In theory I respect the right for individual families to make educational choices for their children. I have both friends and family members that have chosen to home-school at one point or another, or have been home-schooled, and with the variety have had varying levels of success.
In practicality, though, my educator brain doesn’t really like the idea or the overall practice of homeschooling…especially past elementary school. Perhaps I only focus on the negatives, but from my experience, many of the parents I have seen, sacrifice things that public/private education could have offered in an attempt to gain something (not sure what, exactly, but I am sure they have a reason in their mind), that doesn’t actually seem to work. An example, is my aunt pulling her daughters out to home-school, after her youngest was being forced to complete assignments and stay in from recess to do so. My aunt felt the teacher wasn’t being fair (which could be legit) and that my cousin was being teased (also a legit reason to look at the education). But instead of sending her to a different school or get her evaluated for an IEP (needed for both mental and physical reasons), she chooses to home-school her. What began as a legit reason to re-evaluate, has turned into 4 years of home-schooling by a depressed divorcee mom with only a high school education. My cousin is behind in grade level (assessed by my mom who is a reading specialist), and has social skills of a 4 year old (at 12). When we have family functions even the little kids tease her because she is so…weird…which simply perpetuates a pattern of teasing/low-self-esteem that as a mental health professional, I am concerned about in the future. In contrast, though, is my dad’s cousin, who raised 6 kids on a farm, is a college educated elementary teacher who home-schooled her kids through middle school and then sent them to public high school. While socially awkward in ways, the kids have gone to college and found boyfriends and gotten jobs. All things I am concerned about for my other cousin.
What brings this subject up in my mind, is the frustrating day I had on Thursday with my predominately home-schooled morning class. Many of the students are willing to learn and do the work that I require of them (which isn’t much, as far as college goes), and reasonably beginning to make friends and think critically…there are a handful of students who both are socially awkward with their peers AND with me, which can be worked through, but their intellectually arrogant attitude isn’t based in actual performance and I can’t help to think has been instilled in them by equally arrogant parents who thought that they were so smart that they could teach their children everything, including all the high school subjects. Nobody I know is THAT smart, which is why high school has different subject teachers. I am just baffled that one person could think they could substitute for a hundred professional people with experience and education in the teaching field.
I would feel less upset by this if it didn’t set the students up for such failure in life and higher education. This one student, who rolls his eyes and grumbles with every assignment is probably smart, but when he writes, he writes at about a 4th grade level. His friend was helping him formulate his paper into a paragraph! I could understand if this kid was so brilliant that he was oodles and oodles ahead of his classmates, and therefore was lacking in social skills, but he seems to have a deficit in BOTH social skills AND reading/writing comprehension. I think his bad attitude masks the fact that he really just doesn’t know what he’s doing…which I could see how he might have slid through in a public school, seen as defiant, but he was being home-schooled! His parents should have realized that he cannot perform at grade level! Right?! And the defiant attitude toward me, as a professional educator, just doesn’t seem to jibe with the whole ‘respect’ because they are Christian, thing, ya know?
And then I begin to question these parents’ motivations. I know they are conservative Christians, but did the sacrifice of having him not be around “worldly” things really help him get the best start in life? I am very biased about this, having grown up very conservatively, without being allowed to watch tv/movies, and wear those long dresses, and go to church every week, but my parents always valued public education. And Boof and I have talked about the state of the education system, and how it doesn’t always meet a child’s needs, but I think home-schooling as their whole education is just the wrong way to go about it.
So, what are your thoughts on education…public/private/home-school? Is there a place for home-schooling? A time where home-schooling is actually selfish? Thoughts on how I can reach these students who are failing?