Reader Helen sends in a provocative blog post by Penelope Trunk, an “unschooler” (= homeschooler who doesn’t structure curriculum; basically, the opposite approach of us classical homeschoolers). Excerpt:
William Strauss and Neil Howe have a cyclical generational theory which says that there are four types of generations and they come predictably, in cycles: The cycle is prophet, nomad, hero, artist. Each type of generation comes in response to the type that came before them, which is why the cycle is so predictable.
The book they wrote on this topic is fascinating. It’s called, Generations: The History of America’s Future 1584-2069. If you want to know what your kid’s life will be like, this is a great book to read.
To give you a sense of how things roll out:
The prophet generation is concerned about large social causes and instigating social change. The Baby Boomers.
The nomad generations passionately attacks the established social order. They are alienated as young adults and extremely pragmatic as mid-life leaders. Generation X.
The hero generation is community oriented. They are peaceful, team-oriented, energetic and overly confident. Generation Y.
The artist generation is what your kids are. This generation ends up coming of age during crisis and uncertainty when public institutions demand great personal sacrifice. These kids come of age during a time when conformity and socialization are emphasized and they become process-oriented mid-life leaders. In history this generation is remembered for it’s consensus building. (As a reference point, the last artist generation was the Silent Generation, born during the Depression and World War II.)
Trunk says that homeschooling parents are by definition countercultural. It follows (she says) that our kids are likely to rebel against their countercultural parents. I’m not sure I understand this. Is she saying that our kids will be more shaped by the broad “artist generation” currents than by the way we raised them? I suppose that’s possible, perhaps even probable, but what would it mean for a child acculturated counterculturally (in the homeschooled manner) to become a consensus-building conformist? I’m not asking in a rhetorical manner; I’d really like to know. Trunk says:
It’s likely that our kids will hate standing out and making a fuss. We are raising a generation of conformists whether we like it or not: History is destiny, according to Strauss and Howe, and it’s a hard analysis to swallow, but there are not a lot of people saying it’s bunk.
Really? It’s hard for me to imagine my kids as conformists. I mean, I don’t know what that would look like. Nor do I know what I think of the Strauss/Howe thesis. Never really thought about it, actually. I will say that speaking to one of my old teachers this past weekend, I learned that the students in the school today, while no less intelligent than the early generations of students (Xers), are far less likely to be edgy and curious than their predecessors — an anecdote that fits the Strauss/Howe theory.
Your thoughts? What have readers who have older homeschooled kids seen in their children, in this regard? I can easily imagine a kid who was homeschooled in a highly restricted, homeschool-as-bomb-shelter way being rebellious. But there are all kinds of methods and approaches to homeschooling. We’re not bomb-shelter people here.