Questions, questions, rude questions…

In many homeschooling forums one topic pops up often — friends, family and acquaintances (as well as virtual strangers) asking home educating families to explain their choice. “I do not agree with homeschooling! How are you qualified to teach? Give me 3 reasons why you chose it” is something I have seen come up a number of times… Being put on the spot, the poor homeschooling parent fumbles out a reply and feels that they have not done themselves justice. They then turn to a homeschooling forum to arm themselves with more succinct answers for next time. The reaction of the groups is often outrage, saying things like “Tell them it is none of their business!” or “How rude, don’t they have any manners?” lots of people say “If homeschoolers told schooled parents they don’t agree and asked why they send their children to a school, then they may see the absurdity of the question” and I agree with the sentiment, people could be curious without the tone of judgement. Although I believe that often the person asking is truly interested and are simply completely unaware of homeschooling and how it works.

I would like to reply to the questions.

Regarding being qualified I would say. Firstly the government says I am qualified, our family is registered as homeschoolers. To become registered we applied and were approved by the the education department. That is not why I believe that I am the right person for the job though, I am qualified to teach my children because I truly care about the outcome. I am invested in ensuring THEY have every opportunity. I know my children and will always be looking out for the best way for THEM to learn. A teacher may be qualified in what is considered the ‘best’ way of teaching the majority, I am not interested in teaching the majority, I am interested in what is best for MY children!

As far as 3 things that make it right for my children are: 
1. Self confidence. My children can learn in a way that is tailored to how they learn and their interests. If they are really good at something they can fly through it although on the other hand if they aren’t they can take as long as they need. Therefore they will never get left behind or be left feeling lost and stupid. They will also never miss a part of the scaffolding to learning a particular subject or topic.  They know they can do anything, given time and opportunity, this gives them the confidence to trust in themselves. Self confidence is obviously extremely valuable to have for a number of reasons although as far as their education it allows them to try harder or more advanced subjects than they ever would without that confidence. 
2. Socialisation. My children get to socialise with a variety of children of all ages, they are able to help younger children with problems as well as be helped by older children. Homeschooled children learn in groups often although the groups are more likely to be interest driven rather than segregated by age. Because they are often discussing learning with both younger and older children, I have found that, they are able to communicate their learning well as well as problem solve without adult intervention. 
3. Imagination! They get to foster their imagination. Learning generally happens much more quickly when it is a small group and child driven. We don’t spend 6 hours a day doing school, we play and we learn all the time! They have lots of free time to play and imagine. I feel that one of most important things that our future society needs is imagination! We need people that can think outside the box to create the amazing jobs of the future.

If you educate your children differently to me that is fine, if something else works for your family I am truly happy for you. I do not believe that home educating is for everyone, for many reasons some people would not want to or can not homeshcool their children. I have no problem with parents that educate their children differently to me although I am happy with our decision and know it is the best for our family.

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April 20, 2015 - 2:28 am

Sam - I especially like the part that teachers are taught the best way to teach the majority of students – which they must be of course. However, homeschoolers need to ensure only their children are educated in the most appropriate way for their own children. We need to do a good job with our children, not prove to the world that we can teach 20 children with different needs all at the same time.

One thing I’ve found fascinating about homeschoolers is how incredible academically capable most of them are, regardless of the education level they themselves achieved. Many are tertiary educated and those who aren’t quickly learn all the skills required to help educate their children. Regardless of background, the passion and competence is incredibly.

Perhpas this level of abilty is part of the reason people get annoyed – most homeschoolers really are good at what they do and that can be very unsettling for other people. Such realisations can turn they rules we hold dearly about society upside down. Some people become very angry when other’s show there’s another way to achieve the same outcome – with much happier and well-balanced children in the case of those children who were miserable at school.

Over my years of homeschooling my children who were pretty well broken by mainstream schooling, I’ve learned that those who take issue with me do so because I am going against what they did or currently do. I’ve never heard of any reasonable argument that doesn’t rely on the bizarre and false ‘toughening up leads to resilience’ and the angry, edgy defensive inuendo ‘isn’t school good enough for your kids!’. As for socialisation, who says its normal society being told when you can use the bathroom, learning only 1 way of thinking/working out problems, witnessing the screaming of teachers at the disruptive kids, the bullying etc… I was in the workforce for 20 years and I never saw people being treated that way without them the adult leaving the job or being seriously depressed. All parents want more for the children when they’re adults than being treated like that so setting that as a standard of socialisation when children just seems odd to me.

Those people who are whole in themselves, who know they did or are doing the right thing by their children regardless of schooled or homeschooled, are always great about homeschooling in my experience.

When I asked a recently retired priest whose entire life was spent counseling his parishioners, why people judge someone harshly when another is choosing a different path but is not harming anyone, his reply surprised me. He said that there’s something missing in their soul. He said they cannot be shown, cannot be taught open-mindedness and they must reach it on their own. He found over 50 years most such people never do. Sad. I’m not religious but you don’t need to be to understand what he was saying.

April 20, 2015 - 8:01 am

admin - Thank you for your wonderful reply Sam! I also simply can not fathom the idea of sending kids to school (if they are unhappy there) to ‘toughen them up’, why anyone would want to teach their children that being miserable is to be expected is beyond me… Teach them that although life can be hard they are are able to change it. They have the power to make the world better for them and others!

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