David Black recently sent me some interesting points on my welcome page in opposition to (unschooling?) homeschooling. I thought I would make my response into this post since other homeschoolers or potential homeschoolers may have to answer similar questions. It’s obvious he has serious objections to homeschooling and feels state public schooling should be the only option. Here’s what I have to say. My responses are indented.
I’m curious to know how many DIY schoolers here have earned their state certifications to instruct students?
Great question! Unfortunately, I don’t know. State requirements for certification vary. My certification is from a private school, not the state. I haven’t checked to see what needs to be done to have it recognized by the state yet.
I’m of the theory that most, if not all, so-called “unschoolers” aren’t simply malcontents who feel their destinies are out of their control, so by taking advantage of a few laws, they seize the control they think they have lost to traditional k-12 institutions.
A few different points here. First, Unschooling is just one form of homeschooling. It’s where the child’s interests rather than a preset curriculum guide what the child is to learn. I think you are trying to lump all different forms of homeschooling as unstructured radical unschooling which may be part of your confusion. I have a few similar concerns about families who do radical unschooling. However, that is only one form of homeschooling. Most families who homeschool have some sort of structure and routine (myself included).
What sort of experience and interaction have you had with unschoolers or homeschoolers? Are you making this broad judgment by observations of only a few families? Just as it is wrong to assume all public schools are failures based upon a few high profile problems, it is equally unfair to judge thousands of individual families based upon a few isolated cases. This is what happened in California. That was wrong and the court has reversed it’s decision and recognized this mistake. Both need to be judged on a case by case individual basis.
While many people do start homeschooling because of discontent with the public schools, that is not our primary reason. See my page on homeschooling for my many detailed reasons we chose to homeschool.
One other thing to consider. What about high school students who voluntarily leave school to homeschool? I don’t mean dropout of school exactly. Just quit traditional public school to homeschool because they don’t feel they are getting a good education? They feel they are better off teaching themselves (either directly or through supervised independent learning courses) then staying public high school.
I am of the opinion that if you aren’t certified, then you have no ethical business trying to teach your child the school or district mandated curriculum at home.
Being certified or not does not automatically guarantee success as a teacher. Certification just means you have been instructed in teaching method theory and have a basic knowledge of the material to be taught. There are many excellent private school teachers that aren’t state certified and many public school teachers which are certified that really shouldn’t be teaching. No, certification doesn’t necessarily mean competency in teaching.
I don’t want to be limited to teaching the local district curriculum. I teach a curriculum tailored to my kids interests and learning styles that meets my district’s (which isn’t the local district) performance levels for each subject. I have a district representative who agrees to my decisions and monitors our progress.
It’s ironic that my representative for the district is the same woman who was my supervisor when I interned at public school. She left classroom teaching to advise homeschoolers and now also homeschools her kids. Our kids will have to pass the same state high school exit exam as their public school peers in order to be given a diploma.
Disagreement over district curriculum (for whatever reason) is one of the more popular reasons people start to homeschool. One of the great things about homeschooling is curriculum customization. If part of the curriculum you originally chose just isn’t working, then you are free to switch. You can’t do that in public schools. Public schools teach to the median children. If your kids need more time (either because they are really interested or having difficulty) in public schools, that’s too bad. The teacher can make recommendations for tutors or assign extra work but the class must move on. In homeschool, you can take as little or as much time as needed.
What if I read a few medical textbooks and declare myself a medical doctor? Should that be permitted to treat my own children?
YES, if you can prove you’re competent. Homeschoolers pass SAT and ACT exams with equal or higher scores than their public school peers. Homeschooling success depends more upon the learning materials and opportunities they are given than who instructs them. I’m not trying to underplay the importance of the teacher, but if quality curriculum is used, then almost anyone who has enough patience and cares about the success of the kids can teach.
Another thing to think about. If you’ve ever had to explain how to do a homework problem, then you’ve taught a student. Should you have to call a certified teacher in order to do this?
