Say a prayer for my son, Cameron, tonight. At Little League practice for his brother, he stepped on a mound of ants. In a split second, his body was covered, horror movie style. His light blue shirt looked black. :( I took off his clothes there at the school and managed to eventually get the ants off his body. We went to Walgreens, got some benedryl and spray. Areas on his hands, neck, leg and arms are covered with angry looking white bites.
"So anyway, my question to Joanne is: were you objecting to the compulsion? – in which case I'm with you. Or to the phonics? – in which case I think you are turning your back on some very good stuff, the best stuff on the teaching of literacy that I personally know about." Regarding my response to this article.
To answer your question, I am objecting to the assumption that more and earlier instruction by non parents is the answer to literacy concerns. The longer I homeschool, the more frustrated I get at the government school's answer to everything. Essentially, each answer includes more of the system that created the problem.
In reading the article again, I wanted to make a couple of comments. One is that I agree with the author's bias towards true phonics rather than the sight word and phonics learned through deconstruction.
I don't, however, agree that reading level at 7 is an accurate barometer of reading or life success at 10, 12 or 40.
I believe that teaching reading and potty training have much in common. A parent can spend weeks, months or years teaching the skills needed for each. They can cajole, encourage, reward, punish or coerce. Or, they can *wait* those times and read great books to the child in the meantime. A ready child will learn either skill (reading, using the potty) in a matter of days. At 10, the early potty users or early readers are no different than those who reached mastery at later ages.
I wanted to say that Izzy and Steph (one sixteenth) posted the article I sarcastically opine against below. I would have told you that below, but it would have taken away from the scathing, angry tone I worked hard to cultivate.
If you have a moment in between spouting NEA rhetoric and indoctrinating children, can you read this?
You said: "Home schooling is an extension of the misguided notion that "anyone can teach." No, homeschooling is the result of many things.
1) A desire to have a lifestyle that celebrates and honors family
2) A conclusion that the scope and sequence of a institutional learning environment isn't determined adequate or desirable
3) A need to embrace one's faith and spirituality in a way precluded by public school
4) A concern created by the risks in public education setting (bullying, drugs, alcohol, peer dependency......)
Homeschooling is a response (often a proactive rather than a reactive one) to the misguided notion that institutional learning is the best place for kids.
You said:That notion is simply wrong. Recently, some of our best and brightest college graduates, responding to the altruistic call to "Teach for America," failed as teachers because they lacked training. Good teaching is a complex act that involves more than simply loving children."
I agree. I completely agree. However, I fail to see what that has to do with homeschooling. Being an effective teacher in a school setting *requires* many positive attributes and characteristics. Homeschooling, however, is a completely different approach to learning. Homeschoolers don't have to be great teachers. They have to be great homeschoolers.
You said: Research on student achievement overwhelmingly supports the "common-sense" logic that the most important factor affecting student learning is teacher competency. While some parents may be competent to teach very young children, that competence will wane in more advanced grades as the content and complexity increases.
Research! Yes, let's talk research! Have you seen or read the research that documents the academic superiority of homeschooled students?
You said: But schools serve important functions far beyond academic learning. Attending school is an important element in the development of the "whole child." Schools, particularly public schools, are the one place where "all of the children of all of the people come together." Can there be anything more important to each child and thus to our democratic society than to develop virtues and values such as respect for others, the ability to communicate and collaborate and an openness to diversity and new ideas? Such virtues and values cannot be accessed on the Internet.
Ah, yes, the "socialization" question, presented with a bit more sophistication. :) Schools are not proven to be the best socialization vehicle for children. They are the most common, however.
You assume that homeschooled children are sheltered from (the god of) diversity. You also assume that homeschoolers sit glued to the 'net?
Any google search on the topic will show the wide amount of options available for homeschoolers in terms of activities and curriculum.
You said: The isolation implicit in home teaching is anathema to socialization and citizenship. It is a rejection of community and makes the home-schooler the captive of the orthodoxies of the parents.
I'm a bit at a loss as to how to respond to this, Dennis. Even a cursory survey of homeschool curriculum options will show a focus on community, patriotism and citizenship.
I've yet to meet or hear about a truly isolated home learning family. Your assumption of isolation seems to assume that home teaching takes as many hours as public teaching. Happily, that is not the case. It takes homeschoolers less time in formal academics to achieve the superior test scores I mentioned earlier.
I'll have to cut this response short, soon, as my son needs to go to Little League practice. It should be fun, although we are tired from our homeschool park day earlier today. Oh, and I need to stop by the store and get snacks. I'm responsible for snacks at Cub Scouts on Monday. I also have to get a pair of sneakers for my daughter to wear during the performing arts class for homeschoolers next week.........
Sorry for the digression! ;)
You said: One of the strengths of our educational system is the wide range of legitimate forms of public, private or parochial schooling available for parental choice.
Yes, parental choice should continued to be honored. Happily I live in a country that honors the fact that homeschooling is a legitamite educational choice.
You said: With that in mind, those contemplating home teaching might heed the words of the Roman educator, Quintilian (A.D. 95). In opposing home schooling, he wrote, "It is one thing to shun schools entirely, another to choose from them."
I'm not familiar with that educator. When we get to studying that time period, I will make sure my children and I learn more.
I had been in prayer about Larsen's extracurricular activities. Specifically about whether to move her Girl Scout troop membership to the homeschooled (only) group. Right now, having Andrew in a mixed group in Boy Scouts doesn't bother me. The Girl Scouts, however, appear more trendy and come up against some of the values and traditions I want my dd to have. So, I thought the homeschooled group might be a better match. When Larsen's "mixed" Troop leader resigned, I thought that was my answer. Until, that is, I discovered that the homeschool group didn't have room for her. :/
In the meantime, I had heard of an opportunity for homeschoolers on my side of town (which is significant where I live). It includes 50 homeschooled kids 6-14. Every Tuesday, they learn dance and performing arts. Every week they also learn art or voice, which alternates. This year's production is Annie. :)
There is some cost involved. A big (to us, right now) monthly fee and a production fee. However, it does meet on a day that we weren't doing formal academics. In that respect, it would add to my children's learning and not require an(other) adjustment to the schedule.
So.......I'm going to enroll them. (the older two) It's particularly a match for my dd but I believe my son will also benefit from it. They start today. I'm hoping Cameron will be more happy to have "Mom" by himself than upset that he isn't able to participate.
Saturday, August 30, 2003 ::: A Suprising Resource
I read an article I disliked (yea, I know, imagine *that*). I wrote a response. Click here.
I'm posting about it on this blog because I've been nosing around the site and I was completely surprised that I liked it. I'll admit that because of the article, I expected an institutional bias and agenda. I was pleasantly surprised.
The ads on the top of my blogspot banner have changed since I posted the political text and links. I used to see only homeschooling links. Now, I see Liberal, Progressive News and Calling All Republicans.
I *could* have fun with Liberal, Progessive News.......but I won't. ;)
I made some changes to the Blog Roll. I included the blogs I read daily, but hadn't yet included.
One Sixteenth is a great blog by a "fellow" Texan. Our spiritual lives are a bit divergent, but we have much in common parenting and lifestyle wise.
Paper Bent This is a deeply introspective writer, Christian, homeschooling mom whose raw sincerity inspires me.
Joanne Jacobs intimidates me. ;) Truly, her blog is of a level that is beyond me most days. I could have kept up with her in college, but my hard drive is full of other stuff now. Her blog is insightful and direct.
Classic Adventures Another great family homeschooling blog. I love classical homeschooling, even though I've departed from it.
Glenn Reynolds, InstaPundit I was informed that my grace period has ended. I need to link Glenn immediately. ;) Actually, a long time ago, Glenn actually linked the Happy Homeschooler in a post as an example of "homeschooling from the inside". That one post accounts for probably 1,000 of my hit count.
I typically stay away from being directly political on this blog (and even my other one). But, I was catching up on some blogs I read occassionally. Katie Allison Granju is one blog I've read sporadically. We have parenting (but not policy) in common. :)
She links this article. I have so little in common with the women mentioned in it that I don't think we are the same gender.
Formal academics were interrupted today by learning. ;)
We were taking a break between short lessons (a la Charlotte Mason) when the guy in the brown shorts came to the door. You know the one. ;) He came bearing gifts, too. He presented my kids with a great art set. So, our study on the visual arts began with some hands-on experience. Luckily, I homeschool and I didn't have to tell them "NO! This is the time for social studies."
We had already done math. Andrew did a page of addition with regrouping (accurately and with understanding). Larsen made up number sentences. Cameron matched and learned one to one correspondance. (we didn't *call* it that!).
We had also done more geography. We began to talk about Europe. Larsen drew a picture of a castle. Andrew drew a castle and "guys with red coats and silly furry hats". We talked about the reindeer, one of the few wild animals left on the continent of Europe.
We talked more about Columbus. I read some from the Core Curriculum about him. While the illustrated a narration, I read a story about Columbus from a volume of these.
We did a few pages of phonics with Larsen. Andrew did a reading comprehension exercise which he self corrected and told me he got one wrong.
