm.

      Everyone! Arms akimbo! 68351

      by tobendaro on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:43:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Home school parents have to deal with a lot of (4+ / 0-)

      clucking and a lot of questioning, and it gets old fast. You throw in to the mix, that some of us that are not Fundies who home school, are trapped in fundy-heck, and we have the added fun of living in a state where creationism is pushed in public schools through the back door and by religious home schoolers outright (among other things) making us even more politically and socially isolated.

      We can't win. We can literally please NOBODY. NADA.

      Then have someone paint all home schooling parents with what feels like a broad brush, and  people get understandably defensive. I am sorry that the diarist felt they were,  or was deprived of a social life they wanted or needed, and that they felt they did not receive adequate inspiration and direction.

      Homeschooling, A Victim's Account--that's pretty harsh. Not, I was a victim of my parent's neglectful home schooling... Or poor teaching skills, or bad parenting skills but the other--Homeschooling a Victim's Account, which suggest that all children who are home schooled are victims period.

      That title itself is pretty damning to home schooling in general.

      The fact is, a child can be victimized by parents who home school or by parents who send them to public school. Absentee parents don't have to be physically absent, emotionally and intellectually absent works just as well. And home schooling isn't the primary cause, it might make it harder for the state to pick up on problems, but the problems are there regardless.

      Absentee parents abound, those are the kids in public school that never have their papers signed, who don't have lunch money, whose children show up with no coat in flip flops in subzero weather. Those are the kids whose clothes aren't washed or who fend for their own dinners because mommy and daddy are either asleep between shifts, or just not home or not paying attention even if they are home. Those are the kids that don't get help with their homework and zero instruction in social mores and personal hygiene.

      That can happen anywhere, under any circumstances. Homeschooling is not the cause.

      Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

      by GreenMother on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 06:14:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am an atheist (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Debby, EclecticCrafter, Gareth

      but I find it disturbing that you do not think that people who disagree with you should be able to raise their children that way.

      You just want their point of view wiped out.

      That's not how a war of ideas works.

      Yes, some kids are worse off being home schooled.  Some are worse off in public schools.  Or even private schools.

      That's why we're all given our own life to live.

      •  I find it disturbing that you're ok with the (0+ / 0-)

        indoctrination of children into a closed worldview at a young age. I find that disturbing and disgusting.

        A lot of kids are scared of very real hellfire and brimstone. Maybe they'd grow up to be a great scientist or teacher or musician but their parents told them that girls should be subservient to their husbands or they'll burn in hell for eternity.

        FSM forbid they're LGBT - imagine you're LGBT kid who's homeschooled and taught that gay kids are the spawn of the devil and get special torture in hell when they die. Now imagine you never get to meet another LGBT kid in your life because your social circle is tightly controlled.

        I'm sorry, but you shouldn't get to do that to your kid any more than you should be able to cut off her clitoris or labia or marry her off to a 60 year old man when she's 12 years old.

        Kids are not the property of their parents. They are separate people who have rights and dreams and desires of their own.

        I don't have kids, but when and if I do I'm not going to indoctrinate them into progressive ideology and atheism from birth.

        I'm going to present all the evidence I have, explain my beliefs, but let them know that I love them no matter what they choose to believe and that I hope they consider the evidence before making any decisions.

        When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

        by PhillyJeff on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:48:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Just to clarify - I'm not saying homeschooling (0+ / 0-)

      is by default bad.

      I guess I understand why people are so passionate in their defense - if you're homeschooling your kids that's a big decision and you want it to be the right decision.

      I just am a little taken aback at how much vitriol I'm seeing towards high school in general. It is also a little frustrating to me to see people assuming that all homeschooled kids have educated, progressive parents that allow their kids to explore and grow while also creating boundaries and making sure the kids are understanding what they're learning.

      I was lucky in life - I was raised by a single mom, but my grandfather was lucky enough to save enough that we had more resources than most single mom-led households in a city like Philadelphia.

      So when I think about education, I think what would have happened if I was raised in a poor, inner city household with a parent doing her best but lacking higher education herself? I think in that situation, attempting homeschooling would have been a disaster.

      So for those reasons I don't think homeschooling is the answer to education in America for most people.

      And I really do feel for the kids who are homeschooled by closed minded, fundamentalist parents. And if we're going to allow homeschooling we have to allow that. Those kids might never get a chance.

      When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

      by PhillyJeff on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:59:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A friend of mine was unschooled (0+ / 0-)

    She got into Rice with no problem but didn't know how to do basic things like put her name and the date at the top of an assignment or write a paper in general.

    She managed to get two MS degrees but is kinda socially stunted still.

    Homeschooling is overrated, IMHO.

    •  Ha! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ET3117, benamery21

      I actually had that exact same experience. One time I looked at a stack of papers and saw that everyone wrote the exact same mini-paragraph in the top right corner, whereas I just put my name at the top left. To this day I don't put the date, but I might put the homework number with it (i.e. "Homework #7").

      TX-17 (Bill Flores-R), TX Sen-14 (Kirk Watson-D), TX HD-50 (TBD - Likely Celia Israel-D)

      by Le Champignon on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:45:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And as someone who grew-up in the military, moving (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreenMother

        to a different school system every year, I can clue you that those automatic patterns that each school district teaches differently and each seems to think is the only "correct" way of doing things can grow "old" very fast. Especially when not knowing the automatic pattern gets you in trouble.  

