Does Home Schooling Make the Grade?

Does Home Schooling Make the Grade? March 29, 2011

So I’ve always wanted to ask what you guys think of homeschooling.

First of all, should that be one word? I see it’s commonly used that way. But it looks weird, right?

I think there’s a lady right in my neighborhood who homeschools / home-schools / home schools her kids. She should know. It’s her job to know. I’ll ask her.

Now “school” looks weird to me. It looks Yiddish. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Of course there’s not.

Anyway, culture-wise, homeschooling seems to be the butt of a lot of jokes and General Disparagement (as I knew it would increasingly become when, very early on in her show [and perhaps still; I don’t watch TV (which I know sounds pretentious; all I really mean that’s how much I loathe television commercials)], the great Ellen DeGeneres started pretty regularly making homeschooling the butt of some of her jokes.)])]).

Man, I hope you homeschool teachers out there are the teaching proper use of nesting parentheticals. Because I happen to know that can get pretty darn confusing.

Anyway, the adults I’ve known who as children were homeschooled did perfectly well once they transitioned to public high school or college. They don’t seem uneducated or poorly socialized at all.

On the other hand, I have no idea how many poorly educated social maladjusteders (um … perhaps this is a good time to disclose that I went to public schools) I might have known who were homeschooled. “So, did you attend school in your garage?” doesn’t seem like a very socially adept thing to ask, so I don’t. Oh, sure, I sometimes think it; but I hold my tongue. Why? Because early on in life, via the public schoolyard playground, I learned that inquiries of that nature can soon enough leave you hanging upside down on the monkey bars with your shirt tied in a knot over your head.

Which brings us to an important consideration. Namely, do homeschooled kids eat paste like regular school kids do? Probably not. They probably eat real food—which is, like, right there in their kitchen. Lucky dogs.

Speaking of real food at school, when I was a kid our school had this program, where, if you brought in money on Monday, then on Friday you got a McDonald’s hamburger delivered right there to your classroom.

One Friday our teacher assigned me the job of going to the principal’s office to pick up our class’s box o’ burgers.

En route back to my classroom with the burger booty, I had the greatest idea in the history of not wanting to return to class. So I ducked into this empty little room off the principal’s office, quickly unwrapped one of the burgers, took a perfect, half-moon bite out of it, and then re-wrapped it and snuggled it back in with all the other warm, normal, non-prechomped burgers.

I just couldn’t believe how funny I thought it would be to have all the kids in my classroom hurriedly unwrapping their burgers–and then hear this one, lone, “Hey! Somebody bit my burger!”

Thinking about it right now is cracking me up.

And that’s exactly what happened, too! We were all happily unwrapping our wonderful McDonald’s deliciousness, when one among us (seated, as it happened, all the way across the room from me) suddenly exclaimed, “Hey! What’s this?!”

I tried so hard not to laugh I practically exploded an organ.

Pffft. Teachers. Do they ever think anything is funny?

So then I was back at the principal’s office—where I spent so much time that the office secretary, Bunny, used to have me help her do her filing. I’m totally not kidding. I actually learned an official office filing system just from being such a dependably delinquent kid. I still use that system, too.

So how to use a color-coded filing system is one great thing that I definitely learned at a public school.

I guess when you’re homeschooled there is no principal’s office. Or maybe there is—and if you’re the teacher/parent, you have to go “All right, Billy. I saw you spit that wad at your sister Julie with that straw from last night’s dinner. Go to the principal’s office right now, young man! But wait in the kitchen till I get there. Julie, I’ll be right back.”

Then you have to run around to the front of your house, shoot through your front door, and dash into your faux-principal’s office.

Then you throw on a pair of thick glasses you keep in there, or maybe jam a wig on your head, or clip on a bow-tie.

“Oh, Billy,” you shake your head as your kid finally trudges in from the kitchen. “What have you done this time? What are we going to do with you, Billy? Well, you know the routine. Grab that stack of folders.”

I always figured homeschooling was really bad for kids, because public schools are all about learning to socialize. It seems to me that’s the true value of going to school with tons of other kids you don’t know: you learn all that social stuff that’s so vital to the quality of the rest of your life. Bullies, school yard crushes, roving packs of kids from classes above and below yours, freaks who somehow think it’s hilarious to take a bite out of your hamburger.

It seems to me that you can learn what year Columbus sailed the ocean blue while sitting at a kitchen table or at a classroom desk. But how does a homeschooled kid learn all the vital socializing lessons that come with being tossed into a school teeming with other kids and teachers you’ve never met? How well you socialize is so huge in life; it pretty much defines the quality of your personal and certainly professional life. If as a kid you don’t learn how to socially … be, then doesn’t that kind of pretty thoroughly doink you for the whole rest of your life?

Except I guess it doesn’t. Because, as I say, I know people who were homeschooled, and they came out just fine. If anything, they seem better socially adjusted: calmer, more confident. Maybe it’s good not to ever be bullied, or picked on by a psychotic teacher, or forced into child labor doing menial office chores in the principal’s office while the principal’s secretary eats her tuna sandwich and totally doesn’t offer you any.

I don’t know. The main thing I left elementary school absolutely dead positive of is that, no matter what anyone says, it is funny to leave a mysterious bite taken out of a random unwrapped McDonald’s hamburger.

But what do you guys think? Any of you home schooled, or know any homeschoolers?

Vote now!

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