An autodidactic’s folly is to presume their expert status without formal training and certification. They are assuaging unchecked egos that believe they can do better than someone else. meanwhile, their kids suffer from lack of real structure, order, and discipline, all of which will be expected of them when they grow up and leave the nest.
I’ll admit, I had to look up “autodidactic” in the dictionary. For everyone else unsure or clueless about the meaning, it’s a self-taught person.
Yes, it’s presumptuous to assume you know everything. That is true of anyone. However, it is also folly, to assume just because someone doesn’t have a formal title or degree they are untrained or unqualified. It doesn’t matter so much how you know something as what you know. My husband is often consulted as an expert in coal boilers yet he has no formal training in boilers. It is all self-taught. Even qualified experts call him for help because he has the most hands-on experience with these systems.
This sounds like a twist on the old homeschoolers aren’t socialized argument. Homeschoolers in general that I’ve observed are better socially mannered than their public school peers. They are less given to peer pressure and more likely to make responsible decisions. I’m always getting compliments on how nice manners my kids have. Sure, kids learn to play in public schools, just not playing nicely.
Tell me what profession will allow its employees to work at their own pace and on their own schedule.
Many jobs give employees a goal or project and a completion date then the employee is left alone to complete the work. This is similar to how many homeschools are run. The student is given a task and instruction then given time to complete it. They aren’t totally unstructured. Students learn time management and goal setting in this manner. It’s not the quantity of time that matters when learning new material, but rather the quality of time. What difference does it make if he needs 2o minutes or 2 hours to learn column addition? Everyone learns at their own pace, which is how homeschools
Part of formal education is to prep you for real life. Staying at home with mom or dad playing make believe is not prepping a child for real life. It’s setting them up for real failure.
My husband was homeschooled then went on to earn 2 university degrees: geology and biology.
And having only same age peers to interact with all day like in a typical classroom setting isn’t natural. Where else in life are you restricted to being only with other people who are exactly the same age as you? Homeschoolers interact with people of various ages.
What a pity more of you don’t see that. You read some research that tells you exactly what you want to hear that you conclude that all education is rotten.
Not true. It would appear you have the same but opposite bias. I’m not trying to point fingers but want to take a moment to point out that there isn’t any one approach or method that works for everyone because everyone has their own learning style and unique needs. Homeschooled education is only one of many options for education. Families should look at all options based upon their individual situation and location then decide which would be best for their kids. There are successes and failures in each one. Homeschooling just fits my family situation best. It’s not for everyone. Again, see my page about why we homeschool for more details.
You’ve failed to learn that a modern education must be a partnership between a school and its parents.
That is a myth. That is only one interpretation of what schooling is. And how much more of a partnership can there be between school and parents if the parents are the school? Yes, in a utopia public school there would be a perfect cooperation between home and school, but that just isn’t reality for many schools or families. Tragically it is the kids who loose because of it. Our nation’s high drop out rate and poor performance record or many graduates is a testament to how many schools have failed our nation’s kids.
Clearly, the fact that you bailed proves that you did not fulfill your part of the commitment. You expected your school to do everything for your child.
Interesting. The ironic thing is that most homeschoolers still pay school tax but recieve no benefits from their money. In addition, they spend their own money to buy educational curriculum and materials that best suit their kids. They don’t expect anything from their district.
As for me, I’m homeschooling in cooperation with a school district which became in 2001 the only district in the nation to ever win the Baldridge Award for Excellence. To quote from the district website:
“It has received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s premier award for performance excellence and quality achievement. With 30 faculty and staff, Chugach School District (CSD) is the smallest organization to win this award. In addition, it is one of the first-ever winners in the education category. Chugach’s 214 students are scattered throughout 22,000 square miles of mostly isolated and remote areas of South Central Alaska accessible only by air and water. Half of the students are Native Alaskans.”
How many traditional public schools can say that? I’m proud to be part of this innovative school district’s home extension service. You can find out more about the district on their website http://www.chugachschools.com/index.html