Sunday, April 24, 2005

Homeschooling in the news

Well, I am back from our weekend convention in Northern Michigan. My husband did a very inspiring talk entitled "Changing the Course of History". What we are doing is significant to God and we are HIS history makers.

Speaking of conventions.... The Online Convention is still going on here. We have had great attendance and thank you for the encouraging comments and e-mails. Your participation made the event alot of fun.

But it's also time to get back to the business of blogging. I hope to write a post soon in answer to the comments in this post. But if you have anything to share feel free to jump in. Here are some opinions published in the Illinois Conservative as well.

Moving just a little further north to Minnesota, I thought this article out of the St. Paul Pioneer Press had an interesting perspective .

Home-schoolers must excuse Tom Keating, Minnesota's 2004 Teacher of the Year, if he favors a public-school education. That's not to say he doesn't believe there isn't a place for home schooling. He just wants parents considering it to think it over carefully.

"The question for parents is, 'Why do we want to do this?' It's a serious gut and heart check," says Keating, who teaches at Turning Point alternative school in Monticello. "Because, if we're running from something, that would be a little scary. If we're raising a generation of kids in cocoons, we're in trouble."Keating says some of the home-schooled students he has met make the transition into public school at the high-school level when the subject matters become more challenging. They adapt nicely, he says, after sometimes struggling to learn to work in a group dynamic.

He encourages home-schooling parents to read up on brain development and child psychology, so they can understand their child's stages of development. He also advises parents to get kids involved in varied activities outside of the home. And if they do end up sending their child to a traditional school, he says that can be a good thing. In a way, it's better training for the "real world" than home is: We must get along with others we don't know very well. Our family isn't always around to help us. We must follow a schedule that doesn't necessarily suit our natural rhythms. Plus, he says, "There aren't too many people who can't think of a teacher who was significant in their life. And if Mrs. Brown says, 'You've got a great skill for chemistry, let me help you,' we sometimes believe it more when it comes from another adult other than our parent." But it's hard to beat a parent's passion.

The question of "Why do we want to do this?" is a question all parents need to ask not just homeschool parents about how and why they choose to educate their children. Sadly, most don't. I wrote all about that in my post The Myth of An Equal Education. And the idea that a school is real world is hilarious. How many times in life do we spend 6 hours a day in the same place with all children of the same age for 13 years? That is a cocoon and exactly why our culture is in such trouble!

And that last part about where we sometimes believe it more when it comes from another adult other than our parent. This is a direct result of having the life of the child being separate from the parent for so many years.

We have been trained since our youth that there are those besides our parents who the "experts" in various subjects and they are who we should go to. This reminds me of a story my sister told me shortly after she began teaching. She was assigned to a fourth grade classroom. As a typical recent graduate she was eager and enthusiastic to impress her little scholars. By the middle of the year things were going along quite well. The staff liked her, the parents seemed impressed, and the students loved her. So much so that one day a little girl said to her as she was walking into class, "Mrs. H. you're so pretty, you're so smart, you're nothing like my mother!"

Instead of feeling complimented my sister was saddened. Because she was doing such a good job the little girl's impression of her own mother was diminished. My sister knew this mother. She was a typical mother trying to do her best to raise her daughter. She was working hard to send her to the best schools and hand picked the teachers to ensure her daughter's success. But the unintended consequence was that her daughter's heart was slowly being wooed away to see others more important than her parents. Left unchecked the little girl will grow into her teen years ignoring her parents and their impact in her life becomes minimal. The eventual outcome is that the relationship is weakened and the little girl will constantly be looking for the next Mrs. H. to fill the need for information and advice.

But I guess to most parents accept this a just a part of life in the "real world" their children are going to some day be a part of. Thanks for giving your advice Mr. Keating. I have thought about why I am doing this and you have just given me a few more reasons to keep on doing it.


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