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Ambassadors for Excellence

In 2008, Lee and I had a wonderful week in Hawaii. We went to "chaperone" Alex so he could chair a session and present his research to the Western Economics Association International Conference (WEAI) at the Sheraton at Waikiki! Even though Alex had traveled alone before and was very comfortable in airports and hotels, we decided "No... This time he really needs an escort." It's a tough duty but sometimes we just must step up as parents....

This trip we were smart, though. In the two previous years he presented to WEAI, we had attended the conference. That was a huge mistake. Not only was it expensive, but neither Lee nor I understood what anyone was saying! This time we just stayed away and enjoyed the beach and the sun. We did, however, watch Alex give his presentation. This time he had prepared us weeks in advance on his topic, so by the time we got there we understood a little of what he was saying.
The presentation went very well, but the highlight for us came at the end when we overheard a conversation between Alex and one of the co-presenters. He was a professor from Bethany University in California that none of us knew and Alex had met just minutes before the presentation.
Professor: Alex, how old are you, exactly?

Alex: Eighteen

Professor: So, you're obviously not a professor. Are you a graduate student?

Alex: No, I'm a junior at Seattle Pacific University.

Professor (deep in thought): You were homeschooled, weren't you?
Think about that. Alex, who had been in a college setting for three years, was still identified as a homeschooler. This professor had seen enough of homeschoolers to recognize the pattern. A young student operating with confidence in a gathering of economics professors and industry leaders. Someone who was able to interact as peers with professionals 20 to 50 years his senior. Someone with the passion to excel at a very young age in the field he loves

How cool is that!? An economics professor recognizes excellence in a young adult and attributes it to homeschooling!
In the broader community, homeschoolers are beginning to be noticed by adults. Like I mentioned in my article "Don't Miss Manners," homeschool parents aren't the only ones playing the "spot the homeschooler" game. The popular misconception of homeschoolers being antisocial and unable to operate in society is being replaced with a more accurate picture of confident young men and women who demonstrate passion and excellence.
I wonder how long my kids will be recognized as homeschoolers. As more and more kids graduate from homeschool high school and move to college, my guess is this awareness will be more frequently articulated. Eventually, I predict the entire stereotype of the nerdy, shy homeschooler will be replaced by a much more accurate one, that of "leader." 
Homeschoolers become leaders when they are given opportunities to lead at a young age. I have written before about how society's low expectations for teens can result in missed opportunities for our students to operate on a higher plane. This was not always the case. When our country was young, adolescents (a modern term) learned early on how to contribute and function in society. They gained a skill or trade by working alongside adults who acted as mentors.
Where does a young person in modern society get that sort of experience? They are in a classroom for 6 - 8 hours a day where the student to "teacher/mentor" ratio is approximately 30-1. The lucky ones are then driven to "extracurricular" activities where the student to "coach/mentor" ratio is 20-1. Rarely do they even get to have dinner with a "parent/mentor." We should not be surprised that kids who socialize almost exclusively with other kids do not demonstrate adult skills or maturity.
Homeschooling high school places socialization in its natural form and proper context. Kids interact with all age groups in normal life situations. Before Alex was able to present research at a professional conference, he spoke at length on economic issues with his grandfather and neighbor. Before my other son was employed as a chess coach, he was a volunteer chess teacher for other homeschool children. These are the types of opportunities readily available to homeschooling families. Use them to set your student on the path toward excellence.
High school is the season in life when the benefits of homeschooling become evident to all. We have friends and family members who were skeptical of homeschooling in the beginning. By the time they start high school the social, moral and academic preparation of homeschool students becomes very difficult to deny. Colleges are certainly noticing. So are employers.

Excellence will always be rewarded in society. Christians expect it in their pastors. Citizens crave it in their politicians. Businesses demand it from their leaders. Homeschool high school graduates are in a unique position to fill these roles in society.
Not because they are better, but because they are better prepared.
by Matt Binz
Mr. Homescholar
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Wednesday, 17 April 2024

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