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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Since I included little background in my previous entry, let me begin by saying that I was identified as gifted in kindergarten and spent my entire educational career in advanced, honors, and gifted classes. There were times when no gifted version of a class or subject was available which necessitated exposure to the regular curriculum. So I've seen both sides of the situation and have ample experience being bored.

Furthermore, I'm a programmer and manager by trade. Much of programming and management is routine. The beginning of most work is fascinating: you design a system, lay the groundwork, and build something from nothing. But execution tends to be repetitive and detail-oriented. Once the program is out in the wild, maintenance and expansion are very rarely sexy or exciting.

The ability to keep at a task day after day, month after month, year after year is invaluable. It is often what makes the difference between a decent performer and an excellent one. But if your entire childhood is spent flitting about—leaving when the going gets tough—then you're likely going to continue that pattern as an adult and money will only go so far at motivating you to do the menial work. This will manifest itself as being a prima donna, changing jobs frequently, or general dissatisfaction with work.

One response to my entry attacked something that I never said: that the goal of education was boredom and "getting along with peers." While I did not elaborate the point sufficiently, I did say that tedium was not the purpose of education. Clearly, the purpose of education is to give a child the knowledge necessary for being an employed adult. (Making good choices and learning to be happy are more the purpose of parenting.) But that doesn't mean knowledge is the only thing you can get from it.

Off the top of my head, here are some useful skills that you get alongside an education:

  • Taking direction from a variety of superiors
  • Dealing with irrational people
  • Managing one's time and priorities
  • Doing tasks that one doesn't particularly enjoy
  • Collaborating with others to get tasks done
  • Learning to stand up for oneself
  • Dealing with objective evaluation
  • Dealing with people who don't like you
  • Doing repetitive practice tasks to acquire mastery
  • Balancing extracurricular activities with school work

Few of those can be acquired from homeschooling. They are all part and parcel of being an adult employee in a modern workplace. It's best to develop them in a relatively risk-fre setting like school—working on them on the job can easily result in a job loss as one makes missteps. Again, these are not the primary aims of school but their acquisition is vital to adult success.