Wednesday, April 6, 2011

You Might Be Going To the Wrong Dinner Parties

It's another common criticism of unschooling. A worry about raising a child without a curriculum:

Won't your child feel stupid later in life when he goes to a dinner party and doesn't know what people are talking about?

I'm wondering: What kinds of dinner parties are people going to where they are getting quizzed on things they should have learned in school? I'm trying to imagine I'm at a dinner party and someone says, Vickie, quick, when was the Magna Carta issued? And thank goodness I remember it was 1215 (I thought I remembered it just now, but I Googled it to be sure). Because otherwise everyone would have laughed at me. Obviously they all know the answer, but they are just checking to see if I knew it. It would be social suicide if had to say: I don't remember. Do you know? Cool, thanks for reminding me. Or even worse: What's the Magna Carta? I'd like to hear about it.

Another great conversation starter: What's the area of the sector if r = 3 and theta = 90? No dessert unless you answer correctly! (Source)

Seriously, who are you hanging out with that you feel like you all need to know the same things in order to have a good conversation? Does everyone only talk about random facts they learned in school? I would argue that most good conversations in my life involve me learning something new from another person. Or someone else wanting to learn more about something I know, and most likely not something I learned in school.

It would be nicer if we could all just stop expecting everyone else to know certain things, even if they seem really obvious. There are lots of things that I supposedly "learned" in school that I would not remember enough about now to contribute much to a conversation. Maybe it would make it easier to imagine not needing a curriculum if we weren't ashamed or afraid to say I don't know. It's OK if we don't all know the same things! We can learn from each other...

So maybe you are attending dinner parties where people are quizzing you on school-ish facts and then ridiculing you or withholding dessert or kicking you out if you don't know the answers. I don't know. But I have never been to a dinner party like this. If this has happened to you, you might want to start looking for some new friends.


  1. Nope never happened to me but I don't go to too many dinner parties. I took 3 years of German in high school and you would think that would have prepared me for moving to Germany this summer. However I can count to ten and say hello and goodbye. I don't think I am at all prepared to have a conversation with a local. I imagine someone who actually wanted to learn German and spent 3 years learning it would be pretty advanced in comparison.

  2. This is so true! I just don't understand why people think they have the right to quiz homeschooled kids on crazy information that kids who go to public school probably don't know either!

  3. @Melissa, You better not go to any dinner parties in Germany for a while. You would definitely get laughed at. Full disclosure, I haven't been to many dinner parties either, especially lately.

    @Nuts To You, Do you think it's because people assume kids in school do know the stuff, so there is no need to ask? Or maybe when people find out a child is not in school they feel compelled to contribute to his education by quizzing him? Either way, it would only take a moment of thought for a person to realize that being quizzed is not pleasant or necessary!

  4. LOl. Hilarious.
    I must not be that popular because I've never been invited to one of "those" dinner parties either. :)

  5. @alanna, Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. I might start throwing "those" kinds of dinner parties so I can see how smart my friends really are.

  6. The funny thing is I remember the year of the magna carta ( I remember it like quarter past 12 o'clock ??? Random) but I have no idea what it is except something to do with law. Maybe??? Sure glad I still remember after 20 years. What would have become of me otherwise ;-)

  7. @Anon, Isn't it funny the things we do remember from school? Like it matters that we know the date if we have no clue about the context!

  8. Love this! You are my new idol. :) Well, not really, but I am getting lost in your blog and loving everything you've written! And I'm supposed to be working. :(

    If I ever need to describe my thoughts on parenting, I'll just direct people to your blog and say, "Just like that."

  9. @Julinda, Thank you! I love to hear when someone connects with what I am writing. Sorry about that whole "work" thing. :)