        An interesting anecdote - my first school was a German kindergarten - my dad had been stationed in Germany as a result of the Berlin crisis, my mom and I joined him there but since none of the support infrastructure for US dependents had been setup yet, we lived out in the local village and I went to the local kindergarten - where everyone (except me) spoke German and knew all the local songs and places. For that whole first term I was convinced that I was just dumb - had a hard time understanding anything! And when St. Nicholas came to visit the school at Christmas time I was sure that all I was going to get in my stocking were wooden spoons (used for spanking bad little boys and girls). However, though I never continued my study of the German language, even to this day, my wife says that sometimes at night when talking in my sleep I will be speaking in German.

        Good Sense is Seldom Common

      •  Hey, Mushroom (0+ / 0-)

        We live in East Austin, just North of 35. Give me a shout if you'd like to kick this around a little at the Cherrywood Coffeeshop, or Thunderbird on Manor.

        I suspect you're doing better than you think. It's not your skills buy your confidence that may be getting to you.

        Texas is Ground Zero in the fight for a better future. Get on board or get out of the way.

        by DyspepTex on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 08:01:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  So she never learned (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gareth

      to put her name at the top of a page? That's so sad!

      You're gonna need a bigger boat.

      by Debby on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 07:18:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I went to Rice (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cardinal Fang

      and I DIDN'T manage to get two MS degrees. Had to settle for a J.D.

      To be perfectly candid, a lot of us who went to Rice are socially stunted. It's just the way it is. I remember getting there and thinking "MY PEOPLE! I'VE FOUND YOU!"

      Rice actually accepts a very high number of homeschoolers (given it's small size). About as many as it accepts national merit scholars.

      Again, for the record, I've got my two kids and three other boys (all homeschoolers) watching "The Matrix" and playing computer games while I type.

      Advantage of home school? No "school nights."

      Texas is Ground Zero in the fight for a better future. Get on board or get out of the way.

      by DyspepTex on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 07:54:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Don't hesitate to talk about it. (8+ / 0-)

    I was making small talk with an (immigrant) co-worker once and asked him "so did you study English in high school?" and he came back with an unexpected answer:

    "I didn't go to high school.  When I was 10, I was sent to work as a peasant in the fields during the Cultural Revolution. I didn't get to continue my education until I was 20."

    This was not a conversation stopper, because I was even more interested to find out how he eventually learned English, got a PhD in physics, and emigrated to the United States.  

    So don't think that you won't be able to get to your educational goal, those detours are in the past now.  

  •  by your own admission it sounds as if you weren't (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother

    really homeschooled but rather left to your own devices.  As unfortunate as that sounds you do sound as though you made it out okay.  While I understand your experience has given you a poor taste for homeschooling, you should not judge everyone by that book.  I lived in a very small, conservative, red neck town in Georgia, 48th in the country for education, in a city that was at the bottom in the state.  As a liberal democrat atheist, homeschool was a very hard choice for us.  All of the other homeschoolers were conservative and republican and extremely religious.  However, I really felt I had to be able to do better than our current school system.  We joined other homeschool groups, went on field trips, played with neighbor kids, etc.  And thanks to my political involvement we were constantly having meetings at our house.  My children are not only able to converse with children of all ages but also with most adults and on a wide variety of topics.  My son was homeschooled through 8th grade when our program was defunded and he had to attend public high school.  Having never been to a brick and mortar school the first 2 weeks were hard but since then he has made honor roll,been invited to join the National Honor Society and this year he began dual enrollment at our local college.  My daughter went to public school in 7th grade and is also doing great-honor roll and NJHS member. Our baby is still homeschooled but will join Middle school in the fall.  It really frustrates me when people see bad homeschoolers and hold that to all homeschoolers.  It really isn't fair.  Granted most people do it for religious reasons or to keep their kids away from non white people and a lot of them, like your dad, don't do a good job of ensuring their children are actually getting a good education.  But please realize that some people do manage to do a very good job and their children turn out fine.  Good luck.  I hope you learn to thrive in society.

  •  My nephew was homeschooled (5+ / 0-)

    . . .by a mother that hated school and did poorly. The poor kid was short changed and can barely write a coherent English sentence. Today, he is in a Community College, studying history and doing poorly there.

    Public schools are a great American tradition. If they are not performing well today it is for a whole host of reasons. But that doesn't mean we should abandon them.

    March yourself down to the school and demand they get it right.

  •  I think that key to your diary is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Le Champignon, mrkvica
    I feel like I'll be able to greatly supplement my children's mathematics education with after-school tutoring using an incentives-based approach. Try something like that with your children, if you have the time and the energy. At the very least, you'll get to spend more time with them.
    Not to be a downer, I have found parents to either have too much time for their children and live vicariously through them or are tired when they come home from work and take the easy way out, giving children free reign.  When I worked as a college advisor, I saw both of these types of kids and found both kinds to be quick to call parents to bail them out when things didn't go their way in the real world. Teaching college classes now, I find the older students in my classes taking responsibility whereas the younger ones (18-21 yo) know more than me and even with lots of individual attention, insist on failing my classes.

    Having time for and giving time to your children is essential if you are giving them skills to live as productive adults and not whining adults.  You seem to be the type to realize they need life skills, as well, since you, basically, brought yourself up (as did my Texas husband).

