Monday, March 15, 2010

School. At Home.

I have been researching quite a bit on homeschooling over the last three or so weeks. It is an exciting and wonderful research topic, and so far I am pro the classical method and the Charlotte Mason method. I am planning a marriage of the two with summer holidays of unit study/project method.

When I say that I am strongly considering homeschooling (basically, I am going to do it unless something drastic changes my mind), most people are very opposed. I have many reasons for my enthusiasm towards homeschooling, while the opposition basically says, "But homeschooled kids are weird."

This is often historically true. However, let's remember that public school kids are not completely awesome and normal 100% of the time either. Also, when you think of kids you know who were home schooled, it is often true that they would've been weird no matter where they were educated.

I think it all depends on the parents too. I like to think that I am not too weird or crazy and that I wouldn't make my kids wear sweat pant suits or not take showers each day or segregate them from the neighborhood children. I don't think our kids will be weirder than any other kids.

I feel like I have good reasons to oppose public schools (in addition to being in favor of home schooling). I worked at a public school in Provo, and I currently teach at Utah Valley University. It is appalling to see how little the "adults" in my upper level communications course know.

So, when I say I want to home school, it is not a rash, spur of the moment decision. No, I want to home school because I want my children:
  • to know what La Pieta is when it is mentioned by name.
  • to not only have heard of James Joyce but to have read James Joyce.
  • to have a vocabulary that includes words like "inherent" and "vernacular."
  • to know not just concepts but also the people who came up with those concepts.
  • to write coherently and know the difference between "their," "they're," and "there" and "too," "to," and "two."
  • to memorize poems and know great literature from the book itself, not just the movie.
  • to have hands-on learning experiences and take nature walks.
  • to be educated for its own sake rather than to pass a standardized test.
  • to learn from original sources instead of crappy text books.
  • to go at their own speed and not be pushed or held back because of what "the class" is doing.
  • to talk about what they are learning at dinner rather than saying "I don't remember what I learned in school."
  • to not differentiate between "school" and "home" and to realize and understand that they need to be constantly learning—your brain doesn't turn off at a certain time of the day.
  • to learn self-sufficiency, cleaning, cooking, art, and music alongside and in conjunction with math, reading, science, languages, history, etc.
  • to be well-rounded and intelligent.
I just don't see these things happening in public schools. Also, I love the fact that home schooling will keep me involved and constantly having to learn as well. I think a lot of home schoolers use it as an excuse to be lazy, to let themselves and their kids sleep in until whenever and then do whatever they want all day.

However, if done properly (which I think it unfortunately isn't much of the time), the home schooling parent cannot be lazy-- in fact, it is just the opposite. This is exciting to me. I look forward to reading (or rereading) Beowulf, the Chronicles of Narnia, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Ben Hur, George Eliot, Jane Austen, Euclid, etc. with my children. I think it will be a crazy adventure to teach my children Latin and Greek when they are younger than 10—but they will better understand grammar and the words we use in English. I can't wait to discuss connections and have theological and scientific conversations with them. It will be frustrating and wonderful to relearn calculus and try to figure out how to teach it to someone else. (Luckily I have a long time before that day arrives).

I think our society is too laissez-faire and that parents let other institutions take over raising and educating their children. We might have advanced technology and consider ourselves collectively "smarter" than past generations, but are we really? Are we educated or just trained to pass tests and get grades?

Hopefully more families will take greater responsibility for their children. My plan is to make home schooling part of how I do that. I encourage anyone else with the motivation and ability to do the same!

1 comment:

  1. You are the kind of parent I would not be opposed to home schooling. Unfortunately, most of the people I know who want to home school (including members of my family) barely scraped through high school and never went to college. They don't know who Euclid is. They have atrocious spelling and grammar. They don't have the resources to put together a good schooling program, they just don't want their kids "indoctrinated" by public schools. It sounds like you have a well thought-out plan. The only thing I would say that school gives you that you can't get at home is lots of interaction with all kinds of different people. People you really don't like, people you find fantastic. Different viewpoints from different teachers and students. But I know there are a lot of home schooling groups that help to recreate that, as well as doing group projects with other kids. Kids need to learn how to deal in group situations and with different kinds of people. And if you can give that to them as well, they won't be weird.