Are Homeschoolers Socialized?

“One of the most persistent criticisms of home-schooling is the accusation that home-schoolers will not be able to fully participate in society because they lack ‘socialization’,” began an article in the Washington Times. I’ve had the privilege of attending public schools, and participating in homeschooling. I even did both at the same time for many years. Have I only been half as well socialized as I could have been?
Indeed, “socialization” is often the biggest concern cited by those unwilling to homeschool their children. Is there good solid evidence for believing your child will end up unable to cope with our complex society as a result of receiving his or her education at home?
Are homeschoolers socialized  - a dual enrollee responds
First off, what exactly IS socialization? Here are a few definitions:
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  1. The modification from infancy of an individual’s behavior to conform with the demands of social life.
  2. A continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.
  3. The act or process of making socialistic.
It sounds to me like the first two definitions are what most people are concerned with when they throw out the word, socialization.
I sure hope they don’t mean the third definition, although that is quite possible, seeing as the public education system was founded by socialists. (See Weapons of Mass Instruction, John Taylor Gatto)
In general, those who fear un-socialization from home-schooling, or use this fear as an argument against the model, are using the word in the sense that—by home-schooling—your children will not be well adapted to the traditions and rituals of society, and that your children “will not be able to fully participate in society,” or that they will not learn from society how they are supposed to act, and thus, will be abnormal and/or miss-out on societal experiences.
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No one wants that for their children, right?
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On a more extreme level, some may fear that homeschoolers will be so un-socialized that they will be paralyzed by fear or uncertainty when they eventually leave the nest and have to face, “the real world.”
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Is it true that homeschooling results in a lack of socialization?
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Well according to the definitions of socialization above, no. Everyone receives some form of socialization. It is a “continuing process” and a “modification from infancy”. Everything in our lives influences how we are “socialized”. Everyone receives socialization, or another way of putting it, everything that happens to us shapes who we are, and how we interact with other people. This is branded, “socialization.”
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And yet, some have the idea that homeschooling results in a complete lack of socialization. This idea is propagated by the myth that homeschoolers spend their days, “locked in their room, studying in the dark,” as one acquaintance of mine assumed I did after I turned down an offer to attend a social gathering. I corrected him, pointing out that, “No, I don’t study in the dark because then I can’t see. I leave the lights on.”
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However, does my turning down this offer make me un-socialized?
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3 Reasons Why Boys Should NOT Play Football

“Gentlemen, it is better to have died as a small boy than to fumble this football.” – John Heisman

Last week I wrote about the 6 reasons boys should playfootball; however, there are reasons NOT to play football as well.

1. Time Commitment:

 
In my post last week, I listed the heavy time commitment football requires as a positive, but it is a double-edged sword.
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While the time football requires can teach one to work hard and commit to something difficult, it does chew-up a lot of time that could be put elsewhere. There were many times where football interfered with my family’s schedule, and I wasn’t able to be home for dinner. Practices were supposed to go from 3:00pm to 6:00pm during the school year, but sometimes they ran longer, which also disrupted our family.
 
I was also unable to travel with my family during the summer because I had football camps or two-a-day practices. I had to stay behind. Family time and togetherness is something that is very important to my family, and it seemed that football would often interfere with that pursuit.

The great Vince Lombardi once said, Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” I think there is a lot of truth to this statement. We should strive to always win. Even if your team doesn’t end up with the most points at the end, you should always put forth a winning effort. On the other hand, there is a downside to this attitude, and so often football (or other things) get elevated above the more important things in life.

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The time football demands is costly, and before you decide your son will play football, you have to count the cost it may have in disrupting family time.

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6 Reasons Why Boys Should Play Football

Ronald Reagan, “Going to college offered me the chance to play football for four more years.”
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There seems to be an idea among some Christian homeschoolers that sports are bad, silly, or simply a waste of time.
I’ve even detected an attitude of haughty condescension at times, and the idea that, “I may not be athletic, but at least I’m not a dumb meathead and I have all ‘A’s.”
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I can certainly understand this, “geeks will inherit the earth,” sort of perspective. It’s a natural backlash to our culture’s unhealthy obsession with sports, and indeed, there are a lot of negatives that have arisen out of the sports culture. But are sports themselves, bad? Are sports to be avoided by Christians?

I played football for 11 years, basketball for 7, soccer for several, and lacrosse for 1. Sports have been more a part of my life than writing, or homeschooling even. In fact, I voluntarily attended public school so I could play sports, and if you know anything about me or have read my blog, you know my opinion of public school is less than stellar.
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This is not a, “Confessions of a Christian-homeschooler-sent-to-public-school-athlete,” article, which means I’m either stupid, crazy, a hypocrite, or maybe there was something about playing sports that justified my attendance at public school.
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I believe my participation in so many different sports and for such a long period of time gives me a perspective that many who have never played sports, don’t have. From the outside, sports can look pretty bad. Many athletes tote around gigantic egos, men put “the game” ahead of responsibilities and family, and youth and scholastic sports teams generally are environments hostile to God; however, sports are not the problem. The problem is the people involved—or more specifically—sin. So often we mistake things for being sinful, when it’s often how we use them that is right or wrong.
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I have been asked on multiple occasions by homeschooling moms my thoughts about sports (specifically football) and whether or not they should allow their sons to play. 

