Saturday, January 13, 2007

Think, think, think

Here's a PBS piece on homeschooling. Watch or read. (Hat tip to Cheryl from TWTM boards.)

I find it interesting that the gentleman speaking on his concerns about homeschooling states (paraphrasing) that society has an obligation to make sure that children are growing up to be well-rounded people. Really? So how does one figure in the kids so steeped in pop culture that they don't have room for anything else in their little brains or life experiences?

I happen to think that often when one spots a kid behaving badly in public that it's probably just an example of someone getting to showcase the rougher part of their day. In the space of the same week I had a child howl, head thrown back, through an entire Costco trip. Several days later, in the same store, a very pregnant tired mama used my kids--including the former screamer--as an example to her son of how she was wishing he would behave. I smiled (also very pregnant) and told her that she should have caught us a few days prior; it would have been a different story. She rolled her eyes and said, "Yeah. Don't we all take turns?"

And we do. Kids are no respectors of circumstance. When their little brains short out they won't have looked around to make sure the neighbors are safely tucked in their homes.


(At the risk of crossing a line into the Land of Intellectual Snobbery...) There are some children (one would really be too many) whose experience dictates that being a rap star or dressing like their dolls (even if the doll looks like a junior hooker in training) is the loftiest goal to which they can aspire. This virtually guarantees that they will end up in a minimum wage job (because how does one train for those positions?) with no skills and little in the way of prospects, while raising the next generation of kids whose aspirations are just about identical to theirs. If one wishes to simply churn out a worker-bee type society, fine. By all means, invest in that. Bearing in mind that someone has to organize the worker bees, invent the projects which the worker bees will bring to fruition, to address the social, mental, physical, legal ills of the worker bees. Who will do those things?

Of course our society would not function without the "worker bees" and there is no shame in occupying such a role, as long as one does one's best in their work and it is honest work. I don't believe that we can dictate that everyone must have a certain set of expectations. There cannot be a cookie-cutter approach for careers or affinities unless we are willing to give up personal freedoms.

So how would one make sure that children are growing up to be well-rounded adults? And why does it become the responsibilitiy of the state to be considering this, except in the context of health and welfare? To what extent are we allowed to make choices for our offspring? How does one determine where to draw the line in well-roundedness for someone else's kids? Do I get to tell another person that their kid shouldn't idolize Ms. Fergalicious? My personal opinions on these things are quite firm and I raise my kids accordingly with what parts of their time I have choice in. But do I get to tell other people that it's inappropriate? Should they get to tell me that homeschooling my kids is inappropriate? What if one parent wants their kids to avoid those above negatives and the other doesn't?

Perhaps I'm not wondering "aloud" very clearly, but it's on my mind these days.

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