Thursday, September 22, 2011

Real Education

Over the years of homeschooling, I have tried to pursue a real education for my kids. I have researched curriculum that I thought was good. I have pursued opportunities for learning that were outside the box.  I have grown, adjusted and refined learning at home. But I have always struggled against "school" brainwashing.

What I mean is that inside my head there has always been a voice that tells me that my kids should learn a certain thing, a certain way because that is how it is done in school. Even when our homeschool has been the furthest away (philosophically and practically) from a brick and mortar school, the voice has always been there.

I have had to balance my kids' learning styles with my educational philosophy and my personality. (If mom ain't know). Sometimes I really need those workbooks and math assignments. Let me tell you, it is exponentially easier for the teacher (me) to say, "Go do your school work!" than to generate excitement and make a lasting impression with creative learning activities day in, day out. About five years into homeschooling, I realized that we needed a flexible combination of workbooky assignments, hands on/mom involved activites and lots and lots of reading.

Even now, after 10 years of homeschooling, I doubt myself. I wonder did I make the right choices? Am I making the right choices? Mostly I am concerned about ARG and his high school.

See a year ago ARG told me he wanted to try to get into a top tier university. No problem! No pressure! So I've been researching and trying to figure out how to position him to be able to achieve that goal. After a year and a bit, I am starting to feel that he and I are on the wrong track - focused completely on getting all A's, scoring uber-high on subject tests, PSAT and SAT tests, and taking the toughest classes all 4 years of high school. All this in order to maybe be qualified for a school that we can't even afford. And I was told recently that top tier school don't like homeschoolers at all, even though they will never say so out loud.

So I wonder if we shouldn't just take a breath, realize that there are many, many college options and focus on "real education". Maybe he doesn't need 4 years of science and french (subjects he doesn't care for much). Maybe he can take more time to study the things he really loves: history, computer science and drama.  Maybe he doesn't have to take Calculus 2 his senior year. Perhaps he can have the time (now spent preparing for subject tests) to dive deep into his passions and learn things that he finds worthy.

It seems like we both have the pressure of this college thing on our shoulders - and honestly I don't know if it is worth it. Are we victims of school brainwashing? Are we trying to fit into the "system" that we have been opting out of for years? Is it a square peg in a round hole?

Does one's undergrad school really matter? I've heard it's where you go to grad school that counts (assuming he'll go to grad school).

Basically, trying to conform to the elite college system has got me down. And I can't figure out if it is foolish  to pursue "real education" or is it wise?