Monday, August 04, 2008

Bad School is Good for You?

On what planet is this true? The planet where we also drop heavy objects on our children's heads, kill their pets, and burn up their toys, just to acquaint them with the realities that they may someday face in their adult lives? Oh right, that planet doesn't exist. Or if it does, no one wants to go there, because it sucks.

A dear friend of mine was recently ambushed with a bunch of anti-homeschool criticism, which took this familiar form: You have to send your kids to school so they can get used to the horrors and hazards of real life. In real life, you have to march in step even if you don't like the tune! You have to put up with people you can't stand, you have to persevere in a negative environment, you have to grind through tasks that you don't enjoy, and it's not all fun and roses when you grow up, so kids have to get used to it! That's what school is FOR.

Are you kidding me? School is for preparing children for how awful life will be? Yes, that is the idea. School is boot camp for life. Survive this, and you're ready for that. Get used to it, because it's never going to get any better. An unbelievable position to take. Inconceivable.

First, this assumes that life will always be terrible. That my children will have to groaningly turn off an alarm clock, scrape a comb through their hair, trudge off to a job they hate, push themselves through tasks that are meaningless to them, and repeat this process for years and years. I would *never* assume that. I would never want my children to expect this kind of life! I don't do that, my husband doesn't do that, and we never ever *would* want to do that. If I found myself in that situation, my first and most earnest goal would be to pull myself out by my ears. I speak from experience.
My friend was asked, "If they don't have to cope with an unfriendly, uninspiring teacher for a year of school, then what are they going to do when they have to deal with a boss they don't like? If they don't learn to cope with boring school material, how will they cope with a boring job?" My answer is that they SHOULD NOT have to cope, long term, with either of those things. If they find themselves in a boring job with an awful boss, I hope they stand up immediately and march away fast, shaking the dust off their shoes behind them. I would never, ever want them to respond by putting their heads down and saying, "I guess I better get used to it." Never, never, never.

Second, this assumes that *if* an awful adulthood is inevitable, then an awful childhood is the appropriate preparation. That doesn't make any sense to me either. If my children are really, truly doomed to an adulthood of weary drudgery and persevering through awfulness, then that should be all the MORE reason to allow them to experience all the joys and freedoms that childhood could bring! Bring on the field trips, beach days, light sabre battles, and art classes! Is the logic of this lousy argument that a happy childhood will lead to unreasonable expectations of a happy adulthood? I expect to be happy. Why should my children not expect this?
My final beef with this is the basic premise that we expose our children to bad things because bad things are going to happen in the future. Inevitably, an event will be rained out, a relative will get sick, a friend will leave. So, do I need to pull my kid out of the bike race for a random reason, refuse to love him at regular intervals, and kill one of his aunts, just so he gets used to the way life is going to be? Of course not, that would be RIDICULOUS. We don't parent like that in any other area of life -- we try and protect them from all evils, all discomforts, all pains, until they are old enough where we can't protect them anymore. So, why can't we do this with school?
I refuse to put my child in school just so he can gets used to boredom, stifling routine, and negative social situations. The very idea boggles the mind. What do you think? Have you heard this argument before?

1 comment:

  1. BRAVA! People who aren't enlightened don't get it, Lydia!

    I tell you, where you wrote, "VOTE FOR ME!" ? I'd vote for you - even though I know that's not what you meant. :o)

    Shell (who expects to be happy, have fun, and love)