Last weekend I attended a homeschool convention and something struck me as I walked through the vendor hall. Why does it seem like so many homeschoolers want to go back in time to the “good old days?” There were vendors selling sewing curriculum, wooden swords, farming books, candle making kits and more. It seems like the longer I homeschool the more homeschoolers I meet who want to move to the country, raise all their own food, teach everyone the violin, and become expert fencers.
There is NOTHING wrong with this lifestyle. I took piano lessons my whole life, it was beneficial. I lived in the country, it was refreshing. My husband hunts ( I think cleaning deer is gross, but I do it anyway). What bothers me is that this lifestyle seems to be promoted and encouraged in the homeschool community while other ways of life are discouraged.
Walking through the vendor hall last week I saw booth after booth selling some part of this lifestyle.
Here is what I didn’t see. Computer programing, marketing, economics, or web design curriculum. After walking the entire vendor hall twice I finally found one small booth selling a single computer programing course. I found a few books scattered throughout the rest of the vendor hall on these subjects but they were few and far between.
According to the US Department of Labor the following are some of the fastest growing industries in the US:
- Management, scientific, and technical consulting services
- Home health care services
- Specialized design services
- Data processing, hosting, related services, and other information services
- Computer systems design and related services
- Offices of health practitioners
- Outpatient, laboratory, and other ambulatory care services
- Software publishers
- Scientific research and development services
The industries of tomorrow are computer, science, and health care related, so why as a homeschooling mom do I need to enroll my child in community college in order for them to learn these skills?
I realize there are homeschoolers who have taught themselves web design, computer programing, and other technical skills without a specific curriculum, but not every child is wired to learn completely independent of a curriculum. While there is nothing wrong with a back to basics lifestyle, I think part of the reason so many people send their homeschooled kids to private or public high schools is the lack of curriculum available to homeschoolers that teach the skills needed to find a job in the 21st century.
As homeschoolers we have the opportunity to create a customized education for our children that will allow them to succeed after they leave the nest. Why are publishing companies missing the boat on this issue? I think as homeschoolers we are doing a disservice to our children by not making curriculum that covers skills like computer programing, web design, and marketing available at the middle and high school levels.
In most states homeschooling gives us the freedom to be forward thinking in our approach to educating our children and some times we use that opportunity to focus on the past. While I firmly believe having a well rounded education is necessary, I feel like what vendors are selling these days are dreams of the good old days, with little thought to our child’s future role in a changing economy.
Our children need life skills but does that need to be the focus of our homeschool day? Life skills can be learned by living, not a curriculum.
Let’s face it, unless you are Amish, you are a consumer of technology. Whether you use QuickBooks to run your home business or set up a website to promote it, technology helps people achieve their business goals. Let’s encourage our children to become creators of technology not just consumers.
It is time the homeschool publishing companies realize that creating curriculum for the 21st century is something homeschoolers want and need to succeed in our changing global economy. While building a backyard catapult is fun, that skill probably isn’t going to get my son a commission in the Navy or a job at Microsoft.
Let’s continue focusing on the basics (reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic) and start pursuing electives that will prepare our children for life in this ever-changing world.
What do you think?