In a two-part series, I’m going to be going over a few reasons why I believe boys should and shouldn’t play football. 
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Part 1: 6 Reasons Why Boys Should Play Football:

1. Physically Demanding

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In my experience, no sport is as physically demanding as football. No sport demands the combination of endurance, strength, speed, and flexibility that football does. This is why football demands so much more time than any other sport. You’re lifting weights four days a week during the winter, conditioning and running during the spring, and practicing almost every day through the summer and fall.
I’ll never forget running “perimeters” as we called them. A full-out sprint around the perimeter of the football field with very little rest in between each sprint. Again and again we would go around until people started to throw up. On top of that, we would always run perimeters after our heavy leg workouts. After squatting hundreds of pounds of weight over and over, we had to go out and run sprints. Your legs would feel like lead. We all hated perimeters.
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This heavy physical demand not only helps to build physical strength, but mental toughness. In fact, it was probably more mental than anything. When you’re losing in the fourth quarter, and you’re tired, and you’re going up against guys who want to take your head off every play…it’s easy to back down, to give up. But all of the training you do is supposed to help build up the mental toughness to know you can make it out. You’re not in unfamiliar territory. You’ve been there before, and you know can make it out. I think this concept carries over into life beyond just football.
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Life offers a lot of challenges, but I believe playing a sport like football can help form a confidence and an understanding that challenges can be overcome.  
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2. Time Intensive

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Football requires a massive investment and commitment. I can’t count all the times I thought about quitting. Everyone thinks about quitting, and many do, but others stick it out. To be good, you have to spend hours and hours of time working out, lifting weights, training, and practicing. Playing football forced me to do hard things that I didn’t want to do, and I think this is a good thing for boys.
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Football teaches you to deny the desire for instant gratification, and to build toward a goal. It also taught me a lot about faith. I didn’t know if all my hard work would pay off, but I had to learn to do what I could, and not worry about what I couldn’t control. In the end, it was worth it.
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Surely, there are other activities which can teach these same ideas, but football is also a great medium. 
“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”
― Jerry Rice
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3. Ultimate Team Sport

It has been said that football is the ultimate team sport. This is true. While most sports are about individuals, football is about teams. If one person doesn’t do their job correctly on a given play, the entire play could go for a loss, or much worse. Everyone has to work together, and you are only as strong as your weakest link.
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If you want to be a successful team, you have to learn to sacrifice for your teammates and be selfless. Your mistake could end up costing everyone. Likewise, doing something good can benefit everyone. Football really helps to paint a vivid picture of how we don’t live in isolation. Our actions impact others.
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“People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.” – Vince Lombardi
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4. Violent

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This point will probably be hard for a lot of people to understand, especially my female readers, but the violence of football is also a good thing for boys.
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We all know that boys are energetic and like to play rough, and just about every boy dreams of joining the military and fighting battles at one time in his young life. When we look back at history, more often than not, this dream would come to fruition.
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In the Spartan culture, boys were taken to join the military at the age of 7. In the medieval ages, there were pages who would accompany and serve knights. In the American Revolution and Civil War, boys also participated in the combat. Boys have a natural instinct for violence, and this isn’t bad, though our culture sure tries to say it is. 
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Today, this masculine trait is under attack, and boys are punished simply for being boys. Oh, your 5-year-old boy can’t sit still in a classroom for hours on end? Drug him. According to the Center for Disease Control, boys are almost 3 times more likely to develop ADHD than girls. (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/adhd.htm) We are trying to say there is something wrong with many boys when there isn’t.
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The active and aggressive behavior of boys has come to be seen as a primitive and barbaric trait of a bygone age, and so now we’re trying to feminize boys and turn them into well behaved little girls.
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It’s no surprise that the left is pushing for this change in boys. These repressed boys will turn into weak and passive men without a backbone, easily pushed around by the Liberal agenda.
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While it may be true that we now live in a time where men don’t really need to be training for potential military service, the aggressive and violent nature of boys still exists, and it needs to be channeled in a productive direction.
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If this natural instinct that God gave boys isn’t channeled in a good direction, one of two things could happen:
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This violent tendency will be used for evil:
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“Women commit about 2.1 million violent crimes each year in the United States…By comparison, men commit about 13 million violent crimes each year.” – LA Times
It has been well documented that men are more violent than women. If boys are not taught how to use their aggressive nature for good, then there is a likelihood it could be used for evil. Playing football won’t ensure one does not commit violent crimes, nor am I saying a man is more likely to commit violent crimes if he hasn’t played football. This is obviously not true. However, football does provide a good environment for teaching and expressing this aggressive male nature in a healthy way.  
He will become a wimp:
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The other risk to not effectively channeling the aggressiveness of boys is suppressing it, which can stifle his growth into masculinity. If you want your son to be a strong man willing to do hard things and take responsibility and leadership, don’t discourage his energy, or make him think his aggressive nature is wrong—it simply needs to be harnessed. Certainly, boys need to learn to respect others, and how to behave well, but this should not come as the result of emasculating them.  
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While it is certainly not the only productive channel, football is a great way to exercise this natural aggression in boys, and to promote healthy masculinity.  
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5. Masculine

