Monday, June 2, 2008

Should parents be allowed to homeschool their kids?

I think the real question is: WHO should be responsible for raising our children? If it is not us, as parents, then WHO? And WHEN?

Do I think that some stranger, who does not know my young, elementary-age child, can 'educate' this child better than I can? I look at teachers and ask myself this question: Would I like to spend seven hours a day with this person? If the answer is 'NO,' then why would I subject my child to that situation? I ask myself, "Is this person warm and caring? Will this person care about MY child in the same way, with the same sense of concern, as I do? Would I hire this person to move into my house and take care of my child?" If the answer is 'NO," then why would I let my child spend most of his or her waking hours in the presence of someone I would not let into my home on a daily basis? Could I, as a parent of an elementary-age child, do reading, writing and math with that child? Absolutely! It's not brain-science. Could I provide a wonderful, warm and caring environment for my child? Of course! Could I work carefully with my child, without needing to fill the needs of 20 to 30 other kids at the same time? (Isn't that a luxury most teachers don't have?) Yes, yes and yes.

Now, how about a high-school child? I could still 'get it done.' We could use junior colleges, online courses, and study groups in the community and many other resources to tackle the more complex subjects.

SO...the real question is WHO should raise our children? The state? (Because they do such a good job with everything else...balancing budgets...the drop-out care? Because they share my particular world view, ethics, belief system?) Or me. I think that perhaps we should stop automatically turning our children over to an industrial system that is antiquated, (founded in 1852 and has basically not changed) over-burdened and ineffective for so many kids. I think we each have the responsibility to find what works for our children. If they manage to thrive in that system anyway, that's wonderful. But for many of our children, the traditional system does not work. And if we are willing to take the time, effort and energy to educate our own children, then the state and everybody else should be grateful.


Beverley Paine said...

I am also eternally optimistic and have confidence that we humans can fix everything, especially our past mistakes.

School based education is one of those mistakes.

I'm not one to regret making mistakes - they are all learning journeys, ready to be learned from...

School based education is a lesson ready to be learned from - so let's learn from it!

What worries me is the automatic imposition of schooling on cultures that have survived millennia without it but which fall into a heap as our western ways and culture are imposed upon them. Sure, it works to drag these societies into the modern era, but at what ultimate cost?

Homeschooling is presenting an alternative pathway that needs to be explored and researched more.

thanks for your blog Resa,


Leticia said...

Some of the world's most brilliant people were homeschooled, and thrived because of it.
I am a public school teacher and agree wholeheartedly that homeschooling is a wonderful thing; I have homeschooled my oldest since Kindergarten, and she's just now preparing to enter a private high school in 10th grade for the lab facilities and sports which I couldn't give her at home. I will miss her.
She is articulate, polite, warm, compassionate, and an excellent, self-motivated student, and I am so glad I homeschooled her.

Resa Steindel Brown said...

Thanks Beverly,

Our educational system is over 150 years old. Maybe it served the world then, but we are a very different world today. Our kids are exposed to more stimulus (media, ipods, cell phones etc) and ‘data’ then prior generations. The very nature of information has changed. We cannot even begin to imagine the problems today’s children will face and the solutions they will need to find. Our school-based education was designed to take farm children and train them for assembly-line work in the Industrial Revolution. Even our assembly-line workers today need greater skills and problem solving capabilities then the old ‘just follow instructions’ of the 19th and 20th centuries. Why don’t we just accept change and move on?

But, if you are talking about Indigenous cultures, I also think we have much to learn from them. Their ancient ways of ‘knowing’ and their rapport with mother earth rivals some of our best technology. It would be a shame to assume that ‘modern,’ a synonym for ‘electronic,’ replaces that ancient wisdom.


Resa Steindel Brown said...

Hi Leticia,

I too am a teacher and parent who homeschooled my three kids. We started out in Montessori and then moved to homeschooling in 1987. All three kids graduated UCLA and two of them went on to graduate degrees. Like most homeschoolers, they are kind, generous, open and warmhearted. They have had wonderful adventures on an international scale because of their homeschooling experiences. I would do it again in a minute. By the way, I noticed you like The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. When I was a little girl, I got to meet Maria Von Trapp. She actually had a lodge and restaurant in Vermont.


Somebody said...

Some schools have developed for the better. They can also teach better because they were trained to do so in a school. I think that unless you had training in the teacher's art's you can't teach your child better then the teacher.

Also think how bad the teachers will feel. I'm not saying we have to cry over of teachers getting no money, it's that they had a whole course of studying and then suddenly these parents think they can teach.

Also, all the famous people who have thrived under home schooling had not been taught by their parents and teachers but themselves.

Even if the schools are old, they are getting fixed and developing for the better good.

I think home schooling should be illegal.

Assistant said...

I have to disagree with what the last person said. Just because a person has a teaching degree doesn't make him or her be the best option of learning for ALL kids. The problem in our schools are not neccessarily the teachers who teach because they are only doing what they were trained to do. It's the "education system" that is the real problem. It just doesn't work effectively for each individual child.

I did put my son in public school for his first few years. We tried several of the highly recommended schools in the area we lived. We even moved twice for that reason. I'm sorry to say it did not work out for us. My son has special needs. Even with all the IEP meetings and special services it was not the best fit. He had a few good teachers, but when children have to get a new teacher each year for the next grade it can be a headache. Several times we had to move our son to another classroom because of the teacher's negative attitude. Parent's are treated like they don't know what's best for their child. How can people in the education system keep saying "we need parents to get more involved"? Then when a parent is too involved some teachers get upset because you are trying to help them understand how your child learns best.

Now that I've been homeschooling my son for 2 years I can tell a big difference in his learning. Sure he's hyper and looses focus. He doesn't need ritalin. He just needed one on one and less distractions. I don't have any problems teaching my son. He gets a full days work done without medication. Why? Not because I force or punish him. I've learned how "he" learns best and he enjoys learning. He's now happier, and says he doesn't want to go back to public school because it's boring.

So my question for those teachers who feel threatened by parents wanting to educate their own kids is this...What about what is best for the child? Should you force a child to like school when they really hate it? What if the child is frustrated by the learning environment? Should you still make them go without any other options. Many educators are trying to force more and more parents to medicate their kids just to get them to function in a classroom. How can that be best for the child?

Unknown said...

I dont believe that every parent could teach their children at a high school level. Some parents I dont think could even teach at a primary school level If children were to be home schooled then mabye some would thrive and be extremly smart but most or some could become stupid and uneducated This is the problem And anyway the schools dont do that bad a job and the teachers are very nice I wouldnt blame them