Sunday, August 31, 2008

Homeschooling Soap Box

Anyone who knows me well is aware that I am a strong homeschool advocate. It was an evolutionary process and truthfully, when I was a young unmarried adult, I really didn't expect to have such firm convictions about it. Except for the eighth grade, my own public school years were not terrible. I have mostly fond memories of school; friends and giggling, recess and gym, art and music, marbles and dodge ball, boys catch the girls and spin the bottle. I had reasonable grades and friends, for the most part. The teachers were generally pretty good and I don't recall having any issues with any of them or they with me.

I have been a Christian since I was 16, although I started on the path when I was 14 but faltered and found my way back to stay when I was 16. I finished my last two years in high school as a Christian. These were not terrible years, but mostly because I basically stuck to myself and was very quiet.

My main influences toward homeschooling were my older sister and my sister-in-law. I knew other people who homeschooled as well, including my pastor's wife, but the day-to-day routine and results were apparent because I knew so much of my sisters' lives. And thus the evolution began.

Christianity and public school are an oxymoron. They really are. Public schools promote so much of what Christians try to avoid. The reason I have mostly fond memories of public school is because I was not yet a Christian. Quite a few of these fond memories consist of things that I would not want my child to be involved with because, in being a Christian, my life has turned 180 degrees away from much of what I used to do. It's changed the way I think. As harmless as boys catch the girls, or spin the bottle may seem to some, they really promote too much familiarity between the sexes that I really don't believe is healthy. I would never want my 10-year-old son to be catching girls and kissing them. This is considered "normal" behaviour in public school.

I realize that homeschooling does not guarantee the salvation of my children any more than public schooling guarantees the damnation of them. I know good, Christian parents in both situations whose kids have turned out great. However, I do believe that the choice to homeschool can make the path toward their salvation much more smooth - and that really is the most important thing to a Christian parent.

The main reason for this post is prompted by an article that I read in the most recent issue (September 2008) of Reader's Digest. The article is titled: Thirteen Things Your Kid's Elementary School Teacher Won't Tell You. Note: Elementary School Teacher - not High School Teacher. This means kids age 5-13. I won't list all of them. I'll just paraphrase the ones that disturbed me the most:

1. The little notes that they pass around in class are not as innocent as you might think. They are way more explicit - sometimes X-rated, racist or revealing sensitive secrets.

2. Gossip and bad language are heard in the hallways and class - kids can use words you'd never expect.

3. Teachers know whom your child is "dating", and the fact that they can switch partners from week to week.

4. Sending a healthy lunch important to you? Don't bother because your kids will just swap it or even at times throw it out.

5. Even though your daughter might leave the house with her hair in a loose ponytail, wearing no make-up, in you clothes you approve of, it only takes a quick trip to the bathroom before class starts to enter the classroom looking ready for a Teen Vogue photo shoot.

6. Younger students who spend a lot of time with their teachers commonly call them "mommy".

7. It's true: When teachers like a student, they can't help but grade a little more generously, and when a student really gets on their nerves, teachers tend to be a little meaner when they're marking.

Now these are 7 out of 13 points that were listed in this article and the ones that particularly caught my attention. Obviously it bothers me to see a common denominator of rebellion, disobedience and sneakiness in most of these points. However, since every child will try these behaviours to some extent, that is not the main reason for my concern.

What truly disturbs me is this: You send your child to school for approximately six hours per day, entrusting their thoughts and nurturing to be guided by people that they will inevitably look up to (see point #6) - TEACHERS. And yet these teachers, most of whom have children of their own (so they really wouldn't care if other teachers didn't tell them about their child's rebellious behaviour?), do not think any of these points are worth mentioning to the parents. Remember the title of this article: Thirteen Things Your Kid's Elementary School Teacher Won't Tell You. The teachers interviewed for this article admit witnessing this behaviour, and yet they see no reason to let the parent know what little Suzie or Johnny is doing.

And I am expected to entrust my child to a TEACHER?

I know all teachers can't be painted with the same brush. This article was written in generalities. However, I can be quite certain that if I send my child to public school that there is a very good chance that they will encounter at least ONE teacher with this attitude, and that's probably being very generous.

If I am at all concerned with directing my child, nurturing my child and guiding my child, tell me truly: how can I trust a stranger - because I really don't know them - one who very well could hide very important things from me, to lead them down the path that I (and their father) have chosen as the best?

Just in case you were wondering, that's the number one reason why I homeschool.


Laura said...

Soapbox sounds familiar, but so much more eloquant than what I could have written. Well said.

I have said many times, to many people, that I would homeschool again, in a flash. The pleasure of seeing their eyes light up with understanding is so rewarding!

Darla said...

As I said in my post, you were one of my main influences, Laura. You obviously led with a good example.


Laura said...

Your welcome.

In the Light Photography said...

Once your kids reach the age where they are able to go to high school, they will most likely be at a maturity level far surpassing their peers. This enables them to know/learn quickly how to deal with adults in the most effective way. I am a huge advocate of kids going to high school. Not elementary by any means, but high school for sure. I never regret doing what I did, and would never do it differently.

Darla said...

I've seen the success of you and others going to high school, Rachel. However, I still think that at the most crucial time of kid's lives - puberty - it's a little bit like playing "Russian Roulette" and sometimes it seems the luck of the draw. I am NOT a fan of high school at all. I do not in any way believe it is over-sheltering them to homeschool through high school. I look at it like the way God shelters us - God NEVER stops sheltering us, even at the height of our spiritual maturity; God allows us to grow, all the while sheltering us, with the ultimate aim of being used by Him but never, NEVER for the purpose of permissiveness - which is what we're dealing with when we send our kids out possibly too soon. (That was a terrible run-on sentence.)

At the last homeschool conference, Jay Wilde presented loads of CANADIAN statistics on the overall success of homeschooling through high school, so much so that these students were BETTER students in university, academically and in maturity. Dave is not necessarily in agreement with me (but then he's never cracked a book about it or attended a homeschool conference). Only time will tell what will transpire in our household.

One thing I can say for sure: if my kids go to high school, it will be with nothing less than fear and trembling.

Thanks for not being afraid to state your opinion.