Football is the closest thing you can get to warfare. You have two teams (armies) directed and trained by coaches (generals and officers). There are different positions, and each player has a specific job to do (branches of military). Each team crafts a different plan to defeat the other (strategy) and every player has been taught techniques to help implement this plan and gain an advantage over their opponent (tactics). Throughout the game, each team calls a series of plays and makes adjustments to try and out-flank, out-maneuver, or over-power the other side—just like in warfare. Also like warfare, in football, you are going up against people who mean to do you harm. In war it’s “kill or be killed.” In football it’s “hit or get hit.” There is no sport that can mirror the clash of battle lines like the “kick-off” in football where each team charges across the full-length of the field to slam into each other. Women may call it barbaric, but I call it masculine, and it’s good for boys.    
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I’m sure this will be hard for many women to understand (just as there are many experiences that come with being a woman that I find hard to understand) but up to this point in my life, I’ve not experienced a better feeling than smashing into another guy at full speed when he doesn’t see you coming. Physically, you don’t feel much. Physics takes care of that, and instead, the other person gets lifted off the ground only to slam back into it an instant later. It’s an incredible feeling I can’t really describe.
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Those hits are the most fun, when the other guy doesn’t see you. But those are also easy. There are other kinds of collisions which take a lot more guts to carry out, the hits you deliver when the guy does see you coming. You see the look in his eye and you know he means to hurt you. But that’s okay, because you mean to hurt him too. That’s the part of the game that everyone understands. You never want to injure someone, but you want to hurt them. It’s fun!
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You feel those hits, more internally than externally. Your whole body absorbs and dishes out the impact. There’s just something thrilling about using your body so wholly and totally, giving all of yourself to help your team. There have been a couple collisions where I even saw stars. Yes, I literally saw stars. I couldn’t believe it. I thought that was just something cartoons made up, but it’s real. Not really any pain though. You never really feel much pain in those big hits, unless you get a finger smashed or something. It’s all just incredibly exhilarating, which is why I can understand it when I hear some war veterans talk about enjoying combat. It’s not because they’re evil, sick, or twisted, it’s because that’s the way men are created. We’re created to relish such violence because—in the dark and dangerous world we live in—we need men to be protectors and defenders of what is good and right and true.
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Yes, this violent instinct is often used for evil, but it was meant for good. Football is a good and relatively safe way to channel this instinct into something good. Boys can burn off their aggressive tendencies through football, while—if trained properly—football can also be a means to help cultivate this God-given nature into a force that can be used positively to help others. Football certainly won’t turn a boy into a man, but it definitely can help.     
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6. Microcosm

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In so many ways, Football is a microcosm of life. As the great Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi said, “Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.”
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As my other points have hopefully alluded to, football provides a relatively safe environment to learn about the realities of life.
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-Talent only gets you so far

-Hard work leads to success

-You’re going to fail, but you can’t dwell on the “last play”. You have to keep moving forward and learn —from your mistakes

-Don’t become over-confident when you’re up

-Don’t lose heart when you’re down

-Sacrifice in the short term to reap the greater reward down the road.

And so on.
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It’s better to learn these lessons and make mistakes while playing a sport while there is very little at stake.
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Not everyone who plays football takes these lessons to heart. Some people are good enough to just coast on talent. Some do let their mistakes get to them. Some do lose heart when they’re down. Some teams never learn how to work together. These players and teams ultimately end up the losers.
While there are certainly other hard, physical activities boys can engage in, I think there are few that offer as much as football does.  

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Time Wasted In School Part 4: The Core Classes


In part 1 of this series, I examined all of the time spent outside of class during the 7 total hours in the school building.
Part 2 showed how no time is spent teaching during study halls.
Part 3 described the wasteful nature of electives.
In part 4, we will be moving on into the core classes. Surely less time is wasted in such important classes as Math, English, Science, History, and foreign language.
It’s harder to actually assess how much time was wasted in these classes, as it would fluctuate depending on teacher and time of year. However, in pretty much every class I’ve been in, only about half the class is actually spent on actual instruction.
What I’ve learned about teachers, is they like to talk. I may have had to teach myself most of Honors Algebra II, but I did learn a lot about my teacher’s personal life and personal opinions on social issues.

For example, she once expressed her opinion that she didn’t think it right that the woman should always have to take her husband’s last name when married. This led to class time being consumed with debate on a social issue, not mathematics. Debate is nice, but not when you’re paying a lot of taxes to be taught Math.
What was especially frustrating was when we would get to the end of the class time and the teacher hadn’t finished teaching all the material. She would blame us for being too talkative, and then just tell us to figure out the rest of the material for ourselves and do the homework (homeschooling). 

