Homeschooling or not, how well are you as thinking parents preparing your kids to interact beneficially with college faculty? Think about it.
The Chronicle of Higher Education
From the issue dated November 28, 2008
Studies Examine Major Influences on Freshmen’s Academic Success
By PETER SCHMIDT
Three new studies of college freshmen suggest that even the most promising among them can run into academic difficulties as a long-term consequence of experiences like attending a violence-plagued high school or being raised by parents who never went to college.
. . .Taken together, the reports not only challenge many of the assumptions colleges make in admitting and educating freshmen, but could also influence discussions of how to improve the nation’s high schools to promote college preparation.
So let’s discuss it. Say Thinking Homeschoolers applied these finding to home education college prep. No violence would seem like a no-brainer. Home as the learning environment should feel safe and comfortable and stable, not threatening and scary and painful. Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy: an insecure child can’t care about academics until his basic human needs get met.
But what about “being raised by parents who never went to college” — why does that matter, according to the research?
. . .while students on the whole appeared to benefit from interactions with faculty members, first-generation students who experienced the most contact with faculty members generally had the worst educational outcomes. The findings, the researchers concluded, suggest that those students “have not been conditioned to the positive benefits of interacting with instructors.”
Wow, imagine that, so it’s important that students be conditioned to the positive benefits of interacting with instructors! One might logically question then, whether compulsion, control and restriction, constant supervision, criticism, correction, standards and rules and “discipline” — even without violence — have the assumed academic effect or whether they may outwardly force kids to “do” their lessons while in fact they internalize the opposite of successful academic attitudes and behaviors.
I thought about how Favorite Daughter has been conditioned to the positive benefits of interacting with instructors. Mostly by none of the above!
So Favorite Daughter is having a superb community college experience and not just because of the quality of the faculty members, but because of the very high quality of her many positive interactions with them. She is enthusiastically creating her own education in direct one-to-one collaboration with them as her academic colleagues and partners, never mind other students. Because she wants to! It feels good. She is self-motivated.
There’s all the institutional interface stuff which I did consciously prepare her for, and then provided lots of support and backstopping of problems after she enrolled. Even leaving out financial aid and scholarship applications, every kid needs survival prep to operate inside an academic institution from reading a course syllabus and budgeting your study time, to figuring out and sequencing prerequisities, registration appointments, parking passes, attendance, class participation, GPA maintenance etc etc —
But to me this “positive interaction” prep means not the institutional but the personal, real relationships with real mentors, the “being there” around these learned minds and getting in the real game with them — not how to play the system but how to actually be an academic and enjoy it.
To me unless you want to be there, why go at all? — and I guess that’s what she absorbed at home all those years. She’s so excited now about getting through her bachelor’s and into grad school, where she can commune with the prominent poets and authors who conduct the writing seminars and whose work she’s read already and loves, that she’s salivating. She’s working her head off with extra stuff at a heavy pace, just so she can get to them sooner.
I’ve been happy to see this, of course, but reading this story makes me realize that I never gave the importance of that approach a conscious thought as college prep; she must have developed it on her own from the unschooling model, how her father and I interacted with her all these years.
We did both go to college as the research found was likely — but it seems to me once parents know how important this is, any family can choose to live and learn the same way at home, so their children will reap the same benefits in college (and pass it on to the grandkids!)