Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cool Homeschool

A couple of months ago my mother started a blog. I was excited about it then, but have waited a while so that she would have the time to get a good collection of posts up before I started telling everybody about it.
But now she has some posts up, so you should go visit it!


For those who do not know the story, my dad is a teacher. When he was in grad school (certifying for gifted ed), he came home one day and said to mom [in reference to his classmates, the future gifted teachers of America]: "These people are morons, I do not want them teaching my children. We are going to homeschool." I was still an infant, and no other siblings had come along yet. The way mom tells it she "had five years to get used to the idea," but by the time I was school aged, she was wholly on board.
(Yes, if you missed the subtext there, I was homeschooled from the beginning until age 16 when I started college...)
Twenty seven years and 8 diverse students later, she is one of the more experienced homeschoolers I know, and frankly, I think she's amazing. She's like me in that she doesn't take one philosophy and go with it; instead she reads a lot of everything and gleans a little from everywhere, then considers her own children's needs and creates her own versions of most of it. I find her inspiring and think that you will too.

Here is the description she wrote for the blog header:
Homeschooling has brought many blessings to our family (not the least of which is my children's feeling that school is cool!). And with those blessings comes the desire to document our family’s journey in an attempt to help others who follow. Ours is a journey that began as an idealistic voyage in 1981 and has evolved into an eclectic expedition. Let me show you our path and try to communicate some truths I've learned.


~~~~~~~

OK, official disclaimer...
I think there are some excellent teachers in public schools--I think that my dad is one of them, that my husband is another, and (if it's not too cocky of me to say so) I think I was pretty darn good... With that said, teaching in this country doesn't pay well enough to entice nor hold most of the best and brightest in the profession. So that "those who can't do, teach" is sadly true of many many teachers. That "these people are morons" sentiment is one I can echo in thinking of many of my own classmates at a college that was considered that state's leading school for teachers.
Yes, I've seen homeschoolers (and honestly public schoolers too) who had a woefully inadequate education. There are a few socially backwards utterly clueless homeschoolers that give the rest of us a bad name (just like they say about 90% of lawyers giving the rest a bad name, right?!) But there are socially backwards kids and the behaviorally challenging kids who slip through the cracks in public system too. I guess the point I'm getting at is that the quality of a person's education is not not about where they are educated (home vs school), it's about the investment and support that the student gets, and that usually comes from home anyway.

11 comments:

Mallory said...

Thanks for the link. I still have a while before Bug is school age, but I have been planning on homeschooling already, and I like having stuff to read.

Tim said...

In defense of public schools, many of the teachers are very good. It helps to get children involved in honors programs, where the teachers are often higher quality.
I have a degree in Biology Education, and I know a lot of teachers. Teachers as a whole? Very mixed reviews. But most of the science teachers I've studied and worked with are an amazing group of highly intelligent people. They could be making twice as much money elsewhere (and in easier jobs), but they love teaching.
The big downside I see to having home school for high school students, other than the social aspects, are that high school teachers specialize in certain areas. I consider myself well-educated, but I'm not capable of effectively teaching calculus, physics, or world history. I don't think I know anyone who knows enough to teach every subject adequately.
Judging by your mom's blog, I'd say science looks like her biggest weak spot. Maybe she could talk her science-educated second daughter into teaching a home school on-line class in Biology...

Lisa said...

I love your mom's blog! I definitely want to pick her brain about Waldorf some time, since that's something I'm interested in. I have really enjoyed reading her insights.

Mommy Bee said...

I think there are some EXCELLENT teachers in public schools Tim--I think that my dad is one of them, that my husband is another, I suspect you were, and (if it's not too cocky of me to say so) I think I was pretty darn good...
With that said, teaching in this country doesn't pay well enough to entice nor hold most of the best and brightest--why did you leave for law school?!
A lot of homeschoolers do attend a few classes at high schools or colleges, but (as any experienced homeschooling teacher will tell you--and as is on my mom's blog actually) it's not about knowing everything ahead of time, it's about learning alongside your kids. Parents have a vested interest in their kids' success, and specialized/trained teachers are no guarantee of a good education. Mom was valedictorian at Skyline High in SLC, but she said that she never really learned history until she re-learned it with us.
