Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Homeschool is a bad thing

Ok, so let's get the disclaimer out of the way up front: I am aware that there are specific circumstances under which a particular child may need to be educated at home, and may even benefit from that. I understand that in a given case, homeschool may be a good thing.


These parents who are educating their kids at home because A) they think they can do a better job than a trained, certified teacher or (more likely) B) they have some type of religious disagreement with what is being taught in their local school, are doing a HUGE disservice to their children. And here's why:

1. The teacher knows more than you - Let's assume, for the sake of this discussion, that we're talking about high-school age kids here. High-school teachers in most districts in Texas have a bachelor's degree and are working on or have finished their master's. And many of these teachers have said degree in the concentration they teach. So, the chemistry teacher has himself studied chemistry at the college level, etc. Now, I know a lot about a lot of things, but I would not claim to be proficient enough in each of the subjects a high-school student needs to learn to effectively teach that material. And I don't think the average parent can do it, either.

2. School is not about religion, Part I - Now, I'll save the rant on separation of church and state for another day. And I will emphasize this point: I am not against parents teaching their children religious beliefs. But I do believe that it is a role for the PARENT, not the school. All that aside, school is about so much more than just classroom learning. It is where we learn social skills, and the most important of these is how to get along with people we don't like. We are, as adults, faced with dealing with (and having to please) people we don't like, every single day. Whether that's your boss, or your in-laws, or the clerk at the 7-11 makes no difference - we all have to exist and work together. And that is a HARD lesson to learn, especially if you don't learn it young. So, you tell me your kid hates his English teacher? I say that's a really good thing, in the grand scheme of things. Because he's gotta deal with her and learn how to get along with her well enough to pass her class. And that, friends, is a lesson that is infinitely more valuable than what the imagery in The Natural really means.

3. School is not about religion, Part II - Here's the other side of this one: school teaches us that other people don't think like we do, and that sometimes people have a VASTLY different take on the world than we do. And guess what? That's a GOOD thing! We grow as people through considering the perspectives of others. Children only know that to which they are exposed. And if you keep them in a homogeneous, one-view-of-the-world kind of atmosphere all the time, they aren't learning about perspective. So, if your family values a certain tenet, teach that to your children at home. But pretending that no one else believes differently is a serious disservice to your child. And again, it's one you may not see until it's too late, until they're out in the world and are stunned by the discovery that not everyone thinks like the limited circle of people to whom they've been exposed.

So you tell me you want to homeschool your child, because you want to teach them your own values, or you want to protect them from the drugs/violence/secular values that are so prevalent in public school? I say, think long and hard about what you're REALLY teaching them before you make that decision.

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