Millions of American parents are now… schooling their offspring at home, and new computer software is making quality home education easier to accomplish. Recent studies have shown that home-schooled students are superior to schooled students both academically and socially…
It shouldn’t surprise you that home-schooled students do so well. In school all students are expected, cookie-cutter style, to learn the same way and at the same pace; at home, learning is individualized and self-paced, as all learning should be.
–Teen 2.0: Saving Our Children and Families From the Torment of Adolescense, Robert Epstein, Ph. D.
Plenty of young people become well educated by their parents and through their own efforts despite going to public school.
But you can make the results even more dramatic by removing your children from these harmful institutions. Tomorrow we will dive into creative ways to homeschool or “unschool” if you think the logistics are impossible for your situation.
Today, let’s just focus on why children and teens need to be rescued from public schools.
A study on rats found that when they were given “enriched” environments to explore, their brains physically grew, and the rats displayed better problem-solving skills.
They didn’t have to be forced to interact with their environment. They were naturally curious.
It doesn’t make sense to push your children towards particular things that you want them to learn, or that public schools say they should learn.
Instead of signing them up for piano lessons, for example, put a piano in their environment. If they express interest, offer to get them more help and instruction.
The Sudbury Valley School in Framingham Massachusetts has a 50-year history of teaching students in this way.
They have a beautiful, sprawling campus, with a pond, woods, and fields. They have books to read, and games to play, sports equipment, kitchens for cooking, and labs for experiments. They have teachers available so that when the kids do want help learning or creating, they get it.
But students plan their own days, they are not forced to study anything in particular.
And with such a history, the school has amassed piles of anecdotal evidence on the results. It suggests simply giving children the freedom to pursue their own intellectual activities makes them more self-assured, more successful, and happier in childhood, and later in life.
School is not about knowledge or intelligence. It is about obedience. It trains youth to be obedient to authority figures and to seek their approval.
Look, many teachers are wonderful people. But even the greatest teachers are restrained by the system.
My mom was a 5th-grade teacher for almost 20 years. But she retired early because the administration grew increasingly insane. When she tried to give the students more freedom to learn what they wanted, she was scolded that “the objectives are not clear.” If she didn’t keep Soviet-style control over the class, she was told to crack down.
She didn’t send enough kids to the office for discipline. When she did, it was, why can’t you solve these problems without the administration?
This all was in stark contrast to her first years of teaching in the late 90s and early 2000s. And this was at a school in Massachusetts, said to be one of the top performing states in public education.
Of course, I have a high opinion of my mother. But even she was not allowed to be a good teacher, because the system doesn’t want good teachers. They want teachers obedient to the whims of the administration, who in turn enforce obedience on the students.
We recently recorded a video where we discuss many of these themes, along with my sister who homeschools her children.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep your kids away from the riff-raff.
“But in the real world, they’ll have to deal with…”
Really? I don’t see it. This isn’t a matter of sheltering your kids so they don’t understand that there is evil in the world. It is a matter of teaching kids that they don’t have to associate with bullies.
But it’s not just bullies, it is the other students who conform to the “teen culture” spreading like cancer throughout the world.
In school, young people are surrounded by peers, who sometimes exert unbearable pressure on them to conform to bizarre standards and who are often organized into stifling cliques; at home, young people have meaningful contact with better role models.
Rest assured that your offspring will naturally be exposed to enough terrible people in life to learn how to cope. You don’t need to exacerbate this with public school.
It is only quite recently in history that anyone thought it was a good idea to group a bunch of youngsters of the same age together.
Avoiding the problems associated with teen years requires a healthy continuum from childhood to adulthood. That means becoming more and more exposed to adult culture and responsibilities as you go through your teenage years.
Grouping students by age destroys that continuum. In Teen 2.0, Epstein says that teens in cultures with an intact continuum have few of the teen angst issues common in the USA. Teens also spend as low as five hours per week with peers of the same age in these societies.
In the USA, teens spend 70 hours per week with people their same age.
It’s not surprising that virtually everything our teens think and care about has to do with their peers. Because of laws that restrict their ability to work and require schooling, they’re trapped with their peers most of the day…
This also gives marketers the opportunity to market to a “teen culture” which would not naturally exist without the artificial age segregation encouraged by schools and laws.
And this teen culture further infantilizes teens and holds them back by giving them terrible examples to emulate.
Better to get them away from the peer groups in public schools. They should be exposed to working adults who could teach them something useful.
Plus teens can be given responsibility for younger homeschooled children, which will benefit both the younger child and the teen.
It’s not just crazy gunmen students are left defenseless against.
Some schools put cops in the school, which sounds like a good idea. But if they aren’t stopping school shootings, they are generally handcuffing non-resistant elementary school students. Other “resource officers” assault the students, or taze them while the Principal holds them down.
The administrations can’t address the real issues because they are too busy interrogating five-year-olds until they pee their pants. Every day in the news you see another report of a teacher doing something crazy, assaulting, or sexually abusing students.
And then there is bullying, harassment, and violence from other students.
The suicide rate for teenage girls is at an all-time high. Student suicides cluster around the beginning of the school year in the fall and final exams in the spring.
This unneeded stress is killing America’s youth.
Attending K-12 180 days per year for an average of 6 hours per day means a student spends 14,040 hours of their youth in public school. That is a staggering 18.5% of waking hours young people spend in a compulsory government institution.
And that is not counting homework, extracurriculars, or detention.
And what do most people have to show for it? Do you remember how to perform chemistry equations to calculate joules? Even if you did, is that a useful skill for more than a very specific segment of the population?
I dream of what I could accomplish with 14,000 hours. I cringe thinking of all the valuable things I could have learned, or just the enjoyable time I could have spent doing whatever I loved.
It is a much better use of time to let children and teens do what they want. Whatever interests them.
That’s how Leonardo da Vinci started his training to become one of the greatest minds in history.
Robert Green explains in his book Mastery.
Banned from school because he was a bastard, Leonardo wandered the forests. He took parchment and pencils from his father and drew everything that interested him in intricate detail.
This later led him to art school, which led him to the detailed study of birds’ wings, which fueled his obsession with designing flying machines.
Don’t stifle your future da Vincis. Empower them.
There are actually so many other reasons to homeschool your kids, so please add more in the comments.
Okay, I’m sure you’re convinced, and you want to homeschool your kids. But what if it just isn’t possible with your living and working situation?
Tomorrow we’ll tackle some creative ways to make homeschooling or unschooling work for you.