Diapers and Dragons

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In Which I Am Grateful and Also Clarify a Point of View

First of all, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the kind and encouraging words, the virtual hugs, and especially the prayers. They mean so very, very much. He Who Was told me today that he wishes he could be doing just great like I am--apparently just happy all the time, constantly seeing people and doing things, and not struggling with depression. I told him that if he read my blog he'd see that isn't always true. However, I do have some key elements in my life that make all the difference: my faith and my incredible support system. You are all part of that, and I am so grateful.

So, on to a different topic for today (which was full of fun and sun, by the way, and I am now full of Little Sleazer's pizza and putting off cleaning out the room I used to live in and which needs to be ready for the new renters by Monday):

Very recently a new reader (Hi, Baby Murloc! Holy cow, an actual WoW visitor? And what does it say about me that I knew where to go in order to find your guild? :P) commented that he/she (murloc gender undefined in the comment)...

Um. That sentence is just getting confusing. I've been sidetracked by my World of Warcraft geekdom.

Starting again: A new reader commented, I came across your link via the homeschooling carnival and a comment you made. Your comment made me curious as to where you stand on homeschooling but in visiting your blog, I still don't know. =)

Ah. The great Educational Options debate. I figured it wouldn't hurt to air my views. I'm not exactly breaking new ground with them. And it just so happens that I already have such a post written--in an email.

The highly amusing Arby at Boarding in Bedlam and I write snarky emails back and forth, because we both have quite sarcastic and somewhat riske senses of humor, but sometimes we get on more down-to-earth topics. He is a stay-at-home dad who used to be a public school teacher and now homeschools his three kids. The topic of education comes up on his blog frequently, and we've had a few virtual conversations about it as well. Remarkably free of snarkiness, I should note.

So I went back and found my answer to that question in an email chain, and I'm posting it word for word as I wrote it to him. Hopefully this clarifies my stance. Feel free to comment and question. I won't get prickly.

Much.

*****************************************

From an email dated August 5, 2009

I'm in a rather interesting situation, actually. I have been homeschooled, attended private day schools (small and large) both in America and England, attended boarding school overseas, went to a VERY large public university, and teach at a large public high school. Pretty much the only option I haven't experienced firsthand is a charter school.

One of the things I love about the education system in America (and don't get me wrong, I have a lot of criticisms) is the many options people have. I love that we do have choices. One could argue that it's harder and more limited for poorer people, but since there are some excellent charter/magnet schools as well as a growing contingent of homeschoolers even amongst the poverty-stricken innercities (such as Detroit), I think that determination and creativity can make the difference.

I am in the position of NOT thinking that one option is necessarily better than all others. I think it depends on the school, on the family, and especially on the child. I think any school or homeschool can be excellent or horrible. I think any child can succeed in one option and fail in another. So I truly do not have an issue with people choosing other options than that in which I myself am professionally involved. I DO have an issue with people, on any side, who claim that their educational way is the only way.

What I do hate, with a passion, about the current educational policy in America is the attitude that all children should be able to perform identically, as though they're little robots. That's my own frustration with the testing and the laws and all. I love most of teaching: I hate much about the institution. I do still believe, philosophically, in American education. My own children will attend public school. It helps that I teach in a good district. It has its problems, no doubt about that, but it's a good one.

Besides, I don't have what it takes to homeschool!

I think a lot of the anti-homeschooling perspective comes from the way homeschooling tended to be (and sometimes still is) back in the day--very isolated, with little in the way of socialization. Nowadays there are so many options and opportunities for homeschoolers that I don't see that being the norm any longer, at least in the people I know who do it. I have an uncle (well, really his wife) who homeschooled all three children here in the States--in other words, by complete choice rather than necessity--and their kids had SO much awesome social interaction, including being part of a homeschool co-op that neatly counteracted the common complaint that (at the higher levels especially) the teachers don't have enough expertise in specific areas.

I find myself being the Voice of Reason on the occasions where educational choice is a debate--for both sides!

6 bits of love:

Draft Queen said...

I couldn't agree more with it depending on the child.

The Kampers said...

Thank you...such a fresh balanced perspective!

Vicki said...

=) We so agree! Cool.

I unschool my youngest but that came about after public school, public school gifted, then private school failed him. We started out attempting Abeka then quickly moved into unschooling.

Now, some of the issues we had, had more to do with my son being far, far, ahead of the 'systems'. He has qualified to start college at ten. So unschooling for this child, is a perfect fit.

As for Baby Murloc....lol....That is me, haha. Murloc's Anonymous started out as a joke (just look at the web address)My son and a few friends decided to play with the site and turn it into a real blog.

That isn't one of our guilds and I'd have to agree about killing them should I come across a guild with that name. =P

Heidi said...

This is essentially my perspective on the issue, although I'm not quite as positive about public schools (mostly because of the lack of early foreign language instruction) ;)

But I'm definitely not a homeschooler. I don't have it in me and admire those who do!

Kathleen said...

Well said! I am not a "hater" of public school; I taught in one myself. Homeschooling just fits for our family--we love the flexibility it affords.

mom said...

Love your point of view on schooling, as you know. ;) And I'm SOOOO glad that after all is said and done, you feel that way, even though it wasn't always easy along the way. I treasure the years I homeschooled you for the way that it let me truly know you. And on the other subject, I'm deeply grateful that you have those crucial things in your life: your faith and your support system. Yes, it makes all the difference.

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