02 July 2007

Elementary, my Dear Watson

The "block party" this weekend was nice. Everyone had a good time. Conversation and food were good. However, the topic of schooling my kids came up. I was surrounded, literally, by a bunch of retired school teachers, so I knew it was a tough crowd.

Why is it that many teachers, at least the ones I've come across, are against home schooling? The conversation initially drifts back and forth about how schools are having such a tough time; it's hard to be a teacher; thank goodness they are retired, because look at how bad things are now; if they volunteer it's just with the "real little ones" for a few hours; funding problems abound; etc., etc. But, no one but a teacher can criticize the school system. Despite the litany of problems they profess, they don't see the stunned look on my face when they proudly talk about sending their children and grandchildren to these places.

I haven't even begun to home school my children, at least not "officially." I think a lot of what I do is "schooling," just not according to their definition. It's been some time since I taught my son his colors, numbers, shapes, alphabet and how to count to ten, although I feel if I hadn't taught him these things, they would've thought I was negligent in some way. Catch-22.

One of the ladies at the table asked me if I was going to send my son, who is three, to pre-school. I told her that my son is taking music lessons and noted his other involvements, but told her we planned to home school. No one looked up from the table, no one said a word. I waited for the other shoe to drop, but someone changed the conversation.

A rhinoceros. It has a thick skin. Guess I need to get one too.

It isn't just teachers and not all teachers are like this, but the idea that it would be perfectly acceptable for me to teach other people's kids, but not my own, is senseless. So many people are quick to criticize the State and the decisions it makes that affect our lives, but tell someone you plan to home school, and you aren't thinking straight. Worse, you are potentially doing something that might harm your child, limit his education, stunt his growth, and make him a social outcast. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary and most people have known or heard of a very successful child who is/was home schooled. Nowadays, there are lots of resources for people who choose to home school. My son, even at his young age, seems like an empirical example of the good home schooling can do, but these distrustful attitudes about home schooling persist.

Not to be misunderstood, I don't think all schools are bad, not all teachers are bad, and home schooling isn't for everyone or a panacea. Educating kids is hard and takes a lot of work. I just don't understand why people criticize home schoolers who are actively trying to be part of the solution and are taking responsibility for their own family.

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