    Thanks for the diary.  As a sideboard, my husband started a dump trucking business in 2007, the economy tanked in 2008 and we closed our business in 2013.  Sigh.

    Human dignity + compassion = Peace (Anonymous)

    by Raggedy Ann on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:36:50 PM PST

  •  In some ways, even school doesn't prepare you (0+ / 0-)

    I went to high school in Texas near Ft. Worth. It was a 4A school (meaning 800-1200 students spread over 4 grades) surrounded by cow pastures. The teachers there did their best, and I graduated valedictorian.
    I went to Rice and got D's for the first time in my life. And yes, I felt extremely socially maladjusted, even in high school, because those times are pretty much brutal for anyone who stands out in any way other than athletically. Be smart? You're a nail waiting to be hammered.
    I wasn't prepared for college. I didn't know how to study. I didn't know how to get to the theory behind the problems. It took me 2.5 years to finally catch up and start doing well.
    My kids go to public school, and I'm simply trying not to assign my own hangups to them.
    In short, you did the best you could, and you're still growing. That's the most important part.

    •  Where are you from? (0+ / 0-)

      I'm from Stephenville.
      WRC '86

      Shoulda been '84 but I flunked out! Had to go back and finish up. Barely got out of there, but was top of my law school class.

      Totally understand what you are saying. Did well in high school without trying. Got my ass kicked at Rice cuz I wasn't prepared and didn't know how to study. I did make the Beer Team for WRC, though!

      Texas is Ground Zero in the fight for a better future. Get on board or get out of the way.

      by DyspepTex on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 07:58:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You may misjudge what gen ed would do (6+ / 0-)

    The secret we English profs don't like to share is that writing is the most effective means of improving writing. Students who are given the task of writing an expository essay a day, with no grading or review, improve as much or more than students who write an essay a week and get it thoroughly marked. Citation is something that all students get frustrated by because, fundamentally, they can't persuade themselves that it is important.

    Social skills, though, may (or may not) get better in the purgatory or high school, but I don't know that the price is worth it.

    Just be aware that it's going to be tempting for you to imagine that whatever you didn't have would have given you whatever you lack. All the people around you who seem to have it together are just as sure that they're missing something important and probably just as upset about some bad turn.

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:57:48 PM PST

  •  Texas isn't the worse... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, CcVenussPromise, GreenMother

    I went to middle/high school in Oklahoma. Trust me...even 35 years later and with two BA degrees (one from a private university and another one from a major public university)...the schools in this more backward Bible Noose hell-hole make Texas and the rest of the South (except for Mississippi) look like bastions of enlightenment.

    Even now...I ask myself everyday how the hell could any NASA astronauts come from Oklahoma? What's worse is that there were several of them...but I have no idea how they were able to get the education they did.

    •  My unscientific theory (0+ / 0-)

      is they share the farm and ranch connection as being some kind of desirable trait leading to being a good candidate for astronaut, as well as intellect and other things, coincidence and maybe a bit of zealousness to get away.

      That bizarre notion occurred to me after Lisa Novak.

      In my pathetic need to blame subdivisions I surmised, "Well there you go, she was raised in a subdivision." As if that explains it (sarcasm).

      The physical rigors is a daily thing on farm, ranch life and that brutal Oklahoma weather might be a plus, and genetics.

      The weather might display seven different moods in a year, and six of them were life-threatening.
      Of the early well-known astronauts, all had farming, ranching backgrounds, even the one who was raised a "towny" spent summers at a grandparents' farm --handling a horse.

      I don't know the backgrounds of today's astronauts but I am going out on a limb here to say they are not from Novak's neighborhood. [snark]

      Blockquote is from the book The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl.

      A good horse is never a bad color.

      by CcVenussPromise on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:33:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nothing so far but anecdotal evidence (3+ / 0-)

    opposing homeschooling.  Every instance of a less than perfect homeschooled child is evidence, in some minds, that homeschooling is a terrible thing.  But, for some reason, every kid who fails in traditional schools or is profoundly damaged by the experience does not elicit similar calls to outlaw public schools!  Since the public school cannot guarantee that my child will end up proficient in math or science or writing, since they cannot show 100% success rates, and since, on top of that, traditional schools cannot assure me that my children will be safe from bullying, violence, sexual assault (by classmates OR teachers), damaging peer pressure, easy access to drugs and alcohol, school shootings, discrimination and/or psychological abuse, I would have to say that the traditional schools are a recipe for disaster.  

  •  I have seen very few happy outcomes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal, mrkvica, catwho

    with home schooling. My husband's mother decided to home school all three of her girls (my husband went to public school). Due to cost, they received very little education. They sat at home and did as they pleased, which, at least for two of them, meant they read a few modern fantasy books, did not study anything, and had no contact with anyone besides family. While the third sister took advantage of scheduled interactions with other home school kids, those two did not. They became very afraid of any person not family because they never had to interact with anyone outside that small circle, and it got to the point they refused to see a psychiatrist for other psychological issues. To this day they are trapped in an apartment with each other, too afraid to venture into the outside world--and yes, that means they never went to college, never have had a job, never had friends. They decided to end relations with my husband because he decided to have a life outside the confined space of a small apartment and got his PhD--and they have slowly ousted their other sister for the same reasons. The third sister went to college, has a BA and is taking classes for a second one in the sciences. The biggest difference in these outcomes was not necessarily the lack of education (which the third sister had to make up for in droves in a community college, making college a much longer and  more expensive venture) but social interaction--something one is forced to deal with in school, but not necessarily so much at home.

