I have long been fascinated by homeschooling. I wrote my senior thesis on the topic in college (basically on the legal framework; you don't want to read it, it wasn't any good). As I started researching gifted education later, I learned that a very high percentage of families of highly gifted children homeschool. If you can't get a good accommodation in school then homeschooling winds up being the fall back option. When I wrote Genius Denied with Jan and Bob Davidson, we noted that about half the families of their Young Scholars homeschool at some point.
I don't have the personality to homeschool my own kids, and I don't think I would have been a good homeschooled student myself, but I'm intrigued by the parallels to the way I work. I pursue new knowledge as I have reason to do so (usually because I'm writing about it). I work at my own pace on longer projects (books; when a deadline in 12 months out, you have to self-pace). My schedule is my own as long as I get the work done. I don't commute to an office every day at a certain time to do certain things just because it's 9 a.m., and homeschooled students don't either.
I'm pretty sure that a lot more people will be working the way I work in 20 years. So the question becomes, is homeschooling the best way to prepare for the workforce two decades hence? That's the thesis Penelope Trunk (gadfly blogger and serial entrepreneur) has proposed over at her blog's section on homeschooling:
"Gen Z will have an education that is practical. College is widely seen as worth far less than its price tag in most cases. Graduate school is an anachronism, now seen by many (including the Chronicle of Higher Education) as a babysitting service for adults. So I started thinking, if Gen X ers – the parents of Gen Z – are not buying into the education system, then what will happen? The answer is that Gen Z will be homeschooled much more frequently than any generation before them, and Generation Z will understand how to synthesize data, self-direct learning, and ask the kinds of questions that make or break companies. The portion of Generation Z that gets the old-fashioned, classroom-based education, will end up being unprepared to compete."
Of course, homeschooling requires something from the parent that many didn't necessarily plan on doing: being a teacher (or at least an education facilitator). The traditional model of homeschooling is that mom stays home with the kids to teach them, rather than building a traditional career. A tiny number of families hire governesses, and thus can homeschool as two-career couples, but this is a small number.
But as people are working in different ways, this is opening up new options, and I've been coming across a few more mothers (or fathers) who work while homeschooling, often in a freelance or entrepreneurial fashion. Trunk, for instance, has her blogs. Modern Mrs. Darcy is another homeschooling working mom, as is Catherine at A Spirited Mind. I'd love to find more examples (and I've written about a few readers from Gifted Exchange as well). As technology opens up more options, we may see more families trying this different way of educating their children, which may change the workforce in more ways than we can currently see.