Monday, February 8, 2010

HOME SCHOOLING: Multi-faceted Issue

People throughout the centuries have fought very hard to make sure that their children would receive the best education possible. For many years, girls weren't even allowed to attend school past the first few years. Even in this year, there are countries that don't value schooling outside of the home. This brings me to the mine field, otherwise known as Home Schooling.

My views are based on personal experiences, which aren't everyone's? My step-dad had to drop out of school at a very young age so that he could work. He barely could read and it was a family secret for years; which I didn't even know until I was older. Shamed that he didn't have formal education followed him throughout his life. Even without a formal education, he could read blueprints, build anything, weld in any environment, establish a successful business and be the best grandfather anyone could ever imagine. No, he wasn't home schooled and I know that home schooled children are academically superior to many other kids. My point for this aspect is that he didn't just miss out on reading skills, he was behind in social skills. Yeah, I know good home school "teachers" make sure that the kids are involved socially. Those experiences aren't the same as dealing with bell schedules, waiting your turn, paying attention in a diverse environment and many other school-specific activities.

It is ironic, being raised by an semi-illiterate parental unit, that I would go on and finish graduate school with my Master's in Education. Throughout my school years, the lessons I learned weren't restricted to the curriculum set before me. There were many nuances that I had to decipher and acquiring that skill prepared me for the "real world" outside of my educational settings.

Challenges in life have not blocked me, because of the training I learned in the classroom. Working in a group in the classroom and being stuck with the kid who didn't want to work on the assignment was a lesson onto itself. Sitting next to someone who was smarter and knew how to decipher the math on the board, taught me how to ask for help from a peer (no, not cheating, just "explain it to me in different terms.")

As a teacher I had many different types of learners in my class. When I would have a former home schooler arrive in my class, there were very obvious gaps in the learning of the child. Favorite subjects were over learned, while the less-liked subjects were sorely lacking. Parents who had home schooled had the best of intentions and multiple resources at their disposal. However, parents are meant to be parents and tutors after the school day, not the main teacher.

Parents love their children more than any teacher can ever, in spite of claims from teachers that they love their students. No one can love a child as much as a caring, nurturing parent. Since parents trust doctors, dentists, dance instructors with the care of their child, why would they think that they could provide a better education than a certified teacher? To me that is just ludicrous.

Parents, be involved with your children's education at their school. Volunteer. Read stories to the kids in the classroom. Become a teacher's aide. Whatever you have time and talent enough to do. Just leave your child in school and let them learn all that they can.

In all things, be willing to listen to people around you. None of us is really smart enough to go it alone.
~ John Clendenin


  1. TF,

    I haven't had a great deal of experience with home schooling folks, but I have had some. Personally, I know my children would have never learned a thing if they were dependent upon me to teach it. I have no patience to act as a structured teacher for my kids. I do believe there is a certain amount of structure required to successfully pull of homeschooling.

    With that said, I can remember a friend who called her kid 'home schooled' when in reality, the child attended a very tine, 12 child, private school run by a couple of retired teachers. This was a religious decision for her family.

    I also have known home schooled children who struggled for years after starting public school. The girls we placed, based upon testing, 2 years behind their peers.

    I simply do not believe that any parent can teach their own child. It changes the dynamic of the relationship. It doesn't matter how nuch the parent knows or doesn't know. The child has to be very motivated. Maria Montessori showed us that. I have one child who would have excelled in a Montessori setting; my other child, now age 27, would still be trying to find his books if left to his own devices.

    The advantage of a formal school setting is all of the auxillary lessons a child learns. They learn then at home, but they practice them at school.

    In some, select instances, I could absolutely see the advantage of a homeschooling situation, but I think, for a lot of these parents, it is a reflection of their general work ethic. Look at the ages of a lot of these parents. They are coming from that generation that believes they were put on the planet to receive, rather than give.

    Homeschooling is a mixed bag. There's good, and there's not so good. It, ironically, just like public school in that regard.

