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Joan, Education, and Homeschooling

We began formal homeschooling in June of 1996, but it feels like something I have been moving toward most of my life. I had a very traditional public-school to 4-year college education. I was a "good" student, always got good grades, and hated school with every fiber of my being. From the day I began high school, I begged my parents to let me leave. I only went on to college under protest, and I wish to this day that my mother hadn't talked me into going.

I took 3 useful courses in four years of high school - Typing, Driver Education, and Creative Writing. The utility of typing and driver's ed. are immediately obvious, but it wasn't until I was out of college and in my second or third job that the lessons I learned in Creative Writing became apparent.

Creative Writing turned out to be useful because our class had published a literary magazine. Our teacher/advisor had the class do all the work from soliticiting submissions to marketing the final product. We met with printers to discuss our plans for the book, learned about page design and layout, made phone calls to get information about the progress of our project, dealt with having to reject our fellow students' work, learned about cost and pricing, inventory, and a myriad of other things it took me years to realize I had learned.

I see now that what these 3 courses had in common was that we were doing real things that had real outcomes. When these classes were over, I had something beyond a grade on a report card to show that I had taken that class. I don't remember much about the books I read and reports I wrote in high school, but I type and drive and use business skills nearly every day.

Nevertheless, I put my kids in school when their times came. We were very involved with what they were doing there, volunteering at the school, conferring regularly with their teachers, talking daily with the kids about what they were doing. But I gradually came to see that the emphasis in formal classroom education, even in a small child-friendly private school such as my kids attended, is on product and not on process.