“I don’t see ANY work being done in these pictures! Where are your books? You need to send your kids to school so they can actually learn something!”
“Lol. We approach learning as all-inclusive…we learn from every aspect of life including many things other than book work. Here (in these pictures) you find nature (science), parades (civics/community), and historical monuments (history/geography.) The (stuffed) owl is Mia’s own art project for the week. We believe learning takes place in the kitchen, the backyard, the community, and the world in general in addition to the desk. But, yes, we do traditional “schoolwork” everyday, too. We read and act out bible passages, discuss them, and then we do math, phonics, spelling, and reading. Personally, I observe them learning a lot more by living than they do by being made to sit still and be quiet…then again…don’t we all? Come up and visit us!”
Yes, this is a real conversation I actually had with a keyboard warrior out to discredit the educational choices my family has made for our children. I suppose facebook gives people a kind of boldness wherein they feel that they not only can, but should, tell other people exactly how they ought to live their lives.
After reading a handful of similar sounding responses following Monday’s article in the Herald-Standard on homeschooling, I remember this bizarre personal attack I endured several years ago. It went on with many more insulting, capital letter comments from a lady I was barely even acquainted with, who, by all evidence, felt she had ample right and reason to pass judgement upon my life choices after viewing a photo album of my children playing outside.
I try to be reasonable, folks. Really, I do. I’m not interested in arguing or stirring up strife and I certainly do not know all things. But when I see adults acting like children because they’ve been misinformed by misguided people, I need to at least try and set the record straight. Therefore, if you are at all interested and willing to be better informed on the truth about homeschooling, please, at the very least, stop talking long enough to listen for just a moment.
The unrest coming to the surface is a result of new, less invasive laws concerning what homeschoolers must turn in to their designated school districts.
I understand the concern. Really, I do. What if parents don’t actually teach their children? What do they do all day anyway? What if they have a disadvantage because of a lack of diligence on their parents’ part? What if these unsocialized weirdos never make a friend and become agoraphobic before age six? What if these kids play video games all day and can’t spell the word C-A-T? What if parents hand out 4.0’s and diplomas like candy at the circus? What if they can’t function in “real life?”
Let me put some of these irrational fears to rest with the truth. The truth is that the evaluators (who still must review and sign off on each home school student’s portfolio each year) cannot have “questionable credentials” as incorrectly stated by Mr. Serock in Monday’s article. There is strict, specific criteria that an evaluator must possess in order to be deemed an evaluator. This is what the law states that an evaluator must be:
- “a licensed clinical or school psychologist“
- “a teacher certified by the Commonwealth”
… “The certified teacher shall have experience at the elementary level to evaluate elementary students or at the secondary level to evaluate secondary students.”
- “a nonpublic school teacher or administrator.
Any such nonpublic teacher or administrator shall have at least two years of teaching experience in a Pennsylvania public or nonpublic school within the last ten years. Such nonpublic teacher or administrator shall have the required experience at the elementary level to evaluate elementary students or at the secondary level to evaluate secondary students.”
- “At the request of the supervisor, persons with other qualifications may conduct the evaluation with the prior consent of the district of residence superintendent.”
- “In no event shall the evaluator be the supervisor or their spouse.”Teachers or administrators who evaluate must have the following experience. Licensed clinical or school psychologists, or those who evaluate with the prior consent of the superintendent, need not have this experience.
Anyway, I’m not here to explain the law to anyone who gets paid to know it. I’m here to call attention to the gross inconsistency with which home school antagonists approach this subject.
Let’s forget for just a moment about whether or not our home schooled children are getting a “proper” education or not. Let’s, for argument’s sake, even say they are not. Let’s consider the logic of this conundrum from another angle.
Let’s say these kids really do eat butter all day from isolated cells full of legos and toy guns. Let’s say they are passed through school arbitrarily as illiterate, unmotivated zombies who cannot think for themselves and do not know how to interact or even hold a conversation with other human life forms. Let’s say they are given a diploma without really earning one. Let’s pretend all these vicious rumors really are true.
The truth is, not only will those individuals not excel in life, get a decent job, or be able to actually use that piece of paper for anything beneficial, but *the truth is* that I’ve actually just described at least 50% of public school graduates in reality.
I hear the arguments. What if they’re undereducated? What if they’re unsocial? What if they’re indoctrinated with *your* values and beliefs? What if you don’t really care about your kids and you just want to get them out of hard work?
To that end I simply ask, do you really care? Do. You. Really. Care? Why do you care? Does it matter who “scores higher” on written tests? Do written tests envelope all facets of intelligence, aptitude, and ability? Is that value the value of your child? Does it matter if my child has one friend and yours has ten? Does it matter that my beliefs and core educational focus is different than yours? All people are different. All children are different. Frankly, I don’t care what you teach your children, how many friends they have, or what their test scores are. God did not give them to me, he gave them to you. I’m responsible for my own and you for yours. Nothing the government can or cannot regulate upon me changes my urgency to do the very best I can for them. I realize this is not the case for all home schoolers, however, it is not the case with all public schoolers either. Kids with concerned, invested parents usually excel and kids without usually digress. Laws cannot fix what family lacks. I am not perfect. I try my best and sometimes I definitely fail. I fall flat on my face and I miss the mark more than most. And so does every other parent regardless of how they choose to educate their children. Can we just be that honest? The sum total of my child’s education is not dependent on me, as the home school teacher, and it is not dependent solely upon public school teachers for those students either. My job is to create interest and a love of learning, not fill a bucket with trivial knowledge so my child can win Jeopardy by the tenth grade.
Are there any public school kids who come out undereducated? Does that mean they all are? Or do many factors contribute? Are any unsociable? Are they being indoctrinated by a system of values and beliefs? Yes. Yes, they are, folks. But the truth, well, the truth is that it’s not my place to lecture their parents solely based on the fact that I choose to live my life differently. I’m certainly not going to discredit their choices and deem those parents wrong and ridiculous because I chose something else for my kin. Those aren’t my children and therefore, that’s not my call. All I’m asking is for the same kind of tolerance and respect for my choices and the choices of my fellow home school friends. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
If you are unsure about home school or the new laws and have questions, I’d be happy to answer concerns. You can reach me at email@example.com