There was no going back. She couldn’t teach the rest of the material the next day because that would put us behind schedule and we would never cover all of the yearly material.
So if we ran out of time, we ran out of time. Missed something? Too bad, you must learn it on your own, or not at all.  
In my AP chemistry class—which was two periods long (an hour and a half)–the entire first period was spent going through a boring and confusing power point. Several of my classmates would fall asleep during this portion of the class. These weren’t underachievers either. This was AP (college level) chemistry. I struggled to stay awake myself. It was the end of the day, the lights were off, and the teacher was speaking Greek.
The second period of the class was just for us to work on homework. However, since 90% of us had no idea what the teacher had said, we weren’t capable of completing the homework. Instead, we just copied the answers to the homework out of his answer book—which he let us do—then we talked the rest of the class, or worked on homework from other classes. At home, I would then go over the answers and try to figure out how in the world the teacher had arrived at them.
Chem Guy: one of the greatest men of our time, fo sho!
In order to overcome the lack of teaching, I bought an online Chemistry course to help teach me, and I watched a lot of youtube videos by “Chem Guy” (who was my Chemistry savior).
I spent about two hours every night on chemistry homework, and was getting nothing from class. I essentially had to teach myself college chemistry as a sophomore in high school.
The result? I got an “A-” in the class, but only a 2/5 on the AP test, which means I didn’t get college credit, which was a major point of the class. It also goes to show that grades don’t always reflect learning. One would think that an “A-” in the AP class would correlate to passing the exam. Not the case, and yet grades are all that matter in the public school system.
Many times I questioned myself about what the point of even having a teacher was if you just had to learn everything on your own, anyway?
Of course, not everyone did learn on their own, and these were the people who would get the “B”s and the “C”s. Sure, some of the responsibility is on them for not putting in the work, but they are were expecting to be taught. The students who received all “A”s; they succeeded because they got a tutor, or they spent an inordinate amount of time doing homework and studying and learning on their own.
Again, nearly all of my classes could be cut in half, with half the time spent   on instruction, or “teaching,” and the other half spent on doing homework or figuring it out on your own—or more commonly—burning time. So much time was wasted.
This 50/50 split wasn’t true in all of my classes. I did have one class that was chock-full of fun and productive teaching and instruction, but that was a very unique and exceptional class. Because of this common 50/50 split in time, our 4 hours and 15 minutes of remaining educational instruction time is cut down to approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes.
This isn’t all the time spent learning, but it’s all the time spent being given instruction by teachers, which is supposedly what sets public school apart from homeschooling.
All the other learning that takes place during the school day is generally left up to the student, and quite frequently, students choose not to do homework. You can find ways to get decent grades without doing homework or putting in much effort. Even if you are a hard worker, and do want to commit yourself to learning, it’s hard to learn much in an environment as wasteful and inefficient as the public school system. Public school hurts poor and good students alike.  
Most of my learning occurred outside of class, doing homework or studying the textbooks on my own.
Sound like a typical day of homeschooling?
Ever wondered how kids could be locked away inside the school building for hours on end and still have more work to do at home?
 It’s because the system is so inefficient, and wasteful. There shouldn’t be a need for homework, but there is.
Also, what should be noted is that there was much that was not factored into my estimation. I didn’t count all of the times where the “class clown(s)” would act up and cause the teacher to hesitate or get distracted and go off on a tangent.
I’m also not counting the times where a teacher would have to have a conversation with a student, “out in the hall,” when the rest of us would just have to sit and twiddle our thumbs in the awkward silence.
There were also school assemblies and pep-rallies, which were a complete waste of time, but we always looked forward to them for exactly that reason—time off from school work. Fire drills, tornado drills, lock-down drills, real lock-downs, delays for weather, early dismissals because of weather are all time wasters, but they did not factor into my estimation.  
Lockdowns: Putting all the kids in one spot so the killer doesn’t have to work as hard.
I’m also not counting the days completely lost to substitute teaching. Days with substitute teachers are rarely productive or educational. Indeed, I’ve had some subs that didn’t even know anything about the subject they had to teach.
Substitutes simply follow the instructions left by the teacher, which means assigning busy-work or telling students to read their text books.
This usually results in an entire class period of teenage socializing.
Following up on a tip from a former public school teacher about the frequent occurrence of substitutes I discovered the following statistics. Up to 10% of teachers are absent on any given school day, and about 5 million students nationwide in some 274,000 classrooms have a substitute teacher on any given school day.
There is a lot of time wasted in public school, and this is not only my belief. Ask a typical student, ask a typical teacher; they’ll tell you the same thing if they’re being honest.
They may not have taken the time to actually add everything up, but the majority of people will at least have the vague idea that, “yeah, a lot of time is wasted,” but most students, and even most teachers are okay with this.
Finding ways to waste time has even become an art-form to many students. After all, the alternative to wasting time is actually doing hard work, which isn’t fun.
Also not factored into my estimate is all of the time wasted on false and detrimental instruction, like the views taught in “Health Class” on sexuality, or the teaching that the only significant “achievement”  of Ronald Reagan was the Iran Contra affair, or being taught Darwinian Evolution is science and the reason we’re all here today.
 

SCIENCE!!!

Of the 7 hours spent locked away inside a public school building, approximately only 2 and a quarter of those hours are really spent being given instruction. Nearly 5 hours are wasted.
With all the time wasted in public school, is it any wonder that America is falling behind the rest of the world academically?
Is it any mystery that other nations are outscoring America in every subject?
I recently saw this quote from the writer and Youtube celebrity, John Green: “Let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools even though I don’t personally have a kid in school: I don’t like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.”
Now, Mr. Green’s point is valid, but it is mis-made. What he is really arguing for is education, not public school.
Education is very important.
What Mr. Green must not realize (maybe because he went to a private boarding school, not a public institution) is that public education is a very poor means and environment for acquiring a solid education.
There are much more efficient and cost effective alternatives.
We all know the public education system isn’t working. Even our illustrious president recognizes the current system is a failure, but his solution of throwing more money at schools will not patch up the holes. I’m sure the money would be put to good use, however, like acquiring more flat screen TVs to add to school collections, or possibly the purchase of new computers for students to play “Crush the Castle” on during study hall.
Money will not solve any of the problems which are the fruits of a fundamentally flawed system. That’s like throwing money at a ship building company committed to constructing boats out of Swiss cheese.  
If you’re a homeschooler, I hope this series has equipped you with a better understanding of the reality of the public school system, and provided you with more ammunition to fearlessly articulate the superiority of home education.
Sure, time can be wasted in homeschooling too, but it’s likely the time not being spent on academics is being spent on something that is at least somewhat worthwhile, unlike at public school.
If you’re a public schooler, then I hope maybe your eyes have been opened. Your school is not giving you as much as they say they are. What you do with that knowledge, is up to you.
 

