I recently quoted Nancy Pearcey on my Facebook wall. The quote went something like this.
Homeschoolers are the ultimate do-it-yourselfers. They are self-motivated and self-directed, independent-minded and creative. They are not content to turn their education of their children over to the government.
One of my readers who also happened to be an old friend mentioned under it that she also saw homeschoolers as incredibly driven because this is no small enterprise we undertake. Another friend objected. Not necessarily, she wisely pointed out, adding in her characteristic way, You can be lame and still homeschool and you’d still do better than sending your kids to the government run mills.
In my mind, they were both right. I have seen homeschoolers who are organized, driven and make teaching their children their job, one that takes up all their time and attention and one they do exceptionally well.
On the other hand, I have also met homeschooling parents who are more hands off, but take their children with them, teach them whatever they know, believe simply in being involved in their lives.
Both kinds of homeschoolers do just fine. And yes, both are better than assembly line government run public schools.
An Assembly Line
I recently went to get a new car key made for our family van we bought last year. I couldn’t help but notice how unable or unwilling the people who worked at the dealership were to do things differently.
Would I like a free car inspection?
No, thank you, I’m just here for a new key.
Well, we do have to check tires. It’s the law.
Fine, but nothing else. I’m just here for the key. I have other things to do as well.
And even after all that, the car somehow ended up at the vacuuming and cleaning place. After waiting for over an hour, I inquired, complained and finally was able to leave. Not before paying for the key and upsetting the people working there.
Why were they upset, you ask. They were angry because I refused to be part of their assembly line. Because I wouldn’t passively accept what they thought they needed to do to my car.
Because, as the customer, silly me, I thought I was supposed to be in the driver’s seat.
Customization is Key
What is true of good customer service is true of education.
Your children are not supposed to be carbon copies of another. They are not to move from station to station, getting inspections along the way; they are not supposed to walk lock step with their peers.
They are unique people. They are to be the best and fullest version of themselves.
Unfortunately, the only way to get that education in a system that is developed for an assembly line is to anger people who are part of it.
Or you can choose not to be part of it.
Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Ineptitude
I was reading The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon written by Brad Stone and came across a part of the book that illustrates this perfectly. When Steve Jobs created the iPod, the writer says, Amazon’s music sales suffered. It no longer made the profits it used to by selling CDs. Music became digitalized and sales drifted to iTunes.
Did Jeff Bezos decide to then produce a cheap imitation of the iPod? Thank goodness, no.
He didn’t make another iPod because he couldn’t. Doing so would be a poor imitation of something that was, for all intents and purposes, perfect. Instead, he took an e-reader that had failed in the past, rejected by most and came up with the Kindle.
The difference in the two giants here – Bezos and Jobs – who in many ways have similar life stories – was not just in the products in they created. The difference was in their personalities that were the reason behind the products they created.
You see, Bezos loves words and arguments in the form of a narrative. He made his employees write essays instead of create PowerPoint presentations. He had this to say about why.
Full sentences are harder to write. They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.
Jobs on the other hand loved music. There is no way he could have created the Kindle. That would also have been a cheap imitation.
Homeschooling is about Customization
Homeschooling then is the ultimate education and life hack. It shuns imitation. It allows families to be who they truly are, it lets children blossom and become who they are meant to be. It lets inventors tinker in their garages, readers read.
It doesn’t seek to stuff individuals into molds and send them off to the next station waiting to be vacuumed and polished and made perfect.
Even if it ruffles a few feathers along the way, homeschooling is well worth it.