Thursday, August 23, 2007
Home-Schooling: Point vs. Counter-point
Note: I have written two previous pieces on home schooling, one quite some time ago and one recently. They have both evoked thoughtful, passionate posts from parents on both sides of the issue. In order to further that discussion, I am posting two of those responses: one, from a mother of five children, who sent her kids through our Catholic school, and the second from a home schooling parent named "Ginnie", whom I don't know, but who posted a particularly poignant response to my last article.
I appreciate the responses so far, and hope the "point-counterpoint" format of this post continues to engender lively debate!
Why I Didn't Home-School:
I have tried many times to identify why I feel "in my gut" that homeschooling is not the best thing for a child, unless, as you say, one lives in such a remote or dangerous place that there are few good options.
Part of my reasoning is that schooling leads children from within a strong, supportive family OUT of that family in incremental steps to a bigger community to belong to, as public citizen and member of the Mystical Body of Christ.
Keeping the child within the confines of the family seems to negate the child's innate need to grow up and out of the family, learning to leave as well as learning different subject matters. Parents are always primary educators, but it would be proud and wrong to think that they can or should be the ONLY educators. We as parents teach our children to trust by modeling for them that we trust other people to love and care for them. We teach them that it is all right to trust others outside the family, to grow close to adults other than one's parents. We teach them that we do not have all the answers, that others have expertise to share with them. These are faith values.
One of the important functions of schooling outside the family is that the educational experience is not tailored to one student's needs. It may be educationally enriching for a home-schooler to pursue in depth his/her own interests without being "held back" or "forced ahead" by the needs of other students. But unless we are hermits, we are made to learn to live in community, to acknowledge that others besides ourselves have needs that we need to acknowledge, anticipate and empathize with. We need to learn that others have diffent actions and reactions than us and that we have to learn how to respond usefully and gracefully. Even a school without a specifically religious agenda teaches these natural law values.
Students also need to see that faith values are shared by others besides their parents, that this is not something only their parents do.
While I do not believe that home-schooling is the best choice for a child, I also have seen how poised, calm and confident home-schooled children I have met seem to be.
In Defense of Home-Schooling:
I really posted here to address the assumption that home-schooled children are social misfits. *Maybe*, just maybe, its not that they are misfits, though I'm sure some are (although I must confess I've met many adults who went through the public school system who are socially inept). Anyway, my point is, is that its possible that maybe they are more mature, that they in fact do not find humor in what some teenagers nowadays (and kids in general) engage in. Sponge Bob? Drivel.
I have an advanced 7 yr old, just turned 7 a few weeks ago. She is reading years past her grade level, well, she's reading at the 6th grade level to be precise. I never taught her to read, she did it all on her own. Now, having been exposed to the written word in higher level books like she has, its quite possible that she won't find the same things interesting or entertaining as other newly turned 7 yr olds would.
I don't know, I think part of the reason you feel home-schoolers don't fit in is because they haven't succumbed to the group mentality. I just don't picture teenagers of 100 yrs ago engaging in the same kind of silliness that is so prevalent now. I went through the public school system and I found most of the kids in my classes immature back then, and it just seems to have gotten worse..
I truly don't understand the problem of sophisticated language, I thought we were EDUCATING our children. I thought I was raising adults, not children, and as an adult, where my children will eventually spend the bulk of their time on earth God willing, I want them to be all that God has called them to be, based on their talents and His will for their lives. And its not about standardized tests, I personally don't care about standardized tests, they are just hoops I have to jump through. I don't teach my children to the test, they have knowledge that they wouldn't be tested on, so the test really is mute.
And about a former homeschooled child not being able to get voted in a leadership position in a Catholic private school, maybe its not all the homeschooled child's fault. That's why I asked if these kids in the private school attended this school for the bulk of their education, its probably kind of hard for a new kid to fit in, and if you had been homeschooled, well that just makes it harder once the other kids find out. There is quite a bit of misinformation out there perpetuated by others not in the know, and the other kids hear that and pass judgments.
I'm raising my children to be leaders, but not to seek approval from other children. I don't want them to be social misfits, but they need to learn early on what really counts. Men? God? ;o) They need to seek HIS approval first, and their Dad's and Mom's.