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Home School or Public School?

I understand the parental inclination to protect their children from foul language and aggression when making the decision to home school. Home schooling offers the potential for focused learning with minimal distractions. What more could we want than a successful academic?

Scenario One

Barrett entered a public middle school after being home-schooled in his elementary years. He was shocked at the free spewing of expletives he heard in the classroom and in the hallways. At twelve years old, he had the inclination to tattle on the kids using these words, but realized that the teacher was hearing them and giving no attention to them. These words were wrong in Barrett’s mind. He could not stop expressing his opinion to his fellow students while doing group work in Science. They were ignoring it and trying to get their group assignment done, but Barrett was so distracting by his shock.

Scenario Two

Cynthia’s mom home schooled her through first grade. At second grade, Cynthia’s mom put her in public school because she could not manage once her youngest child was a toddler. Cynthia had never had to stand in line for anything, tried to run away during fire drills, was puzzled when she was told to she had to stay in the classroom rather than wander the pod freely, did not share well and always spoke out of turn.

I wonder if the effort to protect students is really a disservice? Thank God Barrett was exposed to colorful language in middle school rather than high school or college. Some bully who could not take it would have squashed his whining or tattling. Yes, I admit these bullies do exist. Their behavior is not right. But if the Barrett’s of this world are to be protected, they need to be exposed to these behaviors and taught how to sift through them in order to achieve success.

Classroom rules and procedures mimic those expected in adult life. We all have to stand in line at the grocery store. If we forget something and get out of line, we cannot expect to take our same space back. Walking forward in line is always best so you do not walk into anything or anyone. Disaster drill practice happens in work as well as in school. One can never be too prepared. Acknowledging your workspace boundaries and working within them shows respect for the space of others and their ability to work without undue distractions. Sharing ideas and materials is crucial in industry. Why not teach these skills in the primary grades, if not before? Speaking out of turn in adult life will not get projects done and will breed misunderstanding and resentment among co-workers and superiors.

The stories of Barrett and Cynthia are true. Only their names have been changed. In the effort to protect children from the harshness in life, what are we trading off? Is keeping our children in a cocoon of limited life experience worth it? These are my questions.

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