Home-schoolers in the military

Home Schooled Kids Can’t Hack It in the military, says this Strategy Page item, reporting on a Department of Defense study which found “home schooled and alternative high school students did not last in the service as well as (traditional) high school grads.”

One thing you learn by finishing traditional high school, is how to get along in a group, a discipline yourself to get things done in a group, and to persevere as a group. 

In fact, kids who spent four years in high school, but did not pass all their final exams, did better.

I suspect a closer look would find alternative high school graduates do very poorly as soldiers — these schools exist to serve students who reject group norms — while home-schooling graduates are a mixed bag. Some are students who come from “question authority” backgrounds or needed individual attention, though you’d think they’d be much less likely to enlist. Others come from authoritarian families, with Mom and Dad in charge.

Thanks to Richard Heddleson for the tip.

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Comments

  1. superdestroyer says:

    I think that I have met the researcher who did this. His study does not really say this because the numbers of homeschooled kids was so small.

    I also think the subjects were Marines and not soldiers.

  2. another, rather anti-military take on the thing could possibly be that the repressive atmosphere of your typical highschool (repressive on the part of one’s peers, not necessarily the administration) teaches one how to cope with regimentation, lack of individuality, and how to survive humiliation when you are a “grunt” (or a “freshman”).

    In fact, given the atmosphere in many public high schools, I’d think the military would be a relief.

    (note: I’m not anti-military myself, I’m just thinking the way some people might think here.)

  3. i can’t google up the study at all – but I suspect that the first commenter is correct. I doubt the sample size statistically significant.

    Also – I’m guessing this is focused on enlisted folks and not officers – since college is not mentioned at all. Honestly, I’m not sure that “not being a good grunt” is really a bad thing. I’m sure I would have been a terrible soldier – I have this thing about questioning authority.

    Oh, and I spent most of my life in DoD schools.

  4. greeneyeshade says:

    the naval academy’s in our back yard here and we run stories every year on the beginning of plebe summer, the orientation for new students. there seem to be more home-schoolers than you’d expect among the new plebes, though i don’t know how many of them make it to graduation.

  5. Is this the study y’all need? http://www.cna.org/documents/D0009351.A2.pdf

    There was at least one potential problem with it- the kids were self-classified as homeschoolers. Since high school dropouts would have had the absolute lowest priority, there would have been incentive to lie.

    And if this is indeed the study that Stategy Page was citing, it was for entrance as Tier I candidates. That is for enlisted personnel. The military academies would likely attract a whole ‘nother group of students (including homeschoolers)

  6. On the flip side, people who have been in the military are unquestionably my best students. They’ve told me that it’s not so much the discipline but rather that they’ve already learned how to do their day-job well while drinking heavily over the weekend. 🙂

  7. superdestroyer says:

    A couple of other thoughts about this:

    1. White homeschoolers may feel very uncomfortable about being in a work setting of more than 1/3 minorities. Since many people homeschool because the local schools are bad (and overwhemling minority like say El Paso, Texas or Honolulu Hawaii) many homeschoolers may just not like being in such a diverse setting.

    2. For the Marines, being an athlete is very important. If a kid was really a good athlete, the parents would probably bite the bullet and send the kid to school in order to participate in athletics. A homeschooled kid may start out near the bottom (or on the left of the bell curve) when it comes to fitness versus the average marine recruit.

  8. White homeschoolers may feel very uncomfortable about being in a work setting of more than 1/3 minorities.

    “Looky thar Bobby Sue. It’s one them negroes momma read to us about”.

    “Are you sure, Billie Bob? Ain’t they supposed to kinda brownish like? This one’s kind of on the yeller side. And lookit them eyes!”

    “You mean a heathin chinee? Couldn’t be Bobby Sue. He’s been astandin’ thar for pert near ten minutes and hasn’t reproduced yet. You know what pa said, they breed like flies and all this one’s been adoin’ is astandin’ thar”.

    “Ah don’t know ’bout you Billie Bob but awm feelin’ mighty uncomfortable. Maybe we ought to head back to the holler so’s we can watch each others teeth rot and sleep with pigs”.

    For the Marines…

    Cripes, this is like shooting fish in a barrel.

  9. Superdestroyer: “White homeschoolers may feel very uncomfortable about being in a work setting of more than 1/3 minorities. Since many people homeschool because the local schools are bad (and overwhemling minority like say El Paso, Texas or Honolulu Hawaii) many homeschoolers may just not like being in such a diverse setting.”

    WHAT are you saying? Are you saying that white homeschoolers homeschool because they’re racist? Are you saying that high percentages of minority students automatically make a school “bad” and that “bad” schools are “bad” because they contain a high percentage of minority students? Or are you saying that homeschoolers are so insulated from the rest of the world that they can’t stand the thought that other people might be different from them?

    You might want to re-think that one.

  10. superdestroyer says:

    To Allen and Hermit,

    Where did I say that homeschoolers were racists. A white kid from an all white prep school would have exactly the same problems.

    What I am saying is that group dynamics are different between blacks and whites in the miilitary. Most blacks entering the military have gone to black majority schools, attended black majority churchs, and lived in black majority neighborhoods. Thus, they naturally develop a support mechanisms.

    On the other hand, the white homeschooler is entering an environment without the natural social network that black service members enjoy. Thus, the white homeschooler is immediately an outsider looking in. And since he did not attend the normal public high school, he does not come from a background of developing a social network.

    If you look at successful first enlistments in the military, white females are the least likely to finish independent of any other variable. So, yes, differernt ethnic groups have different success rates in the military and

  11. Oh, no, not the ‘S’ word again!

    And since he did not attend the normal public high school, he does not come from a background of developing a social network.

    The implication being that there’s no other place to develop a social network?

  12. Given the fact that many homeschool parents are conservative, the military may be a very attractive option to children raised on patriotism and love of country. And since they are academically higher, this will be an asset. Its most likely, however, that these kids will seek a college education and look to becoming officers, rather than enlisting right out of high school.

    Given the existance of homeschool coops, it is very likely that these kids will have found a network of other homeschool kids to socialize with — and they can be quite diverse. Some even run their own athletic programs. Add to that the existance of non-school swim leagues (for example) that operate year round and include all age ranges, it is very possible for a homeschooled kid to participate in an outside athletic program as well.

  13. Superdestroyer says:

    Texasteacher,

    There is something very different between the local swim team versus playing on a travel basketball team or the high school football team. I have many Marines and special ops types. Amost all of the team played competitive team sports, specificially football.

    Also, being around a group of white kids from the sunday school class is different from learning how to cope is a high school where the different cliques have all staked out parts of the cafeteria.

  14. Actually, I am talking about highly competitive leagues sponsored through AAU.

    And i’m not necessarily talking about kids a group of white kids from the sunday school class.

    But then again, why should I bother arguing — you appear to be as closed-minded a bigot as Jesse Jackson or the Aryan Nations.

  15. I really wish home-schooling wasn’t growing. It’s difficult, loosely monitored and vague in definition. The only worse thing I can imagine is critiquing education based on it’s military value.

  16. Richard Brandshaft says:

    Team sports and working with a group: I used to have the standard nerd’s attitude: the whole thing about sports being of any use in building character was silly. Then I heard a former Marine, now in here late 50s, say the when she was in OCS, none of the women in her class had ever participated in team sports. As a result, they didn’t know some things about teams and leaders that the men took for granted.

    Painful as it sometimes is, one should yield to data.

Trackbacks

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