    My second tale comes from a family I know where the mother pulled her children out of public school because of teacher quality and decided to teach them at home with the help of a home school website. They met up with other home school families and had "learn to cook nights" and other fun activities, which, on the surface, seems wonderful, until you realize that's all her kids learned. When her son graduated and went to college, he wanted to be an engineer--and found out he needed science courses for that, courses he never home schooled in. His mother even said she did not understand why an engineer needed to know chemistry and physics anyway, and was upset that he was forced to endure them.

    Home school is such a convenient way to keep kids from learning what their parents don't want them to know--to the point it can have serious consequences on their futures. It also seems to have serious consequences for children who don't want to be home schooled but have no choice because they are autistic, or have some other disability that the school wants to have nothing to do with. They conveniently get kicked out, or not even allowed to apply to public school, with the district telling parents that there are tons of home school options for their child and please don't try to come back.  

    •  IDEA covers autistic and disabled (4+ / 0-)

      the school has to help them until they are 22.   I have a son with non-verbal autism and have had many meetings with the school system pertaining to his rights.  The school has told me to keep him home because no one can work with him and to keep him home because they are all going to Special Olympics practice.   I had none of that talk.  He is to be in school no matter what.  He is to be included in Special Olympics and if their aides are not trained, then they need to get aides trained for special education.  Autism is covered in special education and they are not allowed to cherry pick their disabilities.  

      Individual with Disabilities Educational Act is what super-cedes the school system from throwing him out of school.  It has been a battle, but the law is on the side of the child with autism.  You really have to fight them and know your rights.  

      "The war was expensive to the South as well as to the North, both in blood and treasure, but it was worth all it cost."- General U.S. Grant, Chattanooga campaign

      by Sandy on Signal on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:46:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's not just Texas (4+ / 0-)

    My friends nieces are 'homeschooled' in that they are at home instead of school.

    They are taught nothing, are extremely immature and almost infantile due to their lack of socialization.

    This is an extreme case due to a mother with extreme anxiety and a 'hands-off' father, and would/should warrant social services intervention if the extended family didn't fear it would cut off all contact with the nieces permanently.

    Now, most homeschooling is not like this, but it goes to show how little structure exists to catch these cases, even in the Northeast.

    •  Let me guess ... (0+ / 0-)

      New Hampshire? I can't imagine any other New England state being this hands-off.

      TX-17 (Bill Flores-R), TX Sen-14 (Kirk Watson-D), TX HD-50 (TBD - Likely Celia Israel-D)

      by Le Champignon on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:57:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  NJ (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica

        It's possible that the state does have certain standards, and just don't have the means of enforcement or detection. I don't really know. But if they do, somehow this family slipped through the cracks.

        The two girls will likely end up like the siblings in a post above, either isolated from society and/or married to a man who runs their lives for them.

  •  Some places require... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal

    ...that homeschooled students be given access to public school extracurriculars offered by the district wherein they reside.  This gives the opportunity for some social interaction and exposure to various activities not available in the home.  There should IMO be requirements and testing for such students.

  •  Mushroom: You write more coherently, (5+ / 0-)

    and use the language better, than many of my students who graduated from regular high schools, and in some cases from two years in community colleges. Also: close-to-everyone thinks everyone else is socially adept while they, themselves, are not. It's true that some people really are that smooth, but a lot of people feel just the way you do, and think they're alone. I'm not negating what you said - it's clear there were deficits in your teenage experience, both academic and social. But my bet is that you will find that you are not so very different from other 22-year-olds. I hope you do well as an engineer and find happiness in life, and enjoy augmenting your children's education :)

  •  Your writing is excellent, and if you are (3+ / 0-)
    prone to errors with the finer points of grammar (for instance, commas plague me)
    I didn't notice any mistakes. Commas aren't easy. For me, the best rule is: "when in doubt, leave the comma out."  On the difficulties of writing, Oscar Wilde once said: “This morning, I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back in again.” http://awritingprimate.com/...

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 03:13:10 PM PST

  •  While I understand your points (5+ / 0-)

    I have to explain that the drawbacks you mention in relation to homeschooling are not necessarily the norm. Here in VA there are guidelines and rules concerning who may home school (parents with a B.A. may make up their own curriculum) and those who may home school using approved on-line or text book-based programs. And at the end of each school year the students must take a standardized test, and pass it, before they are given permission to home school the next year. I home schooled both of my children, one from fifth grade, the other from eighth grade, for medical reasons. If my children had lived in wealthy Fairfax County, there would have been accommodations out the wazoo. Here in my backward, very Red county, there are none. Rather than have two kids dubbed failures in fifth and eighth grades, my husband and I made the decision to pull them out and I did it myself.

    Because this county is a bastion of conservatives, I was able to meet many other home schoolers who guided me in how to do it. Though we were not home schooling for religious reasons, we managed to get plenty of help. We found we had to draw the line at attending their field trips when my son went to the Smithsonian and was flummoxed and angry when they passed by the dinosaur exhibits with snorting laughs! You learn as you go!

    Both of my children had tons of interaction with other kids. Of course, we live in a town, so when the neighbor kids got home from school the knocking on the door started. But there was also Boy and Girl Scouts, dance and fencing classes, birthday parties and pool parties. They were able to take classes at the local community college when they were Jr's in high school, and both got GED's. They took the SAT's. One is an actor now, the other is going back to college this summer now that her medical condition is better.

