Wisconsin is the First State to End Minimum School Hours Rule

So the governor of my adopted home state of Wisconsin has announced that he thinks the state should end the minimum hours requirement for students and hand that over to individual school districts.

Of course, many of the commenters on this article are freaking out about this. I think Gov. Scott Walker’s decision is a good one. First of all, school control should be local, not state or federal. It’s up to parents to decide how their children should be educated. I’m all for everything school-related being run locally (President Trump, please abolish the Dept. of Education!)

Second, there is no correlation between how much a child learns and how many hours a day he or she is in school. A day that’s too long can actually work against learning, and smart motivated kids can burn through their work quickly while average or challenged children will take longer. One size does not fit all!

Finally, here in Wisconsin, the public schools offer an virtual academy option, where children work at their own pace. So there are already many children who are not forced into the “X hours per day” mold of school.

Good for you, Gov. Walker. This is a great first step. I’ll be eager to see what you come up with next.

The Exception to the Rule

In my recent posts (see left) about the book Quiet by Susan Cain, which include my thoughts on what we can do for our introverted kids, I have yet to include the exception to the rule of introversion.

Ms. Cain points out that some introverted people who love quiet and prefer not to be in the spotlight are excellent public speakers. How can this be? And how can we help our introverted children gain such a valuable skill?

Citing a much-loved professor who gives wildly popular lectures to large groups of people, Ms. Cain explains that this man is so introverted that when he’s scheduled to give multiple speeches, he spends the intervening moments off by himself so he can regroup. Sometimes this has required that he hide in a washroom stall because there’s nowhere else he can be alone.

How can a man this introverted be able to give such wonderful lectures? Ms. Cain explains that it’s extremely important to him that he share knowledge with his students. His passion for his work helps him override his natural introversion, at least when it comes to teaching.

How can we help our introverted kids learn to do this? After all, being able to speak to a group (of a few people or many) is a useful skill in this world. Even college admission or job interviews sometimes require speaking in front of several people. This might sound easy to the extrovert, but not to the introvert.

Having read this book, I would suggest that, instead of trying to bring your introverted child out of their shell by putting them into lots of group activities, make sure they have access to things that interest them and watch them bloom. Show interest whenever they tell you about something that fascinates them. Give them opportunities to share their discoveries and interests with Grandma and Grandpa when they see them. Every child is fascinated by something; extroverts just make it more obvious.

Ms. Cain’s general recommendations for helping your introverted child include:

  • Letting them be who they are instead of forcing them into an extrovert’s mold.
  • Help them strategize how to handle upcoming social interactions if they need it.
  • Give them time to absorb new situations instead of trying to force acclimation right away.

These are just a few; you’ll learn much more in Ms. Cain’s book, which I highly recommend: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

What of the Extroverted Child?

In her book Quiet, Susan Cain emphasizes that introverts function better socially with one or two people at a time. In my posts about her book, I’ve noted that I believe that homeschooling can help the introverted child.

I’m not saying that the extroverted child shouldn’t be homeschooled. But if they’re not part of a large family, they’ll need and want more social contact than an introverted child does. It’s likely that they’ll want to be involved in regular group activities, so these are the kids you’ll want to sign up for co-op classes, Awanas, etc. (unlike the introverted child, who shouldn’t be pushed into more social time than they want).

As I read this book, I realized that three of my four adult children are introverts or mostly introverted, while one tends to be more extroverted. While I never sent any of them to school, I’ve often thought that the extrovert would have excelled in school. But our convictions about the primacy of homeschooling kept us from sending that child there. Given that there are other things to consider regarding modern public education, worries and concerns that go far beyond whether a child will be “socialized,” we don’t regret keeping that child home with the others.

But I can see where parents would be wise to identify the extroverts in their families and make sure they have ample social opportunities, just as they’ll want to provide a quiet, accepting atmosphere for their introverts. Volunteer and work opportunities will be more useful and teach more valuable lessons than activities that are purely social in nature. Nevertheless, it’s important that you give your extroverts ample access to a variety of social outlets.

Next week: The Exception to the Rule