Time Wasted In School Part 3: Electives


Now that we’ve cut away all the trimmings of public school, we can now get to the meat—the actual classes. In public school, you have the four core classes: Math, English, Science, and History. On top of these four, a foreign language—usually Spanish—is often taken, along with two other electives.
I usually avoided electives, as they were deemed too wasteful by my parents and me; however, there were a few electives that we thought would be beneficial, such as Public Speaking and ACT/SAT prep. Looking back, I didn’t receive much benefit from these classes, and there was a lot of time wasted. In fact, the reason many of my peers gave for taking these two classes was that they were looking for easy electives which required little attention and came with a light homework load.

In the whole semester I took Public speaking, I only had to give three real speeches. There were a total of five “speeches,” but I don’t count the other two. One speech involved reading a children’s book aloud to the class, which, in addition to making me feel pretty foolish for reading such a book to a bunch of teenagers, didn’t seem like public speaking to me. I already knew how to read a children’s book. I wanted to learn public speaking, you know, like standing up and having to give a speech in front of a lot of people. The other speech I didn’t count was our end-of-the-year project, where we had to give a “how-to” speech with a partner. I ended up showing how to make and decorate a gingerbread house since it was close to Christmas. All I did for that was talk about what I was doing and mention some interesting facts I researched about candy and gingerbread house-making which I’ve long since forgotten.
Not only was the instruction lacking, there were also many times where the teacher would finish teaching early, and then we would talk amongst ourselves for the last 15 minutes of class (which is a whole THIRD of the class time). Pretty much every day we would line up at the door five minutes before the bell rang, and the teacher would often have to tell us to be quiet because other classes were “still learning”. Most of our time was spent not learning how to speak publicly, but researching on our own the information we would need in order to give our “speeches”.
Another rather pointless and wasteful aspect of that class was all the time we spent learning common sense “conflict management”. Perhaps it was necessary to teach such things, since kids are not learning how to act and respect others at home, but this was not public speaking. We were not learning how to articulately deliver a message to a crowd of people in an oral format. Learning about aggressive and passive aggressive behavior did not help me improve my public speaking, which is what I wanted from a “Public Speaking” class. For the three or so weeks we studied this material, it was basically a sociology class, not a public speaking class.

Indeed, in all of my classes, teaching would have to be interrupted so a teacher could share some nugget of wisdom about how to behave like a respectful human being should. There was a big paper bucket hanging on the wall of my public speaking classroom, and our teacher explained to us that it’s never right to “dip into someone else bucket to fill your own,” the point being not to insult others to make yourself feel better. A valid point, yes, but why is she having to teach this to 17 and 18-year-olds, and why the juvenile illustration? 


I was often thinking to myself, “Are we in kindergarten?” However, this childish metaphor was not unique to just my Junior-year public speaking class. In fact, this was a trend I had noticed going all the way back to middle school. The older you became, the more the teachers treated you like children. My 4th grade teacher was actually the only one who really treated her students like adults, often telling us we needed to grow up because the teachers in middle school won’t “baby” us. It turns out just the opposite was true. In middle school, and even into the late years of high school, teachers treat students like children. Apparently the youth are experiencing a regress of maturity, or maybe that lack of maturity is being fostered by adults.
The result of seeing high school students as children who need to be taught how to act was a plethora of conversations and ridiculous messages about how to behave, all of which, take time away from academic instruction. I felt my intelligence being insulted rather frequently, while my peers just thought it was hilarious, and were all too happy about the low expectations.
In my ACT/SAT class, we spent a lot of time learning vocab—most of which I already knew—and played silly games, like one to help us memorize all of our prepositions (which two years before, my Freshman English teacher made us sing a song and do a dance to in order to remember all of our prepositions. Yet another example of how high school students are treated like children.) The name of the class was also a misnomer. All the studying we did was for the ACT, not the SAT. Even after that class, I didn’t make much progress on my ACT scores. My scores didn’t improve until after I left the public school and studied on my own. Overall, my ACT class was a disappointment, and a waste of time.
There were many other electives. Another one that was popular because of the lack of homework was Global Gourmet. Still, there were other classes such as Computer Basics, where you learned typing skills and other “basics”. Then there was “Shop Class”, where you used table saws and whatnot to make things out of wood. You were also required to take two years of Gym Class to graduate (which seemed rather pointless to me since I was on both the school football and basketball teams). Health Class, or “Sex Ed” as it was commonly referred, was also required. 

I didn’t take any of these classes, or any of the other electives, so I can’t say how much time was wasted in them, but the teaching of many of these topics in an institutional setting seems rather wasteful.  All the necessary knowledge could easily be learned better on your own if you were really that fascinated.

While you may pick up a few interesting facts and valuable info, electives are largely a waste of time in the high school setting. While one could make the argument that students are wasting two whole periods every semester, I will not factor in the wastefulness of electives into my estimation, since I’m counting all of the time spent being given instruction, and electives technically fall into that category.

However, there is still a lot of time during electives that is not spent on academic instruction. All totaled, probably about half of electives do not involve being taught, but doing something on your own (or simply wasting time, as is most common). For this reason, I will subtract half of each elective class from our estimate, which amounts to about 45 minutes.
Thus, our total time spent on academic instruction in public school is now down to 4 hours and 15 minutes.
Click here for part 4, where I examine the heart of public school: the four core classes and foreign language.   

Time Wasted In School Part 2: Homeschooling At School?