    I am terribly sorry you had such a rotten experience as a home schooled child. I just want to state, in fairness, that all home schooled children do not have the same experience.

  •  Mushroom, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Debby, Gareth, Random Brainwaves

    When I read your account I convinced myself you were propagating an inverse argument. Your skills and comments were so good that I thought you were sandbagging and making an argument FOR home school. I guess i was wrong.

    We are currently homeschooling our two boys. As I type there are three other (home schooled) boys spending the night. Our kids have awesome social skills--at least with anyone not their own age.....Socially, they're simultaneously more advanced, and a little behind, their neighborhood peer group. What we've particularly noticed is that their cohort group in the local public school is more aggressive, flippant, and quite frankly less well behaved. But, our older kid is uncomfortable dealing with his public school friends since they're all approaching puberty. There machismo of the public school boys seems to be on steroids. Makes my son uncomfortable.

    For the record, I'm a product of public school. I went to an engineering school. Got my ass kicked. Wound up with a history degree. Here's a hint--all those OTHER engineering students also think everyone else is better than they are. Everyone is struggling to keep up. Not just you.

    Texas is Ground Zero in the fight for a better future. Get on board or get out of the way.

    by DyspepTex on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 03:33:41 PM PST

    •  Me too, tex (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Random Brainwaves

      Halfway through I was waiting for the punch line.  I thought we were getting there with statements like this:

      If my "education" gave me anything, it's the ability to read, write, and debate extremely well - reading and writing all day has a tendency to do that.

      I used to teach at the college level, and I can assure you that the majority of public high school graduates do not meet this standard.

      I'll say that if this is what a "victim" of homeschooling looks like, he ought to meet a victim of public schooling - like maybe one of the 20% of high school graduates who are functionally illiterate.

  •  Well, I've always been more than skeptical of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catesby

    the "advantages" of homeschooling, but your extensive vocabulary, your insights into the pitfalls, your obvious intelligence and your writing skills make you a champion of that system, in my eyes!  There are millions of publicly "educated" children graduating from high school today in America who could never come close to writing this diary, let alone reading it.  Our public schools have been decimated, so count yourself lucky.  You can learn social skills by putting yourself in social settings as often as possible, studying others behavior the way you studied communicating on these tubes.

    Best. President. Ever.

    by Little Lulu on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 04:13:46 PM PST

  •  Everyone's childhood is a personal (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Le Champignon, GreenMother, Debby

    retrospection. Thanks for being candid.

    I have to agree with Karmsy and Cardinal Fang's comments, in particular that you're evolving.

    Our daughter was homeschooled from 3rd grade through high school. She's in her 20s. Here's her Facebook status last Monday:

    I've come to a better appreciation of my original career choice lately. I usually get excited on trimming mornings but only one month into a good part time retail job with an awesome boss and co-workers and I still really really don't want to go to work. It seems so pointless. Can't wait till I can settle and just work my business. A few things to take care of first in life though. Nothing to kick me in the rear and realise how dumb I was being to resist what I had fallen into than a taste of a "normal" job. Working with the horses is just so much more satisfying and worthwhile. I apparently can't change that part of myself! Still going to finish college but I don't have to focus on a "useful" degree at least. I can just keep working on my passions whether it will lead me to art or science I don't know. But either way my life will involve horses and helping people love and understand them. Thank you to [mentor] and [mentor] for helping to bring me back into focus last year.
    At 16 while still homeschooling she began an apprenticeship as a horse hoof trimmer, she's a specialized "farrier," trained in a wholisitic approach to hoof care certified under the Association for the Advancement of Natural Horse Care Practices (AANHCP).

    She has not taken a loan for college. She's paying her way.

     She counts the association's founder, Jaime Jackson, as a mentor and personal friend.  

    Some social situations are going to be firsts and always awkward for some of us. No matter what preparation we make or how old we are. There are psychopaths out there that we have to interact with, a whole spectrum of  assholes.

    leesuh said something about miniature adults, I was one and I was not homeschooled. My daughter was comfortable with anyone and is more social. Her boyfriend is a younger man.

    In the spirit of this diary, I'm going to say to the diarist,  I went to Miami Aerospace Academy. It was in Little Havana (Miami, FL). It's been razed. It was unlicensed, unregulated, and unaccredited. It was a boarding school that went co-ed in the early 70s.

    Surely you can guess how many peers I must have (sarcasm).

    Hope you continue to forge your path.

    For our daughter's homeschool curriculum, it was the antithesis of unschooling, it was classical, another label is that is was global but with Latin and Greek because she liked it. I will never recommend classical for any child who will hate it.

    She is learning Japanese now, has been to Japan, was hired as bi-lingual in Japanese and can read Spanish.

    Appreciate this diary, empathize with your experience.

    Reminds me of something in my own life, the strange military school I attended no longer in exists, the hospital I was born in no longer exists, and the city* I was born in will not issue a state birth certificate under any circumstances  --one time a certain state in Middle America required me to have one to renew my passport, nice man made a phone call, loud, incoherent, short, and brief debate from behind a wall, then silence, then I got a passport. I'm Cuban ethnicity, by the way, past  miniature adult. All solid fundamentals for being an extraterrestrial. I'm not running for office, too socially awkward.

