Friday, October 30, 2009

The HomeSchooling Issue

Alright just to warn anyone reading this (friends included), I'm going to offend you although not intentionally. I'm not a fan of homeschooling. There I said it. I have many friends that I see often enough to know that they will frown at me because they have made the choice to home school, but I disagree.

True there are benefits to homeschooling. Your children are less exposed to things that are against your family beliefs and morals. You want your children to learn a certain curriculum. You want to spend more time with your children and enjoy them. I don't have a problem with that.

First of all let me say that I'm a teacher. True I've worked at a day care, but I've taught every age level. I've taught high school kids, junior high kids, college adults, elementary age kids, and two year olds. I've taught a variety of subjects including preparing catechists, band music, music history for junior level college students, and just plain toilet training. I've done it all. So I know all the insides and pitfalls of the system from day care all the way to college. I've even worked within both the public and private school systems. You could say I'm an expert. So I've had enough research and experience to tell you why I don't like homeschooling.

As a parent, this is why I choose school. I want my kid to be independent. Yes, I want to instill morals in my son, but I also want him to learn how to apply those morals outside the home especially when he's young enough. I don't want him to have big challenges when he is an adult; I'd rather that he learn these things as a child. Granted I think education is a big factor, but that's where I research and send my child to a good school. Unfortunately all curriculum's are basically the same because they are mandated. Even home school children have to pass basic curriculum tests. Morals are for the home in any case whether home schooled or not.

Let me be more specific. As I've mentioned, I grew up in the Bible Belt. As a very young child I had to defend my religion. I was told that I wasn't Christian, that I worshiped Mary, and that I wasn't saved. These are all lies that many Protestant children are fed. Not all children, mind you, learned these lies. I've had many friends who could tell you otherwise, but there are enough parents/preachers out there. This has shaped who I am. When I was a teen and in college, I resented it. But as an adult, I see that I know and understand more of my faith than people older than me who grew up surrounded by it. If my mother had home schooled me, I wouldn't have learned about these lies or how to discount them. The only first encounter would most likely be when I was in college. Starting college is already scary and confusing because it is the first time you're away from home. Can you imagine having a major part of who you are being scrutinized as well? Sure it's not fair. But nothing in life comes easy. I learned these things when I was young, and they were gradual. I don't think many eight year old know such topics as transubstantiation. Much like learning to read, I learned how to defend my faith in small steps.

This is true for all matters of morality. Do I think that my son will have to defend his faith in quite the same way? No. But he might have to face pacifism and standing up for other beliefs like that. And unfortunately not all adults are created equal. I believe that my son should learn an healthy level of skepticism and distrust of other adults while maintaining a level of respect. This is a balance that I believe can only be achieved by interacting with adults without me and my husband around to intervene. Otherwise when he goes to buy his first house or car, he could end up being sold a lemon.

Plus I think being exposed to other cultures and beliefs helps reinforce why you believe what you believe. If I hadn't been exposed to those Protestants who persecuted me, then I wouldn't have learned why I was Catholic and why I want to remain this way.

Sure one can make the argument that you can still home school and still expose your children to other adults and children, but they still know that your watching them at tee ball practice. They know that you're there; where at school you aren't so much. It gives them that freedom and independence to make choices. That's what I want for my son: choices. I can give him the knowledge and help guide him in applying it, but he has to make the choice. The choices start out small and then get bigger, but overall I think it makes him a better person if he feels more in control of his life. It is his life and not mine. I just get the privilege of being there to experience it and give guidance. Children are gifts from God.

My friend tells me he home schools his children because only in school are we forced to socialize and work with people our own age. He feels that it's his responsibility to teach his children how to tolerate others. I feel somewhat similarly have a different reason for approaching it. I think that being with our peer group helps us make decisions appropriate to our age. Once we're in high school that same age mentality does melt away in the school system. Now our peer group that we interact and make decisions with has expanded. It's a gradual process. I don't think an eight year old can really "socialize" very well with a "peer" whose thirteen. Age does make a different. I can't "socialize" exactly with my mother-in-law. As for toleration, the world is full of bullies. In childhood some of these bullies are punished some are not. In adulthood, some of these bullies get fired some do not. The world is not right. We have to learn and make choices that will help us do the best that we can. So although my friend has noble ideals, I'm scared that he's not equipping his children for the real world, but rather the world that he wishes them to be a part of. There are many other things that I disagree with on how he chooses to raise his children, but that is another blog or perhaps better to remain undiscussed.

So you see, you got through the blog. Hopefully without screaming at the computer about how wrong I am. But I do hope that the pro-homeschooling crowd takes one thing away from this. Those who choose school are not throwing our children to the wolves or are being misguided into being part of a system. We truly care about our children and the choices they make. We believe in morality. My morals are that having the power of choice, experience, and independence are important. I feel that my son won't get that from hanging out with his mother at home.

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I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!