Wednesday, November 09, 2005

From Both Sides of the Schooling Issue

By Rachel Kohl
October 29, 2005
(published in the Wed., Nov. 9, 2005 edition of the "Bullseye")

This week I thought I’d let my eldest do the writing…kind of an “insider” look at the homeschool issue. She wrote this as a report for a college level English class she is enrolled in. She’s now a senior in public school, having started there at the beginning of her junior year. Here’s a condensed version of her “view” of both schooling options.On the surface home school and public school are very similar, as both are designed to educate young people. However, in my experience, they concentrate on two different aspects of that education. My home school experience was very academically focused. Any social skills I gained were learned solely from family and a few church friends. I was allowed to stay inside of my comfort zone. I always felt loved and appreciated. Although I received a wonderful education while home schooled, a person cannot make it exclusively on brains in the real world. I felt that public school was a step I had to take in order to grow socially, but the first weeks of public school I felt lonely, and nervous.

The night before I started kindergarten I was so excited that I could hardly sleep. I was the oldest in my family, and thus the first one who got to start doing real schoolwork out of real school books. When I jumped out of bed that first morning, I was bright-eyed and eager to start the day. I savored the first lesson in each subject. I strove to make the best letters that I possibly could in my handwriting book. I enjoyed writing the first answers on the crisp, shiny pages of my math book. I was allowed to work at my own pace and in my own way as long as I could show I was actually learning. I finished my work by noon with the satisfaction of gaining knowledge and completing my work. The rest of the day was mine to spend as I chose, and much of that time was spent outdoors. My sisters and I were free to learn from and enjoy creation, in a loving and safe environment.

The night before I started public school my head throbbed with questions. What if no one talks to me? What if I get lost? What if a teacher yells at me? What if I have to sit by myself at lunch? I felt silly for worrying so much. After all, I would be a junior in high school, but I might as well have been heading off to my first day of kindergarten. I didn’t know what to expect and I dreaded the unexpected. At 6:00 a.m. I finally got out of bed. Even though I had slept little during the night, I was wide awake. I noticed as I got ready for school that my hands were actually shaking. After some last minute encouragement from my parents, I got in my car and drove to school. As I walked into the building it was like I had walked onto another planet. Everything was so foreign. I found my locker and wanted to crawl inside of it. I think the day got a little better as it went on. Looking back now I really can’t remember many details; I think I actually experienced culture shock.

The differences between my home school and public school experiences began to surface those first days. The first day of home school I began to learn how to learn. I learned how to study, how to focus, and how to be self-motivated. At public school I learned additional skills. I learned how to function in the real world. I learned when to stand up for what I believe and when I should just let it go. I learned to not be so judgmental. Home school taught me a lot of academic skills, but public school stretched me and forced me to expand socially in order to thrive.

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