Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Summer is just about over.  
I love fall, but I just do not feel ready for it yet. 
Pumpkins, sweatshirts, apple picking, blog makeovers, back to school...

Tomorrow, our lives once again take on a new direction.
We are officially beginning our homeschooling adventure.
As with any major decision in life, we are filled with a mixture of excitement and anxiety.

I came across this "article", the other day.  It is rather lengthy, but worth the read.  (I thought so anyway).  I'm going to jump in a few paragraphs.
It is called, "What is Home Schooling Anyway?"
Chapter 12 in The Big Book of Home Learning by Mary Pride 

Before you begin, just a little disclaimer.  While I think that there are many valid points, I am not trying to influence anyone one way or another.  It is not directed at anyone in particular.  Nor do I think every public or private school is "bad." I know and love many public/private school teachers (I was one myself!)  This book is somewhat dated, but still relevant in many areas. When educating our children, it is best to be informed on all facets of the subject. This is just a perspective to join many others.

"All throughout human history, children have been educated at home.  Virtually none of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had formal schooling.  Thomas Edison was taught at home (the school said he was 'addled' and his mother disagreed).  Until compulsory attendance laws were passed, which is a fairly recent development in our history, children were normally taught to read at home before attending school, and many well-educated people never went to school at all.

As, I said, home schooling is nothing new.  What is new is the mass movement out of public school and back to private education, including home-based private education--e.g. home school.  These are your three choices:  public school, private school, and home school.

This section is not about what is wrong with public education.  Heck, you know what's wrong with public education!  Any contestant on 'Family Feud' could quickly list Ten Things That Appall Me About Public School:  crime, drugs, illiteracy, lack of discipline, plummeting standards, lack of respect for authority. . . You see how easy it is?  The question is not so much, 'What is wrong with the public schools?' as, 'What should we do about it?'  

Most people, while agreeing in principle that the public schools are not what they should be, are quite pleased with their particular public school.   After all, with $4,000 per year per child ($7,000 in the city of Boston), you get football fields and trampolines and art rooms and video players and a lot of other impressive stuff.  You also get hundreds of nice people employed by the school, some of whom you know personally, such as your children's teachers.  It's hard to admit that all that money and all that effort are not necessarily producing the best results--especially when you get free baby-sitting for your five-and-ups thrown in!

Public education has so captured the Western mind that most of us can't even conceive of a world without it.  We'd rather live with millions of illiterate graduates, a shocking dropout rate, kids who can't communicate with anyone but their agemates, textbooks that deride traditional values, and so on, than admit that all that money and all those buildings can't and won't solve the problems, and in fact may be creating the problems.  Schools, for example, are not the prime marketplace of drugs in the nation.  Schools are training children to get pregnant (because sex is just for fun and not for marriage) and then sending them off for abortions when they put their sex ed lessons into practice.  Schools are fostering racism by misguidedly teaching kids to focus on whether they are black or white or Asian or Hispanic, rather than stressing our common heritage and opportunities.

This is what is bound to happen when education is centralized.  Smart people will notice that they have a golden opportunity to build up their faction if they can only be the ones who control what the children are taught.  Inevitably, education becomes a political battleground, with each side striving to control the curriculum, the training of teachers, and the textbooks.  Learning has to take a back seat to all this.  So now we have Nuclear War Studies, Women's Studies, Black Studies, Hispanic Studies, instruction in how to hotline your parents, condom education, New Age 'thinking skills,' World Peace studies, and a whole host of other stuff eating up the curriculum.  This is exactly what we should have expected.

Many people see the problems public school bureaucrats have brought upon themselves and, with virtuous zeal, are crusading to 'reform the schools.'  I have never considered this an option, for the following reasons:

1) As a Bible-believing Christian I do not believe that education is a function God has granted to the government.  We have never needed public schools, and we don't need them now.
2) As an American citizen I do not believe that bureaucrats have the right to force their values on other people's children.  The Bible says we can try to persuade others 'with gentleness and respect.'  Civil government may punish evildoers for their crimes, but under God it has no right to prevent parents from passing on their morals and beliefs, whether Christian or non-Christian, to their children.  This does not mean that public schools, as long as they exist, should outlaw voluntary Bible reading and prayer.  It does mean that school should not be a vehicle of compulsory religious indoctrination.  Which it is.
3) As a very concerned mother, I am not about to make my children into guinea pigs for my, or anyone else's, social experiments.  Nor am I going to send my six-year-old out into the public school as a 'witness' when adult Christian public-school teachers refuse to talk about Jesus during or even after school hours.  If the grown-up Christians in the public schools can be intimidated into not reading their Bibles silently on school property or having a Bible study with other teachers, why should I expect my children to pick up the load that the adults are refusing?
4)  As an educator of some nine years' home experience, I do not think the public schools can even come close to the education Bill and I can offer our children at home.  How  many government schools teach Latin to elementary-age children, or give them oil-painting lessons, or have six-year-olds reading Macbeth?  We and our friends have done all of these at home!

I just can't see the point of making our children study the same subjects over and over again for years at a time when they could be learning important and interesting things right now.  Why should they have to wait for high school to take drafting, or college to learn electrical engineering?

School is, after all, supposed to be where you go to get educated.  The fact that so many of us think first about 'socialization' and only later about education just proves how successful the educrats have been at redirecting us away from the basic purpose of school.  Not that the results of public school socialization are all that great.  The jails are filled with people who had ten or more years of public school socialization!

Public school does have one big advantage.  It is 'free.'  I put that in quotes, because there are hidden costs.  I'm not talking just about the increasing number of fees, though those can add up to hundreds of dollars nowadays.  The truly big advantage of public school is how it is supposed to free up the parents' time.  Take your kid to school and you can have the house to yourself for the next six hours; or you can enroll him in the latchkey kids program and take a full-time job without worrying.  Where else can you get free all-day baby-sitting, and even feel good about what a fine parent you are being to put your children there?

But the mother who drops her child off at kindergarten with a sigh of relief, secure in the thought she can trust the teacher to do all the teaching, will find that the game is not played that way these days.

Parents are supposed to be 'partners' with teachers, meaning that if the kids don't learn it's the parents' fault for not teaching them at home.

Parents are supposed to make sure kids do their homework, drill them on their studies, provide all the extra educational opportunities the teacher recommends, and bake cookies for the PTA.  Parents are supposed to prepare children for reading by reading to them extensively; help them succeed in school by driving them back and forth to the library; surround them with educational tools like globes and atlases; and even (if you take those little home hand-out papers seriously) give them 'experiences' in weighing and measuring in your kitchen.

Then there's carpooling, volunteering as a classroom aide, helping in fund-raising drives, attending Parents Night, boosting the sports teams, etc.

If you don't do all this you are considered a lousy parent with no interest in your child's education.

If you do do all this, you might as well be home schooling!"

Yikes!  I know that was a lot to read.  And obviously she is biased one way.  But even so, some valid points, don't you think?  The "article" does continue with a bit about private schools and a brief plug for home schooling. 
Home schooling is the ONLY option in her opinion. 
We're ready to give it a go for this year..but who knows, it may not be right for our family.  Or we could love it and continue through high school or maybe we'll home school for a few years and then head to another institution of learning--right now, we are flexible.

What are your thoughts?

Happy Back-to-School!!

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