5.04.2011

Why I won’t homeschool, and why I’ll homeschool anyway

Homeschooling seems to be having a resurgence of popularity. Maybe it’s been here all along and I just hadn’t noticed. In either case I’ve thought about whether I could or would want to homeschool the Pie, when the time comes.

It would be nice, in some ways. I could control what she experienced, how she was treated, what she was exposed to. She could learn from only the most loving, caring, committed teachers. She could direct her learning a bit, based on her own interests.

But is it healthy for children to never experience hardship? Do I want her only exposed to ideas I believe in, or introduced to varying ideas and taught to think for herself? I certainly don’t want her to undergo hardship or poor treatment, but she does need to learn to deal with it and still function and succeed… should I – could I homeschool? Could I stand having not a moment to myself? (I’m kind of looking forward to having the Pie in school so I can get some things accomplished!) Could I adequately educate my child to become successful in life?

I’ve decided I won’t. I can’t.

I could probably provide an adequate education for a child through middle school, but I believe there is a reason that the mainstream education system breaks from single teachers to multiple specialized instructors around that time. They are trained in the specific field they teach, so their knowledge base is likely beyond my own.

I have considered becoming a teacher for a profession, and come back to the idea occasionally. I know that in the best case scenario you have a highly educated, highly skilled instructor who is also compassionate and dedicated. I also know this is not always the case. However I am certain that in subjects other than those I specialized in, I would be able to provide less effective instruction than someone who studied those fields. I may have taken AP Calculus and Physics, but I’m certainly not proficient enough to teach either subject in even the most basic way.

I don’t feel that I would be able to adequately instruct subjects in which I’m not already proficient – how would I teach French/physics/piano when I’ve only just picked up the book in time enough to create lesson plans? I studied German, archaeology and saxophone! Those skills don’t transfer.

I am not completely convinced that a homeschool education is adequate to create the best opportunities for success in life – because I don’t consider myself capable of adequately teaching all the things I learned in school. Some schools are not adequate, and perhaps in the worst public schools my homeschooling would be an improvement. And certainly some homeschooled children go on to become successful in college and the workplace. College is not necessary for success in life, I know – but I would like my Pie to have that opportunity. I’m not willing to risk that my child’s success in life is based upon an educational foundation built by me alone – rather than by the specialists: TEACHERS.

I wouldn’t build a house myself, even though I have a basic ability to measure, saw, hammer things together.

However – I would absolutely check in on my homebuilder, and make sure he wasn’t cutting corners, wasn’t skipping nails. I  would be “reading over his shoulder” so to speak.

I won’t homeschool, but I’ll still homeschool.

I don’t anticipate that every teacher my Pie has will be the highly educated, highly skilled and devoted teacher of my dreams. I imagine that she will come across a teacher at some point who is less than ideally suited for the position, is not as effective or interested as desired. And in that case, I’ll be able to help cover those subjects.

I plan to take a fully engaged, active role in my child’s education. I will assist with nightly homework, help with test preparation, know when projects are due and when report cards are coming out. I will know my Pie’s teacher, although I won’t try to direct or influence his or her curriculum. If I believe my Pie can do more, we will increase the complexity of our work at home. Homeschooling, in this way, is not optional.

We will spend our summers working on projects, expanding the basis of education, but in a more unstructured way. Maybe along the lines of “un-schooling” or self-directed education. This would allow the Pie to spend her summers playing and learning what she wants to learn.

If there is a significant deficit in a specific subject, one that I find critical to success in adulthood, and one where I cannot improve upon what is being taught, I may even hire a tutor.

Ultimately, homeschooling is not going to be an option in my home, it will simply happen – however it will be a supplemental activity. I just don’t believe, as intelligent and educated as I may be, that it would be acceptable for me to take on a role I have no training in – one that will so significantly impact my child’s success and options in life. If I failed at this, I would be failing my child. And that is unacceptable.

2 comments:

  1. Brilliant! Love this post! I feel the same way. I know homeschooling works for some people, but it would not be a good fit in our family. I very much need "alone" time, time without my children, and I savor those moments when I can be by myself, yet I still know that they are being taught effectively by caring teachers.
    Best,
    MOV

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  2. In some ways it is a wonderful idea - the total protection, total control. But I don't want her to grow up completely protected, only learning what I believe in. I want the Pie to grow up learning to deal with difficult people and situations, to think for herself, to deal with the noise of the world. And I want her to learn from many different people and to have more than just what I know as her base of knowledge & opportunity. But I'm still going to teach her at home!

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