Here’s an essay by a home-schooled college student, who thinks that it’s a lousy way to get an education:
Raposa told us that prior to the founding of Jamestown, England’s only other experience with colonization was in Ireland. Raising my hand, I suggested that the English rule of Normandy constituted a sort of reverse colonization. “I’ve never thought of that,” said the professor, who then felt obligated to explain to the rest of the historically ignorant class why England was connected to Normandy. Further research reminded me that Wales was also a pre-Jamestown English colonization experience.
One obstacle to actual education during this class was that the lacking education of my obviously public-schooled classmates required precious lecture time be spent discussing historical facts any high-school graduate should already know.
“Washington didn’t actually chop down a cherry tree,” the professor told us, eliciting a surprised response from the students. Ferdinand and Isabella drove the Moors from Spain in addition to funding Columbus’ voyage, taught the professor, who astounded my classmates when he said scientists in Columbus’ time didn’t actually believe in a flat earth. Only my hand went up when the professor asked how many of us knew what the Crusades were, so he had to spend twenty minutes explaining them. The incident I’ll never forget because it was so indicative of the ignorance of both the students and the professor came a few weeks into the course. During a break, one student mentioned to Raposa that he’d been reading and came across an unfamiliar term. “What does ‘Anglo-Saxon’ mean?” Professor Raposa hesitated a minute, saying he wasn’t entirely certain of the term’s origin. The answer is pretty simple, especially for a history major like our professor. The Anglo-Saxons were the pre-Norman inhabitants of England. The term is derived from the coupling of the Angle tribe and the Saxons of Saxony, Germany.
I didn’t learn a thing from my entire history class. Well, no. That’s not true. I did learn about staple crop economies. I told my family about this at dinner one night, however, and my 14-year-old sister piped up. “Oh, I already know about those. I just read about them in a book the other day.”
Well, I did learn one other thing. Remember those papers about Garrison’s essays I mentioned? I paid special attention to the first two papers, researching Garrison’s essays, analyzing them, and refuting them. I met all the requirements for the assignment, even abiding by the page-limit, yet both my articles only received B’s. The professor explained that he didn’t want us going beyond the assignment requirements, so he marked my papers down. I learned that if you want to succeed in college, you should only do the bare minimum.
This was just one class. I could mention my journalism class, which taught me nothing. Or my argumentation class, which taught me nothing. Or even my American government class at the highly-regarded Patrick Henry College, which taught me (you guessed it!) nothing. This isn’t intended as a commentary on my own intelligence, as I’m a mediocre student at best. Rather, the problem is that college classes these days don’t teach anything that the average student from a good homeschool high-school hasn’t already learned.
The whole systems seems to be broken, from K12 through grad school. I suspect that it’s got the same problem that the health-care system does–the people who are getting the service aren’t the ones paying for it.