Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Inviting People Into Our Homeschooling

I've been looking at teacher blogs lately thanks to the Edublog Awards. It's a great way to find education blogs without having to sort through the chaff as many of the best and brightest are right there. It's why dy/dan now has a link on my sidebar and why Taylor the Teacher soon will.

One blog I checked out today was The Principle's Page and there staring me in the face was the post, HOMESCHOOLING IS GREAT, BUT IT SURE MAKES IT HARD TO PICK TEAMS.

Everyone should go to at least one dance, have their own locker, be on an organized team that wins and loses together. At least one time in your life you should also live in fear that you might get hit by a dodge ball if you don’t pay attention and keep your mouth shut.

With quotes like this, it's a bit of a rehash of the old myth that homeschoolers don't get socialization. The aim is a little more focused though on homeschoolers missing out on school socialization experiences. I know at this point I'm supposed to start going on about all the things my kids do to socialize or about the awful bits of school socialization but I'd just like to acknowledge that the person who wrote the post is perfectly correct. My kids will miss out on some very positive aspects of public schooling.

And yes, there are a lot of positive aspects. My school career was mostly miserable after about grade 7 but still there were the cafeteria discussions, the teachers who connected with us, the triumphant oral presentation in front of 30 fellow students, the model UN...There were things that I did enjoy that my kids won't experience. Does that bother me? Not really.

Any choice carries that consequence. By changing jobs my husband will miss out on some good aspects of his former job. By choosing to stay home with my kids I'll miss out on the great moments of working outside the home. But the thing is, well-considered choices often have benefits that a person would miss out on otherwise. By changing jobs my husband now has a whole career path to explore that never existed before. By staying home I get the wonderful opportunity to homeschool my kids. By homeschooling my kids will get to experience things that schooled kids will miss out on.

People outside the homeschooling community often don't see that though and I think that's honestly our fault. Take a quote from the post:

Proponents of homeschooling will point to high ACT and SAT scores as examples of how much these students have learned as they are about to enter college.

He's right again. Granted, not all of us pull out the statistics in a homeschool debate but enough do that people often get the impression that homeschooling is wholey and simply about academics. When it's simply about academics then those outside homeschooling don't get to see how important the lifestyle often is to us. They don't have a clue about we socialize, that we are involved in our community and our kids are very often out at dances, playing in organized sports or gossiping with friends.

What I think the gentleman's post points to most are not weaknesses with homeschoolers but how homeschoolers communicate what we do with people who aren't familiar with it or rather, how we fail to communicate what we do. We know what we do and we talk and blog about it within our community but when we confront stereotypes in articles or blogs we often resort to the statistic quoting or scattershot attacks on schools. Maybe what we really need to do is talk about the soccer league our daughter played in or link to the blog post where we describe a fantastic day at a museum. Something that actually reflects what we're living instead of our standard rebuttal.

Something that welcomes and begins to invite people in.

This is my invitation to the gentleman from The Principle's Page. Please feel free to read my blog and explore the other blogs I've linked to. I guarantee you will find that our kids are missing out on school experiences but I'm also betting you'll find we have experiences that make up for that.


TaylortheTeacher said...

I was discussing with my husband last night that learning, throughout all history prior to institutionalized schooling, was something so complex and individual that it was done 1 on 1 or with one teacher and only a few students. Institutionalized learning is, at best, a stop-gap measure. At worst, it's indoctrination. This isn't about test scores at all. In fact, if I home schooled, I would refuse to discuss test scores at all. Scores don't measure the really valuable things you home school for.

By the way, thanks for the link!

Lynn said...

As far as the benefits of schooling goes, the principal's list seems like an odd assortment (keeping your mouth shut during dodge ball, and such; actually, I think your list (connecting with teachers, triumphant oral presentations), is way better. (By the way, I remember from my elementary school principal that the word *principal* ends with p-a-l (not p-l-e) because principals are our pals! (LOL) There was other stuff that I learned, but it's one of the few things that really stuck!)

You've made so many good points! There are positive and negative aspects of any choice - even schooling - even homeschooling. Also, the common practice of pointing to test scores as proof that homeschooling *works* doesn't reflect the predominant reasons why many of us homeschool. And, describing homeschooling as a way of living and learning is a good idea,... which you do a really good job of accomplishing here, by the way!

Great post :)

Dana said...

Very nice entry, Dawn. I agree...and I think that is where some of that stereotype of militant homeschoolers comes from. Some can be rather aggressive in their defense. Most people's questions are based in honest concerns and ignorance of anything but what they grew up with. It isn't hostile.

Principled Discovery

SabrinaT said...

I agree. I wish I could invite my friends and family into my home for 1 day to obesrve. They would be surprised, and I dare say the skepticism would disappear.

Lisa said...

Well said. Any choice we make in life has pros and cons. We have to weigh what is best for us and our children. Yes, there are some things that my girls will miss out on, not going to public school . For me the bright spot was band. The flip side is, they will also have many opportunities both academic and social that they wouldn't have being in ps. Whatever we do, when the become teenages , they'll hate our guts anyway, anything wrong with thier life is all our fault. Whatever choices we carefully made for them were wrong.