Wednesday, March 16

On homeschooling

Over on the Pioneer Woman homeschooling blog, they've been doing a series where people write in tough homeschooling questions. Then folks leave comments and answer the question.

It's been very educational, because you get new homeschoolers, veteran homeschoolers, public school teachers, single people, from all walks of life and lots of different countries.

Anyway, today there was a post called, "Do homeschoolers experience true socialization and academics?" The socialization question crops up about every other question, it seems like, but the phrasing of this one made me curious. Seems this lady wanted to homeschool her son, but some friend sent her a snotty email about it. Here's the snotty email:

As far as homeschooling, I’m not a fan. I think it’s important for kids to have their social lives with friends they go to school with, to create bonds and learn how to deal with confrontation on their own when they are with their friends on a regular basis. I’m not saying they can’t “be socialized” with home schooling I just think its not a “true” socialization (my opinion).

In addition, I feel that unless I went to school to become a teacher and even a Phd I can’t give them the true academic experience and support they need. Just like the saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child, well it takes one to educate them as well. To be taught by one person, is to be taught with one view and one method not allowing them the chance to adapt to different learning atmospheres or to hear their peers views.’
(Reproduced without permission, full post available here.)

This was like waving a red flag in front of a bull for me. Not just the topic, but the condescending “oh you poor idiot” tone.

I was homeschooled from second grade through high school, and I have five younger siblings. We never suffered from “lack of socialization”. In fact, we sit around and laugh about how my brother always hung out with various repairmen who came to fix stuff over the years. We all had classes outside our homeschool, ranging from various instruments to art.

I feel that personally I was the least “social” of the entire clan, because as a teenager I started a website devoted to a videogame I was fond of. I ran it for the next ten years, offering a place where kids could submit artwork and stories, and naturally I socialized a lot online. Eventually I got married to one of my longtime online friends, so I figure that even if the rest of the website was a waste of time, it at least let me meet him.

I did have a job teaching art for five or six years, and finally had to quit when I got pregnant with my second child, because I just couldn’t juggle my family and my work anymore. And you want socialization, try working with the public!

As for my academic achievements, I’m pretty well educated and got accepted into college with no problems. But I feel that I have something that most other people don’t get from a “standard” education: I still know how to learn. I’m always shocked that people don’t just hop on the internet and look stuff up that they’re curious about.

My mom always felt that she was unequal to the task of teaching us, so she educated herself as she educated us. (After all, you start out in preschool with your kid, and shapes, letters and numbers are pretty easy to teach.) It’s a shame that you have to actually go to a school somewhere and sit through years of classes to get a piece of paper that declares that you have a degree. My mom should have two or three Master’s degrees in all kinds of topics. After 20 years in school, she should have!

Now, I know that there are many great public schools and school experiences out there. I know there are homeschools that are really awful and give the rest a bad name. But I happen to live in California, and California happens to have a reputation for having the worst schools in the entire country, with very high drug rates and very low test scores. That doesn’t exactly make me want to ship my kids off to participate.

My husband was also bullied mercilessly, growing up in various schools. His father was in the air force, so they moved every two years. My husband changed schools over and over, and as the odd one out, was always a target. He doesn’t have a lot of fond memories of schools, and as such supports homeschooling our kids.

I’ve chased a lot of rabbits in this post, and I guess I didn’t really address the snotty email as well as I could have. But I just laugh at that lady’s narrow-minded opinion. I’ve been through the homeschooling process, and had many friends in public school, so I’ve observed both sides. And if you want to homeschool, then do it. And I recommend reading the comments on that blogpost, because they answer it much better than I’m doing. :-)


Farm Girl said...

Well gosh, thank you so much for the nice compliments. I am so glad you don't think those years I muddled along were wasted. I will have to print this out and put it in my file for those days when I am sure I have ruined all of your lives.

Yeah If I was that lady who got that email from that biased, narrow minded person, I don't know if we would still be friends.
Remember as Michael Card said, "Let the excellence of your work be your protest."
That was my yard stick. I am pretty proud of how you all turned out. :) Thank you, you have made my day.

William said...

Blog Post of the Week!

I'm glad to see someone stand up for homeschooling. People assume that the best way to ruin a person's life is to homeschool them. I argue that not all homeschoolers are weird, and conversely, not all public schoolers are normal.

I've met plenty of strange, STRANGE people went to public or even private schools who are dramatically weirder than most homeschoolers. Their so-called socialization hasn't done them any good.

Having a large family was an excellent first step toward socialization. Many, MANY people I know today don't get along with their family in any way meaningful way, especially in regard to their parents.

I don't know why people assume that being homeschooled means that you have exactly zero extracurricular activities; like you said, we had other classes like music or art. As I recall there was a particular art teacher who constantly asked either a 12-year-old Netraptor or an 8-year-old me to fix his computer problems. I never saw him ask any other student of our (surprisingly young) ages for help.


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