Sunday, October 7, 2012

Homeschooling High School Help: Thoughts on College

Remember how I said I was going to post occasional links to thoughts and resources for homeschooling high school?  My last one was here.  Here's another one.     

A discussion topic that regularly comes up in our home is "Is there any value in higher education worth the increasingly staggering cost?  If so, what is the value?"  Most recently it has been my 19 year old who is asking this question.   Though he went to public school for high school, he seems to have become the most fiery unschooler in my family.   As my 16 year old points out, perhaps I shouldn't head that sentence with "though" but with "because".

 My public high school graduate certainly had more than his share of opportunities to see some of the follies of high school education, and his biggest cause of grievance, besides the sometimes silly and bureaucratic rule system, was the sheer waste of time involved.  His thought is that you can go on the internet and find everything you want to learn easily.  Why spend huge amounts of time and money to inflict more classroom experiences upon yourself?


Anyway, in that line of thought, here's a fiery take on the current state of American academia from The Imaginative Conservative:   Dark Satanic Mills of Mis-Education:  Some Proposals for Reform.   Here's just one quote:

The college, bluntly put, has replaced in loco parentis with in loco diabolus. I cannot imagine a system that would be more effective than the modern university at undermining character and disabling students from the tasks of vocation, marriage, family, and citizenship.
The article skims the history of higher education and how it became of pragmatism and Rousseau-inspired electivism, and doesn't do a very good job even meeting its pragmatic and progressive ends.


Also of interest to those who are thinking of where to go from that high school homeschool diploma....

Erin at bearing blog is writing a series on post-secondary education.   I haven't read the whole discussion yet, but what I have read is very thought-provoking, a good mixture of practical and thoughtful.


For some reason, when I'm thinking about higher education and how wrong it can go, I always think of the poignant story of the boy told in Into the Wild.  

After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, top student and athlete ... abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turned up dead. His diary, letters and two notes found at a remote campsite tell of his desperate effort to survive, apparently stranded by an injury and slowly starving. They also reflect the posturing of a confused young man, raised in affluent Annandale, Va., who self-consciously adopted a Tolstoyan renunciation of wealth and return to nature.
For me, it puts a face on the tragedy of the young person, seriously trying to do the right thing and find the meaning of life, being given a stone rather than bread.   It seems to me that he was malnourished  philosophically before he went out to the wilds of Alaska, that his university did not give him what was important and he was trying to find it for himself.  . 


For something rather different, here are Thomas Aquinas College's Founding Documents.    The founders witnessed the decline of higher education in the 60's and 70's  (the decline started around the turn of the 20th century, but snowballed after WWII), and wanted to give young people and their parents something different.    Keeping an endeavor as idealistic as this going in the day to day is quite an undertaking, requiring a mixture of broad vision, intellectual depth, and nitty-gritty practicality.    TAC and the other Catholic liberal arts colleges could use much prayer and support.


Finally, perhaps most of you have heard about it already, or maybe I've already mentioned it, but Readability is a great app with lots of uses for one's homeschooling.  You can put up articles and then download them in readable format, in Kindle or Epub format,  for your own use or for your student's.     I mostly use it for researching, and for ecollecting and reading longer articles since I have trouble keeping focus with long web articles but have no trouble reading long things if it is in EReader format.    It also helps me read across devices.

Though I haven't used it much for my kids yet, I could see that you could start a middle-schooler, say, on reading about current events by using this format and downloading them to his Ereader, rather than exposing him to a website possibly filled with risky links. 

(I do recommend at some point, however, teaching a child custody of the eyes, mind and heart in regard to the internet, since for the majority of Americans it is simply a reality of life that they will use the internet for research and social purposes)

A similar site to Readability, using the same technology, is Readlists.   Here you can devise your own anthologies on any topic you desire.

Many blessings on homeschooling your highschooler,

Willa and Chari

1 comment:

  1. I vaguely remember the story of Chris McCandless and I had never thought of it n the way you express. The notion that he was a young man hungry for truth and only being fed stones instead is a vivid image to me. I think that there is a lot of truth in this image. So many young people go through the motions with no real passion or purpose. Then they are left wondering, "What's next?" with no real direction or purpose in life. Something that is so important to help our children learn. To understand the point of learning, and find their purpose in life.


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