Pandemic Homeschooling

Perhaps the no-school quarantine is the best thing that could happen to your child’s education. 

Public school is, at its best, an extremely inefficient waste of time and childhood and, at its worst, a criminally inappropriate prison sentence.

What is the alternative?  Well, in California there is indeed a viable alternative to secondary school.  Passing the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) provides one with a certificate that states that it is for all purposes the legal equivalent of a High School Diploma.   

CHSPE Certificate anonymizedDuring the pandemic, the CHSPE is not being offered but there is no reason not to prepare to take it when it is again available.   

Wouldn’t it be better to graduate highschool in a few months and go on to explore the free, vast and unprecedented realms of knowledge, wisdom, skills and vocations that are currently available?

Is the 12 year day-prison sentence worth the skills acquired in school — skills that could be acquired in a few months in a more benign environment.  

Parents and students who have learned to accept the assumption that there is no other way to learn so often find themselves utterly at sea when the traditional classroom approach breaks down, as has happened during the quarantine.  Award winning teacher and advocate of homeschooling, John Taylor Gatto, has asserted convincingly that all of the core content of K12 education can be learned in 100 hours by a motivated student. This may seem superlatively unrealistic to those who have rarely encountered a truly motivated student but that claim is not at all improbable to those in the homeschool community where Gatto’s claim rings so true to homeschooling parents who have seen it dramatically vindicated in motivated students.   Indeed, classroom drudgery tends to render learning distasteful very quickly and is nearly certain to dampen motivation, leaving few undamaged students and severely limited expectations.

Are motivated students really so rare?  Think back on how your children could spend unending hours playing with sand, water, dinosaurs, flowers or Lego.  The child’s delight in learning is innate, painless and extremely efficient — particularly with language and the physical properties of the world.  Imagine if that inborn fascination and studious stamina could be allowed to continue into other realms instead of stifled by an imposed agenda, plodding pace and thoroughly uninteresting material.  Once information on a screen becomes comfortable to a child — as it tends to at a very early age in today’s world, not only is every conceivable cranny of education instantly accessible, but fellow enthusiasts and learners of any obscure fascination are available to be consulted. 

It is a strangely widespread misconception that the only way students can possibly learn is to be confined in a classroom, breathing the same air, seated at a desk and subjected to predefined and predigested approved content.   Unfortunately, this tradition leaves serious scars on every child very quickly, perpetuating the notion that it is only under these conditions that learning will take place, that learning must be doled out at a specific pace, in a specific order to a captive and often largely unwilling aggregation of students whose own interests and talents are rarely taken into account. 

Homeschool families often learn very quickly how much faster it is possible to learn in an unconstrained environment but also how much children unexpectedly teach themselves.