Last night’s Family Guy was about the anti-vaccination movement, which I’ve written a bit about before. That isn’t what this post is about, but it’s interesting in that it has supporters from both sides of the political spectrum. I was thinking recently about homeschooling, something that also has adherents on both the right and left. There was a Family Guy with that, too, but I don’t recall it taking a stance on the subject.
I’ll admit I don’t know much about homeschooling; I don’t think I even knew it was a thing until I was in high school or so. It does seem to be on the rise, although I haven’t looked at the statistics. To me, it mostly just sounds like a hassle. I mean, you can have your kids educated for free, so why make more work for yourself?
In many cases, it seems like the main motivation is to shelter children, both from ideas the parents don’t agree with and from a potentially hostile environment. I still remember the scene in Jesus Camp with a mother telling her homeschooled kid that global warming was a hoax.
I think there’s a certain amount of arrogance to thinking an untrained parent can teach just as well as someone who’s studied to be a teacher. If you’re only staying one lesson ahead of the kids, you’re probably not the most qualified educator. And any good parent should realize that they’re not always right, and that children should be exposed to outside ideas.
While looking for graphics to use in this post, I came across several people saying that one of the benefits to homeschooling was that you could say a vacation is a field trip, or grocery shopping could be a lesson in math. Well, sure, anything can be an educational experience; but you don’t have to homeschool for that to be the case. It just sounds to me like parents are taking their kids to places they would anyway, and insisting that they’re doing it in order to teach.
What? Public schools teach that we’re responsible for our environment and sexuality isn’t binary? How dare they!
The idea of sheltering kids from the school environment is one with which I sympathize a lot more. I guess that would also work with a tutor, but that’s expensive. I went to public school, and it was a very awkward experience for me. So many of my fellow students were mean for no apparent reason, some of the rules still seem arbitrary to me even in my late thirties, and the work was overwhelming. When you get home from a tedious day at school, how would you ever be in the mood to do more work? So I’m hardly a huge fan of the school system, but I think they tend to do the best they can with what they have. There are bad teachers, sure, but schools get too much blame when kids just don’t want to learn. I don’t know much about private schools, but they seem to vary in quality. I don’t know why you’d pay for your kids to go to a place where someone preaches at them. I recall looking at the web page of one Christian school that insists they take the Bible literally. So do they hold that Belshazzar was the son of Nebuchadnezzar, even though all other evidence suggests otherwise? Yeah, I know that probably doesn’t come up in class, but it’s an example of how Biblical literalism doesn’t exactly fit with academic standards. But obviously not all private schools are religious, and not all religiously affiliated schools are particularly preachy. The fancier private schools are yet another way that rich people can get ahead, which doesn’t strike me as entirely fair.
Still, I’m not bothered by them like I am by what I’ve heard of charter schools, which apparently get government funding but not the oversight that public schools do. That really sounds like a recipe for disaster.
It seems like Republicans are always talking up charter schools, insisting that they present a choice. No, a lottery system is a matter of luck, not choice. But then, these are probably the same people who think the poor choose to be poor.