Why I like the idea of homeschooling (!)

Often when anyone says they’d like to homeschool their kids, their interlocutor thinks: “Oh, dear dear, she’s afraid of the world. She thinks her kids will be corrupted by the world if she sends them to school, so locking them up in the compound is the best way to preserve the purity of their souls. Bless her. And maybe we should call child protection.”

Of course the evil, is not “out there” it’s within. “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean’.” That’s what Jesus says in Matthew, chapter 15. Pogo says he’s seen the enemy and the enemy is us.

That said, I admit I’ve been a little freaked out by the sexualization of children in our culture that has happened over the last, say, 15 years. However, I don’t think homeschooling children will shield them from that. A neighbourhood kid could just as easily show a child pornography on a smart phone, for example. Taking sensible, prudent measures like talking to your kids (in a child appropriate way) about the issues, installing childsafe software on devices, and captivating their minds and hearts with higher, nobler, better things. (c.f, Odysseus and the sirens)

The real reasons I like the idea of homeschooling is that I think schools are just so inefficient. They must, by virtue of their enrolment, cater for a diversity of development. Most schools don’t stream, so teachers have to teach at a level that suits the majority of the students. The problem goes further that that, though; right into the curriculum.

I learnt calculus in grade 10 (I think) and remember thinking that we should have been taught it at least 3 years earlier. Most of English was exceedingly dull “compression” exercises, a.k.a copying out passages from a text. What a waste of the spongy, supple brains children and teenagers have! Think of all the disciplines that children, once captivated, could learn so easily; higher level maths, formal logic, reasoning skills, programming, coding, grammar, punctuation, rhetoric, philosophy, music theory, art technique theory.

Please don’t think I’m having a go at teachers. There are many excellent teachers, who do a great job, but are often constrained by their curriculum and as I said before, the spread and range of the classroom. Private schools do afford more freedom, though, and props to a certain art teacher friend of mine who is teaching the traditional oil painting style of the Masters to her students. Shhh, don’t tell the establishment. 😉

There teachers, though, who are just paying the mortgage, and weren’t sure what to do after graduating from Arts (liberal, for the Americans). While I had a few great teachers, I did have to suffer under the latter sort. They made me mentally separate “learning” and “school”. I suppose the silver lining is that I became (and continue to be) an extracurricular learning. Actually, I lie. My mother is responsible for this, as a wonderful example of homeschooling happening alongside (and prior to) conventional school. She instilled in me the love of reading and learning. Thanks mum.

So why not just skip the school bit and get straight to the learning bit? Well, some argue, you don’t get adequate socialisation at homeschool. Other arguments against homeschool include: one parent would have to give up their job to be a home educator and you wouldn’t be able to teach your kids ALL the things.

Before I answer these objections, can I just say, I don’t think homeschool is the only way nor do I think it’s even the best way. I don’t think crazy religious nutty things like sending your kids to school is sinful. I reckon parents should do what is best for their child. If you have a high needs child, then maybe a supportive private school is right for them.

Regarding adequate socialisation, if you’re not isolated and have lots of supportive networks in place, then your kids can make friends with and learn to relate to a variety of people, without school. They can make friends with other children at drama class or sports groups or whatever group the kid is interested in. Keep them away from homeschooling conventions, though, you want to preserve the purity of their souls. 😉

Regarding the limits of a parents knowledge: thankfully we live in the age of educational videos, like TED Ed or whatever else you want to learn about. BBQ! Logarithms! Fashion! Russian literature! German! How to do ballet! Also, if you had a friend who spoke another language you could pay them to tutor your child. With my background in philosophy, I would be able to help our child to think and be critical about the plethora of information and misinformation available.

Regarding sacrificing income: as I said before, as homeschooling is more efficient than conventional schooling, you can do it I half the time. So the parent could work part time or from home. This would of course rely on a flexible employer or the luxury of working from home. Like I said though, homeschooling is most certainly not for everyone!

I think the most compelling reason for me personally is that you get to be involved in such an important and vital part of a child’s life at such (IMO) a delightful age.

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5 comments

  1. Marion · · Reply

    This has to be the best article on homeschooling I have read.

  2. I find it interesting that many people have strong opinions on education and schooling, but usually it is heavily based in their own experience of education and not actually addressing where education is at the moment. But before I get into that, I will say this; I totally agree with you in one area. I strongly believe that all parents should as much as they can supplement, build on, extend and enrich a child’s education experience. So if a child is at school, then there is no reason why a parent cannot build on what they learn at that school. Lucy goes to school one day a week, but that hasn’t stopped us teaching her to read, write, draw, cook etc.

    Now to the education stuff. I often wish that I could’ve had the International Baccalaureate experience that I am now involved in teaching. I wish you could’ve had this as well. I really think it would change the way you view education. It is a curriculum that is all about fostering the things you mentioned in your list. It’s all about building thinking skills like creativity, analysis, reasoning skills, metacognition, reflection, etc. And it’s rigorous! I know I am knew to teaching, but after what I have learned through teaching in this curriculum I really wouldn’t want to settle for anything less then the excellence that is the IB for my kids. I am a teacher and I think I would do my kids a disservice if I chose to homeschool them. But I am confident that I could further enrich the educational experience they will have through school, in the same way mum and dad did for us.

    I think homeschooling falls down in that it does not provide an opportunity to work with unfamiliar peers in group work settings, it doesn’t present students with uncomfortable situations to learn the skills of getting out of and it doesn’t give students an opportunity to engage with a wide variety of educators. It’s also harder for them to connect into public speaking, performance and orchestra/band related activities. I know, theoretically these things can be met in a homeschooling context, but it is harder to organise.

    I challenge anyone to consider an IB school as a viable option before they totally settle on homeschooling.

  3. Emily · · Reply

    So, will you homeschool your kids then?

  4. Richard · · Reply

    @Seth “I think homeschooling falls down in that it does not provide an opportunity to work with unfamiliar peers in group work settings”

    That situation only occurs if you don’t get together with other homeschooling kids or other school kids. Our kids joined with 50 others at homeschool sports gatherings and conventions. Wasn’t a problem

  5. Em, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. 🙂

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