Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Speculating about Schooling

I was surfing around the blog world today. Several of my friends and relatives have extreme GUTS and therefore home school their children, so I was surfing their home school web ring.

In retrospect, that was probably a bad idea. I should know better than to surf sites where I might start to get a little twitchy with indignation.

Now, I’m NOT pronouncing judgment on all home schoolers, but there are those home schoolers – I’m going to call then fanatics, because (frankly) that’s what they are – fanatics that are…well, according to the blogs I read, a little outrageous.

One woman (whose blog title referred to her “Rearing Royalty” – is that anything like potty-training a prince?) talked about the horrors of having to “work” “out there” “in the world” and how GLAD she was to not being doing that anymore.

Well, unless she was on call for some sort of sex ring, I can’t imagine what kind of a job instilled those “horrors” – waitress at Beef-a-Roo? I don’t know. I work out “here” in the real world, and you know what? It’s not so bad. In fact, it can be pretty great. To make a difference in the world though your hard-working, ethical actions.

She has a right to her opinion, of course. But she made it sound like a sin (which it’s not) and a repulsion (which it doesn’t have to be) to have a J-O-B outside of the house. Once you find your passion, you should pursue it. Whether it’s inside your split level ranch or the great big world outside it.

Okay, and while we are on the topic of home schooling – I have an honest-to-goodness question. I’ve always wanted to ask someone this, and I’ve never had the guts. I know, I know…I’m mighty brave in cyberspace.

Why home school?

I’m open to hearing answers. I’m just curious. Really. I’m not making fun or being judgmental. I mean, I know I went to a private, Christian school. And I know that not everyone has the finances to make that a reality. Heaven knows, if Brett and I were able to have kids, we couldn’t afford to send them anywhere expensive.

The thing is that waaaaaaaaaay back when I went to Christian school; we viewed public schools as a place fraught with danger. We thought kids got raped every day and imagined we’d be forced to smoke, drink, and do drugs.

Imagine my surprise when I first set foot inside a “real” public school – to take my ACT test. There I was surrounded by smart, college-bound kids who were nice, polite, and very friendly.

Afterwards, I was rapidly re-evaluating what I had always thought. I had to re-adjust my opinion once again when I got to college. I discovered the majority of kids in my freshmen class were from public schools.

I marveled at how dedicated these kids were to their Christianity. Of course they were. Unlike me, they’d had to live out their Christianity in the real world – and it showed. These kids were ten times more on fire than we Christian school braggarts.

I’m not necessarily advocating public school, but I’m also not condemning it. My dad once questioned his and Mom’s decision to send me to a Christian school. “If we take the light out of the public schools, then why are we surprised when it becomes a dark place?” Later on, Dad encouraged people to send their kids to public school where they could be a witness.

Back to home school – the other question I have concerns the teachers/parents. First, I believe my mom was a great teacher. But not in algebra.

In fact, the first time I asked my mom what home schooling meant, she laughed. She hugged me, patted my hair, and said, “Oh, mommy doesn’t have the patience to do that. I’d kill you. I don’t mean I’d want to, but I would.” Then, she laughed some more.

I think there is a line between parent and teacher – a different relationship. Sometimes, you need someone else to consult outside your immediate family. That kind of contact can give you the valuable perspective you may need on a situation.

Secondly, I worry that some of these “teachers” aren’t adequately trained. There is a reason why people go to college to become teachers – because they need a degree to do so.

There are people “teaching” out there who only have a high school diploma. That scares me to NO end. Just because you are a decent human being, a nice person, and managed to make it through high school – doesn’t give you a teaching degree and the ability to teach children what they may need to know to succeed academically or professionally.

I think at that point, I feel comfortable saying – “leave it to the professionals.”

I’ve more questions about how kids are exposed to socialization and social order without the benefit of organized schools, but this post is already long enough.

There are probably good and solid answers to some of these questions, and I’m being honest when I say that I am genuinely interested in hearing some explanation. I like to be well-informed, and I definitely try to have an open mind.


