Is education going to change?

A reader sent me a link to this article in the New York Times.  I had read the article earlier in the week.  The article is about 2 women, one 34 and the other 51, who have decided to home school their kids in NYC and buck the insanity of the academic world in NYC…at least for now.  The difference is their home schooling isn't the traditional type of home schooling but more a day to day adventure using NYC as their educational playground.  They do connect with other people in NYC who are doing home schooling with their children a few times a week so that there is a way for the kids to spend some time with kids their own age.  So, the woman who sent me the article was curious my take on the article.

Here was my response:

I had read this article when it came out.  I have mixed feelings.  I completely agree with the insanity that goes on in the private school sector of trying to get the kids in and the expectations those kids meet.  We are lucky that the school that our kids go to, Little Red Elisabeth Irwin, actually creates a similar environment that these women are talking about.  Alternative, embracing the community, letting information flow, etc.  On one hand, I believe that the parents are very self indulgent for keeping their children home.  They are older parents, they are on to their next gig ( their kids ) and want to keep them to themselves.  In the end, the kids don’t get to develop the personal skills by spending time with kids their own age.  I have seen it in kids that are home schooled.  There is a social disconnect.  Although they seem to make an effort twice a week to create activities with other similar aged children.  Most of the schooling, at least in LREI, from the 4’s program to 2nd grade is really geared towards the social skills and 2nd grade curriculum is all about NYC vs making sure Johnny can read.  Not that Johnny can’t read but the teachings are very different.  BTW, that insanity that the women talk about in that article is also generated from their peers who have children.  I don’t get it but it absolutely exists. 

The parents might be impressed by the children and their abilities to connect with adults and a young age where they seem light years older than their peers but in the long run is that really going to be good for the kids when they are 8, 11 and 14?  Granted the school system is not perfect but there are many schools with different curriculum (particularly in NYC vs. other areas of the country) and I would hope that parents could find one that is suited to their desires on how they want to raise their children. 

My gut tells me that there will be a serious backlash from the “no child left behind” act that was a complete debacle out of the Bush Administration and that there will be a backlash in the private school section as colleges become more interested in whole children vs. programmed kids.  I see the difference between the kids at more progressive schools downtown ( or uptown ) and kids at the high pressured uptown schools.  I’d take a kid who has figured out to be themselves and feel comfortable in their own skin any day over a kid who is just attempting to ride the fast track to Harvard.

In addition there is something that I thought about later.  In the article, one of the mothers was very impressed how the kids who were educated at home were able to interact with adults so well.  My response to that would be they can interact with adults but can they interact with kids their own age.  Also, how are they able to learn the skills of making friends.  When you are sent off to school every day in an environment by yourself, you are forced to make friends and find a comfort zone.  If you aren't given that opportunity what happens later on when you are put in an office environment or go to college?  Just asking the question.

The concept of having the kids stay home for a long period of time like until they are 5 or 6 because you have the ability to spend that time with them, I understand.  But no matter how you cut it, I really do believe that having your kid stay home in a very insulated environment without the ability to branch out and explore themselves among new people, to find out who they are by growth and development which includes making friends and enemies is a vital part of growing up.  Kids that don't get to experience that and only have their parents as the only role models that they know vs a fantastic history teacher that opened up their eyes to history.  How about being in a classroom with a variety of people with different life experiences that read literature and interpret the meaning in a total different way than yourself is something that can not be taught at home.  It is an eye opener.

Also, separation for a few hours during the day benefits everyone and makes for healthier relationships.  At least that is my 2 cents. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. Karen E

    Thanks for your thoughts on this, GG. I also read into it that the women are rebelling against the system, whether because they hate the insanity within their social network or because the economics are too daunting. One of the joys of reading you and Fred is noticing the little tidbits on childrearing here and there … that you truly belieon a regular basis. Your points here about letting the kids find friends and enemies make a lot of sense – and I know you’ve lived it!