Sixteen Years Old (The Coming of Age): Fears and Concerns Series (Part 9)

Realizing that I am likely going to date myself as a “senior”, I recall that when I had finished grade nine, during my unhappy tenure in school, my formal education was over. In fact, I still have my Junior High School Diploma, issued by the Government of Alberta!

Why is it that fifty years ago, a person was deemed to be fully educated by age 16, unless intent on continuing with academic studies, for which high school was available, but today obtaining a high school diploma at age 18 or 19 is the standard expectation?

Related to this question is an observation I made when I quit teaching high school biology over a dozen years ago. Having started my teaching career in Saskatchewan, I eventually came to Alberta where I continued to teach Biology and French.

I had kept all my teaching notes from the beginning of my career and comparing them to what I was teaching twenty-five years later, I was more than surprised by what I saw.

Perhaps it had something to do with comparing notes from two provinces, but I clearly remembered that each time a new curriculum was presented, less information was required to be learned and expectations were always lowered even when we were told they had risen.

Like anything else that changes slowly over time, we usually do not recognize what is happening unless we stop and really take a good hard look at what is going on. That is what I did when I compared what was required of biology students in the mid-seventies to those of the early 2000s.

Without exaggeration, students at the end of my career had to learn less than half of those at the start of my career to receive the same grade twelve biology credits. Actually, I think it was closer to a third. Therefore, I believe that it is safe to say that my Junior High Diploma, received upon completion of my grade nine, likely involved more learning than a modern day high school diploma now earned three years later.

Today, schools expect less academic accomplishment in a longer period of time than not that long ago. Why? First, we need to understand that schools have become primarily a baby sitting service that allows parents to carry on with their own lives while expecting the schools to do the educating of the children, and in some cases, the parenting as well.

Second, schools are no longer about learning facts and figures, but about learning what will make them good, unquestioning citizens in a secular socialist global environment of totalitarian government control. It is no longer as important to understand math concepts or communication skills, just as long as the students can repeat the politically correct beliefs of the ruling few.

Now there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between what the government schools and other government agencies have to say about the official coming of age for students. In my day, either grade 8 or sixteen was good enough. That is why they issued the Junior High School Diploma. At sixteen, we could drive, so we were considered adults and ready for the adult world.

Today, we still believe 16 year olds are mature enough to drive a lethal bomb down the road, yet we do not consider them ready for the world without an additional two to three years of “schooling”. Why would that be? To make sure they acquire more academic information or to make sure they can repeat more indoctrination?

As you must surely know, what goes on in school is very different from a traditional home education. Pay close attention to the word traditional. As discussed already, traditionally, students were deemed to have been ready to transition to the adult world around the time they could acquire a driver’s license.

Traditionally, students who desired to advance academically continued on to senior high school. The rest went to work or started businesses, neither of which usually required more education and if they did, it was easily acquired.

Home education actually provides the perfect opportunity to continue on with this expected transition to the adult world, but rather than at a given age, it occurs when the student is ready. This is why many home educated students are taking post-secondary level courses, starting businesses, or going to work by the time they have reached the age of 16.

Modern technology makes advancing to post-secondary studies easier for the academic home educated students to continue. Part time work is available earlier and entrepreneurs can get an early start. Apprenticeships can begin at age sixteen.

I have seen students become fully accredited with degrees or certificates before their school peers have been officially dumped into a world they have not had time to understand.

If a student has been home educated from the start, it is rare to see them do much secondary work beyond the age of sixteen. That is, they are done with their formal secondary learning by the time they are old enough to get their driver’s license, as was the case traditionally.

Every student goes on to post-secondary activities, whatever that may be, because all activities beyond the secondary level are obviously post-secondary, whether it involves more formal education or not. Home educated students simply get an earlier start than those poor students forced to tolerate an additional three years of school in preparation for what, exactly?

We need not fear or be concerned about home educated students maturing earlier than their peers. It actually gives them an edge. AND, to send them to high school to be “completed” or to get their credits or diploma at or about 16 years of age is to direct them to go backwards to advance. This is pure foolishness and clearly not in keeping with the advantages of being educated at home.

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