Tuesday, February 4, 2014

thoughts on american, european, and home school

so recently i've been getting a rather frustrating amount of college-related emails. while it's nice to know that they're interested in me (nothing like being wanted) it's a bit overwhelming to realize that i will have to be going home and making school-related decisions AGAIN in about 6 months.

with that in mind, i thought i'd give you a quick glimpse into the three types of school systems i've now gotten the change to see... homeschool, american public school, and swiss school. 
WARNING. THIS IS A LONG AND NERDY POST. (punctuated by random pictures of a french castle. you know, just for variation.)

a lot of you reading my blog know this already, but i've been homeschooled for most of my life. contrary to popular belief, this does not mean that i have no social life or that i am only at home with my parents and siblings all day. in general, i take multiple different classes (spanish, art, literature, writing, debate, science, etc.) outside of the house... there are two or three hours of teaching or lectures weekly and then a lot of homework that's assigned over the rest of the week. so yes, i'm homeschooled, but yes, i have friends. :)
the benefits of homeschooling for me were multiple. 
firstly, i've gotten to "squish" my education around in a way that other kids normally don't-- freshman year of high school i wrote, printed, and sold an advice book, sophomore year i participated in debate club and applied to rotary exchange, and this year i'm spending in switzerland. all in all, not a bad combination.
more importantly, i've become fairly independent. while i may not be an adult yet, i'm pretty self-motivated when it comes to schoolwork and projects and learning things, plus i've learned to be annoyingly persistent. this means that school in general isn't a huge struggle for me... i know what to expect from myself and how hard i need to work in order to get results.
that said, i do wish i'd been more prepared for the world around me. my parents have always encouraged me to ask questions, but unfortunately i can't say that for the homeschooling sphere in general. we might not like to admit it, but homeschoolers (and the conservative church, which is pretty related where i'm from) can be judgmental, closed-minded, and shockingly unwilling to challenge their own beliefs. this was really frustrating for me at the beginning of my year.

most of the kids from the usa that are here were enrolled in american high school. contrary to homeschooler belief, this is not the root of all evils. i promise. 
in my opinion, there are benefits (schedule and structure, more people, school clubs and teams and extracurriculars) that i definitely missed out on. as a homeschooler, i think i've been sheltered to a lot of the world, and so my first few months here were partly spent being surprised haha.
at the same time, there are other factors that i gladly skipped. peer pressure, a bazillion people per classroom, drama, etc., etc., etc. i'm not going to pass judgement on something i don't have personal experience with, but i know people who've gone and stated they were unhappy with the American high school system in general.

swiss high school, at first glance, seems like the solution to everything. when i first got here, i was amazed at the differences... at 16, you have the option of either working as an apprentice or continuing with school. every kid has to make a certain grade point average to stay in the class, and so consequently everyone who's there actually wants to be there. kids study and worry about grades and pay attention in class, simply because that is the way the system works. if you don't want to go, you drop out and start working. it's simple as that, and the benefits are obvious.
what i didn't realize then was that sometimes, school causes problems. there are some kids in my class who are naturally smart and almost never show up in class, and then magically have good grades. there are others who have to work extremely hard and yet still have bad grades. and that isn't fair, that isn't right, and it makes me upset. yet it's the only thing that my classmates have known.

what do you think?


  1. I love you so much! My girls decided they wanted to try public again next year and I'm kind of freaking out about it. I'm so glad you post your experiences with everything. You may be the most well rounded person I know. Your parents are my idols - seriously.

    1. Haha, thank you, Mrs. Zomerman!
      (although I must confess I'm somewhat worried... if I'm the most well-rounded person you know, maybe I should introduce you to some more people?? )
      If it makes you feel any better, I know wonderful intelligent people who are homeschooled. I also know wonderful intelligent people who are public schooled.
      they all seem to have turned out okay. ;)

  2. As home school parents we knew there would be things that our children might miss out on by not being in a structured school environment. But that does not factor into why we decided to home school. In the end we wanted to keep Christ in the classroom, in the subject material, to obtain a Christian worldview. In the U.S. and probably Switzerland as well, this is not possible in public schools. Therefore, children ultimately do not have important tools they need later in life.

    1. Thanks for your input! I'm not a homeschooling parent (or a parent at all), so it's helpful to hear another perspective.
      Please know that I was not trying to criticize homeschooling in general, only to point out that there are flaws/difficulties in every type of school. If you chose to homeschool your children because of your personal beliefs, I completely respect that! Homeschooling is a lot of work and it's wonderful that some parents can put that amount of work into their child's education.
      At the same time, being one of those children who grew up with a Christian worldview, I have to say that I wish I had been more prepared for the world outside of Christianity. My parents were always open to questions, for which I will be forever thankful, and encouraged me to challenge my own assumptions... but in youth group or in Sunday school, I was trained to think that the world was a battlefield and to always keep an eye out for the enemy.
      At least in my limited experience, the world is not all out to get me. Neither are the people around me the enemy. Instead, they are people that God created and that God loves and that I should love too. And I wish the church had emphasized that a little more.
      I believe that in homeschooling, critical thinking and grace should also be taught in the classroom and in the subject material, to obtain a reality-centered worldview. God is amazing and all-powerful and big enough to answer our questions, and some of those questions need to be answered in order for our faith to make sense.
      In the world of homeschooling, this is often not emphasized. Therefore, some homeschoolers also end up ultimately lacking important tools they need later in life.
      I hope I've clarified my point. Thank you so much again for your perspective!


thoughts? comments? questions? feedback? if you have anything (or nothing) to say, i'd love to hear from you! ♥