Friday, August 20, 2010

Teachers as Co-Parents?

As a parent of more than 23 years, and a homeschooler of nearly 20, when I read articles like the one that follows, you can bet it will result in a rant. After this one, I’m not even sure where to begin.

In her blog post “Why I Don’t Miss Homeschooling”, Sierra Black's (Strollerderby) attempts at being complimentary toward homeschooling (and homeschoolers) comes off sounding a bit condescending. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that the condescension was not her intent, but it’s certainly what comes across. Let me share a few highlights.

Sierra begins by describing her homeschooling experience as going “so far as to run a preschool out of my house for my preschool-age kids and some other homeschool-inclined families in our neighborhood.” However, her life as a “homeschooler” ended abruptly when her 5-year old declared that “she’d be going to kindergarten in the fall.” (Don’t even get me started on parents who allow important life decisions to be made by 5-year olds.)

When Sierra admits that she “had a good-natured laugh” over another homeschooler'srosy vision of the close connection they’ll share as they learn together at home” I could practically reach out and touch the sarcasm. Her insistence that this blogger’s vision was “not only rosy, but also real and lovely” did nothing to calm my rising irritation.

My annoyance only grew when I read that Sierra “loved homeschooling”. Really? She homeschooled a few 3- and 4-year olds. Some of them weren’t even her own. That’s not homeschooling; that’s a neighborhood play group. When Sierra continued on, explaining what she enjoyed most about “giving up” homeschooling, I had a "good-natured" laugh myself. (I’m guessing that by now you’re feelin’ my sarcasm, too!)

What I found as I read on convinced me that this post is really more about parenting than it is about homeschooling. It seems to me that what is really being presented here is a justification for part-time parenting. Read on:
“…sending my daughter to school has made me a more relaxed, connected mom.”
Of course she’s more relaxed…she’s relinquished her parenting responsibilities to another adult for several hours every day. I’d be relaxed too. But more connected? How can a mom who is away from her child 5-7 hours each day feel more connected than when she spent every day with her child? That’s just not logical.
“But I chose homeschooling because I wanted my daughters to have their needs and wishes honored. When my oldest made it clear that she really wanted to be in school, I honored that wish.”
Not all the needs and wishes of a 5-year old should be honored. Five year olds have many needs and wishes that, if honored, would endanger their lives.
“Sharing the work of caring for and educating my child let me relax and enjoy her more.”
Again….I would relax more if I chose to share the everyday care of my children with someone else, too! But, homeschooling has not diminished my enjoyment of my children one iota. We play games and read books. We have fun together. In fact, because my children’s “school day” is so much shorter than what it would be in public school, I would venture a guess that we have more time to enjoy each other’s company than Sierra could ever hope for.
“Freed from the need to safeguard her education...I could let loose and play with her more.”
I hope to never to be free from the need to safeguard my children’s education. A child’s education prepares him for life…if a parent doesn’t safeguard this critically important phase of a child’s life, who will? There is much in this world that children need to be protected from. No school or teacher will ever be as invested in my child’s well-being as I am. Placing unswerving confidence in an “institution” as caregiver is, in my opinion, foolishness.

Next, Sierra quotes another “enlightened” almost-homeschooler:
“I have flirted over the years with home schooling. I decided that neither I nor my boys would thrive with that much of each other. And I couldn’t get past the blurring of roles — as a parent I am the unconditional support section, yet a teacher needs to critique and judge.”
What has happened in our culture that it’s okay to believe that a mother and her children will be better off outside of each other’s company? And how does a person come to believe that it is undesirable for a parent to provide both unconditional support AND discipline in their children’s lives? Does this woman really believe that a parent can only provide one or the other? That makes me very sad for her children.
“It’s not my job alone to make them socially acceptable, responsible, educated humans. I can let their rough edges stay rough without worry. The school is doing more than enough to smooth them out.”
It IS my job alone to raise socially acceptable, responsible, human beings. Period. No teacher should be expected to take on the job of raising your children for, or with, you! Educate? Yes, if that’s your choice. But raise? This thinking strikes at the very core of what it means to be a parent. No one else loves my child like I do. No one else is as invested in his future as I am. It IS my job...and my privilege.

Oh, and the part about school being the place where a child's rough edges get smoothed out...yeah, right. An unattributed quote comes to mind. "I've seen the village. And I don't want it raising my child."
“Being my kids’ teacher was a lot of fun, but I like just being their mom better. Let their teachers write the progress reports. Let me just love them. It’s a much more satisfying division of labor.
Being my kids’ teacher is a lot of fun. And I love being their mom. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive. I’m happy to write their progress reports AND love them. I’ll take the whole package. It’s a VERY satisfying labor of love!!


  1. I am writhing and pulling my hair. As I mentioned before I am back to homeschooling Blondie this year. She was recently asked by another if that's what SHE wanted. Hmmm... at 13 she still has an extreme minority vote.

    I am homeschooling because it is the best thing for her to prepare her for life. I will not abdicate my role as parent to the schools.

    When Blondie was in school it overtook her life - school all day, 2-3 hours of homework at night. The school talk was all rosy "we see ourself as a team with the family and with the church." The reality was very opposite. The school simply took over, it absorbed family time, it minimized church involvement.

    The village will raise your child if you let it. The village will be baffled that you don't want to hand your child over to the "professionals." But I will tell you: not one person in that village will love my child more than hubby and me. Not one person in that village will be more dedicated to the instilling of morals, values and work ethic. Not one person in the village will care about the spiritual well being of my child.

    The village is a golem - a body without a soul.

  2. I’d place money on the fact that this mother never really wanted to homeschool her children, and was looking for any excuse not to. Her explanation strikes me as a weak justification for not homeschooling. So be it. If I fight for the freedom to homeschool, I must recognize the right of people to choose public school.

    And "Parenting Tips" is spam.