October 3, 2010

Taking Education on the Road

It’s always good to know we’re not alone.  No, we’re not crazy, others are doing the same thing, and we can give our kids something better than the failing education system.  In their Education Nation series recently, NBC focused on the many aspects of education in America, including our own version of “roadschooling.”  TODAY Show article, A Moveable Feast: For Some, the World Is the Classroom

For us as parent/teachers, it was terrific affirmation that others we’ve never met are having the same thoughts, taking the same steps, and following their instincts.  Are we right?  Who knows.  But what we do know for sure is our kids are thriving, and that we’ve found a way to connect with them and with the world in a meaningful way.

The numbers tell the story.  In 2003, 20% of home school families reported travel and “other” as their reason to step out of the traditional classroom.  By 2007, the number had jumped to 32%.  As the numbers grow, the stigma fades.  Once thought to be the choice of whacked-out, butter-churning, religious fundamentalists, homeschooling has gone mainstream.  More than 2 million children nationwide have opted out of the traditional classroom for “homeschool” type programs, and by all measures, their demographics and ideologies mirror mainstream society.

In our case, it was the blunt realization that outsourcing our kids’ education simply wasn’t working.  We simply no longer bought the notion that children start formal education in kindergarten (or earlier), and with a bit of parent diligence to ensure homework was completed as assigned, educated, ready-for-the-world young adults would emerge at their high school graduation twelve years later.  Out-sourced education, like out-sourced financial management, promised big but failed to deliver.

What’s next?  Hard to know.  What I do believe, however, is that it takes a village to raise these kids, and that our national education system needs major over-haul.  As parents, we need to be part of that  movement.  And while we’re at it, seems to make sense to carve out a bit of time to see the world.  We might just learn something from our neighbors.