It’s a competitive world out there, and no one wants their child to miss opportunities. Parents send their children to school to ensure that they have the same opportunities as everyone else. They believe that missing school (home or unschooling) disadvantages children because they don’t have the same exposure as other children. Although it’s admirable to want your kids to have plenty opportunities, is schooling really the best way to provide them?
The truth is that making sure everyone learns exactly the same stuff doesn’t work, nor is it as important as it’s perceived to be. If everyone came out of school and went into exactly the same job then it would be important, but life isn’t like that. Furthermore, because of the wide range of interests and skills humans display, it’s IMPOSSIBLE for them all the absorb exactly the same stuff, despite being exposed to it and tested on it.
Most people forget most of the things they learn in school, there’s no shortage of evidence that supports this. The television game show “Are you smarter than a 5th grader” really demonstrated it well. Sure the kids were good at recalling the facts, but regurgitating facts isn’t about intelligence. Would those facts serve anyone in the average adult’s life? Not so much, and realistically speaking they only serve the 5th grader when they use them to pass tests.
Each and every person who attends school for the requisite 13yrs will take in different things and remember them. The vast majority of them are remembered because the child found them interesting, not because of testing. So although in theory, each child has the same opportunities in school, in practice each child leaves after a totally different experience.
Different schools offer different subjects and have different equipment, some schools have the equipment but can’t find a teacher, and children in different countries are exposed to entirely different material. No matter how hard we believe that sending children to school to learn all the same stuff as each other is the best way to give them equal opportunities, it just doesn’t stand up to the test of logic.
One of the latest sales pitches of schools, is that they will help foster individuality in children, respecting their different capabilities and interests and tailoring the curriculum to them.
How can a school possibly cater to individual children like that, and still meet government requirements? And how many curriculums would they like us to believe they create?
Sure the children might choose different reading material, or different topics for projects, but how can a teacher possibly tailor make an individual maths or science curriculum for thirty children? And how on earth would they test and grade children who all did totally different, personalised stuff?
They can’t! Not only is it an impossible goal to treat several hundred children as individuals, but it is the mission statement of schools that all children will be given the same education. It’s a rather vague, contradictory and irrational claim if we’re honest with ourselves. Sure it sounds marvellous, but as a general rule of thumb, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Homeschooled or unschooled children on the other hand, are given the opportunity to be individuals every day. If families follow a curriculum they can easily tailor-make it to suit their child’s abilities and interests. Unschooling families can also foster individual interests, and offer a huge number of opportunities. Whilst school learning is very much classroom orientated, home learning uses the whole world as a classroom.
The goal of schools is to prepare children for life, but children who never enter a classroom don’t need that preparation because they never stopped living, their learning has always just been a part of life.
With the internet, museums, art galleries, libraries, zoos, aquariums, and a vast array of other venues and experts in the community, all available to homeschooled children in far smaller ratios than schooled children (think of 40 schooled children lined up waiting to take a turn on something at a museum vs only a small group of home / unschooled children) perhaps it isn’t home or unschooled children that are missing opportunities. Not learning the same things that all the
children in school are taught – but not necessarily learning – really isn’t a giant disadvantage.
**If parents are concerned about university entrance they should contact several universities and ask them how home or unschooled students gain entry. It’s entirely possible for them to attend a university but different universities have different modes of entry**