Those who follow me on Facebook may have noticed that I recently shared a Wired article by Jason Tanz about techie homeschool families in Silicon Valley. While I didn’t agree with everything Mr. Tanz wrote, I appreciated the way his interviewees responded to questions about homeschooling. Much of the reasonings and rationale behind my decision to homeschool was similar to that of a mother featured in his article.
Today I read an article written in response to that first article I shared on Facebook. Coincidentally, the response article was also published on Wired, this time by a Marcus Wohlsen. Mr. Wohlsen’s take on homeschooling is very simple, it boils down to this: homeschoolers are wrong for pulling their children out of the broken public school system rather than taking the time to try and fix the system for everyone’s children.
I have to say that this is just the single most ridiculous argument against homeschooling that I have ever heard. Worse even than the people who question socialization and how parents who aren’t trained teachers can be qualified to teach their children.
Parents as individuals being responsible for a national system of education. Parents working against the policies and laws which are now crippling even the best public school teachers.
Something about putting every child in the nation as a whole above the well-being of our own individual children feels a little too akin to socialism to me. And who is to say that throwing our own children under the bus would even help the other children in the public school system? Personally, I believe that homeschooling is GOOD for public school education. And here is why:
1- Homeschoolers with special needs are less likely to take away resources from public school children with special needs.
2- Homeschool children can be a positive influence on their public school friends.
3- Homeschool graduates can enter and positively effect the public education system for the next generation of children.
I’ll break it down a little further for you.
Homeschoolers with special needs are less likely to take away resources from public school children with special needs.
Not all homeschoolers have special needs however this is a big deal for the ones that do. To put it lightly, our public school education system is strained. There isn’t enough money to go around, which means there is a lack of tools and a lack of trained professionals to help out those children who need extra help. Whether we are talking about a child who is advanced, or a child who falling behind the rest of their class, or a child who simply needs a little extra one-on-one to stay on track with the group.
And while some homeschoolers do seek out district resources when they need an occupational therapist (for example), most find ways of meeting their needs separate from the public school system, putting less strain on the system and leaving more resources available for the public school students who need them.
Homeschool children can be a positive influence on their public school friends.
Many of my children’s neighborhood friends are public school students. They come to our home and they are surrounded by books and hands-on science equipment and an overall atmosphere that encourages their natural curiosity and internal drive to learn. We live a life-style of learning and that is a positive thing for a child to be exposed to, especially a child who lives in an under-preforming school district.
Most homeschoolers live a life-style of learning. We find ourselves working math and geography into our day to day conversations. We encourage questions. Its pretty typical of homeschoolers to encourage children to think for themselves rather than accept what others tell them.
Homeschool graduates can enter and positively effect the public education system for the next generation of children.
It took decades for our public education system to reach the state it is currently in, and we are not going to fix it any faster than it took to screw it up in the first place. We need to be thinking long term approach.
The children who are homeschooled now may be the teachers and policy makers of the future. Even if they aren’t, they will be better able to lobby policy makers for change than we currently are. Right now we are working on theory. Sure, all the statistics show that homeschoolers out-preform their public school counterparts. (And I have linked to some handy-dandy infographics in that last sentence if you’d like to see those statistics.) Sure, we all know that foreign public schools, which do things differently, are out-preforming American public schools. But the numbers aren’t big enough yet. Homeschoolers are still the minority and tales of successful homeschool graduates are still seen by the general public as a “rarity.”
The policy makers in this country are heading down the wrong path. I believe the phrase is working harder, not working smarter. However, more children are homeschooled now than have been in decades. When the children currently being homeschooled graduate and go on to become productive members of our society, the proof will be in the pudding. The more successful homeschool graduates there are, the louder their voice can be when they speak out about harmful education policies in our country.