:)

Tim said...

Jenny,
I do believe teacher quality would go up if we paid them what they're worth.
Does your mom teach using a core curriculum provided by the state, or just teach out of textbooks?
I've seen too many textbooks created for homeschooling that are inadequate. My parents have a biology textbook (made for home schooling) that leaves out perhaps 25-40% of what both Utah and Idaho use in their biology core curriculum.
I think it's great your mom's learning the subjects as she prepares to teach it. I'm just worried that home school students and their parents often rely on inadequate textbooks.

Mommy Bee said...

I do appreciate where you're coming from Tim--yes, I've seen homeschoolers (and honestly public schooler too) who had a woefully inadequate education. There are a few socially backwards utterly clueless homeschoolers that give the rest of us a bad name (just like they say about 90% of lawyers giving the rest a bad name, right?!) But there are socially backwards kids and the behaviorally challenging kids who slip through the cracks in public systems too. I guess the point I'm getting at is that the quality of a person's education is not not about where they are educated (home vs school), it's about the investment and support that the student gets, and that usually comes from home anyway.

Mom has never relied on any one curriculum--she has purchased a couple of them for specific topics, but mostly she's referred to multiple books and combined/created her own. We had saxon math books, but she put together her own history program (based on two textbooks and lots of biographies, historical fiction, and field trips)...that kind of thing. There's nothing quite like history on site. :)
BTW, did you know my mom was a computer science major? She's a fairly brilliant woman. :)

Lisa said...

I think all you have to do is look at your mom's blog and see that she has 5 children who are in or have graduated from college to see that she's done a great job academically! 2(?) science majors out of that.

I only "know" her through her blog, but I think she's inspiring.

I grew up with a warped, negative view of homeschooling based on a few families in our ward who did it, but as a grad student teaching a class at BYU, I had a young woman in my class who'd been homeschooled, and she was my most memorable student (in a good way). She was motivated and self-directed, and actually cared about the content of the class more than the grade. She really changed my perspective.

Carrie said...

This is a very timely post. DH and I were having a "discussion" about homeschooling and he is absolutely against it because he thinks it makes children socially inept (he only has the experience of his brother).

In any case, I did get him to agree to Montessori, for now at least.

Janeen said...

Well, I will definitely take a look and even pass it along as I know some homeschooling folks. We definitely do plan to homeschool for many reasons and while I think DH is the better teacher (he has certainly had the experience), it would be nice to be able to help as well. I do have my concerns with math and other subjects but hope that we'll figure something out by middle school age.

Terresa said...

Hip hip hooray for homeschooling! I didn't know you were 100% home schooled! What an adventure you've had and I admit, I'm a bit jealous. ;)

While I don't home school my own kids, I deeply admire my many friends who do. They are thinkers and observers of the world who together, make it a much better place. You and your family are on that path, too. I stand all amazed.

Cheryl said...

[aka Jenni's mom]
I had to laugh when I read your comment, Tim, because most people who know me would say that science is one of my stronger areas. (No offense taken though, because you don't know me well.) I studied physics, A.P. chemistry, and biology in high school, and did more physics as part of my college math major.
But you're right--there isn't much science-related stuff on my blog. Since reading your comment, I've tried to analyze why that is so, and here's my conclusion: I try to blog about things that I've created or done "outside the box." Most of my secondary science is from textbooks, so there isn't a lot that's unique to me.
My preference is to teach whole to parts, using a story or experiment to introduce principles. I've found a few good read-alouds for science (eg. The Microbe Hunters), but finding such stories is a challenge. One reason I like the textbooks I currently use is that there is a good lab (not just "kitchen chemistry") every day and I don't have to think it up myself!
I agree that some of the homeschool textbooks out there are not what any self-respecting scientist would consider science. I've looked at a lot of those books. I don't like many of the science books I've seen in the public system either. If I wanted to use the state core curriculum, I'd let the state educate my children. I do use it as a reference, however.
Anyway, thanks for helping me think about this more. I'm already planning a new post on my blog....

Linked Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...