Digging up controversy


(Along the Trollway in Wisconsin)

The only problem I have with the majority homeschooling/unschooling articles I’ve read in the past year is that they tend to follow a predictable format. They are introductory articles, taking the approach that they just want you to wrap your head around the idea of homeschooling. This is reasonable I suppose, as the majority of people probably haven’t given the concept much thought. The writer espouses the benefits of homeschooling, then typically brings in a doubter and ends on that note. The doubter is usually a parent who hasn’t given much thought to the topic of homeschooling, and has a stereotypical image in their minds of an apron-wearing mother dishing out addition problems and socially isolating their offspring.The other kind of doubter is a teacher or other education bureaucrat whose feels their livelihood and all of their credentials are called in to question by the fact that an uncertified adult is allowed to become a teacher in our state. I realize that pros/cons is a formula for balanced reporting, and presenting both sides on a debate provides that balance. But I guess I find it distracting because both sides are usually just dabbled with and I expect an in depth perspective. Also, the main problem is that there is very little debate or controversy and it all seems rather manufactured to dig up a lone teacher who disapproves. The controversy was addressed 30 years ago. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states.
Personally, I have met many teachers who are pro-homeschooling because they recognize it as a viable alternative and they understand some if not many parent-children combos would fair better with such a teacher-student ratio. But the reporters never seem to find those teachers.

My one response to the readers of these articles is that every homeschooling parent I’ve known has put much thought and research in to the matter. They know about curriculum, homeschooling styles, learning styles, motivations to homeschool, and various educational philosophies because they have spent hours trying to figure out their style and their kids’ styles. They have a vested interest in researching what would work best with their families and using the tools available to them. They are the same parents who spend huge amounts of time trying to find the best school environment for their children the year before school starts. Eventually, they stumble across the best school environment (for their family) being home, and they take off from there. Once a parent chooses a child’s school, they get to sit back and let the school environment do most of the work, secure in the knowledge that they are doing right by their kid. But once a family chooses home education, it is like the research never stops. That parent is constantly adjusting the educational environment to their offspring’s needs, whether they be academic, social, artistic or physical. I just can’t imagine a scenario that is less subject to apathetic parenting or teaching.

I have a little secret. I majored in education. What I learned there is that there is no secret recipe to teaching. The majority of my classes on education were about how to find resources (hello internet) and how to manage class size and deal with group issues. Until I began homeschooling my children, I never even saw a scope and sequence.

So, to argue that parents may not be equipped to teach is the same thing as arguing that parents aren’t equipped to parent. Maybe some aren’t, but the vast majority of parents find themselves in the position of being a parent or homeschooling parent as it were, because they are ready for such a challenge. To suggest that there is not enough monitoring or law involvement is just a knee jerk suspicious outlook on parents in general. Parents of newborn to 5 year olds are trusted to raise and educate their children without government intervention. There is no specific need that pops up after the age 5 which a parent would be unable to facilitate. Oh, you are thinking about reading? Well, that is another post.

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