I just got through listening to the latest podcast and found the discussion about the ills of the current education system very interesting. Perhaps I can add to the discussion with my personal experience being home schooled, and how it has had effect on adulthood/career.
I attended public school through 3rd grade. I had always struggled in the classroom environment, and was one of those kids that caused problems due to boredom. I was the kid that read what was on the blackboard, did ALL the assignments on my own without regard for what the rest of the class was doing, and commenced to screwing off out of frustration that, "this is seriously ALL I'm going to learn today?!?" I was sent to behavioral specialists and put on Ritalin so I would be in a compliant stupor and not try to leave the pack.
My parents began to have serious misgivings about what and how things were being taught in public school, and could not afford to send me to a private school. At the end of the 3rd grade school year, they sat me down and explained that I would not be going back to school any more. They would teach me at home. It was the happiest day of my childhood. Never again would I have to sit through the drudgery of a classroom waiting on the slower learners to figure out that 2+2=4 so we could move forward.
Neither of my parents had a college degree. A requirement to home school in my state. They sought what is called a "religious exemption" and it was approved. The religious exemption has zero accountability to the state. This turned out to be a blessing and a curse. I'll explain further down. In spite of their lack of college education, both of my parents were very qualified to teach at home. My mother has incredible communication skills, knows spelling, punctuation, and grammar like no one I've ever known. She is also very well read. My father has great command of mathematics, physics, and science.
Things went very well and life was great learning at my own (fast) pace. We were very involved in a large home school group that was quite active, church youth groups, and 4H. I was around a lot of other kids of varying ages nearly every day. We took field trips, held specialized classes (biology, science), and our 4H shooting team (2/3 home schoolers) was on the range almost 7 days a week in the warmer months. Used to shoot a 500 round brick of .22 and a case of shotgun shells every WEEK. (You can probably now guess how I wound up on this site.) Being 4H, the kids managed nearly every aspect of the club, including organization, rules, finance, and planning. No public school kids in our area did anything close to that. I can say absolutely that, when done right, socialization is a non-issue. Yes, there are weirdos that sequester their kids to the house and never let them out. I knew a couple. Rather, knew OF a couple. But they are the exception rather than the rule. They seem to be held up as the shining example of your stereotypical home schoolers though.
As I neared the end of "high school", I took the SAT. Did pretty good. 1380/1600 and 98th percentile. Letters from colleges started showing up in my mailbox. Since I was interested in Mechanical Engineering, a few schools in particular caught my eye. Texas A&M, CalTech, and M.I.T. in particular were my dream schools. When I went to an M.I.T. "information session" to talk to guidance counselors I was in for a rude awakening. This is where the "religious exemption" bites me in the hind parts. I had no diploma (had a GED), no references from guidance counselors/teachers/deans, no report cards, no standardized test scores, no special projects to show work done. Nothing but a GED and a pretty good SAT score. I got told to basically "hit the bricks". It was the same at any good school. I got into a local community college and quickly discovered that even that would leave me up to my ears in debt with a piece of paper that would be laughed at in any serious engineering circle. So I went to work. First a small engine, electronics, and appliance repair shop. Then an automotive machine shop where I worked on rebuilding engines. Then a forestry equipment shop working on Stihl chainsaws and all manner of larger machines. From there a stint in the Navy.
The interesting thing about my circle of friends growing up is that I am the ONLY one that did not graduate college. A lot of it boiled down to money. Their parents could afford to buy them a degree and mine could not. Or were willing to saddle themselves with a mountain of debt to get there, whereas I was not. Funny thing is that at 26 years old (a while ago now) I was the only one that had a good, well paying job. But that's another subject.
Now I find myself at a crossroads with my own child who is getting ready to start school. This podcast proved incredibly relevant to where I am in life right now. I am running into the wall where you must put your child in control of the state's standards, or else... Currently narrowed down to a private school (I am fortunate enough to have that as an option for my child), or home schooling. Have yet to decide, but I'm going next week to interview the private school that I have heard good things about.
Sorry for being long-winded, but I felt there may be need to clear the air a bit. Hope it helped. If anyone wants to know more about my experience, feel free to ask. Great conversation in Episode 9...