Anonymous said...

If you work a day in a modern public school you will wonder not why people home school, but why everyone doesn't home school!
On the other hand, there are many homeschoolers who are doing their children about as much service as the high school is doing the rest.
As for socialization, I've had three students this year decide school was going to have to be short term due to pregnancy. All of them 16 going on 17 (some now 17). How's that for a social life? Yet I don't want to quit teaching and I wouldn't home school my own children. I'd rather be "out there" working to make schools places of real legitimate necessary learning. I hope that kids who go through my class will leave with a value for truth and motivation to pursue it.
I have a very good friend who homeschools, and all I can say is that her kids wouldn't know as much if they had graduated from the high school where I teach. She has very high expectations.
I was just telling my French I class today that the book is pretty self explanatory and they could in fact learn most of what they need to know for the test without ever a word from me.
Honestly, I think there is a balance that is missing. Too many parents don't want to take the responsibility of teaching some things at home (respect, discipline, self-control) and too many teachers spend all of their time teaching promptness and organization. The credentials are just credentials. A degree doesn't make a person a professional in practice, just in theory.

Ann-Marie said...

I agree! Balance seems to be the one thing missing from the home/school equation.

In fact, last night when I was telling Brett about this post, I mentioned that very thing (see, you’re with me, even when you’re not!).

The only thing I don’t agree with is your comment - “The credentials are just credentials. A degree doesn't make a person a professional in practice, just in theory.”

I worked hard for my degree, and I believe it does make me a professional. Practice makes me BETTER professional, but without the foundation of my degree I couldn’t have practiced PR correctly in the first place.

I think it’s the same way with teaching. For instance, I could try to practice biophysics all I wanted and never be able to do it correctly, unless I went to college, studied, and got a degree in it.

How much more important is it that the people teaching “our” children are properly trained?

I don’t know. Part of this may come from my parents’ constant mantra to me while growing up – “Go to college! Go to college!”
I’m irreparably damaged by my parents’ college dreams for me! Hee, hee!

Heidi said...

Have you seen the record of the public schools in Rockford????? I mean no offense to those teachers in the school system. It is not the teachers, but the government system. Not good. Maybe in Roscoe or Rockton and Winnebago and Stillman Valley, but you have to live in those areas to go to their schools. Here in the "city" there is not much of a choice.
I, personally am not fond of any of the "christian" schools here either. There is no balance. Either they are legalistic or they are too lenient on certain things. Girls today are to petty at a certain local Christian school and I don't want to deal with all that if I can help it since I have three of them.
As far as home school teaching and curriculum goes, if one does not feel confident in their own teaching they can do the video school from Abeka or from BJU.
I haven't decided which way to go to begin my kids education, as I do have a teaching degree, but it will not go without much prayer.
There are so many groups and networks now that there is no reason why a homeschooled child should not be socialized.
I will agree that in some families it is obvious that they are home schooled, just by looking at them.
If I do homeschool, I plan on joining a homeschool group, so that my kids can be the best sociailzed that they can so that when they enter the world, they can compete socially and academically.

Heidi said...

One more thing that I forgot. I used to believe as you did that public schools were bad and that any kids out of them were bad, but I don't feel that way anymore. I am not totally against putting my kids in the public school and I am praying for the Lord's leading in that matter as my kids foundation in education is so important and that is my responsibility as a parent to make sure my kids get grounded in education and their faith.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. A degree makes a person a professional in so much as it represents that the person has professional theory...a foundation to build on. Too many teachers are building theory upon theory. The practice is gone! They are "professionals" who are not creating professionals. Or is there another reason that reading specialists a.k.a. elementary school teachers are sending kids to the middle school who cannot read beyond a 3rd grade level? That's the kind of flaw I'm referring to. It is a lot of work to get a degree, and I don't mean to devalue the work a person has to do to achieve that. Unfortunately people are not having to defend that achievement via good practice. And I'm especially referring to the teaching field here because that is where I work. I think that, very possibly, in other fields, a person would have to achieve or would simply lose the job.