Homeschooling in Wadsworth, Ohio

On Monday of this week, I was invited to speak at a meeting of the Kingdom Way Homeschoolers in Wadsworth, Ohio. It was held on the Wadsworth campus of the The Chapel, which was a wonderful venue. The auditorium had really excellent acoustics, and it had a nice, open feel to it. The back wall of the stage had a modern design on it, and the design was backlit with different colors. Once the technical support person (who was superb) put up my presentation, a young lady then changed the colors of the backlighting to match the color scheme of my presentation. I thought that was a very nice touch.

The title of my talk was Why Homeschool Through High School…and How to Get It Done. In the first part of the talk, I went through some data that indicate students who are homeschooled through high school are better prepared for the future than their traditionally-schooled counterparts. In the second half of the talk, I went over some “nuts and bolts” related to homeschooling at the high school level. I discussed the basic subjects that should be covered and gave some suggestions regarding how you might cover those subjects.

This particular talk was a bit longer than most of my talks, because I covered a lot of ground in it. However, the large crowd was very patient and seemed to enjoy the talk. As is typically the case, I took questions at the end of the talk, and they were quite good. There was one in particular that really got me thinking. A gentleman asked about apprenticeships and trade schools. Since my talk was focused on university preparation, I thought he was asking me to talk a bit about what to do with students who aren’t university-bound. I told him that just as I am a fan of having university-bound students take a few classes at a local college or a few AP classes to give them a preview of what university will be like, I also am a fan of having non-university-bound students do apprenticeships or take classes at a local trade school to start career exploration.

That really didn’t address his question, however. He wanted me to specifically compare the two. For a non-university-bound student, which would be better: some sort of apprenticeship or taking classes at a trade school? I had never considered that before, and I told him as much. However, I was happy to “think out loud” for him.

Thinking specifically of a homeschooled student who isn’t ready to graduate from high school, I see advantages and disadvantages to both. If you set up some sort of apprenticeship where the student spends time working with someone who is already skilled at a trade, I would think that the student would get a much more accurate view of what it’s like to work in that trade. After all, a trade school is an artificial environment, while working with someone in the actual profession provides a much more realistic view. Also, I would think that in the one-on-one kind of training that exists in an apprenticeship setting, the student would be more likely to pick up the enthusiasm that his or her mentor has for the trade.

On the other side of the coin, a formal certificate or degree from a trade school usually opens up more job opportunities. As a result, taking a few classes at a trade school while you are still in high school will give you a “head start” towards getting the degree or certificate, and that will probably translate into getting started on your career path sooner. Generally, the sooner you get started on your career path, the sooner you will start working your way up the ladder, etc., so the more opportunities you will have later in life. Now, of course, not all situations require trade school certification, so this might not be the correct analysis for every student or every trade.

In the end, which would I choose? If my little girl had not been university-bound, what would I have done with her? I think I would have tried to set her up in some sort of apprenticeship. While classes in a trade school might “jump start” her career, I think the real-world experience and the possibility of picking up her mentor’s enthusiasm for the trade would be more beneficial. However, I would not say that this is the right choice for every student or every trade.

Regardless of what you might think of my answer, the question is well worth pondering!

10 thoughts on “Homeschooling in Wadsworth, Ohio”

  1. First, let me say, I miss you Jay Wile! I loved our deep discussions. I freely admit I don’t always agree with you, but your are the epitome of a gentleman and a scholar, and even observing some of your most vicious attackers picking at you, I’ve never, ever seen you be anything but gracious in your responses.

    Okay, now on to comments….
    Your thinking out loud was good. I think you nailed the differences between apprenticeship and trade school. I also think, having graduated all 6 of my totally-homeschooled children, that if one had been interested in a trade path for their life’s calling, I would have gotten them into an apprentice situation while they were still in their middle teen years. You’re spot-on that this gives a taste of what the trade is truly like IRL (as text speak would say it!).

    But, then, perhaps, some follow up at a trade school would not be inappropriate. Now having increased confidence that this is, indeed, the trade they wish to pursue, the class work would then go on and teach the essentials that might be missed in apprenticeship.

    Of course, if the one to whom they were apprenticed offered them work, then I’d say to them, “Go for it!”