  2. I have already posted most of my thoughts about home schooling on a blog on the VicAd by MzUnderstood. Seems it's a hot topic for sure. I really can't add anything else to the discussion. I firmly believe in the public school system, and, as I stated in MzUnderstood's blog, I believe it is a rare and exceptional talent that can successfully home school their child. I would venture to guess at least 99% of parent TRYING to home school do not meet muster.

  3. Yeah, Sugar, I saw that blog on VicAd and thought that should write a blog here and express my feelings. Seems like the comments over there have gone off topic. But I guess Mz. Understand is a nicer person than me, because she (?) isn't deleting anyone.

    I just can't understand why parents don't understand that teachers are trained to be teachers and I would dare to say, not many parents have even taken parenting classes.

    If the parents who home school their kids would trust doctors, scout leaders, and dentists, why won't they trust teachers? Doesn't make sense to me.

    You what they say, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions" and home schooling parents have good intentions, but do they really have the talent?

  4. I intended to write, "You know what they say," Even my good intentions are faulty at times.

  5. Some homeschool families are made up of doctors, scout leaders, dentists, and even teachers.

    If you think homeschooling has fangs you should research unschooling. ;)

  6. I don't care about the WHEREs of education but I do care about the HOWs. It's because of the HOWs that I decided to "teach my own."

    However, if a parent is philosophically inclined to imitate traditional methods in her home but lacks confidence in her teaching "talents" there are teaching materials out there that tell the teacher what to say and when to say it. In other words, like one of my professors told us future teachers, "even a monkey can teach using a teacher's guide."

    I bought one of those teacher's guides ONCE. "The teacher will ask the children if they remember yesterday's lesson. Pause for response from children.Yesterday we talked about blah blah blah... Today we will discuss blah blah blah..." And that's a very simplified example. Some of you will remember the pages and pages that existed in between lessons in those guides?

    When my professor said it I thought she was a wacky liberal. Now I realize that with the right materials, even a monkey could teach. I'm not saying the monkey would be intuitive and responsive but come on!

    I guess I am wondering what talents an adult must possess in order for a child to learn. It's not memorizing facts or possessing many degrees, because even Einstein said, "I never try to teach my students anything, I only try to create an environment in which they can learn." It sounds very much like what Sandra Dodd, a teacher turned unschooler, would say she did with her children.

    You guys see the WHEREs - public, private, or home - but I'm really more interested in the HOWS or the methods. I want to focus on the learning and not the schooling.

    But don't worry most homeschools look just like traditional schools: teacher's guides, tests, quizzes, report cards... You know the market has taken advantage of this revolution. The publishers that publish materials for public and private schools have found eager consumers in the homeschooling community.

  7. I forgot to add test keys and solution manuals. I pretty much retaught myself Algebra I&II by checking my son's and now my daughter's work. Nothing teaches like teaching - or "learning with."

  8. Okay, Rebecca, I hear what you are saying, and I have seen you say this is what works for your children.

    But what do we do when the parent is willing, but the child is not? Or there really is that lazy parent who now has a kid getting a less than mediocre education? Do you believe that this is workable for all?

  9. Thanks for engaging me. It's my favorite topic.

    I can't imagine who would want to homeschool an unwilling child. What torture. Do you know of a case where that is happening? When my first child turned 11 he wanted to go to public school so I enrolled him.

    I assume there are negative extremes in public, private, and in the homeschool community.

    No one method or school seems to work for all.

    Thanks, Edith. Please ask anything else. Questions help me think and I love asking and answering them.

  10. I can't cite any specific cases, except the relative who was the subject I mentioned in an earlier post. Her kids didn't have a choice; then through a set of different circumstances, they ended up in public school, two grades behind their peers.

    I am not sure we can assume that homeschooling works for all who are utilizing it. Since we can't, it is the ones who it is not working for--for whatever reason--that I think about. But I also think about the ones in pubic school and private school that are not in their best learning environment, either.

    This is clearly not a black and white topic. but, even after all this discussion and the discussion on the Advocate, I'm still certain I would have probably made a horrible teacher for my own kids.