Continuing on from part 1, we have homerooms and study halls at public school. Homerooms are where students check in and get their attendance marked off. They also receive any important announcements here—such as schedule changes.
Homerooms are roughly 15 minutes long. No educational learning takes place.
Also, everyone usually has at least one study hall in their schedule, and many have two. Now, as the name indicates, a study hall is supposed to be a time where—instead of having another class—you spend the entire period studying, or working on homework.
This is not what happens, typically.
From personal observation, what takes place in study hall in order of frequency is as follows:
  1. Chatting with peers
  2. Playing free online computer games (in my day “Crush the Castle” and “Run ‘N Gun” were all the rage)
  3. Texting and/or doing whatever it is people do on their smart phones
  4. Flirting
  5. Homework
So depending on what kind of student you are, what your priorities are, and whether or not you even have any homework to work on…study hall can be either completely unproductive, or a helpful way to get your homework out of the way.
However, since I’m only counting the time spent being instructed, study hall doesn’t count. Any learning that does take place during study hall is accomplished by the student and by the student alone. They are reading the text book and figuring the problems out on their own. Study hall becomes homeschooling at that point, since the student is not being instructed by a teacher in a classroom, but by a book and their own mind—homeschooling.
Like I said earlier, pretty much everyone had at least one study hall, many had two. For the sake of this illustration, I’ll subtract only one study hall period. Since periods at my school were roughly 45 minutes long, I’ll subtract 45 minutes. This subtraction combined with homeroom leaves us short another full hour, bringing our 6 hour total at the end of part 1 now down to 5.
Still, 5 solid hours of education? That’s pretty darn good, right? Well, we’re not finished.

Click here for part 3!

Time Wasted In School Part 1: Outside of Class

It’s a common fear I’ve heard expressed among those who homeschool: too much time is wasted, or more specifically, “Are we doing as much as the public schooled kids are doing?”
I’m not going to juxtapose these two different modes of education in this post; however, I will give an account of my experience in the public schools in regards to how and where time is spent to illustrate just how much time is wasted in our government-provided education institutions.
I can’t speak for everyone’s experience in public school, all I can speak on is my own experience in the schools I was in. Now, just what kind of public schools did I attend? According to Newsweek, all three of the high schools in my school district—including the one I attended— are considered to be among the best high schools in the country. As the school district’s website says, “The district has received the State of Ohio’s highest possible rating, Excellent with Distinction, for nine consecutive years, bolstering its statewide reputation for academic and extracurricular excellence.”


I attended the public elementary, middle, and high schools in this top school district. You would be hard-pressed to find better schools in the country. So if there is any public school standard you want to compare your homeschooling with, I would say you can’t go wrong with my school district.

 
And yet, as “perfect” as these schools are, the amount of time wasted is unbelievable.
With this post, I decided I wanted to add up the time spent in school each day, and subtract from that total all the time wasted in order to come up with a rough estimate for the actual amount of time spent being instructed. In other words, how much time is spent “learning” from the direct instruction of the school teachers? I’ll use my high school as an example since I just recently graduated, and it is still fresh in my mind.
According to the school website, school hours are from 7:55 AM – 2:42 PM, however, what is not factored into that is the time getting ready for school, waiting for the bus, and riding the bus. Buses usually come pretty early in order to get in and get out before the commuters start showing up. Prepping for school, waiting for the bus, riding the bus, and arriving early at school adds at the very least an additional hour to your time in the public school system.

That gives us a little under 8 total hours a day taken up by school (assuming you have no extracurricular activities, which I did.) No academic instructiontakes place during this prepping/arriving time, so that leaves us a little under 7 hours spent in the school building. From that number, we have to subtract a half-hour for lunch. There is no instruction during that half-hour, unless you count learning poor manners, and perhaps some new and exotic obscenities to add to your vocabulary.

There are also four-minute intervals between classes to allow students the time to actually walk all the way across the building to get to their next class. My school was so big, you rarely had enough time to actually stop at your locker to retrieve the books you needed, and to then get to your class (thankfully, the backpack ban was repealed my Junior year.) 
Some people had the bad luck of having multiple classes on opposite ends of the building, and they would have to carom back and forth between them. With so many students, shoulder-to-shoulder stand-still human traffic jams in the hallways were a common occurrence, which would always slow you down. Additionally, many would stop to socialize with their peers, causing further delay. However, I will not factor in all the times students—including myself—were late for class. I’ll just assume that these four minute breaks between classes were always four minutes.
Since there were 8 periods, that means there were 7 breaks. That’s roughly another half-hour in the school building not spent learning. We’ve already lost an hour off of our original 7 spent in the building, and are now left with only 6 out of the 8 total hours spent daily in the public school system.

This is not, however, where the time wasting ends. Stay tuned for more parts in this series!

Click here for part 2

College Advice From My Neighbor

Last week, after finishing school for the day at my grandparents’ house (where it’s quieter), I prepared to head home. I went into my grandparents’ garage to retrieve my bike, and I ran into my grandpa talking to the neighbor from across the street. They were both standing in the driveway, and I said “hi” hoping to avoid a conversation as I needed to get home to help make dinner. My hopes were dashed.
“So is this the new library or what?” my friendly neighbor asked.
“I guess you could say that.” I answered. He burst out laughing. Then, the inevitable question came.
“So where are you going to college?”
Great. I thought, not thinking it very great at all.
“Well I’m sorta doing college on my own.”
More laughter, and my neighbor turned to my grandpa and asked,
“Whose idea was this?
“Not mine,” my grandpa answered, no doubt just as confused as to why I hadn’t bugged out of town yet.
“I’m studying for what are called CLEP tests, where you study for a test in order to test-out of certain college classes.”
A look that was a mix of curiosity and surprise came over my neighbor’s face.
“Okay, testing out of classes.”
“Yeah, to save time and money, and then next year I’ll probably end up going to Ohio State or somewhere,” I continued. Trying to explain my counter-cultural approach to the point in life where you either go to college or people think you’re a loser.


