My wife is a teacher. An Earth Science teacher. For the eighth grade. Yeah, I don't get it either. Super boring subject. Worst grade in the world to teach, what with all those insanely raging hormones. But that's where she ended up, and I'll admit, it is pretty cool when she points out something I didn't know about the weather or the stars.
When we first got married, she was going through all the training necessary to become a teacher. A ridiculous amount of studying. Planning. Student Teaching. She even had to videotape herself giving a lesson, as well as undergo a number of classroom observations. In other words, it wasn't as simple as grabbing a ruler, heading to the front of the classroom, and, BAM, you're a teacher.
Which is why I'm completely baffled by the entire homeschooling arena. I'm not trying to bash anyone here, but I really have no clue how homeschooling works. I mean, how are regular parents even qualified to teach their kids, when public school teachers need to go through such rigorous training?
Just because you can read doesn't mean you're qualified to teach your kids. Sure, every parent is a teacher in his or her own right. We all teach our kids morals, hygiene, and the ways of the world. But I'm talking about a full-fledged education here. The kind of learning that will help them master the English language, conquer Pythagorean's theorem, and understand exactly why volcanoes erupt.
Then, of course, there's the entire social aspect of school. Yes there are bullies, and food fights, and detention, and way too many cliques. But school really is just a microcosm of the real world. It's one thing to protect and shelter your young kids from harm, but what happens when these kids grow up, get a job, and face the same type of obnoxious people in the real world? Will they be able to cut it?
Half of school is actual book learning; the other half is social skill learning. Learning how to make friends. Learning how to deal with or ignore enemies. Learning responsibility, cooperation, team building, independence, etc.
Home also offers a place of refuge from school. Had a tough day? You can just head home after school and relax a bit. Out of sight, out of mind. But if you're homeschooled, you actually live in school! There is no escape from it. You don't even have homework, or rather, EVERYTHING you do is homework. There is no escape.
I'm not saying I'm completely against homeschooling; I just don't understand the benefits of it at all. What makes it a better experience over a public school education? How do you round out your child's social interactions? How do you separate home life from school life, or is it eternally linked?
I guess the biggest thing I don't understand is how any parent can just grab a book and a curriculum and start teaching their kids at home. No observations, testing, licensing, certifications, etc.
This might be a bit extreme, but if you needed to have surgery, would you go to a doctor who taught himself medicine purely on his own at home? Or would you prefer going to one who graduated from a top medical school and learned from experienced hands-on teachers?
Photo via Lyn Lomasi/Flickr