  11. Did they catch up? What ages did they enter school? I couldn't get my son into high school here in Victoria. The person on the phone told me that it would be easier to get him into a college. Isn't that sad? He would have had to take all the subject tests and score a 90 or above to pass. I found a loop hole: there's an accredited private school in Maine that will pretty much take anyone and give credits for homeschool work which would be transferable to a public school. I could have paid to have him accepted that route or pay for all those tests he had to make 90s on. The "90" was a by district choice, BTW. I guess VISD wants to make sure homeschoolers don't come back.


  12. Oh! And if they do come back - they will appear to be behind.

  13. Since this blog was written by me and uses my brain and experiences with homeshooled children, I will repeat that homeschooling isn't the answer to what's wrong with the public/private educational system. To pull kids out and use available resources for the children seems to be the answer that homeschooling advocates want.

    To me that is very narrow minded and closes down many valuable opportunities for the kids. I'm not just hitting on the old cliche of social experiences, but also the aspects that are so subtle that they can be missed.

    Being able to learn social cues, so that when confronted later in life with similar situations, there has already been practice in a less costly environment. For example, when there is a sub in the classroom all the regular stuff that goes on in the classroom changes and kids learn to adapt. Maybe this teacher doesn't know that Sally Mae has to be first in line, because if she isn't, she'll lollygag along and get lost. So, Tanner steps forward and helps the sub realize that this situation works best. Does that make sense?

    When there is a "new kid" (and there always will be a new kids during the year) that kid has to figure out so many social cues, quickly to fit in the environment. Many military families who moved a lot had two types of children: The kids who fit in quickly and did well and then there were the kids who pretty much stayed by themselves and waited out the school year until the next move. Reading and responding to social skills doesn't come from a textbook, computer program or any actual curriculum. These very important skills come from exposure to many, varied experiences.

    Even in elementary grades unpredictable situation happen and lessons are learned. Dealing with the unexpected prepares the kids to deal with real life.

    Parents who home school and are doctors and all the other professions you mentioned, Rebecca are sacrificing something. How can they have a full-time career outside the home and still prepare and teach their kids? It's difficult enough, for those of us who work outside the home and have kids in school to be able to tutor studies, transport to outside activities, socialize with friends and keep up with extended family members.

    Rebecca, I realize that you have strong feeling about homeschooling, but I have to remind you that everyone is entitled to their own views about EVERYTHING to do with family life. What works for my family is strictly for my family and what works for your family is what you choose to keep.

    We each have our experiences that have lead us to this conclusion: You think Homeschooling is the answer and I believe that Homeschooling creates more questions than answers.

  14. I have stronger feelings about learning than I do about homeschooling. So, we might actually be in agreement about the things that matter most. I'm assuming that you agree that learning is more important than where that learning takes place?

    I'm not going to give an institution more credit than it deserves: schools or homes. I don't think that public schools have cured apathy, racism, insanity, or violence. I also don't think that they are the best model for the "real world." You might feel the same about the home?

    I enjoy being engaged and challenged. When someone disagrees with me - I learn! I want to understand where people are coming from and that's why I ask questions - I don't want to assume.

    I don't see having a different opinion or life experience as an insult and I want to believe that you are the same way.

  15. "You think Homeschooling is the answer and I believe that Homeschooling creates more questions than answers."

    This is just one example of how you have assumed too much. I don't even agree with that statement. LOL

  16. If you would like to engage in a discussion - if you really have questions - I would be happy to oblige. But, I will not read several paragraphs just to find a question, no offense.

  17. My blog, so I guess, if you don't want to read my thoughts, stay over on the narrow-minded, local newspaper. I am not writing to convince, argue, or ask questions. I write my blogs and responses as a means of self-expression.

    When I write paragraphs, that is because I feel like I have something to say. Sorry if reading several paragraphs is too taxing.

  18. They were full of assumptions. I would like to challenge you to engage in a discussion about a topic without reverting to name calling. You use words like "narrow minded" and assume that I fit your stereotypes.

    If you were honest and had some questions I would like to see them and not more of the assumptions.

    I'm just honest.