“Do you know what you’ll major in?” my neighbor asked, obviously puzzled-by and interested-in my strangeness.
“No, I don’t know what I’ll major in yet. That’s why I’m just doing CLEP tests right now. I’m hoping that by next year I’ll know.” There are a lot of things I’m unsure of. College and career are two big question marks for me. I should have figured those things out by now, but I haven’t.
Maybe I am a loser after all.  
“Well, I’ll tell you what, OSU is a great place. When you go to college—stay at college. Don’t come back here. Do your homework at the library there,” my neighbor said, finishing with a laugh. “Enjoy the experience.”

It was those words that immediately reminded me just how different from the world I am, and better off too. I mean, what’s so great about the college experience? Boring lectures, homework, tests…this is fun? Or do people mean going to parties and getting drunk when they refer to the “college experience?” Or perhaps there are enjoyable experiences to be had at college that don’t involve immorality, but are these experiences really worth tens of thousands of dollars? What else could I do with that money? 




Wow. This is really bad advice. I thought.
“Yeah, Ohio State does have some pretty nice facilities,” I said, granting him that much (Ohio State really does have some amazing resources for students).
My neighbor went on to describe a house on campus where his son stays. He told me how nice it was, and how it had great furnishing and how it was actually less expensive than staying at a dorm.
Ohio State is only about a half-hour commute from my house, yet my neighbor was trying to give me a whole bunch of reasons why I should stay on campus, and how nice and great it is, and how it’s what his son does and how much he likes it. Why? Why is he telling me this?
He sees the world far differently than I do. He has a completely different worldview. To him, one should go to college, and stay at college. Separate from your family and get out on your own. Have an awesome, wild, and crazy time while you get your degree, then graduate and get a good job to make lots of money and get a lot of nice stuff. His view of college is no different than the vast majority of Americans. This Humanistic worldview shapes just about everyone’s motives for going to college. Even many Christians have been tricked into accepting this worldview because it’s been so ingrained in our culture.
I couldn’t help but think, I don’t want to do anything he is telling me. Why? Is it because I’m anti-social? Is it because I can’t function out in society away from my parents? No (at least I hope not). I like my family. I love my family. Going to a party with a bunch of college kids and getting drunk (or worse) is not very appealing to me, and definitely not as appealing as coming home to spend the weekend with my family.


Now, this doesn’t mean staying on campus is wrong. Not at all, I think I may even like it, but why spend the extra money? Why spend extra time in a hostile and negative environment if I don’t have to?
In our culture, many people miss out on the incredible gift of family. Many parents can’t wait until their children are out of the house, and likewise, many kids can’t wait to be rid of their parents. This is because our society is run by Humanism (which might as well be called selfishness). Kids aren’t taught to respect their parents, siblings aren’t expected to get along, much less like each other. The people we’re most rotten to is our family. Christianity takes a different view, and sees the family as an institution created by God for our benefit and His glory. It seems people never stop to think that I may actually like my family.   
In Humanism, material things such as money, status, and power are the most important things. Not people. Money, status, and power become the sole reason for living. These things are just means to ultimate ends; however, Humanism gets it backwards, and these means become ends in and of themselves.


As Christians, money, status, and power should only be important in that they can help us do more good—advance God’s kingdom on Earth. Indeed, money, status, and power can be very good things in the hands of a Christian who knows how to handle them. 
That being said, money, status, and power should not be our main reasons for wanting to go to college. The funny thing is, college can’t even deliver on these things. College puts you into incredible debt, and a job is not guaranteed upon graduation. College can often do more harm than good, even to the devout Humanist. This reality was recently made painfully clear to many college graduates, which resulted in the “Occupy Wallstreet” protests. What are you going to do when you have no money because of college and can’t get a job? What could be more productive than whining to the government and making nasty signs? Or maybe we should just realize that college guarantees us nothing, except empty pockets.

   

Yet, not going to college never even enters the mind of the average high school graduate. Going to college is just what you do, like learning to walk. Depending on who you are, what you want to do in life, and what God is calling you to, College might not be for you. 
So, of course, if you’re not going to college, then you must just be blowing all your time lying around your parents’ house, right?
“Do you have a job?” my neighbor eventually asked.
“Yes, I do, but it’s non-profit,” I answered. More laughter. So I went on to explain to him about Kingdom Pen, the e-magazine I work for. Apparently your job is only as valuable as your salary, which, I guess that means my job is worth nothing. However, my neighbor was—at least somewhat—impressed. You don’t see too many 18 year-olds who are their own bosses. Why is this? Is it because there are no 18 year-olds as smart or as capable as me? No, of course not. It’s because they’re all in college, and don’t have the time or notion that starting a business is possible.  

But still, I’m not making any money. So, my neighbor goes on to tell me about a job he may have for me packaging pharmaceuticals.
Hmm…is making some money packaging pharmaceuticals really worth my time?
Now, don’t get me wrong. It was very kind of him to offer me a possible job. However, I don’t think I see a career for myself packaging pharmaceuticals. There is no long-term benefit for me in doing such a job. The only point would be for me to make some cash for the short term, which is great if I need money for the short term, but I really don’t. I don’t need money as much as I need to be working on other projects and goals.
But that’s really what our culture is all about–the short-term. Go to college to enjoy the experience, rather than think about all the debt you’ll be in for next ten to twenty or more years of your life. Why is two thirds of our country overweight? Why are we obsessed with stuff? Why are we addicted to entertainment? Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. This is the Humanistic philosophy our culture runs by. It’s the religion that’s taught in our public schools.


