Sunday, March 11, 2012

Homeschool Kids: Follow the Rules!

There's doing the alternative thing, then there's just plain not conforming, on a basic level, with society. They are two different things.

Homeschool kids: you do need to follow the rules. Period.

Every homeschooler I know wants to raise thinking kids who are independent minded. However, one can be a free thinker while still obeying basic rules of society.

If you want to drive, you must follow the rules for the minimum age of driving and pass the test and get that license. You have to follow the law to get your driver's license and you have to follow traffic laws while driving.

If you want to enter that contest you have to abide by the rules of the competition (even if the competition is for homeschooled kids). It's not a free-for-all, folks. Contests operate within a framework.

The mindset that all rules are optional and up to each child to choose whether to obey or to reject the rule is pervasive among homeschoolers. It starts with the youngest children, but you may argue that they are developmentally immature and that they don't truly know what they are doing when they refuse to do this or that.

It's not just the wee ones. I've seen the behavior continue through the elementary and middle school years and beyond. I was especially horrified by a middle schooler who kept touching artworks on display in a museum. The docent was so angered after many repeated statements to stop touching the art (while the mother stood right there and did nothing) that our homeschool group was told we may be refused admission for future classes!

I was recently made aware of two cheating episodes by homeschool students and their parents in a competition that resulted in the organization starting to limit homeschooler's participation. I had to push to get permisson for my family to run a free class for homeschoolers in the community and for participation in this contest. Yet even in this group I see resistance by students to follow the rules such that one team was in jeopardy of being kicked out. Two students just doesn't feel the needs to comply with the rules and they have decided it is their free will to determine their actions in the competition. It's a simple rule: you must do a minimum of five transactions, but they only want to do two, which would mean the team would be disqualified. This is absurd.

There are frameworks and limits whenever you participate in something designed by someone else with open participation from members of our society. Get used to it. If you want to do the thing, follow the rules or you are out. You will face elimination from the contest or endeavor if you choose to be so independent minded that you decide you are above following the rules.

The only time you get to craft your experience completely the way you want is if you are doing something completely independently and are not trying to join in with or comply with someone else's prerequisites.

When you boil it down, almost nothing that Americans can do in life is truly autonomous. Even if you seek someday be your own boss and choose to start your own business you will have to comply with a myriad of local, state and federal laws. You will have to jump through hoops for getting permissions, licenses, and so many things. If you are used to choosing what to opt out of doing, you may find that laws and rules prohibit you from opting out. You really are not as free as you think you are.

Homeschoolers can do a lot of cool learning experiences in order to craft an alternative education. However, there do come times when you have to follow someone else's rules. Not everything is up for YOU to determine if you CHOOSE to comply. The fact is, you must comply.

I hate to admit it but years of not being forced to obey and comply about a zillion things at school due to being homeschooled sometimes breeds kids who think they are the End All and Be All Decidors of Everything and think that everything is optional and up for debate or refusal. It's just not true. This is my fear with having mainly child-led or interest driven learning, or doing too many alternative "make up your own way" experiences, by doing that, it apparently sometimes teaches kids that everything and anything is up for them to choose or to refuse. That's not how the real world works.

Obey the rules.

Obey the law.

Learn to live with the limited freedoms you have. That's as good as it's going to get. Sorry to inform you of this, but someone has to.


Tina Hollenbeck said...

Very much agreed with you. Sadly, I see many homeschool parents encouraging their kids to break rules just because they don't feel like complying. Most recently, I tried to argue the case for following Facebook's age limitations with a homeschool mom who was, herself, homeschooled and saw nothing wrong with setting up an account for her SIX-year old! She refused to see that breaking the rules was even wrong, let alone that she was lying and teaching her daughter that was okay.

Another example: A few years ago, I taught a Shakespeare class at a homeschool co-op, and I enjoyed it for the most part. I set up very clear expectations (with written rubrics!) on projects and presentations, and most of the kids did just fine. But a few simply refused to follow the rules and then wondered why I marked them down on the work (I provided grades so the parents might award 1/4 credit if they chose). Just blew me away.

KC said...

I love this post, but it makes me wonder what the story is that prompted it! :)

ChristineMM said...

KC, Some of it was in the post itself.

Others, there are too many stories to tell that go into the category of "stories I can't tell in detail or I will end up completely friendless and acquaintence-less".

I have seen a lot in the 12+ years of homeschooling then multiply things by 2 kids. (I am counting the years starting with home preschool for age 2).

One I'll share now that I didn't share back then was a 6 year old HS kid was making fun of my 6 year old kid for using a car booster seat which was mandated by law for that age and weight of child. They carpooled together. When I finally mentioned to the mother that her (skinnier) kid was calling mine a baby and asked if they used boosters (my son already told me no) she said they felt it was their option to choose to not comply with the law as they felt it was stupid. It is one thing to be alternative in education methods but another to take everything to be optional. Parents teach their kids that not only rules but laws are up for personal whims.

ChristineMM said...

...meant to say "when parents choose to break rules or the law they teach their children that they can choose to not follow rules or to break laws also".

Amber Martin said...

Personally I think that teaching my kids to follow rules is one of the most important part of Homeschool. Our rules may be a little different than in classroom but they still must be followed. Additonally teaching them about societal laws (that we do not get to decided on like our "home" rules) is an important part of any education. My comment would be however that your article seems to imply that this failure to respect the rules is a "Homeschooling" problem. I think it is much more a general societal issue. I went to both public and private schools (never had the benefit of being Homeschooled) and saw lots of examples of kids that didn't think the rules applied to them. Perhaps some homeschooling parents don't teach thier kids to follow the rules as they should but the same can be said of any kid or any parent. Public school should not be relied upon to teach our children about right and wrong or even about conformity and non-conformity. However a person chooses to educate thier kids, it is ultimately that parents responsibility to make sure that thier kids can function in society.

ChristineMM said...

Amber I agree with you. What motivated me that day was the homeschoolers so that is what I wrote about.