Thursday, July 24, 2014
The Truth About Homeschooling: A Response to Ignorance, part 1
I just read an article where a man (Matt Walsh, by name) is given what he calls "The Two Absolutely Worst Arguments Against Homeschooling" and defends Homeschooling against them. Reading through the letter that Mr. Walsh received, I recognized two of some of the most predictable and clichéd arguments against Homeschooling and expected an almost ritualistic debunking. As Homeschooling Alumni, I was not disappointed. There was even some sarcastic humor involved. However, I was disappointed that Mr. Walsh failed to point out what I consider to be a few of the biggest flaws in this man's argument.
In the email Mr. Walsh received, the writer says this:
1. The flaws in our public school system have to do with PARENTS. Parents send their kids to school and think their job is done, instead of being involved in their child's education. How can the system ever improve if the involved parents pull out and do their own thing? We have a responsibility not just to our own family but to our community. Homeschool parents hurt their communities when they isolate themselves and remove their children from our academic institutions. If we don't help the system, the system will not work.
While Mr. Walsh goes on to answer this writer's accusations with how he actually doesn't think all public school teachers are the devil, and challenges the writer to come up with some solid research to support his claim (which the writer obviously doesn't do), and says that actually parents SHOULD be making decisions for the wellbeing of their family (whether or not that means homeschooling their children or putting them in a public school environment) and not just making decisions for the community or "the system" as the writer says they should (which I agree with), Mr. Walsh never actually tackles the accusations brought against Homeschooling parents. Instead he goes on to point out the flaws permeating the public system, but to me, attacking an enemy's flaws without setting up a solid defense to protect what the enemy is attacking is not only strategically unwise, but almost childish. Sadly, it is still a common reaction that comes with human nature; sort of a "he hit me so I'm going to hit him back" type thing. And in the moment, with emotions high and the "righteous anger" flowing hot, people often dive right in before seriously thinking about their responses. As a result, people often make fools of themselves.
(Not that I'm calling Mr. Walsh a fool by any means... in fact, his article was interesting to read and thought provoking. And maybe even a little fun, as I watched the old Anti-Homeschooling arguments get debunked once more. ;) Also, I do not think myself exempt of human nature, and therefore admit to often making a fool of myself while high on emotions and righteous anger.)
Bear with me here, friends. This writer who is coming AGAINST homeschooling, blames the parents for the public system's failure when he says that they send their kids to school and think their job is done instead of being involved in their child's education.
And so follows my corrective response to this obviously ignorant writer. (My response is not meant to be objective of Mr. Walsh's comments, but rather to compliment them.)
Well, sir, might I point out to you that "being involved in their child's education" is EXACTLY what a homeschooling parent is doing??? And as you undoubtedly know, having worked in "the system" for so long, being involved in any child's education, be it one child or several children, or even 40 of them, is quite the task. Many homeschooling parents end up being stay at home parents while their spouses work to support the family financially. In today's society, this can put a serious strain on family relationships because of the economic situation in America which requires higher and higher income rates in order for families to survive as a unit. Because of the economic situation, many families require both parents to work full time in order to bring in a high enough income to support their spouses and their children. For this reason, you can hardly blame parents with children in the public school system for not being heavily involved in their children's schooling, and I would think you would at least appreciate the efforts and sacrifices that Homeschooling parents are making to be involved in the education and bringing up of their young.
Besides that, most homeschooling families that I have met have at least 3 children of varying ages all being taught at their own grade-level. In fact, homeschooling has taken the "one-room school house" to a whole new level. Teachers in the public systems may have to worry about the education of 40 kids at a time (which I realize is no small feat, and therefore should be commended), but usually only the middle-school teachers have to worry about teaching 40 kids multiple subjects, and let's face it, these subjects have been toned down to a middle-school level... a level which any teacher is likely to have already mastered. In a public High School, students start taking multiple classes much like they will eventually do in college. Each class is taught by a teacher who has mastered the one subject the class revolves around. Students jump from class to class interacting with different teachers, all of whom teach different singular subjects. It is very likely that some of these teachers may under-appreciate, undervalue, and possibly even extremely dislike certain students, while at the same time favoring others. Also, one cannot assume that all students learn alike. Many public school students think differently and learn differently than other students do. These students may struggle in school, and while some of them are given the help they need and encouraged to do better, other cases are not even realized.
In a Homeschooling setting, the Homeschooling parent is usually faced with the responsibility of educating at least one, if not three or more children of varying ages, grades, different ways of thinking and learning, and/or possible learning disorders. This parent is responsible for teaching each child all of the subjects in his or her respective grade, which means that each parent must either have mastered all levels of the subjects to be taught, must teach themselves the differing levels of the subjects taught, or must teach their children the differing levels of the subjects taught while also learning the subjects along with them. Yes, this gives the parent a stronger hand in the child's upbringing; it is essentially accomplishing exactly what you say parents should be doing, which is taking an active interest in their child's upbringing and education. And while public school teachers get to go home at the end of the day, (perhaps going back to a family of their own with its own problems, but STILL getting a break from the many kids they have to chaperon on a daily basis), Homeschooling parents very rarely get a break from the lovable hooligans that make up the focus of their lives.
So, dear sir, at least in one respect you are right; you say that homeschooling parents don't care about the system and they don't. Why should a homeschooling parent care about the system? Their main concern at this point in time is the education and the development of their child, and they are seeing to that personally. If, as a parent, your main concern is the welfare, education, and upbringing of your child so that he or she might learn and grow to reach their full potential in being completely themselves while also becoming a respectable, respected and important member of the community and society – and if, in order to obtain these objectives, you decide to take your child's education and upbringing into your own, already too-busy hands – then tell me, why should you make it your business to be concerned with a system that has proven itself over and over again to be rather dysfunctional? To me, this line of thinking makes no sense at all. In fact, in light of all that a homeschooling parent is required to do and give up in order to bring out the best in their child, I would think you should be commending homeschooling parents for their future gift to society, not condemning them for their lack of interest in a system that has incessantly proven itself faulty.
Later, my dear friends, I will address the second point in the writer's letter to Mr. Walsh. In the meantime, please tell me your thoughts on the matter. J I would love to hear from you.
God Bless, from the proud receiver of a homeschool education,