Sunday, August 29, 2010

Latest Thoughts on School

I recently found an ongoing series by Andrew O'Hehir on Salon discussing homeschooling (part four, with links to one through three, here).

I'm always interested in this topic, and followed this series with special note since the author and his wife (who does the main work of teaching and has a blog, DIY Kindergarten, with an intriguing ancient-world-focused curriculum she put together for their twin children), are homeschooling for reasons I personally might be tempted to do it, if I had any children.

That is, more out of a feeling that it's probably nice for kids to have a lot of time to run around and be kids before getting buttoned into the full-day, work-centered life of sitting quietly and doing what you're told, than out of a feeling that the public school system is a wretched hive of scum, villainy and evolution.

In fact, my concern for my own hypothetical offspring is that the public school system is not nearly villainous enough. If kids aren't learning to smuggle things in spaceships, shoot Greedo first, and discuss finch bills and blind watchmakers right from the get-go, they're going to be completely lost when they get out into the real world, and I have no use for an 'education' that doesn't cover such basic details.

I was homeschooled myself, and it worked out OK for me, so I'm generally in favor of it in theory, although I'm also strongly in favor of public schools.

Because the thing about homeschooling is, it takes a lot of time, and at least one parent (assuming a two-parent family, which is another thing) kind of has to be home to school. At various points in my childhood, either one or both of my parents was around all the time, and that was fine for us, but it wouldn't necessarily work that well in situations where, say, there's only one parent available, or both parents need to have jobs to make money to exchange for goods and services such as food and housing.

Another situation in which it might not work that well is if someone has a job that they happen to like, and they don't necessarily think they would find optimum personal fulfillment staying home all the time schooling children. Some people have reasons for not becoming schoolteachers, after all.

So I'm totally into homeschooling, if it works for people who want to do it, and certainly not into saying it's a freakish and horrible choice that will result in terrifyingly maladjusted weirdo children who grow into wild-eyed, dawn-loathing, socially misfit adults (seriously, you can't judge all homeschoolers by me!).

On the other hand, I'm totally not into getting all evangelical about it and saying that if you truly care for your child's future you'll obviously homeschool even if you would really rather have a job, or don't really see a practicable way to not have a job.

Welcome to the middle of the road. Walk here with me, won't you?


No comments: