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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Great Ideas

And now for something completely different: A homeschooling post.

Sarabelle's reluctance to leave and her adamantly expressed desire to return to Australia and her friends and finish her schooling as quickly as possible has been intensified by the appearance of a boyfriend (one with no space between the boy and the friend.) While there has been no actual dating involved, there have been many deep conversations on MSN Messenger: The Meaning of Life, Future Plans, etc.

What has come out of these talks is that Sarabelle has decided she wants none of the greedy-corporate stooge-consumer lifestyle and would rather enjoy her life living simply and traveling, globetrotting and supporting herself with part-time work while still young, as opposed to squeezing in a cruise and a tour bus trip between retirement and death. While we agree college is not for everybody and that most higher education is nothing more than overpriced vocational training or a necessary step up the corporate ladder; that a self-sufficient uncomplicated lifestyle is an admirable goal; that travel is a great teacher and a much more pleasant alternative to being a wage-slave; we are not yet in agreement on the value of formal continuing education. She wants to learn as she goes, a noble effort, but I argued if you are to travel the world you would make more of your effort with a solid, basic knowledge of the humanities behind you. A good liberal arts, or old-fashioned classical education, the kind that comes from either rigorous self-education or a real university would be a tremendous benefit as a precursor to travel.

She countered that four years is a long time and reminded me that I didn't go to college. But I have been educating myself ever since, and especially prior to traveling in order to avoid that inevitable head-slapping moment when I'd get home and finally realize the significance of what I had seen and wish I could go back to see it again armed with my new understanding. So I guess that means we had better get busy catching her up before her big adventure seeing as how she has just over one and a half years left of high school (by Florida standards) and they won't be covering any of that material in her present educational environs.

Because she still thinks she's coming straight back to Australia after her grandmother's health crisis passes, though no offers to board her for even half the school year have panned out yet, I must tread lightly. Without pushing, I'm hoping to reignite the love of learning that lies smoldering under the wet blanket of institutional education. After an adequate time de-schooling, bare minimum I would like her to study one logic text and one comprehensive world history from among our heaps of books and Teaching Company DVDs. Ideally, in addition I would have her choose either a subject that interests her from the Great Books Syntopicon and dig into the associated readings or work her way through the Great Ideas Program, a series of thematic guided readings and questions used in conjunction with the Great Books, and study an SAT prep course.

1 comment:

rae said...

This is a difficult road to walk as a parent, isn't it? My son is 17 and is currently "finding himself" along with the "meaning of life."

I want so much to respect the thought he has put into things, yet at times it seems his logic needs a bit of work.

When you come through this gracefully and find the secret, please pass it on. :)