School Is Not a Guarantee
One of the fears I had when deciding to forego school, and I think many others do too, was that my kids would ‘fail’. What if it didn’t work out? What if they didn’t learn everything they needed to know? What if they would have been better off at school? It’s a big responsibility taking your children’s whole education into your own hands. We’ve been led to believe we’re not qualified for that task.
But then I realised, school is not a guarantee. If I chose to send my kids to school I would be taking a risk with their education there too. An even bigger risk maybe as they would be educated by people who didn’t know them as well as I did, and their education wouldn’t be specifically catered to their individual needs. Sending your child to school does not automatically guarantee ‘success’ or even an education.
School kids fail. Some don’t get high enough marks to pass school. Sending them there does not mean they will end up graduating. Of course, some of them don’t.
School kids drop out. Some kids won’t make it to the end of school, they will drop out before it has been completed. Some will skip class on a regular basis even though they have to be there.
Some kids have their love of learning damaged. They lose that beautiful passion for learning they had in early childhood.
Some kids are unfortunately damaged by bullying.
There are no guarantees. Sending your child to school does not mean that they won’t ‘fail’, it just means that you won’t be solely responsible for it. It’s true, if you decide to home educate you are entirely responsible for your child’s education. That is a risk too, but maybe not one as big as outsourcing their education. If you are in charge of their learning and you are with them every day then you get to know them deeply. You can help them learn whatever they want to learn, and you can spot any difficulties and change things if needed. You have big responsibility but also big power. They won’t get to the ‘end’ of their education and suddenly realise they haven’t learnt what they needed to know. You are there every step of the way and you are involved.
Whichever method of education you choose, it’s all a risk. In my opinion though, no one really ‘fails’. If by the time you are an adult (whether schooled or unschooled) you find that you don’t know something that you really need to know, you can just learn it. You don’t need permission, or a teacher, or a curriculum. You can always learn what is needed, learning has no expiry date. But what of that time in between? Those 18 or so years before you’re considered an ‘adult’. How would you want to spend it?
I would want to have time to enjoy my childhood. To play, to be outdoors, to climb trees, to be with my family, to learn what interested me, to be free. And I want that for my kids too.
So I could pack my kids off to school every day because I was too scared to take the risk. Because I was too worried about not being good enough. Because I was too afraid of failure. Or I could be brave, accept the responsibility, and give my children the childhood I dream for them.
In the end, the choice is simple for me.
Sara, how has unschooling your children helped you as a person? have you overcome any childhood/school fears (if any) that most children carry well into adulthood (ex:fear of failure thanks to grading) now that you have a deeper understanding of life itself?
Oh I have learnt so much! So much ‘deschooling’. I couldn’t even write it all down. And now I am constantly challenging things, always learning! Still things like fear of failure and worry about what others think are hard to overcome but I’m getting there!
Great post and spot on. There are no guarantees in life. It can be quite daunting to know that you are solely responsible for your child’s education.Yet, it is so worth it to be there during those “Ahh Ha” moments or to see day after day the joy of learning your child has.
We had our child in school for K, then pulled her to HS for first because….EXACTLY THIS. Excellent blog, thank you!
Thank you 🙂
I absolutely get your points – I am considering homeschooling for my kids (I only have one right now, and he’s one). But, to say that people who send their kids to school are uninvolved with their child’s education and are outsourcing their child’s is pretty offensive. As a teacher, I work really hard to partner with my students’ parents to make sure that they know what is going on at school. Many of my students’ parents are in fact very involved – they come to band concerts, volunteer in classrooms and around school, help their kids with homework, go to IEP meetings…the list goes on and on. A traditional schooling that is successful is the result of a partnership involved parents and dedicated teachers. You’ll find that students who fail often are missing one of those things, and a lot of times it’s the uninvolved parents (who often are not involved not because their child is in school, but because they choose to be).
My experience with school is that some teachers also don’t care about their students. I was involved with my daughter’s schooling – As much as I could be. Everything was smooth sailing, up until we reached year 2. The teacher for that year did not care to recognise any difficulties she had in the classroom, even when I tried to explain them to him. He actually shrugged and said that he can’t do much. Every time I would ask about homework or extra work to help her at home, he would say come see me another time. He simply wasn’t interested in helping her reach her potential or even addressing the issues that were causing the delay. The principal also did not care for our issues with the teacher – they sided with him.
Your post implies that it’s the parent’s fault when students fail in the traditional school system. I have news for you Kinsey – Teachers are not infallible and neither are schools. The fact that you don’t recognise this in your post speaks volumes about the school system as a whole. Why are you considering homeschooling if success is determined by how well a parent involves themselves in school programs, and not by any other factors? Surely your children will be destined for success if you simply attend all meetings and form good relationships with their teachers, right? Why bother homeschooling?
“So I could pack my kids off to school every day because I was too scared to take the risk. Because I was too worried about not being good enough. Because I was too afraid of failure. Or I could be brave, accept the responsibility, and give my children the childhood I dream for them.”
So true! This quote is going straight in my diary :). Thanks for all your amazing posts. I absolutely love reading them. So grateful that I found your blog.
This puts into words exactly how I feel brilliantly! I actually said to my husband “we just have to be brave”…
I wish I could… In Sweden, where I live, home schooling is illegal 🙁 So consider yourself lucky.