    *NYC

    A good horse is never a bad color.

    by CcVenussPromise on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 04:25:30 PM PST

  •  I was also "unschooled" (0+ / 0-)

    For the entirety of my childhood. My parents are extremely dysfunctional  people, especially my biological mother, who was supposed to teach me and my brother, but instead decided that constantly recounting abuse from her childhood and slapping herself in the face were preferable. She taught me to read, but basically got sick of playing teacher by the time my brother was born, so he didn't learn to read until he was ten, by playing video games (if it weren't for video games, he probably wouldn't have learned at all).

    There was a lot of abuse, and I'm sure CPS could have taken us away, but if you've never gone to school society basically doesn't know you exist, let alone what your home life is like.

  •  Thanks for telling your story. To add some (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Random Brainwaves

    "your mileage may vary" nuance, my experience with homeschooled Texans has been very different.

    I teach at one of the state's top private universities, and every so often I come into contact with a homeschooled student. The last two I taught and mentored were phenomenal students -- they were miles ahead of their peers academically as soon as they set foot on campus, and were also well-adjusted, popular students who seemed wise beyond their years. Though they were both very conservative, they had acquired cunning analytical skills, and could make liberal arguments better than any liberal students in their classes.

    (A biased sample? Of course. I obviously don't see the students who aren't qualified for admission.)  

    You won't believe what this gay dolphin said to a homeless child. First you'll be angry, but then at the 1:34 mark your nose will bleed tears of joy.

    by cardinal on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:32:00 PM PST

  •  Wait, it gets worse . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal

    In Texas, the wingnuts don't just want to "unschool" their kids at home, they also want to control the public school curriculum.  What a nightmare!
    As for this young diarist, although he missed out on a lot growing up, it sounds as though he's done a commendable job of compensating.  Best wishes going forward.

    "One of the boss' hangers-on sometimes comes to call, at times you least expect. Tryin' to bully you, strongarm you, inspire you with fear--it has the opposite effect."--Bob Dylan, "Floater"

    by oldmaestro on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 06:15:52 PM PST

    •  Actually, the wingnuts (0+ / 0-)

      want to dismantle the public education system in Texas.

      And that's the one thing they're doing a bang up job on.

      Texas is Ground Zero in the fight for a better future. Get on board or get out of the way.

      by DyspepTex on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 08:09:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for your diary; I hope you have enjoyed (4+ / 0-)

    the many very interesting, generally supportive comments you have received.
    Though just about everyone appears to have responded to your thesis about being "unschooled" as a source of what you consider to be social problems now, I would like to suggest, gently, that you think about another possibility: grief over your mother's death, and guilt related to your father's subsequent struggles to raise you.
    It's not a failing to review one's childhood and adolescence and take stock, as you are doing. But to lose a parent at any age before adulthood is a big blow (assuming that your mother was a "good enough" mother, as they say; and if she was not, that brings its own complications). It is a psychic event that also can have a large impact on one's ability to be comfortable with people, period.
    I am not a therapist, and I have no vested interest in promoting therapy. Yet I humbly suggest that you might find it helpful if you went to talk to someone (at a mental health office on campus, perhaps? if you bond with someone there, that is) about where you are now, where you have been, and where you want to go.
    Best of luck regardless.

    Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 07:06:34 PM PST

  •  Very interesting--thank you for sharing your story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal

    and the final insight. It's the conclusion I've reached as well, with regard to my five-year-old granddaughter. I'll supplement her education.

    When I read about what goes on in public schools nowadays, though, I feel like sequestering her in a convent high in the mountains of Tibet. Conceivably she'd be safe there.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 07:22:57 PM PST

  •  Thanks for sharing (0+ / 0-)

    I'm a strong advocate for quality public schooling and am very well aware of some of the potential drawbacks to homeschooling, but I hadn't heard about 'unschooling' until reading your diary. And it seems as terrible as the name suggests.

    I don't know if anyone has commented about this, and I hope you see this as nothing but a compliment - your writing is very good, both in style and argument. I hope you keep writing here.

  •  A great diary... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Random Brainwaves

    Although I must disagree somewhat with your conclusion.

    I think homeschooling is in some cases a good idea. Not usually -- the usual reasons are religious and really bad -- but for some it's a good fit.

    For truly gifted students, school is often extremely trying, and homeschooling can work out very well. The socializing aspects of school need to be made up for, however, and without a suitable school substitute it can be very difficult. It's also takes extra work to ensure that one gets a reasonably well-rounded education.

    Things are also now much better than they were 20-30 years ago, and many states will allow high school students to take college classes on the state's dime.

    Personally, I dropped out of school after 10th grade, and was accepted directly into college on the basis of my PSAT/SAT scores. No GED, but many private colleges don't care and will also accept good AP exam scores for credit.

  •  Autodidacticism (0+ / 0-)

    ...is a treatable disease, and I think eventually everyone who is any good at anything gets at least a mild case, and has to learn the limitations and strengths of their own learning history.  You can read Euclid's Elements if you want geometry, what isn't replaceable are the brilliant teachers and all the nuanced kit they bring to the enterprise of learning.  Kit you can walk away with -- at least some of it -- for yourself.

    But you will find that at the university...

    And some of the other folks were totally right, everyone loves awkward engineers that don't fit into groups.  Everyone I know anyway :}

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:47:01 PM PST

    •  meh... (0+ / 0-)

      I was homeschooled until entering UCLA. Got summa cum laude, highest honors, blah blah blah.

