What if one of the greatest strengths of homeschooling is also its greatest weakness?
I've been mulling this over all afternoon, thanks to a phone call from an acquaintance who had no idea that she was pouring boiling water on the wasp's nest that is my mind.
In a simple description of a situation she's facing with a new intern in her workplace, this bright, experienced professional rocked my world:
"It's been a lot of work getting her settled in because frankly, she's a homeschooler and everything has been so tailored to fit her learning style and needs that she's not really sure what to do when she has to just learn something point blank or soldier on through the boring stuff."
Take a minute to think that through. A young lady, aspiring to a particular profession, has taken the initiative and pursued an internship in a field that she thinks may be her calling. Clearly, she met the criteria set forth for the hiring of such interns and shows some promise in the field. However, her transition into the position has been rocky because her educational training has not challenged her to persevere through topics in which she has little interest, or to simply absorb information by rote repetition.
In other words, the creativity, inventiveness and customization of homeschooling has, in this instance, failed to produce a desirable employee. This young woman will have to garner those less-than-thrilling, but oh-so-vital skills called "real life" on the fly. With a potential future employer watching.
Pondering this has been very convicting for me. Like most homeschooling parents, I try to gear things towards the interests my children are displaying at any given time. I aim to make learning the hard stuff relatively painless. I strive to sprinkle success here and there when the light bulb is taking a bit longer to pop on. I listen carefully to my children and I make sure information is given to them in ways that fit their processing styles.
Is that so wrong?
I 've never thought that it was. After all, isn't the goal to raise children who love learning so much that they can be placed in a situation like this young intern is facing and take to the new environment like a duck to water? This is what I've told myself will happen. By the time my children graduate from our homeschool, I've always believed, they may not know everything, but they'll know how to find out about anything.
But what if I'm wrong? What if the educational professionals I've disregarded for the past seven years have theories that actually hold water? What if my brother-in-law, who is finishing his master's degree in school administration is right: if you change math curriculum every time you decide it "isn't a good fit," or if you plan out one course, then ditch it for another when you suddenly find an interest in a new area, then you're setting your children up for a lifetime of frustration when they realize that college, workplaces, etc., don't follow those same, "have it your way" rules.
This train is nowhere near the station. I'm not really sure where I'm going to land on this, so I'm throwing it out to my readers. What do you think? Is flexibility a strength in homeschooling? A weakness? Both? Let's discuss ...