The Disturbing Change in the Homeschooling Community
I’m noticing a disturbing trend in the homeschooling community. It’s a manifestation of political correctness.
It’s become increasingly less tolerated to “be” anti-institutional settings. I think the main reasons are two fold. One reason is that as homeschooling diversifies, the homeschooling community includes a greater percentage of people who have been in the system for long periods of time. It also includes people who homeschool for less passionate reasons, or homeschool for a deliberate “season” rather than as a specific statement against institutional settings.
The other main reason is age. The so-called pioneers of the recent homeschooling movement’s children have grown and married. But the first “generation” of homeschooled students that were part of the early growing movement are now reaching the end of elementary years and early High School years. A time where it’s more accepted, “understandable” and even expected that children will move (finally!) on to group school settings.
This group of kids hits these years at the *exact* time the homeschooling community is reflecting a more broad population; a population that is less hostile towards public, private and Christian schools.
Bloggers have recently linked a plethora of articles that talk about homeschoolers demanding access to public school facilities and programs. Cyber-schools masquerading as homeschools are on the rise. Anti-HSLDA articles have increased.
Homeschoolers are quitting for many reasons. Some are indeed valid. But the homeschooling community is increasingly reluctant to challenge those who quit. On a board recently, I read where a mom “put on a flame proof suit” in order to post a very pro-homeschooling post on a homeschooling board.
We need the passion back. I try to make my homeschooling decisions about the merits of homeschooling, rather than the disadvantages of institutional schools. However, within the homeschooling community, I should be able to safely state my strong opinions against institutional schooling. I should be encouraged. I think we (the homeschooling community) are losing members who would actually do better to remain homeschoolers. We are losing them because we are afraid of saying the truth. We are afraid to encourage, extort, support and extol.
Homeschoolers also set themselves up to fail. We complain to people who are anti-homeschooling, lukewarm or not convinced that institutional settings carry grave risks. We give people (sometimes even our spouses who simply want to fix things for us) the power and ability to use our current (and temporary) life circumstances as a way to push us to (finally!) put our kids in real school. With rare exception, the people we talk to are indoctrinated to a great degree. We’ve (almost) all been a part of the system and turned out “okay”. We talk to people who are quick to say “You did a great job! Now let someone else take over.”
We need the passion back. We need to be able to remind ourselves and each other that institutional schools aren’t in the long term best interest of our families. We need to, within the homeschooling community, be able to state what we hold back in the cul-de-sac when discussing educational issues in a mixed setting.
Our children and our homeschooling peers need us. They need us to keep our cup full.
The longer I am a parent and therefore a homeschooler, the more against pre-school I become. Let me admit up front that I did put Andrew into a few 6 week, part time “classes” given by my city at the time. I put Larsen in once.
Daycare, Preschool or “at least” Mother’s Day Out has become so accepted and normative. It’s no longer presented as “an option” but as an assumption; a need. Participating used to be a negative. It then became benign. Benign quickly progressed into favorable. Today, having been through some institutional early school is seen as necessary. Those who don’t participate are perceived as at a disadvantage.
The prevalence of institutional settings for your youngest has come about for many reasons. Not the least of which is the effects of organized feminism. Relatedly, the development of distant, expert driven parenting has served to make us comfortable with more and more space between us and our children. Profit, as described in my Separation for Sale post is an increasing factor.
I’ve sadly witnessed absurd choices within the homeschooling community on this issue. Parents who send pre-schoolers to “pre-school” so they can “homeschool” the older children.
Sending our least trained, most needy, least mature children to an institution to learn is the most perplexing choice of all. By so doing, we begin the indoctrination early. We immerse our children in immaturity and trust an adult or two to teach them ABC’s, their name and numbers. We spend the next 15 years lamenting how distant they become from us.
The risk of these programs is increased if you have a child that is “more” of anything. More energetic, more serious, more sensitive, more aggressive. If we actively chose to put our “more” child in an institutional environment, we need to accept that the system’s employees will behave as such. The overwhelming majority of these employees (government schools to Church’s Mother’s Day Out program) honestly believe they know more about children and more about what’s best for children than you do. They extended this belief to *your* child. Many will (and have) taken that belief to higher authorities when you refuse to do what they think is best for your “more” child.
Daycare is a necessary evil. In order to assuage our guilt over using it, we have embraced the evil and made it seem attractive. Organized feminism has done much to make daycare (and its cousins) acceptable and available. Our culture has helped by downplaying the risks and the effects. Even among staunch at home moms, the use of institutional settings is expected.
Let’s bring our babies home. Let’s normalize cuddling, walks to the park, cookie baking and 50 readings of “Goodnight Moon”. Let’s return the children to the parents; the real experts.