The Kelley Family home
school education center officially opened for business today. After a long period of discussion, investigation and thinking, today we officially withdrew my son from the private K-12 school he had been attending since first grade. The motivations were numerous:
- First and foremost its something that our son wanted to do. He asked about it and did everything we asked over the past few months to prove to us that he understood what it would and wouldn’t be and that he was up to the task.
- Although he had been doing much better both in terms of grades and hours of homework every night, it was still the case that most school systems treat boys like broken little girls.
- Both my wife and I did a lot of reading about education: what it is, how you get it, what the system we have today actually does, etc. If you want to have your eyes opened to some things you wish you could unsee, look at the real history of the
PrussianAmerican education system.
- I spent some time thinking about the skills and knowledge I use on a day to day basis both at work and at home and compared that to what I learned in school and what my son is learning. I also took a look at the skills and talents of candidates for intern positions I was interviewing at work vs. what I wanted them to have. Lots of mismatches to say the least.
Although we did (do?) have a few reservations:
- Of course “socialization” always comes up (it’s the homeschool equivalent of the Libertarian question “but who will build the roads?”) and it was a concern for us as well. He is pretty involved in the church youth group and has a emerging group of friends in the neighborhood that I think will help here. He has also continued to regularly talk with the friends he met at Porcfest, thanks to Skype. So its something we’ll have to watch, but I think it will be OK.
- The big question was whether we (me, my wife and most importantly my son) could “do” it. Could we effectively educate? There are a few things that got us past this one. First, the realization that education is not something you can make anyone do – they have to want to (the old you can lead a horse to water saying comes to mind). I think home education could actually be more productive since he will be able to study what he is interested in and interest means a lot for desire. Next was an understanding of what 8th grade is really all about: review. I skipped 8th grade and my daughter really coasted through her 8th grade year at the same school. If we were going to try home education, this was the year. Then there was the (almost overwhelming) amount of materials that are available. Kahn Academy, Ron Paul Curriculum, iTunes University will all be making appearances in our home this fall in addition to some plain old physical books (“real” books mostly – not text books). Last was the realization that it doesn’t have to be forever. We’re doing home education for this academic year and evaluate how it goes at the end of the year. If it’s working and we want to continue, we will. If its not or if we think the best option is to go back to school, we’ll do that.
My son will be setting up a blog to document his adventure and I will post the link when its live. All in all I think we made a well considered decision and I am excited about the discovery and conversations that will happen in the next 9 months. I’m not sure exactly what it will look like, but I know for sure it won’t be anything like this: