School has started back up again, so I’ve been quite busy. However, I will discuss my thoughts on becoming a teacher in my next post.
As many of you now know, Withteeth and I are considering homeschooling. But we tend not to fall in with the mainstream homeschoolers. Simply being atheists makes that obvious, but there is an even deeper issue we disagree with. As we have looked into homeschooling, we came to learn that we will need to have somebody come and ensure that our children are progressing as they should in order to be allowed to continue to homeschool. It doesn’t sound like this is new, but a number of homeschoolers in our area seem to be angry with changes that are being made. Many seem convinced that our government is trying to get rid of homeschooling. Personally, I don’t see that happening, but I’m still learning so I guess I could be wrong (though I also support our government, so maybe I’m biased :P).
I’ve seen similar complaints from American homeschoolers, which has me thinking: who is homeschooling for? I want to homeschool for my children, if that is the best option for them. I’m not dead set on homeschooling, because I don’t yet know what will be best for my children. But that is what all homeschoolers say. I’ve yet to here a parent say that they homeschool for their own benefit, but the complaints I hear make me wonder. For example, many parents want the government to just let them do whatever they want. They don’t want regulations, they don’t want monitoring, they just want to be allowed to do as they will with their children. And many want all that while they receive funding from the government. To a certain degree, I can understand that (well, not the funding part). It seems like the government doesn’t trust parents to raise their own kids. It seems like an intrusion. But only if homeschooling is for the parent. Think about it: it’s the parent who is being monitored. It’s their teaching that is being graded. If the child doesn’t do well, then the parent is told to find a more effective solution. Parents don’t want to be told that somebody can educate their child better than they can, but sometimes somebody can educate the child better. This isn’t saying the parent is incompetent, or a bad teacher. It’s simply saying that the child needs to learn differently. And how is that a bad thing? We’re trying to prepare that child for the future. They are the ones who suffer if they are educated badly. They are the ones who will take over when we leave the workforce. We want them to be as well prepared as possible. We want them to do well, both personally and as a group. That’s why education is supposed to be about them. So why are parents so angry that the government wants that as well?
I’m sure a number of people will assume I’m being naive. I know a lot of people mistrust the government. I don’t think the government is perfect. But it’s also not a single living entity that could possibly come after me. The government is a non-living entity built up of hundreds of thousands of ever-changing people. Maybe some of them are spying on me. One might be doing so right now. I don’t know. I don’t really care. If the government does something I disagree with, I’ll find a way to fight back. I can protest, I can send e-mails, I can vote. I have a voice, and I make use of it. I’ll continue to make use of it when I find myself confronted by awful things in the future. But the government trying to protect my children is not one of those awful things. Even if they are trying to protect them from me. After all, I am the biggest threat against my child. All parents are their own child’s biggest threat. As awful as it sounds, that’s the simple truth. I might know that I won’t abuse my own children, and I might know that I fully intend to educate them, but nobody else can know that. Nobody else can read my mind. So why wouldn’t I be okay with a certain amount of monitoring. After all, who is homechooling for? Me? Or my child?
September 22nd, 2016 at 8:05 am
If your state requires standards of learning and testing of children being home schooled, I think that is great. It overcomes all my objections to home schooling as it is practiced in my state.
Local school districts here wash their hands of children being home schooled. These children are dropped from the school rolls like hot potatoes.
It use to be that a parent had to present an appropriate educational curriculum before being allowed to home school their child. After that, there was no further follow-up by the district, ever.
Now, because of political pressure by religious zealots, if a school calls a parent to ask why a child isn’t in school, all the parent has to say is, “Oh, I am home schooling her,” and the child is removed from public enrollment. Despite educational neglect statutes and child exploitation laws, there is no further responsibility of the community in New Jersey to assure that a child being home schooled is being educated.