As I finally managed to break out of the conversation (a half hour later), I couldn’t help but think how backward that way of thinking is. My neighbor had good intentions, but following his advice would lead me into destruction, as it ultimately leads so many others who don’t know any better.

It can be easy to buy into Humanism–it’s all we’re fed in America. We have to be careful before we make our decisions. We have to reflect on our motives. “Am I doing this because it’s what is expected? Or is this really the best way for me to glorify Christ and live for Him?” For many, college is a good option. We do have to be able to support ourselves, and for some, college is a good first step. Some careers cannot be obtained without going to college. If God is calling you to be a doctor or a lawyer, you probably want to go to college. But if you’re planning on getting a job that doesn’t pay as much, maybe you want to think twice before going to college for four years and not being able to pay off your student loans.


There are many good reasons for Christians to go to college, but there are also many negatives that go along with college that few realize. Keep the ultimate goal in mind, and that’s living for Christ and becoming more like Him.


“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” — Matthew 6:31-34


As far as college goes, make sure the positives out-weigh the negatives. And whatever you do, please don’t take the college advice from my neighbor. 

A Little Banged Up

Football is a violent sport, and that’s the way it should be. I’ve played football for the past 11 years, and now I’m done. Over the course of my playing career, I’ve picked up my share of nicks, bumps, and bruises. Contusions were in abundance, and I was usually bleeding from somewhere by the time a game was over. It was great.

(No, I didn’t get hurt on this play. It was most exhilarating!)





This past year, though, I picked up some more severe hurts and injuries. In fact, this past year was the first time I’d ever been injured in a game, and it was a doozy. But it was totally worth it!


So, to get an idea of what football can do to you, here are a few pictures of some of my more…severe injuries.

(Warning. This isn’t pretty.)





Okay, I’ll start off with something neutral. This isn’t so bad, just a big bruise on my arm (and a faint scar). The scar came when I got sliced with a facemask, and the bruise came from the same facemask. Didn’t really feel much. Pretty shade of purple wouldn’t you say? 
(another view)

Okay, this next one will be a little more gruesome, but still not too bad…






Here, I got the tip of my ring finger sliced off. The culprit: another darn facemask. Haha! The finger itself also got jammed, so it swelled up and went a little purple. I don’t know exactly how this one happened. I went to block a guy, and somehow my finger lodged in his facemask, and the tip got cut off. I was wearing receiver gloves too when it happened, and fabric wasn’t ripped or cut, so I don’t know why my finger ended up this way. This one hurt a lot. Finger tips are very sensitive. Lots of nerve endings, so slicing through those don’t feel very good. I kept playing though. I knew something was wrong when blood started dripping out of my glove. So then I ran over to the training staff and got a bandaid. Then I jumped back into the action. Continuing to block people and catch passes was very, very, uncomfortable from that moment on. It healed….a few weeks later about.



Next injury. This one is just plain ugly. 



(Can you tell what’s wrong with this picture?)



So, what happened here was, as you can see, I got a black-eye. This happened back in the summer. We were playing one-on-one, receiver versus defender. I was defending a receiver, and when I ran up to knock the ball away from him, my brow hit the back of his head. We weren’t wearing helmets because drills were supposed to be “non-contact.” But yeah, I banged into him. I felt a little sting in my eye-brow region, and that was it. I didn’t know anything was wrong until I couldn’t see anymore out of my right eye, and my teammates started screaming (Yes, a bunch of football players screaming and backing away from me because of my appearance. It was that bad. Pictures don’t do it justice). But yeah, not very painful. It was swollen for about…a really long time. Haha! But most of it was gone in about 4 weeks, and the purple/black bruising went away in about 6-7.  

Now, the big one.


This one is actually what you would call, an “injury.” 




Yeah, this one was pretty bad. I tore my ACL, Patella tendon, and obliterated my Lateral Meniscus. This happened when I was jumping to catch a pass. I came down on one leg and got hit by two defenders at the same time. My upper body got twisted and bent back, putting all the stress on my knee. It hurt really bad for a couple seconds. Basically felt like a burning, buzzing kind of pain. My first thought was, “No! I dropped the football!” My second thought was, “I hope I didn’t tear anything.” But then the pain went away, and I figured I was fine. I was dreading going back to the sideline because I had just dropped the ball.  

Well it turned out I did tear something. A lot of something. I tried to walk off the field, but I couldn’t put any weight on my right leg. It was just flopping around, not supporting anything. Then the trainer made me sit down. And when I took a seat on the turf, I knew that was the last play of football I would ever play. 

This injury has yet to fully heal. I was on crutches for about 3 and a half months. I can walk and jog again, and I have 6-8 weeks left of physical therapy. The knee will never be quite the same, and I may still need one or two more surgeries (I’ve already had two) before it’s all said and done, but I should eventually get back pretty close to normal.

Here is footage of the actual play. I’m the receiver to the top of the screen, closed to the QB. I’m in black, and it is my right knee that gets injured. 


And so, football is a dangerous sport. Today, people keep trying to change the rules to make the game “safer,” but what they are really doing is ruining the greatest sport on earth. Football is a dangerous sport. That’s part of the game. That’s what makes football, football. If you don’t want to get injured, then don’t play. If you’re willing to get injured, then you can play. It’s as simple as that. I knew the risks, and I got injured. Do I think the rules should change? Absolutely not! 



Keep football the way it is. You’re meant to get a little banged up.