I was reading through the many comments on the home ed post I wrote for Parentdish – Why I am homeschooling my child – and a couple of them jumped out at me because I’ve heard this kind of thing before:
Home-schooling removes children from the real world. Being able to do whatever, whenever we like, is a poor preparation for a world of work in which (like it or not) we have tasks to complete and can’t just go to the beach, much as we would like to, but must persevere until a responsibility is fulfilled.
Ignoring the fact that school really isn’t “the real world” (how could school be more real than home?!), this comment makes me a bit sad. Being able to do whatever, whenever we like may be a poor preparation for a job you hate, but why base children’s education on the idea that their future is going to be miserable? I spent 15+ years “fulfilling responsibilities” and “completing tasks” in a traditional work environment and I hated it a hell of a lot of the time. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to work for myself and I’m much happier. I can go to the beach if I want to, but I can also persevere until a “responsibility is fulfilled” if that responsibility is mine and it’s fulfilling to me. Does that make sense?
Even some positive comments addressed this:
This lady sounds as though she will do a good job,my only concern is that no matter how rounded and well balanced her son `turns out` he will still need the paper qualifacations [sic] to open the `doors` for a fullfilling career in later life !!
Do people have such narrow ideas of what a fulfilling career is? I have paper qualifications and they were basically cock-all use. The thing that’s brought me the most fulfilment has nothing to do with qualifications. Plus, of course, just because a child is home educated doesn’t mean s/he can’t still get paper qualifications if s/he wants to.
I’m currently reading How Children Succeed by Paul Tough and he suggests that academic achievement isn’t a true indicator of success later in life, but rather character is more important. I’m still mid-way through, but so far, what’s important seems to be grit and determination and, yes, following through on tasks you find hard. But why should those tasks not also be something you enjoy? I find writing hard. I have been known to have epic flail spirals. I sometimes think about how much easier my life would be if I didn’t feel compelled to write bloody stories all the time. (Seriously – what do people do when they’re not thinking of writing, writing, worrying about writing, worrying that they’re not writing? It must be so relaxing…), but I keep doing it anyway. Because it brings me fulfilment. Why wouldn’t I want the same for my children?
One of the main things I hope will come out of home educating the boys is that they will find jobs they love and that inspire them. Not work that – “like it or not” – they just have to get on and plod through.
(Plus, some experts have suggested that 65% of kids starting school this year will end up in jobs that don’t exist yet so how do we ‘train’ them for work we don’t yet understand?)