Author Kara Moore listed her reasons for preferring a public school education over homeschooling in a benign essay titled “Is homeschooling the wave of the future?” on the Charleston Daily Mail’s Mommyhood Blog page. There’s nothing in her writing that is particularly troublesome for the homeschooling community. She isn’t an activist bent on outlawing home education. Mrs. Moore stated that her children are in a “quality” public school, and that if they lived in an area of the country like “Memphis or Washington, D.C.,” she might be more aware of a need to homeschool. She invested no time defining what makes a “quality” school or why Memphis and D.C. area schools fail to meet that standard. Her ultimate concern is whether or not public schools are simply a baby-sitting service while maintaining that (wait for it) “there’s an important socialization aspect of school.” Then, in the comments section of her post, she revealed the value of a public school education based on her memories of school life and the lessons she learned. None of them are academic.
I mean things that happen outside of lesson plans. I mean getting up at 6:30 to wait for the bus and sitting in pep assemblies and dealing with mean girl cliques and learning to eat school lunches when you’ve always been a picky eater, learning to take standardized tests in freezing cold classrooms, dealing with teachers who seem to have it out for you, or worse, who bore you. When I list them, they sound like the worst parts of school, but those are things that really prepare you for living in society with others. IMHO.
Though I want to be clear that I think there’s an excellent chance you’re right and I’m wrong.
I’m always fascinated by the “learn to deal with bullies” concept as expressed above. Where do people think members of “mean girl cliques” go to at night? Do they head home to sit and wait for the dawning of a new day in order to return to school and be a mean girl? Most bullies don’t leave their meanness in their school locker when they leave school at the end of the day. They participate in society outside of school, bringing their meanness to Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, church youth groups, athletic teams, the local park, etc. Homeschoolers get to learn to deal with jerks after school, where it isn’t a distraction to learning.
Most of the things that Kara Moore described as being valuable learning experiences are, in fact, simply distractions that prevent meaningful learning from taking place. Pep assemblies? Teachers who bore you? Teachers who dislike you? If that’s what people remember the most from attending 13 years worth of public schooling, then there is something seriously wrong with public education. Most students mentally tune out of classrooms where they dislike a teacher, or where they know a teacher dislikes them. And if taking tests in a cold classroom is critical to the academic and emotional development of my children, I will gladly turn off the furnace this February when my kids take their Iowa tests.
I educate my children at home because I want them to receive a high quality academic education. I want them to learn history without the political biases many public school teachers bring to the classroom. I want my children to master the skills they are being taught. I want them to learn critical thinking skills. Their education is tailored to their areas of interest as well as their overall ability levels and discipline specific ability levels. Why would I send my children to school for any reason other than receiving the best possible education? Preparing them to interact with society once they leave home? That’s a parent’s job.