This “real world” you’re talking about? I don't think it means what you think it means.
This morning a homeschooling friend of mine sent me a link to this unintentionally hilarious New York Times piece, inviting teenagers to share their opinion of homeschooling and whether it prepares children for the "real world." The comments that follow are what I find hilarious, but also quite sad. In the upside-down view of most of the teenagers, the "real world," is the highly regulated, compartmentalized realm of the government educational system, where children spend 13 years almost exclusively with same-age peers, receiving institutionalized (and often politicized) instruction from government employees.
The Pundit and Pundette blog shares some of the more pathetic comments (complete with misspellings, bad syntax, and grammatical errors), and then summarizes the more common views:
- School is where our friends are (bullies included) and its institutional character prepares us for the grim "real world."
- Home is an isolating, lonely place.
- Friends are vastly more important than family.
- "Socialization" is a necessity and can only take place in school.
- "Socialization" is more important than learning.
- Conformity is more important than learning.
- Learning shouldn't be too pleasant an experience.
- Herding us into groups is what we deserve.
- Outside the institution of government school, personal advancement is not possible.
Here we have young people who can barely imagine what life would be like without school, or how they could possibly learn or make friends apart from this government institution. Their obsession with "socialization" attests to the breadth and depth of the peer-attachment epidemic.
I'm not sure what the poor things mean by "the real world," but I get the feeling they think it's going to be even bleaker than the current conveyor belt they're riding. Passivity and conformity have been bred into them from day one and all they can do is praise the system that is crushing them. It's not their fault; they never had a chance.
Whatever your view of homeschooling, I suspect the New York Times editors did not intend to showcase the problems with government schooling so profoundly and irrefutably.
Further thoughts: So what's the solution? Obviously not everyone can or should homeschool. And private schooling is not an option for those on tight budgets (which is nearly everyone).
The problems with our once-proud public education system are too numerous to mention, but surely increased bureaucratization is chief of sins, along with the entrenchment of that bureaucracy. As with so many of our government institutions, it seems to have become a system that continues unchanged because there's graft to be had. And as with so many of our government institutions, it seems the only solution is to tear it down to the ground, and rebuild it on a brand new model.
It's easy to criticize, but let's dream big here, Ricocheteers. What would your proposed model for public education (under the assumption that some form of public education is a Good Thing™) look like?