Sunday, November 12, 2006

We Turned Out Better Than Fine

Okay, this is a comment that I left on someone else's blog dealing with homeschooling and the supposedly-flakey reasons why some don't choose it. The other commenters had some pretty "interesting" responses, so I addressed them too. If anyone else has any views on this, feel free to leave a comment here. I'd love to hear what others have gone through or think about homeschooling and/or public schooling. Frankly, I'm pretty fed up with the elitist attitude that some home-school advocates hold. I tend to suspect that if your argument has to rely on straw-man arguments and scare tactics, then it must not have much real merit.

Hmmm. Many of the reasons you came up with seem to be straw-man arguments and not representative of why the parents I associate with choose to send their children to public school. To the argument that some give where they say that they went to public schools but turned out fine, Kim C said "define fine". Well, here's my very own example of what "fine" can be:

My oldest brother was in the Gifted program while in public school and then went on to become a teacher in a school for underprivileged children because he recognized how many of them have to grow up with no father figure in their lives. Because of the wonderfully capable wife he has, they do just fine on one income so that she can stay home with their two young kids. They are in the process of buying their first home right now.

I was also in the Gifted program and I had my first research paper published in a peer-reviewed Science journal while I was still an undergraduate (a rarity in any field and almost unheard of in biochemistry) and received invitations for PhD programs from five top-tier research universities.

My younger brother who suffered from a severe brain injury as a child has gone on to become a wonderful husband with a stay at home wife and two gorgeous baby girls.

My youngest brother first started playing the saxophone in (public) elementary and middle school. From the music education he received there, he was accepted into a very prestigious high school for the arts. His music has taken him all across the globe and allowed him to play with musicians like Wynton Marsalis, Donald Harrison, and Nicholas Payton and singers like Les Nubiennes and Nina Simone. He was a member of a grammy-nominated Jazz band but now has a band of his own with a CD due out next year.

My own daughter (who went to a university-based pre-school) is both Gifted and Talented and has had her art displayed at the Louisiana State Archives three years in a row. She now attends a school exclusively for middle school-aged Gifted and Talented children. I suppose I should also mention that this is a public school which shows that the range of what public schools can offer is not confined to mediocre academics and crowded classrooms. Contrary to what silvermine stated, the schools here are rated on how much they teach the gifted students. The gifted student's standardized test scores are determined and issued so that parents here can examine how well (or how poorly) a particular school is performing for children in several different categories (e.g. economically under-privileged, gifted and talented, disabled).

By the way, my daughter is also classified as having "Attention Deficit Disorder" which is considered a plus by her teachers because it is a sign that a child can think in non-conventional ways and has been shown to be positively-correlated with increased creativity. When my daughter was diagnosed with ADD in elementary school, it was her teacher who was the first person (even before our family pediatrician) to give us information about the side effects of the commonly-prescribed medications. She sent us a wonderful letter telling us how much she hoped we understood that she didn't feel my daughter needed any chemical alterations in order for her to learn anything.

If home-school works well for some families, then I am happy for them but the blanket assumption (made by some) that public schools can't provide excellent education is just ridiculous. The fact that some parents do abdicate their responsibilities (and their children's academic success reflects that) does not mean that public schools are bad. It simply means that those parents aren't addressing their children's needs. Other parents are perfectly capable of instilling values and remaining their children's primary teachers even while sending their children to public school. If some parents don't know how to do that, then they can be taught.

My awesome Christian mother did it with the four of us despite being a single parent for the majority of our childhood. When she remarried and it became a family of twelve kids total, she continued to do it even then. I manage to do it while living with more "chronic illnesses" than almost any mother I know.

Being in public school isn't why some children don't reach their full academic potential. It is, however, often an excuse that some people use to explain why their children are doing poorly. If you are able to figure out how to be your child's primary teacher when you're homeschooling, then you could use those same skills to do it with your child in public school. Over and over again, I see these pro-homeschooling arguments that are meant to show that a parent doesn't need to have an entire day's worth of hours available in order to homeschool and how their lessons only take a few hours each day to complete. I don't think they realize it but that fact eliminates the idea that homeschooling was a necessity in order for these students to obtain high academic achievement. If these same parents took a couple of hours out of their day after school, then the child receives the academic benefits of both public and home schooling.

It was a bit surprising to read the question that Dana says she'd like to ask some people: "So why did you have kids, then?" I had to chuckle when I read that because the same question could be asked to those who say they homeschool because they are afraid of all the (supposedly) thuggish or ill-mannered children they'd have to be around in public school. If you really don't want your child to have to deal with the world we live in, then why did you have kids then? If you weren't willing to show your children how to deal with the issues they'll face in school, then what will you do when it comes to those issues that are much more difficult to deal with than simply what to do when your clothes don't align with the latest fad or when some kid keeps poking you in the lunch line?

I know that not everyone believes in the Bible but since so many homeschooling parents say they are motivated by religious reasons, I can't help but think about what the Bible says at 2 Timothy 3:15-17. This was one of the first verses my mother taught us as children.

The principles we were taught enabled my siblings and I to deal with every single issue we faced in school. If a religious person is considering homeschooling because they are worried about the pressures their child would face in public school, perhaps it is a sign that deep in their heart they know that they haven't been giving the child the sort of education (i.e. values) that would enable their child to do what millions of other children have done in the past and continue doing today--living a principled life regardless of what those around them do.


Anonymous said...

I will never even question your right to send your kids to the state school, that is probably good enough for your children. Just leave me alone if I do otherwise.

Bint Alshamsa said...

It doesn't matter whether you question it or not. What matters is the facts. The facts show that plenty of parents don't make excuses for why they didn't do what they should have and could have (as is proven by the fact that they do it as homeschoolers) for their children. If someone wants to be left alone, then it would probably be a good idea for them to refrain from passing judgment on others.

I'm certainly not trying to stop anyone from homeschooling no matter how disastrous that may be for some children just as Morrison pointed out here. The reason why I wrote that response (that I suspect Morrison won't dare post for fear of what a logical argument might do to her appeals to ignorance-based fears) is because I see it as absolutely hypocritical for people like this to want others to respect their choices while they show no willingness to respect others. Instead they denigrate those who they know nothing about. It's really more than a bit sad that some who claim that children can't thrive in public schools and that all children should be homeschooled clearly didn't do what they could have when they were sending their children to public school.

I have a lot of sympathy for parents who simply can't be their children's primary teacher. I've worked at my cancer support group as a tutor for the kids of some of the parents who are really debilitated by their disease or by the treatments for it while they try to get cured. Before they married each other, my mother raised her four kids as a single mom and my step-father raised his eight children as a single dad. Because of this I got to see how, even if you've done nothing irresponsible, one can suddenly find themselves in an economic situation where you works so hard (just to provide the bare necessities of life) that you simply don't have available the time it would take in order to be your child's primary teacher.

Would I blame either of these kinds of parents if their children aren't doing just super-duper-dandy in school? Of course not! However, when someone admits that they weren't in either of these situations and they boast about how well their children are doing now that they have started taking an active role in the child's education, I can't help but ask why didn't they start doing that before they pulled the student out of public school. If they had, they might have found out that the child's academic problems weren't the result of what goes on in school; Instead it had more to do with what wasn't going on at home.

If someone wants to homeschool their kids then that's fine with me--this is America and everyone has the "right" to make poor and/or uninformed choices--but there's no way I'm going to go along with the idea that it's the school's fault that they belatedly decided to get involved in their child's life.

Blackamazon said...

Wow I wish i had more to had than my customary you rule


heyif it s true


* Kicklines her way out*