Pieter Friedrich, a homeschooler, writes a fascinating article called A College Miseducation. In it he discusses the fact that not only did he learn nothing in his classes at college, but also some of his teachers were teaching for the soap box it provided them. It is a horrible indictment of the college system.
In some ways it is very accurate. No one teaches in a vaccuum and all of us have opinions which more or less impinge on our classroom teaching. And if you are smart and extremely well educated, a college education isn’t going to give you much you don’t already know except, perhaps, in your major.
But I do think that he is a bit hard on the whole idea. Of course, as a college teacher, even if only part-time, I might feel obliged to defend it. But that is not it.
I think I am horrified by his article, not so much because I disbelieve or am shocked by his description of his history class, but because I loved college. Yes, I took a lot of classes that were silly. I had some professors who were just off their rockers. But by and large I learned things in each class, even if they were things I might have learned on my own.
I will say that he appears to be discussing the early classes and I tested out of English and history. I took upper division English and history classes because I wanted to, not because they were required. So I might not be looking at the same experience.
And I wasn’t homeschooled. But I was a very involved in my education student, who read and researched topics all the time for fun. (I still do that and I’m not in school any more except as a teacher.) And I stayed involved at school.
I also read the paper from the perspective of a teacher. I wonder how many of my students think that I have a complete agenda and take my two or three discussions on different topics and consider them a mistaken brainwashing attempt.
And I thought that, really, there is nothing in my freshman English class that a good homeschooling education or even a good public school education would not supply. I talk about how to write papers. I talk about literary analysis. I teach them how to write research papers. Many of my students have NEVER written a paper, much less done research and written a paper. They sit in my class desperately trying to absorb all the information I am giving them. They call and email asking for additional information.
If Pieter were in my English class, I think that he would be just as bored as he has been in all his other classes. But he is the exception. Maybe he should not be, but he is.
College provides an education that many students don’t get any other way. I think it part that is an indictment of our entire education system.
But I don’t agree that it means there is no education in college. I think even Pieter will find things, eventually, that he didn’t already know. I certainly hope so.