I just read something that is so apropos to what I have been trying to express about our choices and how they come across to people–how so often when we choose different things for our children, things end up in conflict. From the blog “Mannkind Perspectives, a reference to the Federalist Papers regarding people who stand on opposite sides of an issue:
“So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question. Were there not even these inducements to moderation, nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.”
Just something to think about courtesy of Mr. Alexander Hamilton! Here are three more reasons why I chose home education, in no particular order of importance….
Reason #4: My Own Personal Love of Learning and Experience in Public School
I love learning, and I loved public school, because I am a voracious reader and can memorize things very easily (well, I used to be able to–not so much anymore). I instinctively understood how to get an A on just about everything, so school was fun to me. But, I did not have time to learn. I was always so busy doing homework when I wanted to be learning more.
The reality of choosing home education is that we have the freedom that government mandated education/private schools do not have–we have plenty of teachers per student, ample classroom space, healthy lunches, high quality textbooks, and a safe environment–all without spending thousands on each student and without having to answer to political or other forces.
We don’t have to mandate that each and every child learn to tell time at a certain age because we feel like we will lose funding. Instead, we have created a place that invites the student to engage in the learning process because it is truly appealing and freeing without any other factors involved.
I remember long ago I had a visiting teacher who majored in elementary education and thought I was doing my children a horrible disservice by homeschooling. Every month she would bring manipulatives and crafts and worksheets and other things that she thought would “help the children.” She was very disapproving of my decision, in fact, I think she thought it was borderline neglect. When her own children began their public education, she volunteered to be in the classroom and gave the teachers pointers on things they could do that might improve the children’s education.
The teachers would constantly tell her in frustration, “We aren’t allowed to do that. We aren’t allowed to do that, either. We have to do this and this and this. Our hands are tied.”
That woman who thought so poorly of me back then is now homeschooling her own children, not because she thinks public schools are the devil’s playground (although sometimes they are), but because she wanted the freedom of giving her children the an education that wasn’t so over-regulated that it stifled the learning process and frustrated not only the students, but the caring teachers as well.
Each individual in our school has a responsibility to become well-educated in order to be a virtuous human being, and each individual is motivated by the desire to better oneself through the learning process. Which, I might add, does not involve mere memorization (although there are some things in life that just need to be memorized, I think), but actual hands-on application and work and service.
In this individualized setting, each student may grow and develop within a general timeline, but not a specific one. It takes as long as it takes, and no one needs to feel stupid if they are not all learning at the same exact pace or within the same “scope and sequence.” As Albert Einstein once said:
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
With home education, I feel that I am better able to help my students discover their own genius.
Reason #5: Opportunities
I would be the first to agree that public and private schools offer a huge diversity of opportunities for students. While they often say they are underfunded, they do have advantages that many home educators do not–huge corporate grants, donations, and other things. They can offer a wide variety of extra-curricular activities that a lone home educator simply cannot.
However, I have found that today’s home educators in most communities have almost as many, if not more, opportunities for these kinds of activities. Ballroom dance team, horseback riding, ice skating, a myriad of music and art lessons are available in most areas. Because we do these things through avenues other than the public school system (for the most part), our scheduling can work around our family dynamic, rather than the “school schedule.” This usually allows for more choice and flexibility, without feeling like we are going, going, going all the time.
Reason #6: Booker T. Washington
“Up From Slavery” was a huge influence in my desires to educate at home. While Mr. Washington was not advocating homeschooling by any means, his approach to what he considered true education and the immense opportunities and freedoms that come with it were so incredibly perfect to me, that I could not consider an education for my children without implementing many of his ideas.
Statistics today are showing how wise Mr. Washington truly was. From a recent study reported by a homeschooling mother of 15 (while the study is relatively unbiased, obviously this mother prefers home education):
As an example, Vedder notes that in 1992, there were 119,000 waiters and waitresses with college degrees. By 2008, the number had increased to 318,000. The total number of waiters and waitresses rose by 1 million during that period, and 20 percent of those new jobs were filled by college students.
“The push to increase the number of college graduates seems horribly misguided from a strict economic/vocational perspective,” writes Vedder, who is also an adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.
Another article examining the crushing reality of getting into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to get a degree from a well-known school and then being unable to get a job is telling. These situations are exactly what Mr. Washington was fighting against.
I am definitely not anti-college. I believe that education opens doors. However, it is entirely possible in this day and age to obtain a degree and still be truly uneducated, but terribly in debt and disillusioned.
There are a few more reasons I have chosen home education which I would like to write about, and then, of course, the arguments I have argued with myself about the possible advantages of public/private education.