Sunday, September 07, 2008

But what's the point?

Erin and I had an interesting and very funny conversation last night. She is absolutely loving the structure that school is giving her days and is feeling ambitious and hungry for plenty of challenge both musically and academically. But last night she asked me "why am I doing these courses? what are they good for?"

She knew what the answers might be ... because you enjoy the subject matter, because you want the intellectual challenge, because you like the structure and busy-ness you now have in your days, because the goal of course completion helps motivate you, because some day a few official credits might help prove your academic potential to an admissions office or an employer, because you might decide to pursue a high school diploma. And so I told her all this and she laughed and said, "yeah, I know, but what's the point, really? There are other ways to do that. Why do people do this stuff?"

And so I told her that she was much farther ahead in her understanding than 99% of school students, most of whom just assume that there must be some fundamental meaning to school, even if they can't see it themselves. She, on the other hand, knew there was no de facto point to school coursework, that the value in schooling is something that has to do with how well it serves your goals, needs, desires and aspirations -- it's something that is best discovered and defined for yourself.

So she said "yeah, but what do I get -- what's the point?"

She was just being a goof. She was laughing.

I said "oh, sweetie, that's an answer you'll have to find deep within your very own self."

By that point we were both laughing.

But it was a very deep and meaningful conversation anyway.


  1. It was a deep and meaningful conversation. We've had a few such at our house since the Boychick has started school, too. Though none quite so deep as yours!
    Still, there's something important about students understanding that school is a choice!

  2. You said: "And so I told her that she was much farther ahead in her understanding than 99% of school students, most of whom just assume that there must be some fundamental meaning to school.."

    I'd say she's further ahead that most school officials in that was of thinking too. :)

  3. A post that only another homeschooler could appreciate? I enjoy reading your family adventures :-)

  4. I homeschool, in an eclectic way but have 3 that have chosen to persue their education through public school. Most of them ask that question often. "What's the pont?", but they know the "point", you do "abc" if you are wanting to obtain "xyz". I'm not sure there reasoning for being in school is much different than Erin's. Well my oldest is now in his 3rd year of University and persuing the education that is necessary to persue his chosen career path.

    Of course there are other ways to get to point "xyz", but it seems as though even Erin seems to have decided that since "xyz" might be what she wants in 3 years , that she's going to attempt "abc" to see if that's the way she wants to achieve it.

    It's Ok to play the game as long as you know you are playing. Honestly, I think most of us knew we were playing 20+ years ago. I must be limited in my contacts or something because I honestly don't know too many kids who don't ask "What's the point?", although I do know a ton of parents who don't give them the one thing that your and my children are fortunate to have; a choice.

  5. Oh yes, from within the school system we too ask 'what's the point?' about the game of school, especially 14 year old DD, who worked this out for herself at quite an early stage. Being able to see through the trivia and bureaucracy and pointlessness of some of it to the benefits that she has identified as being real for her is a powerful thing.


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