Of all the most frustrating accusations about homeschooling- and there are many- the one that really gets me is this:
Homeschooled kids are sheltered from the real world. They need to go to school to learn what life is all about.
Ummm…what?! How is it that kids who are living and learning in the community every day are being encouraged to instead spend seven hours a day in a building designed to simulate the real world?
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I realize that we as a society are so ingrained with the idea of what school is supposed to look like that it can be difficult, if not downright impossible, for some of us to recognize that there is another way, but let’s think about this rationally.
While children in school are busy completing reproducible worksheets about counting coins, reading about the community in their textbooks, and watching power points on the life cycle of a frog, homeschoolers are counting- and using- real money to make real purchases. They are accompanying their parents to the grocery store, the bank, and the voting booth. They are wading ankle-deep into a stream searching for foamy clutches of frog eggs, squealing in delight at the discovery of hundreds of tiny tadpoles darting about.
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They are learning in the real world, not an imitation of it.
And isn’t that what school really is? It is a building designed for the purpose of teaching children what the world looks like through textbooks, worksheets, and the occasional documentary, but school policy very rarely goes so far as to actually let the students venture out into the world that the education department feels is so important.
At this point, some people may chime in and say:
But what about socialization? Kids need to be around other kids if they’re going to know how to act in the real world.
I understand the concern in this claim, but again, let’s think critically. Are there only children in the real world? When a child grows up and gets a job, will they only be working with other people around the same age and living in the same neighborhood? Taking these factors into account, I think it would be safe to say that homeschooled kids- all kids- need to be around other people in order to know how to act in the real world. And that is precisely what homeschoolers are doing.
They are visiting their lonely, elderly neighbors and listening to them reminisce about days gone by. They are baking cookies for the local firemen, police officers, and librarians to say, “Thank you for what you do.” They’re having friendly conversations with cashiers who now know them by name. And, yes.They are playing with the kids in the neighborhood everyday after school lets out.
Suffice it to say that the notion of kids needing to be in school in order to learn about life should be one of the most easily debunked and, in fact, should possibly be looked at the other way around. Maybe it is the kids in school who need the opportunity to experience life in its truest form- a life lived through experiences, not worktexts.
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