    I wish you lived closer, Jay. I can envision many a fine evening in front of the fireplace, chatting about deep subjects as well as frivolous ones! I can hear my adult children “picking your brain”… thinking outside the box is what we love to do!

    God bless you, sir, and may you have a most blessed Thanksgiving Day as we focus on thanking our Creator God for the precious Gift of His Son!

  2. I would recommend both the apprenticeship and trade school. The school certifies the training and the apprenticeship develops the experience. You couldn’t begin to fathom the many people I know that couldn’t get a job even though they were certified, because they had no experience! Even advanced tech jobs need people with experience.

    If I had a child with an interest in a particular technical field I would put more weight on the apprenticeship than the academics. You can always go back for more training, but you never know if you will get another chance for an apprenticeship. I’ve seen people get jobs that had only training and no college, over people who had college degrees in the technical field.

  3. I recommend anyone going into any trade field to get certified for two trades, so they have more to offer the place of employment and another trade they can fall back on in case of job loss. Due to our recent economic crisis people are unemployed and they are taking what they can find, but it doesn’t hurt to be diversified in today’s job market.

    All the business type certifications that take only one or two classes is another way to get diversifed, for example Microsoft Word. You could techically create a well rounded community college graduate the same way the Ivy League colleges create scholars.

    The most important thing to understand is just because someone wants to pursue this type of work, doesn’t mean they won’t make an honest career out of it. You go to technical school to be an electrician and end up making up to $50,000 or more a year. There are people with biology degrees making $8 an hour at the local zoo.

    I personally know a wal-mart mechanic who wanted to be a trained mechanic, and his parents directed him to go to college. He has a degree in electronics engineering, while changing oil at walmart. He has no experience in his field and can’t get hired. If he would have been trained as an auto mechanic he would be making $30 an hour compared to $8.

    I think the moral of the story is if your child wants to be a ________ (fill in the blank), make them the expert in that field. Passion accounts for 99% of our success at any level.

    Maybe I should write a book?! lol

  4. It strikes me that there’s one point missing which is the expected lifetime of what you get from the training. 10 years down the line, will you still be passionate about your craft? Or does the passion you reflect from your mentor fade away within weeks of leaving? 10 years down the line, will the piece of paper saying you completed the course be the determining factor in whether you get hired? Or do they care more about your previous job history and whether you were considered competent there?

    Cerebis Paribus. you’ll get higher on the career ladder if you have the head start of a formal qualification, but all things are rarely equal.

    1. Those are good thoughts, Josiah. I would think that the piece of paper is really just effective to get your first job. After that, I would think your experience becomes more important. However, I do think there are many places that won’t hire you without that piece of paper.

  5. One of the most important reasons to homeschool through highschool is that it gives your children a concrete worldview and prepares them to defend it. If I had gone to school in ninth grade, I would probably be a lot more “worldly” now, even at a Christian school (trust me, my sister went to one.) I’m not technically out of highschool yet, but I can hold my own or better in any college discussion, and I have not only my parents but also yourself to thank for that. I have the evidence to defend my faith. Thanks!
    P.S. Just finished Reasonable Faith. I was actually looking for another book of the same title, but when I saw this one, I had to get it. The funny thing was I had just finished Evidence That Demands a Verdict. I used a lot of information from both in an informal discussion at my college. We discussed blind faith vs. Biblical faith. I had forteen people asking me sincere questions about the evidence I use to support my beliefs. Then they would go through what they believe, citing their reasons, but it was always feelings or experiences. When it got back to me, I gave the facts (supporting the existence of God, the Resurrection, and the truth of the Bible). It was obvious who had the best case. All during the discussion, I was thinking “I’m so glad I know all this stuff!” I wasn’t able to get into the Gospel, but I know these young people (mostly agnostic) now respect Christianity and the Bible above other religions and religious books. I used a lot from the “Let’s Start Small” chapter of your book. Couldn’t have done it without you!

    1. I agree, Grace. It is important for children to be grounded in their worldview, and in most cases, homeschooling is the best way to do that. I am so glad that you have been grounded like that, and I am thrilled to have been a small help in that regard.

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