      I was distinctly underwhelmed by the college experience. I learned far less from college courses than I could have studying the same material on my own.

      •  that's too bad (0+ / 0-)

        It seems a shame to collect institutional honors and not find something good in the love and energy that the profs put in.  I don't have any fancy latin attached, nor were all (or even a majority) of the classes I took worthwhile -- but some of it was great in a way that I can't imagine even existing in another environment.  Mileage varies, put pooh poohing the whole thing (while invoking your credentials to give it weight) seems like straight up sour grapes.

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 07:21:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  One encouraging fact (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Le Champignon

    regarding your social skills:

    You mention how you intend to supplement your children's education.  So, you do envision children.... for that to happen you must possess sufficient social skills to become close with a person who will want to procreate with you.... requiring a fairly complex and high degree of social interaction...

    The fact that you mention children so matter of fact shows that you are confident in the fact that you WILL have them.  Remarkable confidence given the impediments you detail.

    I appreciate your sharing this diary with us.  Thank you and I wish you the best with those children who will have a great Dad and a mother who appreciates a diamond in the rough.

  •  school (0+ / 0-)

    I feel bad on that. But, to think that home schooling is what some students do, they also deserve to finish their studies and try to overcome their fears.

  •  The diarist seems to be confusing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gareth, Random Brainwaves

    correlation with causation, which as a highly educated person at this point in his life he should be able to recognize.

    There are literally thousands and probably millions  of  American socially-impaired and "comma-impaired" individuals that have passed through the halls of institutional schools and not been saved from these problems the diarist struggles with.  

    It is just as likely that if he had been forced to stay in school against his stated wishes he would be blaming schools for his current struggles.  I have seen this in individuals before, particularly young adults.  I had a young grad student intern who couldn't spell and he wanted to blame his early education when it seemed clear to me he had some mild learning disabilities (which I am trained to diagnose).  

    It is obvious that the diarist has been able to achieve and learn many things and my reading of his high school years suggests he did quite well with unschooling.  There is no way to know what social struggles he would have had in school, but I suspect he would have experienced significant ones, just based on the clues in this diary.

    A likely factor operating here is the phenomenon known as "engineer syndrome" which has been discussed at seminars I have attended.  It is squarely just outside of the autism/Asperger's spectrum.  So no, he does not have Asperger's but he's got some traits.  And like Temple Grandin says, lots of typical people have some pieces of the spectrum and we should learn more about this and how the brain works.  My own little piece is being slow to get jokes and not liking to function in groups, preferring individual one-on-one interaction.  And that is not just being an "introvert", it has to do with difficulty I have dividing or alternating attention.  

    At any rate, it is inappropriate to generalize from the specific to the general as in "I think unschooling was bad for me therefore no one should consider this for their child."   Besides being faulty logic, it is contradicted by the thousands of adult unschoolers who are perfectly happy with their experience and wouldn't have had it any other way.  

    For example, my daughter, who wrote this diary that was on the Recommended list awhile back:
    My Experience As An Unschooler

  •  Combining Home School with Public School (0+ / 0-)

    can offer the best of both worlds.  I home schooled our two adopted  children during the 3rd & 4th quarters of school (roughly November through February).  They attended their public school the first and last quarters.  I followed the public school curriculum and used the same textbooks.  I also used a lot of supplemental materials to add depth.  I'm not religious; my motivation to home school was to help the kids overcome their language deficits, so they could be successful students.

    With one-on-one instruction, I could cover the entire year's curriculum during our two quarters at home.  Our family also enjoyed tremendous flexibility with holiday vacations.  

    Since the kids learned so much at home (and had so much fun learning), they went from being called 'stupid' to being sought after for answers.  They also aced their EOG tests.  The confidence they gained at home helped them immensely with their social skills and conflict resolutions at school.

    It was the best of both worlds for our entire family.  We only did this during middle school, though.  It gave everyone a break from the 'mean girls' and 'mean boys.'

    It was pretty darn sweet!

  •  keep in mind, my brother and I were homeschooled (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Random Brainwaves

    experiences vary. It originally started as a liberal movement, and there are a lot of people who still do it that way.

  •  An invitation to le Champignon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Random Brainwaves

    I run a large, extremely successful homeschooler math team in Austin. It's full of socially well adjusted, academically able kids who will all go to college. Team alums have already gone to MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Yale. The larger Austin homeschool community has sent tons of kids to UT. Some of them may have been those kids in your classes you thought were better prepared than you. You should visit us! I can guarantee you will come away with a broader view of what is possible. Send me a PM if you are interested.

  •  my son tested (0+ / 0-)

    as "gifted and talented" in 2nd grade and if I wanted him to go to an accelerated program which was at another school, I had to get him there and back every day. This wasn't really an option. So he didn't go. The teachers tried to challenge him, but mostly gave up and asked him to 'help' other students when he was done early. There weren't too many options outside of school but we did as many as we could to help challenge him.

    My observations from this experience; he was often bored in class -which got better and worse in High School depending upon which class he was in. His reading skills were off the charts compared to his fellow students so he did other homework in class when they read through and discussed the textbook. He finally had challenges in Science and Math and loved it.

