Wednesday, August 24, 2011

YOU Seem To Be Doing a Good Job

Because we've reached one of those milestone anniversaries (the kind where most people have a party or go on a cruise or some big vacation to Hawaii or Europe) Gary and I went to APT last weekend. We attended a "Bard Talks" discussion on poetry, led by dear, wonderful David Daniel. (That was beyond awesome!!) Then we saw The Tempest. (That was okay.) Turns out that it was a teacher-appreciation night, and the theatre was packed.

So, the next morning at the bed & breakfast, Gary and I are, naturally, the oddballs. The homeschoolers in a dining room full of very nice teachers. "So how long have you been doing this?" "Why did you decide to homeschool?" "I just don't think many people have the ability to teach high-school chemistry and calculus." (Amazingly, now that I'm thinking back on it, the Socialization Question did not arise once all weekend. Bizarre!)

And of course there was the perennial, "YOU seem to be doing a good job of this. But not everybody can." There are many good responses to that statement, and Gary gave one. But something crossed my mind that hadn't before. What if we had turned the tables? "Well, YOU seem to be doing a good job in your position of teaching, but what about all those other teachers who don't care as much? Who don't teach the material and ensure kids comprehend it? Who allow kids to be bored by history? Who don't know how to identify the subject and verb in a simple sentence? Who choose reading material that is intentionally provocative and offensive to some parents? Who take a couple of weeks' vacation on school-days instead of going to Florida when school is out of session?"

I'm not saying that everyone who claims to be a homeschooler does an outstanding job. But neither will I assent to the claim that all teachers in conventional schools are doing a good job. Who should be judging whom? And is the failure rate among homeschoolers anywhere near the failure rate in conventional schools?


  1. You are reminding me of a conversation of great hilarity I had with a young lady of the public school variety who is able to laugh at the audacity of these questions. So we made up public school questions and giggled. Fond memory for me.

  2. I had almost the same conversation today at the orthodontist. The appointment scheduler said something about our needing an after school appointment and I said that wouldn't be necessary because we home school so of course it went from there. It was the usual "I could never do that" and "How do you know they're getting what they need and that they're really learning if you don't have the training?" I didn't tell her that I do have the so-called training. What I said was that I can't say for sure that they're getting everything they "need." But putting them in school would not give me any more security regarding that question because there are all kinds of kids in public schools who are not learning even with the guidance of certified teachers. I told her at least with my kids at home I have some knowledge of WHAT they are doing and I have some influence over it and I maintain ultimate responsibility for it, which is important to me. And then she took it from there and said that yeah, at least I know my kids are safe, unlike the kids in public schools these days. The socialization question did not come up in this conversation either. It was all about the academic side. She seemed surprised when I said my high school kids pretty much teach themselves and said "You have good kids. A lot of the kids in school won't listen to their parents." Nor their teachers. And that frankly is a different issue from the education one.

  3. You just reminded me...

    On a VERY public forum (digg), someone posted a link about how home school students on average outperform public school students. I was absolutely flabbergasted that the overwhelming feedback was positive. The socialization issue came up once or twice, but even non-home school people said they didn't think that really mattered - social "outcasts" (or introverts) will likely be that way whether home schooled or not. Most people agreed that it was a completely viable option, even if they wouldn't do it themselves. Even more were at least supportive of the rights of parents to home school, even if they didn't like it and had problems with it.

    It was really only a few here and there who had major problems, and then there were the guys who chimed in from Europe who thought we were insane, but really, I was surprised by the positive feedback.

  4. Happy Anniversary! We spent last weekend at jay's wedding. We spent our anniversary at the start-of-school picnic for Mary's school. Tomorrow night we're finally celebrating; looks like a good steak and a movie. :)

  5. Melody, I was hoping you were enjoying your anniversary as much as WE enjoyed your anniversary! LOL

  6. ::kicking self for not wishing you a happy anniversary like my much more sensitive and thoughtful friend Melody::


  7. Cheryl, Melody and I have good reason to remember when each other's anniversary is. :-)

    Oh, and thank you [bowing].

  8. But I didn't have to remember! It was right there in the blog post!

    So glad you had a nice anniversary date. We have a milestone one coming up next year (25). Not sure what we're going to do.

    I wanted to add to what Nathan said. Overall the reaction I continue to receive to our homeschooling is positive. People may be puzzled by it and not understand it and think they can't do it. But they generally affirm our reasons for doing it and often say something to the effect of "I wish I could do that." I acknowledge that it is not for everyone. But I think a lot more people could do it than think they can. People don't give themselves or their kids enough credit. The mindset is so often one of replicating school at home, and that is what gives them pause. I also think that unfortunately some people just don't want their kids around all the time. :-(