Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shalom, Rabbi Dude

Parents should be aware that total home schooling can cause as many problems as it solves.

Whoa! This line grabbed my attention. It was the teaser line in an email alert for a most amusing article written by the Rabbi Shmuel Gluck. It was published on the website Yeshiva World dot com. Rabbi Gluck wrote a series of articles titled “Unhappy & Doing Something About It.” They were dedicated “to the art of understanding and, then, reacting, to uncomfortable situations.” Part three of the Rabbi’s three-part article contained a strong warning about homeschooling, filled with warm, home-spun Yiddish wisdom for those of us who are unhappy with our public and private educational choices and are doing something about it. I read this article thoroughly, because if I am causing as many problems as I am solving by homeschooling my children, I’d like to know about it!

One of the greatest challenges of home schooling is the social factor. Without peers, children can’t learn the necessary skills needed in order to be reintroduced back into the classroom.

Well, there’s an interesting assumption. Where did the good Rabbi get the notion that homeschooled children will be reintroduced to the classroom? The vast majority of homeschoolers I have met in person and online assume that they will be homeschooling their children indefinitely, which is also the primary cause for prematurely gray hair, wrinkles, and the occasional afternoon conference with Johnny Walker by homeschooling moms and dads.

Rabbi, the “social factor” is one of the primary reasons homeschoolers keep their children home from brick-and-mortar schools. I won’t go into a laundry list of societal ills right now, but rest assured that homeschoolers know that these early years are the important years for parents to train their children on how to interact with society while maintaining their morals and values, rather than sending their young children into the world and having society shape their morals and values. It is far better for homeschoolers to teach their children than to have their education shaped by teachers who profess political and societal views to which many homeschoolers are diametrically opposed. Besides, I’ve (temporarily) reintroduced two children to the classroom. My teenager’s biggest problem was dealing with the language arts teacher who confiscated all his school supplies and the cute, jug-eared blond thing who was captivated by my son’s freckles. The younger boy learned how to spit on the classroom floor from one of his kindergarten mates. It took us the entire summer to un-socialize him from that habit.

If parents decide to remove children from school they must be confident that they can create all (not most) of the necessary components. These include: teachers, mentors (they can be the same), friends, patience on the part of the entire family, making sure that the children attend and participate in the home schooling, and the ability to keep the children as busy as they would be if they were in a regular school.

Rabbi dude, what incense are you burning in that funky candelabrum? I cannot speak for the rest of the homeschooling community, but it isn’t too difficult to get my children to attend our homeschool. They rarely get lost during their 27 foot journey from their bedrooms to the kitchen table. I keep my children busier than they would be if they attended a regular school because we don’t have all the distractions that take place during an average brick-and-mortar school day. We don’t need to take attendance. We don’t take lunch orders. We don’t line-up to go anywhere. We don’t lose instructional time while attending mass like students did at the parochial school where I taught. We are not constantly interrupted with disciplinary problems like I was with the students who wore their Buchanan County Juvenile Detention Facility jumpsuits to school as a fashion statement once they had been reintroduced back into the classroom.

Parents must also keep in mind that once the children are out of a regular school they may become so comfortable that they may not agree to go back.

We can only hope.

Most parents attempt home schooling as a temporary step, but find that, once the children are home schooled, they do so well that it “doesn’t make sense” to send them back. However, that may be more than the parents can handle. Home schooled children, even with an army of teachers, will require several hours a day from the parents.

Actually, Rabbi, most parents do not attempt homeschooling as a temporary step. And here I can speak for the homeschooling community. We gladly invest several hours a day for the instruction of our children. They are our children. We invest this time and energy for one simple reason. We love them. God gave us these children and the responsibility to raise them. We take that responsibility seriously. By the way, those of us who do homeschool don’t need an army of teachers. We are an army of one. And educationally speaking, we kick ass. Just read the test scores.

In other cases the homeschooling experience turns out to be a failure, but the children, who’ve been home for weeks, refuse to go back to school. In many of these cases the parents, who were so angry at the school, finally realize that it’s the children, and not the school, that’s in need of fixing.

Here we see the truth behind Rabbi Gluck’s analysis of homeschooling. He is dealing with broken families. He views homeschooling through the prism of broken families. I do not doubt that the youth he works with have genuine problems that need serious attention. There is one more step to take when parents realize that “it’s the children, and not the school, that’s in need of fixing.” If there are children that are in “need of fixing” there are families with challenges that go beyond education. My professional experience has shown me that poor academic performance is usually a symptom of other problems and the not the root problem. Obviously, that is not an absolute. Children may attempt to “refuse to go back to school” but that doesn’t mean that parents must capitulate to those demands. If they do, the tail is wagging the dog.

I’m willing to bet that Rabbi Gluck doesn’t know many homeschoolers. He probably has not visited and observed a successful homeschool in operation. He painted a monochromatic picture of homeschooling with an extremely broad brush. I encourage him to increase his knowledge of and experience with homeschooling before he publishes any more articles on this subject.


  1. I agree, the Rabbi must have had some kind of funky incense wafting around him.

    I know that there are dysfunctional families that have pulled their kids out to "homeschool" in order to avoid the schools and social services. I worked in the court system, I know that. But in my 8 years there - I only saw it twice. And there is a very large homeschool community here.

    It irritates me no end when there are people who criticize homeschoolers who really don't have a clue.

  2. and then I read the article. Did you catch that an alternative to homeschooling was to medicate your child? YIKES!! ROFL!!

  3. I can't stop laughing. I'm sorry, I know he's a Rabbi and all, but this guy is an idiot. Really. If his spiritual guidance is laced with this kind of logic, well...his flock is definitely in trouble.

    Parents must also keep in mind that once the children are out of a regular school they may become so comfortable that they may not agree to go back.

    Seriously, I can't stop laughing.

  4. Great article by you. The Rabbi.... well, he needs to be homeschooled.

  5. Thank you for the nice comment on my blog, and more importantly for the post. Homeschoolers sometimes feel like they have a stigma or something. (Is it catching? lol) Your words are exactly what I have been trying to say, but I'm "to nice" too. I have added a caveat on my post for my followers to come read your "Rabbi Dude" post, and also because they thought I wrote it - Linda/Lynda - oh well common mistake. That you were able to keep your sense of humor while reading "Rabbi Dude's" work is great. I have not read it, and will choose to stay clear. Thank you again.

  6. LOL! I'm sorry, Linda, but you might want to add another update....I didn't write Rabbi Dude!! :-) My co-contributor on this blog, Arby, wrote it. He's a much funnier writer than I am!! :-) Definitely send your readers here....just attribute the post to Arby, not me!! He and I have a very similar desire to stand up for homeschooling!! It's why Arby started this blog!

  7. Whoops....make that "sorry, Lynda"! LOL!

  8. Great post! Love it.

    Yes the only post, movies, tv shows, news reports you'll see from non-homeschoolers on homeschoolers are all negative or dramatic and blown out of proportion and filled with myths and misconceptions.

    Such is life :)