Monday, December 22, 2008

Why Homeschool? Part One

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I was going to start this series off with "Why So Many Kids?", but I got quite a few comments in the last post about homeschooling, so I'm going to address that first.

Lene mentioned that she is curious, but doesn't want to offend with her questions. I think there is a right and wrong way to ask people about their convictions. Let's review, shall we?

  • Wrong - "Why, for the love of all that is normal and sane, would you do such a thing? WHyyyyyyyyyyyy?

  • Right - "You have such an interesting family! I'm curious what led you to homeschool. Do you mind sharing with me?"

I think if you have a relationship with the person, the question will be seen as showing genuine interest.

Can you imagine if I approached a stranger and asked, "WHY would you choose that hairstyle? Did you WANT it to look like that? Are you a licenced cosmotologist? It looks fine on you, but there are people running around doing their own hair who are not qualified! There should be a law!"

Which brings me to the next topic. It makes me uncomfortable when someone asks me if I have a teaching certificate.

I do happen to have a teaching certificate, and I think this must give the impression that I think it is necessary to homeschooling. Quite the opposite!

Do I need to be certified to breastfeed my baby? To potty train my toddler? To teach my preschooler to tie her shoes? Do I need someone to proclaim that I am qualified to do those things? Do I need to request permission if I decide to nurse my baby until age 2?


Then why would I need to be certified to teach my own 3rd grader her multiplication facts? Or teach my 8th grader algebra?

When someone says that I am qualified to teach my own children, but there are those other homeschoolers who are not, I wonder what makes that person qualified to judge my qualifications or theirs.

One of my very dearest friends dropped out of school in 7th grade. She is now homeschooling her 13 year old daughter, who has tested above grade level in all but two subjects. In one of those subjects, she scored at grade level, and the other was slightly below.

Who of us would tell that dear mother that she is not qualified to teach her daughter? Should she send her daughter into the same system that failed her? The same school where the "qualified" teachers didn't care that she dropped out, never inquired why, never bothered to make sure she was learning her lessons?

Those qualified to teach her never prayed over her as she does her daughter. They never went over her math flashcards time and time again. They never said, "It's okay if you don't understand. We will go over it until you get it."

And in case anyone still thinks that having a system that requires all teachers to be certified will ensure ANYTHING at all, know that my friend that dropped out of school in 7th grade was 17 years old at the time. She had been neglected, overlooked, and failed since her early elementary years. All at the tax payers' expense! (Thank you, Friend, for allowing me to use your testimony!)

If you think that is an isolated case, Google "high school drop out rate" or "high school literacy rate" and see how effective mandatory certification is before you say that homeschoolers ought to be certified to teach their own children.

My husband and I are libertarian leaning, which is to say, you mind your business and we'll mind ours. We don't believe that we need the government to legislate how we should live our lives. We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence.

Liberty, as in freedom, to pursue the life we want for ourselves and our children, as long as we don't infringe on another's rights. That includes teaching our children as WE see fit. Not the government. Not our next door neighbor or our relatives.

We, the parents.

I know some of you disagree with me, and that's okay. I still love you all the same. (You are all my favorites. Each and every one of you.)

I think Karen B. said it well in the comments here:

"It seems that no matter what choices we make for our children, there's always someone out there that feels the need to tell us we need to do something differently. My husband got stuck in a conversation one night with another dad who insisted that we should be sending our children to private school instead of public school. I'm sure there were women back in the day who told Mary that she really should not have given birth to Jesus in a stable..."

Everyone has his own idea of what is best. Let each set of parents decide for their own children.

See also "Why Homeschool? Part Two"

and "Why Homeschool? Part Three".

See more of my thoughts on the topic of setting standards for others.


Kris said...

Excellent post! Funny, too. ;-) I think your analogy of the cosmetology was dead on. I know there are people who would say that scenario would not be at all the same as the certified teacher/homeschool mom scenario, but I think they are VERY much the same. I may have to borrow that one...I'll give you credit, if I do. ;-)

I don't understand why people think that things like public/private/homeschool, breastfeeding/bottle-feeding, cloth diaper/disposables, etc. have to be such debatable issues. To me, they're all examples of individual parents making the best choices for their families.

Pat's Place said...

Great explanation about homeschooling. Bravo to those who choose that route! I have a friend who homeschooled her twin boys and, at 16, are way off the charts for high schoolers and headed for college courses now. They have even figured out career paths for themselves and are preparing for the courses they need to take. Such freedom they have--not a prescribed course mandated by the local high school. Recently the two boys spent two weeks birding in Big Bend with a bird expert and photographer. Guess what their career choice might lead to?? Bravo to homeschoolers!

Jennifer said...

It's crazy how people think that all children, from all types of families, need to fit into the exact same education mold. Kids are so different! Homeschooling may work for one, public school for another one, and private school for another.

Homeschoolin' hot-rodders said...

Boy do you have that right! I too have a teaching certificate and "cringe" when someone asks me that question....I also hate it when you say you homeschool and people act (or use it to threaten their children) as some type of punishment. We personally have a GREAT time (most days lol) schooling. Sure, we have our own issues, and sure I fit into most of the cartoons in "Lies Homeschooling moms believe" but hey, its our family,a nd we love it :)

Anonymous said...

My typical response to the teaching certificate comment, is "No, but I do have their birth certificates and that qualifies me just the same."
Great post. Well spoken!!

Julie P

Kim said...

Looking forward to the rest of your series! It's been a while since I've read a good post about homeschooling and it always spurs me on. I couldn't agree more on every point.


Holly said...

Yes - great post with great points, Connie. You're in my sidebar tags!

Anonymous said...

You did a very nice job my friend! :-)

(The seventh grade drop out!)

Angie said...

Great post! I have also had a lot of people say to me, "Oh, well it's really handy that you have your teaching license," in regards to our homeschooling. I always let them know that what I learned as an elementary education major helped me more with setting up classrooms and classroom management than it actually helped me to learn any of the things that I'm teaching. I tell them also, "Sure -- maybe it helps a bit, but I think I could have done just as well without the degree."

Anonymous said...

A while back, I was so blessed when you posted your son's reaction to abortion; disbelief and outrage...that's a very good reason to homeschool.
Uncle Sam is WAY too involved in our public schools. There is way too much political conditioning going on and 'education' is a term to be used loosely.
Suz in the Tules

Lori said...

Great post!

Honey said...

Well said...and true. We homeschool and just had a funny thing happen. We had our first "run-in" with someone. Rather they tried to have one with us. I was at the library one afternoon with my 5 children-3 of whom are school age. A woman said (pretty loudly, with great disdain, in front of alot of other people) to the librarian, "Why aren't those kids in school?" I (solely by the grace of God) kept my mouth and just observed. The librarian who know us well very quickly replied to the lady, "Well it IS 3:00, but they are homeschooled anyway, so it doesn't really matter." I almost added, "We are in a library-last time I checked". Anyway, thought that funny little scene might amuse someone. Looking forward to the post about having children. We also get intrusive questions about our reproductive choices. Nothing like a COMPLETE stranger asking you if you "meant to have that many children" or "if you are going to have any more", and "by the way-did you use fertility treatments? etc etc etc. We have 5 children-two sets of twins and a singleton. We had them all in 2.5 yrs.-no no fertility treatments, just good old-fashioned marital bliss. Seriously, thanks for pointing out that we have parental rights, and that mommy is the best teacher for her children (certificate or not). We should all be praying that our parental rights (particularly, but not limited to education) are preserved in the upcoming administration!

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