I’ll leave my opinions about this author’s reasons for sending her kid to public school out of this. I will say that I thought it reminded me a lot of the lists you see sometimes about “why I work instead of staying home” or “why I don’t breastfeed.” (“Here’s my justification for not doing what I for whatever reason feel that you expect me to do, and maybe deep down inside I want to do it to, but I’m scared and it’s easier to write lists instead of making changes.”) Then I will tell you that I have plenty of similar lists, so my saying that is not making any sort of judgement. I’ll also say that there are plenty of really good reasons for sending your kids to public school, and that “I want to” and “I do not want to homeschool” are certainly among those good reasons.
I’ll just list out why I homeschool. In no order, just the order I thought of them in.
1. I want to. I have wanted to homeschool my children since I was a little girl. Part of me wanted to be homeschooled, too, though I didn’t realize it at the time, and I’m not sure I even became aware of homeschooling as an actual option until I was in college. I homeschooled myself while I was in public school, doing nerdy things like writing research papers on subjects that interested me, just for fun. I didn’t work during summer break, I learned. I took cable TV classes from DMACC. I watched cable TV classes that I wasn’t registered for, even. I bought textbooks from college bookstores, I got books from the library. If the internet had been around when I was in high school, hoooo boy. Sometimes I skipped my actual homework in favor of spending time learning more about whatever subject interested me at the time. I don’t want to force my kids to do that, when it’s so much easier to skip the busywork of regular schooling.
2. Public schools teach things that are against our values and beliefs. I believe they have gotten worse since I was in school, and I recall it being not too awesome at that time. (um, we spent a large chunk of time in Citizenship learning about HillaryCare and why it was the best thing for America. I got in trouble for questioning it. And keep in mind, I would have identified myself as a left-leaning independent at that time, same as my parents.) At any rate, my intention here is not to debate these issues, but I can’t see sending my kids off to learn that humans evolved from apes, there is no God, “climate change” is caused totally or mostly by man, the US is bad and everyone else is Good, or that the Founding Fathers were potheads. (OK, that’s probably not being taught in Iowa schools, but the History channel sure wants us to think that.)
And, um, this.
Also, I don’t want my kids’ education being influenced by corporations, and that’s a very un-Republican thing to say, eh? When I was in school, it was Channel One. Free TVs for every classroom, and in exchange, just 15 minutes a day of brainwashing your kids. These days, lots of big corporations have developed classroom materials that are available to schools for free – that promote their products. I know cash-strapped public schools find this crap appealing, but, um no thanks.
3. I want my kids to learn that learning is something that happens all the time. Not just when we’re getting ready for a test. Not just in school. Just like religion isn’t something just for in church.
4. I like my kids. I want to be around them. They (so far) want to be around me. We have fun together, most of the time.
5. Socialization is important to me. I’m talking real socialization. Talking to and working with people of all ages. Making friends with lots of different kids. Being able to hold a conversation with adults. I’d like to try to avoid picking up the bad behaviors of schooled children. We might fail in this, perhaps picking up those habits is inevitable, particularly when my kids will interact quite a bit with schooled kids. (At 5, Wally is such a follower, too.) I am not saying that schooled children are bad. But there is something about going to school – is it the largely unsupervised time at recess? – that encourages kids to share their naughty behaviors. My nephew is very, very concerned about Wally being homeschooled. Turns out, his main concern is that W won’t have any friends. Randy asked him about this – do you have a lot of friends? Yes. Where do you see your friends? Bowling, karate, playing basketball after school. Do you see your friends in school? Most of them go to different schools. Hm. When you do see your friends in school, do you play with or talk to them? No, we get in trouble if we talk during school. But we can sit together at lunch! So, is that like a half hour? Yeah. So you see where this conversation is going… he plays with his friends after school, and most of them don’t even go to his own school. When he does interact with his friends during school, he gets in trouble. Good socialization doesn’t really happen at school. (And as the kids get older, it just gets worse. Peer pressure is horrible. Even among my own group of misfit friends at school, one was pregnant and three smoked. One did more than just smoke. Those of us who didn’t do these things to ‘fit in’ were bullied, made fun of, etc. Fortunately, a small group of us brainiacs had each other to lean on, and we all kind of got off on being oddballs. My mom always wanted me to make friends with some of the cooler kids at school, but those were the ones who were drinking, having sex, and experimenting with drugs. And it’s not because I was some sort of moral stalwart that I didn’t do those things. Honestly, it’s because my friends didn’t.)
6. I was not comfortable handing the raising of my children over to others when they were babies, why would I want to hand them over to others just because they’re school age?
7. The ability to choose what we learn. AKA, my kids can learn what it took me until adulthood to figure out – History is FUN! History is so much more than dates and battles. Cultures, people, agriculture, how agriculture influences culture and vice versa, the complexities of international relationships, etc. Of course, this isn’t just about history, but in every subject, we can focus on what interests us, or what’s fascinating, and skip the mind-numbing stuff like memorizing the years of some obscure battle fought in the middle ages, or going through proofs in mathematics. Or diagramming sentences.
8. Better Food. Well, most of the time, anyway.
9. Public school was designed as an option for families who didn’t have any other choice – a safety net of sorts. Today, it’s become the norm, and has more designed to replace the family. Our family doesn’t need to be replaced.
10. Time. Public school (or private) is a huge time waster. Lining up, taking attendance, handing out papers, handing in papers, getting everyone’s attention, moving along the right side of the hallway, handing out lunch cards, waiting for everyone to be quiet. Holy cow. I can accomplish Kindergarten in a few hours every other day (that includes reading time, and crafts, and stuff) and then he can spend the rest of the day being a kid. I would not anticipate our time commitment getting much longer as he ages.
11. My kindergartner’s teacher will never accidentally send home a video of her having sex. (I make no promises that he won’t accidentally walk in…)
I really, really liked this family’s list, and they’re perhaps more eloquent than I am today. Or ever.
So please feel free to respond. I promise not to be the raging bitch I can sometimes be.