Checking on the welfare and educational progress of children being home schooled should be the minimal responsibility of the state. There are all kinds of neglectful or sinister reasons why some parents might take a child out of school and not educate them. Indeed, this is part of the reason why public education was made mandatory from the beginning. Anyone who believes it is an overreach of the state to monitor the educational progress of children being home schooled is simply naive. Illiterate children who are denied an education grow up to become a lifelong burden to the state. More importantly, if children have any rights as human being at all, a right to an adequate education is surely among them..
September 22nd, 2016 at 7:26 am
I think homeschooling probably falls into two groups of people. People like yourself who feel that you could actually improve upon teaching they would receive at public schools. Increased emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving, over an emphasis on rote memorization. But then there is the group of people who homeschool because they want their children to maintain their beliefs. In their mind public school just advances the liberal agenda by teaching students about things like the founding fathers built a secular nation, evolution, climate change, the big bang theory, that families can be happy and healthy outside of the “traditional family model” and whole host of other things that they see as dangerous values and lies that their kids are learning. Homeschooled children here in rural SW Pa tend to simply turn their children into Christian conservatives whose ideas have never been challenged. And they fail miserably when they get to university.
I do think there are in general advantages to students learning things from people who aren’t their parents. I think it’s important to develop teacher/student relationships and to even be inspired by other teachers. Personally I plan on supplementing where I feel public school is lacking. Particularly I want to be able to give my child more exploratory exercises that focus on critical thinking, but I think overall public education (even though I would like public education to go through various reforms) has value.
September 22nd, 2016 at 1:31 am
‘All parents are their own child’s biggest threat. As awful as it sounds, that’s the simple truth.’
Very much so.
September 21st, 2016 at 8:37 pm
When you bring a child into the world, it is your responsibility to do what is best for the child. This includes educating them to allow them to survive and thrive in the world, and to not be a net loss to the world. And homeschooling gives you flexibility and control of this education the child will not get in a public school. Not to say a public school will not do the job for some kids. In my day, I’d say that at least half the public school graduates (including me) came out “OK”. Society has changed and I’d say that public schools do a much worse job these days of producing graduates up to the standards of my day. Are those standards no longer appropriate to today’s society? Perhaps, although I shudder to think so. Do public schools bring 50% of their graduates up to these new standards? I have no idea. And what about any students which are not brought up to useful standards?
It appears to me that currently public schools, in the U.S. at least, are actually harmful to children. Probably not all of them, but definitely some have made the news and not in a good way. If I had a child, I’d look very carefully at homeschooling, and a private school with lots of my involvement would be my second choice. Of course, I have to consider what is best for the child, which means that if public school were what was best for that particular child, that is where they would go. But I would be monitoring them very closely.
If I did home school, I would insist that my child was at the very least competitive with public school kids, and the only way to do this would be for the child to show that he/she could meet the reasonable standards that the public school kids can meet (surpass would be my goal). I would have no problem having the child regularly take equivalent tests. Having some government flunky come into the home to “grade” me would be problematic. Because I know that most government has power all out of proportion to their competence. Like the woman who had her kid taken away because she *gasp* let him play in the playground across the street without being there. Or kids who are kicked out of school for nibbling a gun shape out of their pop-tart or holding their fingers like the sign language letter “L”..
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September 22nd, 2016 at 3:11 pm
” The government is a non-living entity built up of hundreds of thousands of ever-changing people.”
Government is very much a human social structure made up many individuals who coordinate their collective actions to help manage the collective coordination of others in their society (ideally, for the greater good of all). We own the government we have whether we like how it is working or not.
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September 22nd, 2016 at 3:35 pm
It is my theory that government, which is brought to life to serve a people, mutates over time into an independent entity, which focuses on advancing itself rather than the people who created it. We may own it, but we have little control over it.
September 22nd, 2016 at 3:48 pm
I can understand why you see it that way, but it isn’t the most helpful perspective. In fact, it is the viewpoint people in power what us to have so they can hang on to power. Collectively we have total control over governments. We just can’t seem to coordinate the actions it takes to impose our collective will on the special interests who have taken control away from us.
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