Thursday, February 24, 2011

I Think We Have It Better

The Wall Street Journal conversation from my last post really intrigued me.  A writer named Tracy opined, “Homeschooling - I have no problem with homeschooling, but please don't compare that with my job. There are VERY FEW similarities.”  Is she correct?  Is teaching in a homeschool and teaching in public school so different that the two are beyond comparison?   They aren’t even remotely similar?  She probably means beyond the mundane aspects of education, such as pens, pencils, paper, books, subject matter, grades, discipline issues, and the fact that she lesson plans while the Boss and I simply consult our Ouija Board.    
I wonder…
Public school teachers take attendance at the beginning of each class and report the attendance to the main school office.  I pretty much assume that if my kids are breathing then they are in attendance, and having made that observation, I have simultaneously reported our school attendance to the principal and the superintendent.   So, that’s not similar.
A public school science teacher teaches science.  There may be variations in subject matter within the field of science, but it is still science.  I teach science, math, history, reading, language arts, religion, geography, spelling, and penmanship, at the grade school level.  Next year I will do that while adding a complete high school curriculum. So, that’s not similar, but it is pretty darn amazing!
Public school teachers teach a large assortment of students with a wide variety of educational abilities from a broad spectrum of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.  I teach three freckle-faced white kids who each possess a differing range of academic abilities and interests, but who unfortunately live at home with their happily married biological parents.  I know.  Homogeny sucks.  So, that’s only slightly similar.
Public school science teachers usually teach Darwin’s theory of evolution as fact.  Creationism is left to the churches.  I teach Darwin’s theory of evolution as just that, a theory, and cover Creationism in both science and religious studies.  Let’s face it, God created a wonderfully complex world that is fascinating to study.  It’s probably a good idea to acknowledge His handy work.  So, that’s not similar.
Public school teachers spend weeks planning, organizing, calculating the cost of and completing the paperwork for taking a field trip, if they are foolish brave enough to attempt such an endeavor.  If I wake up in the morning and decide, “Hey, let’s go here today,” we go.  Instantly, everything is arranged.   I suspect that we take more field trips than the average public school teacher.  So, that’s not similar.
Public school teachers teach for about 180 days a year.  My students are in attendance 365 days each year.  Thank God for week-long summer camps and vacation Bible schools.   It’s the only time my class size shrinks.  So, that’s not similar.
Public school teachers use district supplied curriculum, books, and supplies.  If they are lucky, they get to sit on a committee that chooses which textbook they will use for the next twenty years.   We study, select, and purchase curriculum each year.  We pay for it ourselves.  So, that’s not the same.
Public school teachers have been heard to say, “I love my students.”  It is phileo love.  I’ve sat in enough staff lounges to know that even the best teachers do not love all of their students equally or unconditionally.  They don’t love the truants and trouble makers.  Some teacher’s comments about students are the vilest, nastiest comments you can imagine. Thankfully, those teachers are in the minority, and I would never characterize the entire teaching profession by those select few.  I love my students with agape love.  It’s the unconditional love of a parent for a child. It’s the closest thing to God’s love for mankind with the exception of the fact that mankind always falls short of the glory of God.
What did I forget? 
Tracy may have a point.  Public school teaching and homeschooling are very different.  Homeschooling is a far more difficult challenge with greater rewards.
I think we have it better. 


  1. Another great one!!! And I agree, we definitely have it better!!

    This whole thing grabbed my interest too!! I expanded on my comment on your previous post on The Joyful Journey...couldn't help myself. Tracy really doesn't have a clue!

  2. Don't forget about the pay and benefits (or lack thereof).

    Although if you did get paid in dollars, you could probably get you and yourself together to form a collective bargaining unit...

  3. LOL @Deb! I wrote about the pay and benefit on my follow-up post to Arby's! It's here!

  4. Deb, the problem is that if I get me, myself, and I together and actually agree upon what to ask for in negotiations, I would then have to negotiate with myself. I know from the past that I can be incredibly stubborn, especially in negotiations. It could get ugly.

  5. I'd really love to be a fly on the wall during your rather schizophrenic negotiations....