Sorry, No Japanese Allowed Here

by Tammy Drennan 

I field about 400 calls a year from new homeschoolers in my state. Lately, those calls have been overwhelmingly from parents pulling teens out of school to homeschool for a year or two before returning them to the system. They have a concern that I never entertained in all my years of homeschooling – what the state wants from their children in the way of education.

One mom told me her daughter really wanted to study Japanese, but the school doesn’t offer it, so she wouldn’t be able to get credit for it when she returned. I hear this a lot: “My child really wants to study this or that, but he/she won’t be able to get credit for it.”

This is one of the gifts of state schooling – children are forced to ignore their passions in order to conform to the piddling little definition of education the state finds itself capable of supporting.

Time Magazine recently published an article about how schools fail “genius” children, how they focus so much of their attention on average and low achievers that the geniuses waste away. The fact of the matter is that public schools fail the genius in almost all children. They always have and always will, and we need to stop propping up a destructive, hopeless system just because we don’t want to put the effort into something better or because we can’t imagine an alternative.

We must recognize and overcome the harm public schools have done to most of us – the creativity and imagination and fierce independence they’ve robbed us of – if we’re going to create a better future for our own children.

4 Responses to Sorry, No Japanese Allowed Here

  1. Mad Jack says:

    What’s interesting to me is that there are in fact a wide variety of options available through the public system, or that are recognized by the public system. For example the school that I attend allows students to study a subject outside of the regular school schedule, possibly through an internship or something similar, and receive credit for it ( though there are probably some specifics that I’m a bit fuzzy on). There are also online options such as the VLACS program where you can take extra courses. Of course, the system isn’t quite compatible with these options. I know from personal experience that when my brother wanted to transfer entirely to VLACS he was met with a certain amount of resistance from school administrators. Also the student body is poorly informed about these offerings (although we’re working to change that).

  2. tdbwd says:

    Mad Jack,

    Thanks much for writing. Taking a course outside the standard structure would be a great first step toward full freedom — a taste of what it might be like to self-define and direct.

    So, I’m thinking — what might be a second step? One thing that holds students back from the second step is fear of not getting school credit for something, as if learning is useless unless it’s approved by the government (or adds entertainment value to our lives: e.g., computers).

    This fear/worry is more of a problem for young people, but that’s just the time in life you benefit most from intentionally defining yourself and taking full responsibility for your definitions. That’s the time in life it’s critical to practice liberty (as the founders defined it, not the license sort of liberty).

    All the best to you, Mad Jack.


  3. Chris says:

    I agree that too many people think that learning isn’t worthwhile unless you can get high school or college credit for it. However, one option for foreign language learners who want some kind of certification for their knowledge might be tests from a private language school, ie, the Goethe Insitute tests for the German language and the DELF/DALF tests (Alliance Francaise) for French. I don’t know what tests there are for the Japanese language, though. However, these tests are suitable for independant learners, as it’s usually not required that one learned the language at the institution itself. Also, if one was applying for a job that required knowledge of a certain foreign language, a certificate from an institution which is associated with that language would probably have more weight than high school credits.

  4. tdbwd says:


    Thank you very much for sharing these resources. I will definitely be looking into them. What a great option. I’d love to see more options like this — it would be a great way for “we the people” to start taking the education process back from the state — at all levels.


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