  19. You remind me very much of the posters over at the advocate that have a problem with separating a topic from a person. I hope I'm wrong.

  20. Actually, Rebecca, I don't have questions for you concerning your views on Homeschooling, as I have been following your posts for quite some time.

    I posted on MY BLOG, my thoughts. If you don't agree, that is your right. You may write what you wish about me and my thoughts, but I really want you to understand that I am entitled to write as much here as what I wish. You can create your own blog about the many wonderful aspects of homeschool, as that is your right.

    I believe that you have done that on the local paper and you do have a following there. In fact your blogs even make the first page of blogs, so good luck with that.

  21. I didn't realized that I posted about homeschooling as much as I did about philosophy, methods, or wacky silly things. I usually just goof off there.

    It's fun.

    Oh! I have to ask about the homeschoolers that you know who are using up resources? I am curious about that. I didn't understand that.

  22. Rebecca if this is what you meant by your commen, then I suggest you read what I wrote and not add any words or "hidden meanings":To pull kids out and use available resources for the children seems to be the answer that homeschooling advocates want.

    I was writing about computer programs, DVDs, etc. Not about NATURAL RESOURCES.

    You have commented on little snipets, and yet some of the most important part of the blog, you ignored.

    I would repeat all of it here, but you won't read and respond to paragraphs. So:

    Involved parents are needed in school settings.

    I never wrote that school cured apathy, racisim, etc. Coping skills are honed in schools; however.

    Please go back and reread my blog and comments, maybe they will make more of an impression.

    I also included a quote which I feel is imperiative in a freethinking society.

  23. Didn't mean to ignore you, Rebecca. I'm out of town visiting the grandbaby, and not keeping current with the blogs.

    The kids eventually caught up, as much from the grandmother's help (she's a retired teacher) as the school. But it was not without a great deal of the gnashing of teeth and the wringing of hands, and took several years. None of the four kids did better that slightly above passing.

    It was simply a matter of too little, too late for them.

    Okay, we've all been, pretty much working under the assumption that we have engaged parents here who are truly after their child's best interests.

    One of my strongest arguments for the regulation of home schooling and some kind of certification for the person teaching is that 'home schooling' becomes the best way a family can isolate the children from prying eyes.

    When a family can remove the child from public school and declare that they are now home schooling, a great deal of any protection the child had is now gone. Reread the Advocate's account of the Betty and Steve Ramirez murder trial. If they had been not allowed to home school the children because they were not certified in some way, who knows how that could have turned out differently?

    Are my suggestions fool proof---certainly not, but I do think they are a valid argument for some regulation.

    Very busy today, so if I don't get back to you soon, I will.

  24. I totally agree for the most part. I wish there were no violent or abusive people. I wish abused children who slip under the radar in schools could be helped too.

    The schools do have the names of those who are being homeschooled. They have to know where to transfer records.

    Other states and some districs have figured out that if you work with the WHOLE community and allow some access that THAT is a way to regulate. Here there is isolation and punishment of the child for the parent's decision. That harms the child. We should see our community as a whole instead of adopting an US vs THEM type of mind set.

    Just so there's no state teaching certification required because my training as a teacher was for a room full of kids in a professional environment using the methods that are most efficient for that environment. It's not the superior learning environment and outside of that world those aren't the most superior methods.

    I don't even use that part of my training here. I do however use all the methods that at the time, as a future teacher, seemed unrealistic in a classroom setting. The child-centered approach, life-style of learning, I don't give short answer tests but more open ended questions more discussions - writing. Learning doesn't always look like a school. So I would hope a more educated people would be there as a liason.

    The things I have learned that have helped me the most in my home I have learned from other homeschoolers all over the world.

    Homescholers are so networked. It's an underground world unless you are in it.

    I wish there were no violent, sick, and broken people in the world but I don't agree with punishing or regulating innocent people becuase of criminals. Even schools don't always catch the abuse. I wish it were different.

  25. I wonder if VISD still has a homeschool liaison. At one time they did. At one time they allowed homeschoolers to participate in activities. That seems more community minded.