Monday, June 18, 2012

Freedom of Education

I’ve been experiencing unusual feelings of mild panic regarding my eldest’s schooling for the fall.  If you know me or have read my blog much, you know that I’m kind of radical in my beliefs about education.  I strongly value all people getting a high quality education; I just don’t believe schools --  public or private – are necessarily the best way to accomplish that.  School is one tool for being educated, and not always the most effective one.

My eldest is now sixteen, the age where, in most states, she is no longer required to attend school – at home or anywhere.  This suddenly gives us a great amount of freedom, especially with a move pending.  This means, we can decide what is now the best form of education for HER and just do that.  Freedom is a wonderful thing.  Freedom is also a scary thing.
The possibilities are various and exciting.  We could homeschool the rest of high school, giving her our own version of a high school transcript.  She could go back to school and get a “normal” diploma.  She could take the GED.  Or she could just flat out quit.
Then she could get a job.  Or she could take a gap year (or more) of working, volunteering, traveling, figuring out who she is and what God has called her to do in life.  Or take some general ed classes at a community college.  Or online.  Or acquire some kind of technical or specialized training (I’ve mentioned the idea of learning to style hair – everywhere she goes in the world, there will be women needing their hair done).  Or start working on a college degree.  Or any combination of these.
There are a number of things she could do.  But we don’t know what she should do, and neither does she.  The safe route is to go with the default and do what everybody else in our walk of life does: finish high school, go to college, get a degree, get a job . . . at least if it turns out to be the weak choice, we can blame “society” rather than ourselves.  But no, we really couldn’t.  We walked away from the default route when we started homeschooling nine years ago, and we’ve never regretted it.  We know better now.
I have a hunch what direction we need to go.  1) Homeschool for the GED. 2) Homeschool beyond the GED in certain subjects hubby and I believe are critical to a godly, purposeful, effective life (government, economics, literature, composition, logic).  3) Require her to take college-level courses (online, if we’re in Panama) in some of her strong areas (English, psychology) before we allow her to be “done” with secondary education.  4) Give her time to work and volunteer a while to discern a calling before plunging into further formal education, if it is necessary. 
But do I trust that hunch?  What if I’m wrong?  What if we set her on a path that makes life more difficult for her later on?  Will she later wish she’d gotten a 4-year degree right away?  Will she learn the discipline that comes with high-level academic study if she never goes to college?  Will she regret not going to a “regular” high school? Is this being lazy, or is this being wise?
Sigh!  It takes guts to live in freedom.  Lord, give me guts.

No comments: