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Posts Tagged ‘Why Homeschool?’


Another Reason I Homeschool

WARNING! In spite of my attempt to avoid inflammatory language, this will probably offend some people. If so, please think carefully before you post a comment. I just cannot keep silent any longer!

A very near-by school district (not the one I live in) in a small rural midwestern town has drawn national notice once, and very likely will again soon, over an issue with a teacher who was recently fired. He claims the only thing he did was refuse to remove his Bible from his desk. According to the local newspaper, the school board and several letters to the editor claim that he had religious posters and several Bibles in his science classroom, which were used in his class, distributed religious tracts about his particular brand of Christianity, sometimes discussing it in class, burned a “cross” on the arm of at least one student during a science demonstration, “suggested” that the approved science text was wrong, and discriminated against students who did not share his beliefs. In addition, the board of education says he refused to stop doing these things when directed to do so by the superintendent. All of the above are violations of state and/or federal laws. The teacher has filed suit in federal court although the hearing is still ongoing.

Local support for the teacher may not be that large, but it is a vociferous and vehement portion of the local Christian community. Students testifying against him have reportedly been harassed.  At a recent school board meeting, two or three local citizens blamed the board for “wasting” money on their lawyer for the hearing requested by the teacher, under state law.

According to the local newspaper, which reported on the meeting, another citizen condemned the board for allowing “sinful” and “evil” attitudes into the schools by permitting books referring to homosexuality (according to him) in the school libraries.

Another article below this report concerned a court case involving a teen with the same last name as the man concerned about homosexuality (relationship, if any, unknown). It seems this boy has been charged with a hate crime for being part of a group of teens that “tied a noose around the neck” of a Hispanic student and ”dragged him through a parking lot while hurling racial epithets at him.”

Pardon me, but the last time I looked, I didn’t see anything in the Bible encouraging people to break laws, break legal contracts and disobey their employer, infringe on the legal rights of others, attack and humiliate people for standing up for what they believe is right or for being the “wrong” color or nationality, or religion (or lack of religion), or sexual/gender orientation. And anyone whose beliefs require them to do so should be ready to suffer the just consequences of their actions because a civilized society cannot tolerate this.

Just because it often feels like things are falling apart lately, doesn’t give anyone the excuse or the right to enforce their personal beliefs as if they are law and more to be respected than someone else’s. If something is a sin for you, then don’t do it. But don’t force others to accept your definition or belief. If you have a particular faith, then practice it and teach it to your children, but don’t teach it to the children of others with different beliefs. If teaching tolerance in school offends you, then homeschool. I do, partly because I don’t believe enough tolerance is taught and practiced in public schools ( the much-touted “socialization” is too often of the negative type), and because I feel that science and other subjects are “dumbed down” for various reasons, and because I do not feel the schools can best meet my child’s needs.

When hatred and intolerance are sown, violence and mob rule may be reaped unless the rule of law, including freedom of religion and personal civil liberties, is enforced, respected and practiced by the majority of the citizens.

Which attitude do we want our children to learn? They have to be carefully taught to learn to hate those who are different. Please explore and examine your own intolerant beliefs and be absolutely certain they are not based on ignorance, inexperience, or fear before you cast the first stone, and that what you teach your children doesn’t lead to intolerance, hatred and violence, which have a way of backfiring.

See also: http://outofoptions.wordpress.com/2008/06/30/religious-rights/

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Frequently the topic of homeschooling pops up in newspapers, talk shows, blogs, even coffee klatches and get-togethers. The particular slant of the originator’s opinion or purpose very much determines how heated the ensuing discussion will get. Sometimes the discussion arises from political motivations or personal interest disguised as concern for children. Occasionally, it comes up because of a case of child neglect or abuse in which the children are “reported” to have been homeschooled. Note that the same emotional response and bashing do not occur if the children are reported to be public schooled. Sometimes it arises from an apparently honest desire to provide the best education for children and thus strengthen our future in the community, nation, and the world. Once in a while it comes up because a parent is concerned for their child in public school and is exploring alternatives.

No matter where it starts, the same questions always enter in to it at one point or another- how can parents without teaching degrees be qualified to teach their own children; what about socialization – and on and on. Most of the questions are based on either false assumptions about homeschooling, lack of information or misinformation about the history of education, the basic assumptions of the philosophy of public education and of different styles of homeschooling, the success of public schools/homeschool (and how it is measured), the needs of different types of learners and research into how they learn best, the reasons families homeschool, methods of homeschooling, and more. There is also a false belief that schools immerse children in the “real world” (as opposed to life at home and in the community, which is not the real world?) 

To address these issues adequately would take a book, or at least a much longer article. Besides, they have been addressed rather well by many. Do your own Google search.

 Instead, I want to return to my original question, “Why is homeschooling such a hot topic?”  It seems to me that the number one reason is because it initiates such strong emotional responses, the causes of which are seldom recognized. In non-homeschooling adults some of these may be:

1.      Protecting the status-quo: Public school was good enough for me. It is paid for by my taxes. It is the established and accepted norm in our society, whether it works for every student or not. They should just adapt and “suck it up.”

2.      Guilt: Homeschoolers are attacking my choice (or non-choice) to send my children to public school. I love my children, too. There must be something wrong with them, because there is nothing wrong with me.

3.      Fear: I don’t understand the whole idea of homeschooling and doubt my ability to do it, so how can anyone do it? These homeschoolers are just too different! It shouldn’t be allowed! Or: My job depends on the public education system. Homeschoolers threaten my job security or my personal feeling of worth. It shouldn’t be allowed!

4.      Ingrained indoctrination: After having gone through the public school system most of us have swallowed and digested the idea that fitting in to society, accepting and obeying authority and being willing and complacent workers are the greatest goals for every individual. This came from the beginning of widespread public education in the U.S., which was designed to produce good worker bees for the factories. There is no room for truly original thinkers or non-conformists – those with non-traditional behaviors, needs, or goals. In public school, Edison’s mother was told that he could never learn, and sent home.  Thank goodness he had a mother who believed in him and even encouraged his scientific interests.

Having taught in public schools and at the college level, I do not ever suggest that all or even most teachers are in it for selfish reasons. Some obviously like having a sense of power or couldn’t think of another line of work they could go into. But most really believe in what they do and care about the children they teach. Some are very skilled at what they do, some are not. But, like everyone else, they do have a vested interest in defending what they have dedicated themselves to and been trained to accept as the best, if not the only, way to educate children, and that is public education. Just like homeschoolers, they can often find it hard to talk or write dispassionately on the topic of homeschooling. And yet, I have noted an increasing number of former or even current teachers who, like me, choose to homeschool their own children or grandchildren!

Emotion, of course, enters into the argument from the homeschool side, as well. While homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds, we are still in the minority, and minorities can be sensitive and over react when they feel attacked. Unfortunately, we can even be guilty of attacking back. We can be defensive of our ability, motivation, beliefs and success. This is partly because we have a stronger motivation than even the best and most caring classroom teachers to succeed with every single student. This causes us to evaluate and re-evaluate, not our students, but our own methods and ourselves. We seek peer evaluation and suggestions. We examine tons of potential material to see if it is truly the best for our kids. We juggle schedules and activities. We seek medical and psychological evaluations and therapies when needed. We keep records and meet state requirements. We go to conferences and workshops for “in-service” training. We are parents, grandparents, administrators, curriculum designers/choosers, teachers, counselors, therapists, and, oh, by the way, we run a house and sometimes even hold a job. If there is a super mom, she must be a homeschooler!

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