Monday, January 14, 2013

Boat School

"Cherry" by Conrad (Kindergarten)
The other day, Conrad and Mark started begging to start boat school. That was strange. Kind of a Bugs Bunny duck-season-rabbit-season reverse psychology situation. We take them out of school so they want it.

Almost no one blinks an eye when you talk about homeschooling now. Whether it's the intense focus on the dire state of the American educational system or the wealth of resources and support that the internet provides, homeschooling is becoming more mainstream.

I don't agree that homeschooling (or elite schooling) is the only valid option. The suburban school that my oldest attended has the vision and resources (monetary and kid) to break away from the test-taking focus brought about by No Child Left Behind. I wanted to kiss the principal when she talked at the parent orientation about character, self-reliance and organizational skills. I don't want my kids to be one of the spoiled American kids referenced in this New Yorker article. Don't worry, I won't be giving my 5-year old a machete any time soon. On the other hand, the 6-year old just got the American Boys Handbook for Christmas and needs to whittle a stick to make a bow and arrow.

But no doubt about it, the educational system in general is undergoing a shake-up. There are clearly a lot of smart people who care a lot about the future of America's children. So that's good. It will be interesting to see where it lands or if constant innovation is the new normal.
Our goal with schooling on the boat is to prepare our children to do whatever they want to do in life. Many parents want that. Anecdotally, boat kids (and home schooled kids in general) do fine or better academically (read about Kate and Chris). The ones we have met seem happy, confident and able to talk to people of all ages and backgrounds.

The big homeschooling bogey of "socialization" is one that rankles homeschoolers to no end. It's also the thing that people are most curious about (other than, "Do you seriously want to spend that much time with your family?"). I'm not going to start that debate here, but most homeschooling experts usually respond with something like school is not the real world and doesn't prepare kids for the real world.
There will be gains and losses. Our kids will see the world (whatever parts we get to) and meet people of different cultures. They will learn the history of a place while they are there. They will be given real responsibilities and the luxury of exploring things that interest them.

On the other hand, they won't have all the same cultural references as other American kids. They won't be on the travel soccer team. They won't live down the block from their best friend.  So, on the subject of whether they win or lose in this whole thing, we (and they) will have to let you know. You know where our bets lie.

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