I have much respect for parents who take matters into their own hands in an effort to protect their child. But when it comes to home-schooling, I’m worried about the big picture.
The “big picture” appears to consist of three main points:
- I could never homeschool because he’d have to put up with me all day.
- I don’t think I’m qualified. Teachers are paid professionals.
- He would never forgive me.
Number three is a decent argument and although I am a passionate homeschool advocate, I’d never tell anyone they had to homeschool. Still, the basic premise of these first arguments is “because I don’t think homeschooling is for us, it isn’t for anyone.”
Then there are the “fear-based reasons.”
- School-budget cuts.
- Bad influences.
- Insufficient education.
These don’t seem like fear-based reasons to me. When a child is struggling in school, be it academically or socially, and programs they need to be successful are being cut, it is a parent’s right and duty to look out for the interests of their children. That certainly does not always mean homeschooling. There are a number of ways parents can become more involved in their local schools, many of which Amy lists. But they do not always work.
Perhaps I should defer to someone who has chosen to homeschool for these very reasons. Our decision was not based on the public schools and frankly I’d continue to homeschool even if the public schools had no problems…or if we could afford private school. I homeschool because of what I believe about education: namely that it involves the entire upbringing of a child, not some artificially segmented part of a child’s day. Life and learning should be integrated and children should have the opportunity to become active members of their communities, not passive observers stuck in a classroom.
This is where some of Amy’s concerns seem based in ignorance. And I do not mean that in a negative way. I had similar thoughts about homeschooling before I started. I didn’t have enough contact with homeschoolers to form a valid framework for my thoughts about homeschooling. Thus comes the question:
How can a home-schooled child have compassion for his community when he isn’t part of it?
That’s the thing–he is part of it. My children experience community by playing catch in the backyard. By participating in programs at the Y. By going along with me to doctor’s appointments and on errands where they get to know our “community helpers” through frequent and informal contact rather than through a lesson delivered in kindergarten. By stopping on the way home to watch the firemen wash their truck. By volunteering. By participating in community programs and events.
In short, the homeschooled child has a unique opportunity to truly be a part of their community rather than passively learn about their community. Schools have often been viewed as “learning communities.” But we, too, are part of a learning community.
One that extends beyond age ranges and grade levels. To me, that is the bigger picture.