When I ‘admit’ that I home educate (or used to ‘admit’, I’m so happy with our decision that I’m finding it easier not to have to ‘admit’ to home educating, in a tremulous tone, waiting for the venom to spew) I’m asked how they’re going to get into University! Now when I say joyously that I home educate a 7 year old and a 3 year old (my 7 year old would still be attending ‘Infant’ school until next year remember) they leap years ahead and can’t believe it’s possible for home educated kids to go to University, let alone good ones. OK, so I thought about it too. But it never ceases to amaze me how total strangers think of it first. Well, second or third after ‘How will your kids be socialized’ and ‘Are you a qualified teacher? No? What makes you think you’re qualified to teach then?’ Why would someone educated at home not be a much more attractive applicant than a spoon-fed, taught-to-test traditionally educated child? Why wouldn’t a self-motivated, self-directed learner not be a far MORE attractive applicant? Well, apparently a bunch of studies show they are.
‘Free Range Learning’ by Laura Weldon discusses a report in a periodical called ‘The Journal of College Admission’ that “reports that homeschooled students are not only well prepared for college, they also have developed distinctive qualities. Joyce Reed, associate dean of Brown University, “They’ve learned to be self-directed, they take risks, they face challenges with total fervor, and they don’t back off.” The article also noted that Stanford University admissions officers are impressed by the high incidence of a trait they call “intellectual vitality” among homeschooled students and link it to the prevalence of self-teaching. J. Gary Knowles, A University of Toronto professor, has been researching home education for twenty-seven years…Knowles finds that homeschoolers bring certain broad advantages to adulthood. Their backgrounds foster autonomy, resourcefulness and independence. They tend to be highly motivated and are less susceptible to peer pressure. He says that home-educated people are less likely to work for institutions, many choosing self-employment.”
Sherri Lisenbach says in ‘The Everything Homeschooling Book’, “Many colleges today not only welcome home-educated students, they actively seek homeschoolers. Impressed by the level of maturity, independence, well-rounded education and, and self-directed study habits of homeschoolers…” She also refers to the famous U.S. University, Stanford (where my first cousin got his PhD if you need more evidence of my suitability to be a home educator ;)), “As Jon Reider, a Stanford University admissions officer stated: “Homeschoolers bring certain skills – motivation, curiosity, the capacity to be responsible for their education – that high schools don’t induce very well.” Michael Donahue, Director of Admissions at Indiana University-Purdue University (IUPUI) in Indianapolis, adds, “Homeschoolers are well prepared. They’re self starters. Faculty, in general, enjoy having them in class because they know how to do things independently.””
I found all this reassuring but I didn’t really need to read it to know it’s true. It’s just common sense. Kids that are self-educated are going to be highly self-motivated people, at least by the time they’re considering University – but perhaps not at 7 years old after less than one week of home education! And I must keep reminding myself of that when Edward just wants to go and build amazing creations with Lego instead of looking at the incredibly interesting, well-illustrated book about Ancient Egypt or something!
My common sense tells me that not only would home educated kids be incredibly attractive University candidates but also better members of Society. Again from ‘Free Range Learning’ by Laura Weldon, “Studies indicate that adults who were homeschooled: Are more likely to vote, volunteer and be involved in their communities than graduates of conventional schools. Read more books than average. Are more likely to have taken college level courses than the population as a whole. Tend to be independent and self-reliant. Nowadays homeschooled youth are gaining recognition as innovative, self-directed thinkers…” I like that. Home education for us was not so much about what kind of education we want for our kids but what kinds of values; what kind of human beings we hope they’ll be in this ethically-challenging world.
Laura Weldon’s aforementioned book ‘Free Range Learning’ was reviewed by someone called Carlo Ricci. When I googled the name it came up with several of course, but I think he’s a Canadian Ricci who founded and edits the, ‘Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning’. He said, “If we want to live in a more peaceful, democratic and humane world we need to re-think our child rearing practices – this book provides the groundwork and inspiration for this type of revolution. If you love children and humanity this book is a must read.” I loved this and I will certainly look into Ricci’s work further. Weldon herself says in her book, “All the obedient, high-test-scoring students our schools churn out haven’t solved the big crises that face humankind” and she thinks “…seems to have caused many of the problems in the first place.”
We absolutely hope our children will contribute to Ricci’s ‘peaceful, democratic and humane world’, doing a better job than we’ve done so far (we don’t think we’ve done a good enough job because we were/are still part of the corporate world for instance). Home educating is a massive step that we’ve taken in this direction and it feels GREAT! For us, this is more than a home education story; it’s a ‘What kind of human being do you want your kids to be?’ story. And that is certainly worth some hot debate, deep consideration and the loss of friends and acquaintances with very different values now what we’re so ‘out’ with ours! Yes, my husband and I are out and proud and hopefully our extremely articulate children will soon be joining us!
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