Sunday, May 03, 2020

We are all home-schoolers now

With exquisitely bad timing, the May issue of Harvard Magazine features an ill-tempered screed against home schooling. It arrived in mailboxes toward the end of April, just as virtually every American youngster, and most of those around the world, was being schooled at home.

When our daughter was a Harvard undergraduate, the alumni magazine was one of the best periodicals in the country. But the then-editor has long since retired, and his successors have turned it into yet another politically correct soapbox. In this case, the author's argument hinged on the possibility that some home-schoolers aren't actually being schooled at all. This is certainly true: we know a mother who took her daughter out of high school and, as far as we could tell, that was the end of the girl's education. But how many thousands -- millions! -- of young American get their high-school diplomas without effectively being able to read and write?

Now that virtually every young person is a home-schooler, I have a bit of good news for their parents. Our daughter graduated in 1990 and went to sea. In time she married, had two daughters, and for three years she and her husband fitted out a sailboat in our back yard. They sailed away on Christmas Day 2004, when the little girls were four and three years old. The kids were home-schooled (boat-schooled?) from then till high school graduation. The older girl was a Presidential Scholar and got early admission to the Dartmouth Class of 2023. The younger spent the spring of her senior year deciding between Oxford and Yale.

So relax, home-school parents, and pay no attention to Harvard Magazine. The kids might do better than you did. To help them on their way, you could do worse than buy a copy of Kate Laird's Home School Teacher.


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