    The problem became that when he went to college it was like drinking from a fire hose for him. He was so starved for challenge that he tried to drink it all at once (against my advice). He was a bit unprepared for what he wanted to do, even though he took AP classes in High School, because he had been left on his own so much as the classes throughout school plodded along. He didn't fail, but he did set himself up for a hard 'row to hoe' later because he had to repeat some classes and struggle for higher grades to bring his GPA up.

    The other issue was that several of his friends did go to the "gifted and talented" program and like you, they have difficulty with social skills. They were isolated in a small group and never really learned how to interact with all different types of people. My son did and was very socially adept at school and to this day. Because he also had a lot of positive interaction dealing with teachers to negotiate extra work or free time activities, he was also good at working with adults which is also a good skill to have.

    So that's my experience with public school that doesn't really meet the needs of the student.

    Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world--and never will. Mark Twain

    by whoknu on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 06:19:01 AM PST

  •  Thank you. Yet, oddly, this supports unschooling (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gareth, blueisland, FloridaSNMOM

    First of all, thank you for a thoughtful article. Thank you for careful introspection and exposition. Thank you for your effort to help others understand and plan for education.

    I have never been a fan of unschooling. However, this little bit really caught my attention

    With some mild effort in an algebra book - a subject I'd never studied until that time - I was able to pass the math portion barely
    Bad news is, you had reached the age of 17 without knowing algebra.
    The good news is, you somehow acquired the inner strength, resolve, and sense of direction to go about fixing that problem yourself. And that's a million-dollar prize. If unschooling developed that trait, you came out ahead of 98% of the schooled.
  •  I'm sorry you had a bad experience (0+ / 0-)

    with home school. But it sounds to me more like life interfered with your schooling, and your father was so caught up in everything that happened he didn't re-evaluate your situation. That's a situation specific to YOUR family, not to home schoolers in general. It's sad, but it can happen in any family, in any situation. Were you in public school you may have had more educational support, but you may have suffered in other ways. This is not a put down on your dad. The circumstances changed from when your parents decided to home school you. Unfortunately, with everything going on he made the very human mistake of not re-assessing the home school situation.

    We home school our two children. My son is autistic, and a senior this year. My daughter is in 5th grade and has low vision issues severe enough that she can't read a text book, even a large print edition. She does her reading on audio, or on the Kindle in text to speech, or on the computer where we can blow it up REALLY large. I also hand write all her work sheets so that she can see them. I spend my weekends preparing their classwork for the next week, and their father and I spend hours discussing subject matter, etc. It's a LOT of work. And not every parent is ready for that. And sometimes life comes along and kicks you in the behind and then you have to come up with a new plan. Every year we re-assess our decision and make a plan for the next year, tweaking things as we go.

     For our kids, home schooling was the only viable option. Our son was so bullied in elementary school he was AFRAID to go to school. How much do you learn when you spend all day in fear? He managed to pass from grade to grade, but he was WAY behind in a lot of things when we started home schooling him. We didn't realize that until we did start, because the school kept saying he was doing fine. Then he freaked out about middle school and the school didn't have a plan for him for middle school and we said "enough". Home schooling him reduced his aggressive behaviors drastically because he wasn't always angry and afraid. It was best for him and for our family. For our daughter, she can read, but she can't SEE even enlarged text, until it gets to the point where it's unworkable, and that's with her glasses. She'll probably never be a fluent reader because she doesn't get enough experience. But she's an avid reader of audio books and books on text to speech. She loves science and history. And she's a very social kid, and makes friends easily.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 07:44:57 AM PST

  •  as an adult unschooler (0+ / 0-)

    Obviously everyone's experiences with home/un/regular schooling will be different. It's not for any one to judge how another individual goes through a singular experience. The only issue I would take is your last sentence:

    "But for your child's sake, don't homeschool them. It's not worth the damage done to their psyche."

    To generalize your one experience (which you perceive as negative) to a whole, is simply not logical. I had a great time unschooling, but I would never state that's it's for everyone or that "For your child's sake, unschool them! It will make them turn out well adjusted like me!". No one is going to turn out like me, because no one else is me. Whenever I defend unschooling, I try (oh how hard I try!) to make it painfully clear that all I am saying is that it worked for me. That's it. One person, at least, in the whole wide world, had a great time unschooling and is a happy, well rounded, socially well-adjusted (comma loving!) adult. You feel it did not work for you (although I feel like you're doing pretty well...an engineer, bilingual? do you know how many kids come out of the school system bi-lingual? I know of only 4 other people that I have regular interactions with that are bi-lingual. The other 40-50 people I see on a regular basis studied, at best, Spanish in high school, which they promptly forgot. so pat yrself on the back!), and that's fine if you had a negative experience. But you can't use that as a justification to tell other people that it's going to be negative for them.

    And I will reiterate what other commenters have said; school does not ensure you will come out socially well adjusted. I know plenty of people who went to school who are socially awkward/introverted/have a hard time making friends. My fiancee (not socially awkward) went through school all the way from preschool-college. When making a list for our upcoming wedding he joked constantly that half the wedding would be his family, and half would just be all my friends, since I know so many people we can't even invite them all. He's a very sociable, intelligent, handsome guy, but he's half-jokingly asked if he could steal one of my four options for maid of honor to be his best man since he doesn't have anyone he feels that closely with - except for my friends. It's really just a matter of personality, and if you had been to school that would be no guarantee of you coming out feeling more socially well-adjusted.

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