This week, two articles about education caught my eye.

The first came from the New York Times. “Bracing for $40,000 at New York City Private Schools,” the headline read. And we’re not just talking about high school either.

Avenues, the for-profit start-up school set to open in Chelsea in September, will charge $39,750 starting in nursery school, which might make it the most expensive preschool in the city. (The school will offer bilingual classes and a longer school day than most early-childhood programs.)…At Horace Mann, where the parents of kindergartners are paying $37,695 with additional fees, the children attended 155 days last year. For those doing the math, that’s $243 a day.

Possibly, a reason to consider home education?

Although home educators, granted, can’t offer the same benefits as these $40K academies…

At Poly Prep, with 983 students on two campuses in Brooklyn, there are five sections of Level I Mandarin. Dalton offers Zen Dance; Saint Ann’s has Roman Travel Writing; and at Columbia Grammar, there is a theater class on “The Nature of Revenge.”

At the moment, my ninth-grader is wallowing on the floor with the dog and my fifth-grader is writing a novel on her brother’s ancient Mac hand-me-down. We’ve never done Zen dance, and my instruction on the Nature of Revenge has mostly consisted of yelling, “JUST BECAUSE YOUR BROTHER POKED YOU DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO POKE HIM BACK.”

I mean, we have done a few out-of-the-box educational things. We take field trips to admire great artwork.

We provide opportunities for active and creative play.

We experiment with the culinary arts.

(That’s a zombie cookie, a.k.a. What Happens When Teenaged Boys Cook.)

But somehow I feel that we’re not keeping up, here.

Fortunately, we’re not alone. Newsweek has finally twigged to the fact that not every parent aspires to PTA meetings at Horace Mann.

We think of homeschoolers as evangelicals or off-the-gridders who spend a lot of time at kitchen tables in the countryside. And it’s true that most homeschooling parents do so for moral or religious reasons. But education observers believe that is changing. You only have to go to a downtown Starbucks or art museum in the middle of a weekday to see that a once-unconventional choice “has become newly fashionable,” says Mitchell Stevens, a Stanford professor who wrote Kingdom of Children, a history of homeschooling. There are an estimated 300,000 homeschooled children in America’s cities, many of them children of secular, highly educated professionals who always figured they’d send their kids to school—until they came to think, Hey, maybe we could do better….

Many of these parents feel that city schools—or any schools—don’t provide the kind of education they want for their kids. Just as much, though, their choice to homeschool is a more extreme example of a larger modern parenting ethos: that children are individuals, each deserving a uniquely curated upbringing. That peer influence can be noxious. (Bullying is no longer seen as a harmless rite of passage.) That DIY—be it gardening, knitting, or raising chickens—is something educated urbanites should embrace.

As a highly educated parent who happens to spend a lot of time at my kitchen table in the middle of the countryside, I’m not sure I appreciate the wide-eyed wonder in this piece. But the article is worth a read anyway, if only to reassure yourself that your kid does not need classes in Roman Travel Writing to be a fully functioning human being.

Showing 7 comments
  • Suzanne Brock

    I know where you were in that first picture! 🙂

  • Lindsey

    Didn’t you hear? Roman Travel Writing is now a required addition to any full home education package. Anyone out of the loop on this is too busy chasing those chickens in their Amazonian garden. XD

  • Mika

    My opinion of the Newsweek article was that it is the same article that’s been trotted out every 12-18 months for the last decade (golly gee! people homeschool their kids!) with the new hotness of DIY veneer slapped on it. *yawn* I’m not sure what I want the press to say about homeschooling (maybe nothing at all…) but can’t they come up with anything new to say?

  • Janice in NJ

    This part struck a chord:

    …a larger modern parenting ethos: that children are individuals, each deserving a uniquely curated upbringing….

    Children deserve something?
    A uniquely curated upbringing?

    Ummm….. whoa!

    The word curate? According to the dictionary it means something close to “select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition)”
    Ex: both exhibitions are curated by the museum’s director

    As I thought: this whole thing smacks of the parent creating something. A BAD idea. Try to create something museum-worthy? Yikes! Burn-out alert!!!!

    The wrong image.

    Most likely the parent is already educated.
    The parent has already done the work to earn her education.

    Anyone who has ever fallen asleep in a museum while LOOKING at other people’s work can spot the problem with this model: curate an education for your kids and the curator is the only one who is going to get the education. The museum-goers are going to start yawning and looking for the door.

    Turn your kids into curators? That’s the silver bullet.


    Enjoy your little people
    Enjoy your journey

  • Ellen

    Several things popped out at me while I was reading this article. I wondered if the author has ever considered that perhaps *some* evangelicals and off-the-gridders might possibly be highly educated. I am also tired of the sweeping generalization that “most homeschooling parents do so for moral or religious reasons.” Third, I was irritated with Stevens’s quote that home education “has become newly fashionable.” Frankly, home education is a lot of work — a lifestyle. One doesn’t choose homeschooling just to be cool. I hope.

  • Pam K

    Hmmmm, your instruction on the Nature of Revenge echoes mine. Glad to read it! I need a chocolate chip…

    I also couldn’t agree more with Janice and Ellen…well put!

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt