Friday, September 1

On Education

I usually learn something from To The Point, a radio program on National Public Radio. Not Yesterday. Yesterday they discussed Homeschooling. One guest, the Rah-Rah Homeschooling, was a guy from the Home School Legal Defense Association and the other, taking a more cautious approach that homeschooling needs more regulation, a Poli-Sci & Ethics professor from Stanford University.

Both guests misused statistics to spin their cases, but sadly, that's par for the course on any discussion. The HSLDA guy lost me when he said that Creationism and Evolution were equally valid and equally unprovable theories. The Stanford guy lost me when, in an example of how homeschoolers need more testing, he suggested that parents administer AP tests to their kids. Honestly, couldn't Warren Olney and Co. have gotten folks more informed? I have heard thought-provoking, comprehensive discussions of homeschooling, but this wasn't one.

And yes, the sad case of the mentally ill woman drowning her kids did come up --- even after the professor declared he wanted peer-reviewed research and not anecdotes. Hello, Mr Ethics Professor, what's your point? As if homeschooling had anything to do with that tragedy. As if parents who send their kids to school never murder their children. As if those kids were even of school age. Only one or perhaps two of the Yates kids would have even been in school*, would the small respite school would have provided have helped her mental illness? Would school have noticed anything wrong and alerted authorities? How many parents murder their children even after state intervention?

We homeschool part-time because life is too short to spend that many hours in a large bureaucratic institution. Because in six years of public school, Zach had three teachers who ought to have been shown the door, one whose good qualities just maybe balanced her weaknesses and two who were competent. Because while Zach's middle school's goal is to create lifelong learners**, in reality, being a lifelong learner means taking more responsibility for your own education, learning how to pursue your passions, not performing in 50 minute increments on other people's curriculum decisions. Because I don't need to create a lifelong learner, but I do need to nurture the one I have.

For us, it's probably just a short term thing, just for the middle school years***. We'll see. We'll decide what Zach needs for high school when the time comes. Til then, we'll be busy. Last year we learned to knit and dye yarn. This year? Drop-Spindle classes? I have insisted to husband and son that I do not want to learn to spin. But maybe just one drop-spindle class would be fun.

* One thing that really ticks me off is a parent of a three year old saying that they are homeschooling their child. I don't care if you are discussing MacBeth and Fourier Transforms with the little darling. If your child is not old enough to be in regular compulsory education, then you are not homeschooling. You are Parenting. This irks me off sooo much I have thought a lot about why I have the reaction. First, it's a superior attitude that shows lack of respect for parenting. Good parents are attuned to their child and strive to meet their needs. Distancing yourself from other parents by calling anything "academic" you do with a three year old homeschooling is insulting. Second, a big part of parenting is being flexible, meeting your child's individual needs without prejudice. It's hubris for a preschooler's parent to insist that they are or will be homeschoolers no matter what. You just can't know what will be best for your family two or five years down the road.

**And the welcoming letter last year referred to "lifelong-learners". Zach took one look at the letter and pointed out the misplaced hyphen and a handful of other mistakes.

***And Yay! I got the required signature, spent 10 minutes in the enrollment office and we are set to go.

1 comment:

Patti said...

We have friends who are "unschoolers". I'm not sure what I think about it. We are quite lucky in that my ex makes oodles (and oodles) of money and, even though he doesn't give me that much, the divorce stipulates that he pay Noah's tuition. I'm mostly happy with Northwest. I work so much, homeschooling wouldn't work for us. We explore things a lot, but yes, that's parenting. :)