Caplan is an economics professor and author of the books "The Case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money" and "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think"

Our Homeschooling Odyssey
by Bryan Caplan
September 2021

Six years ago, I began homeschooling my elder sons, Aidan and Tristan. They attended Fairfax County Public Schools for K-6, becoming more disgruntled with every passing year. Even though they went to an alleged “honors” school for grades 4-6, they were bored out of their minds. The academic material was too easy and moved far too slowly. The non-academic material was humiliatingly infantile. And non-academics – music, dance, chorus, art, poster projects – consumed a majority of their day. As elementary school graduation approached, my sons were hungry for a change.

So what did we do? In consultation with my pupils, I prepared an ultra-academic curriculum. Hours of math every day. Reading serious books. Writing serious essays. Taking college classes. And mastering bodies of knowledge.

In 7th grade, I prepared my sons for the AP United States History exam, and had them informally attend my course in labor economics.

In 8th grade, I prepared my sons for the AP exams in European History, Microeconomics, and Macroeconomics, and had them informally attend my course in public choice.

While my sons’ objective performance and subjective satisfaction in middle school were both sky-high, my wife insisted that they try regular high school. Back in those days, the political brainwashing at FCPS was modest, but the anti-intellectual pedagogical philosophy was already overwhelming. I never liked high school, but at least in my day teachers actually taught their subjects. Not so at FCPS. With the noble exception of their calculus teacher, my sons’ high school teachers just showed videos and treated teens like babies. After three weeks, my wife gave a green light to resume homeschooling.

Silver lining: Since comedy is tragedy plus time, we’ll be laughing about those three weeks of regular high school for the rest of our lives. Yes, a kid in their Spanish class really did raise his hand and say, “Spain’s in… South America, right?”