Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Response to Mr. L

There was an interesting conversation happening on my husband's Facebook friend's page.  A homeschooling dad sharing a great article on raising our children to be independent, critical thinkers with freedom in their learning.  A friend of this friend, whom I'll address as Mr. L, responded very critically.  It was both ignorant and intolerant at the same time.  While spewing "facts" based on his "experience" he had made a stereotypical judgment about the vastly diverse homeschool world.  

Here were a few of his statements:

"I've always been against homeschooling. 99% of the time it's done for far out religious or anti government beliefs. School is less about the work itself, and more to do about social interactions and how to make your way in the world. Throw out the old timers, and show me a top salesman, CEO or sucessful businessman who was homeschooled. You won't find any. Almost every homeschooled kid I knew growing up has the same job: "youth minister". I'm not saying home schooled kids aren't smart, they're just behind the 8 ball when it comes to the real world."  
May 19 at 11:51am

"In the Huffington Post (A counter response given to Mr. L's statements) article I only
found one person, and that was Condi Rice. The rest were either 100 years ago or pro
athletes, and who knows where they would be if they had to rely on brains instead of
athletic talent. And I'm sure everybody knows somebody or two that is the exception,
good for them. But that's a few out of how many million?" 
May 19 at 1:09pm

I'm not saying they're not smart enough, I'm saying most of the time they can't handle doing 
the job in the real world making real money. Getting along with co-workers, having to play
office politics,navigating the world. Most of the time the church is happy to have them there
working for peanuts so they don't give them a hard time

...but out of how many tens of millions of kids who have been homeschooled over the past
20 years or so, do you think there are more hits or misses? For every homeschool kid who
"makes it" there are a few hundred who were homeschooled because they're parents
didn't want the "guv'ment brainwashing their kid" and doomed them to a cycle of failure.
Give me ten thousand kids raised by wolves and I could probably find a dozen that ended
up okay. Does that mean letting wolves raise your kids is a good idea? No.
"  May 19 at

So after shaking my head in shame on Mr. L's behalf of his attitude and responses, I decided to respond.  

Dear Mr. L,

I'm so thankful your public school indoctrination of tolerance is serving you so well in this issue.  It is also interesting to see your knowledge of statistics, propaganda, and forms of logic and reason being used so effectively (hope you are catching on to my sarcasm).  

I am a successful product of the public school sector and proud homeschooling parent.  While I know those who preach "tolerance" tend to be the least tolerant of opinions they disagree with, I hope you will at least see the invalidity of your arguments against homeschooling.

First of all, homeschooling branches history from ancient times to modern.  In America, it has a strong backbone in the founding of our country and many of our early heroes.  However, with the modern institution of the government school system, homeschooling became an abnormal or even illegal form of receiving education.  It wasn't until 1992 that homeschooling was finally recognized as a legal schooling option in all states once again.  One of the reasons to invalidate your "claim" of minimal "successful" adults whom were homeschooled in our current era goes back to the fact that many homeschoolers in our modern age are still coming of age and beginning to make their impact on society.  I would argue that if you look at the span of history, students who are given the freedom to learn and develop in ways that do not put them in the box of the median end up being some of the most impactful and brilliant minds of their era.  

Your argument also breaks down because of your minute definition of "success".  It appears from your statements that in order for one to be heroically successful they must become president, cure a disease, or end a war.  While I note that those positions are successes, you exemplify ignorance to the fact that the backbone of America, the heartbeat of the nation's innovation, and the soul of its ideals often does not inhabit those on the front page of the press.  They are in the small businesses of every town, the boards of every non profit, and reaching the third world with life saving innovation, training, and discipleship.  Success is beyond titles, awards, and letters behind your last name. It is becoming the person you were Designed to be, making the most of every moment, impacting your community with your skills, talents and abilities, being a productive member of society,  and doing it with a humble and compassionate heart. 

Your argument breaks down further with the idea that the government school system breeds great success.  Yes, it can.  I was one of those who fit perfectly in the box designed by the standards and organization.  However, you do not take into account the number of failures the government school system produces.  A better statistic for your mathematical argument would be comparing homeschool and public school numbers of graduation, retention, productivity, and fulfillment.  I'm reminded of the story of Dr. Ben Carson.  The youngest pediatric neurosurgeon at John Hopkins ever.  Innovator.  Life saver.  He took on the cases other doctors thought were hopeless.  Now, you may say, "well, see, another public school success story!".  I would argue that Dr. Carson would have been in the category of public school failures.  As Dr. Carson neared the end of his elementary years, he was self admittedly the worst student in his class.  He was failing everything.  The system was doing nothing to save him.  They did nothing to bring him out of the mire and onto the road of success.  It was his Mother who did.  It was his mother who wouldn't let school be a failure for her sons.  It was in the home that Ben flourished.  By her enforcement of reading library books, writing reports, and staying inside to do homework- Dr. Carson finally made progress and became "successful".  I would venture to say that Dr. Carson would not thank the public school for setting him on the path, but actually thank his mother for what she did at HOME (I've read his books and heard him in person and this was important to his message).  How many other "successes" would actually praise the public school system?  I bet many had a parent, a mentor, a coach, or a single experience that set them on the road to success.  The public school more a means to an end, rather than impactful experience.

Most of what makes the public school has been built on meeting the median need and what was the most accommodating for the administrators and teachers.  (with a BA in elementary education, I know how this works).  Schools were sorted into grade/age levels due to the growing population of students entering one room schoolhouses after the government mandated education for all children.  It was deemed the most feasible to sort children by age, rather than any other way.  It seemed best for the teacher to teach kids who were all the same 'grade' so they didn't have multiple age levels in the same room to work with.  The standards that are required by teachers to teach each grade level are determined by govnerment boards and politicians who often do not have teaching and development backgrounds and have not engaged inside a classroom since their school years.  The corruption of education has seeped from  from the federal level down.

Every homeschool parent comes to the decision for a different reason and in a different way.  So whether the parents decide they don't want to force their child into the box of public school expectations, are tired of interference from people who don't know their child, want to engage their child to be a life-long learner in ways that work best for them, have more intentional influence on their child, or just simply like being with their kids- they are expressing their free right as that child's steward on Earth.

And your ignorant socialization point?  As seen on a blog recently, and I paraphrase, "To call the best form a socialization putting a child in a room with 25 of its same age peers is like saying we should learn table manners from a monkeys"  Do I really want my kids learning respect, kindness, play, and problem solving from kids who are in the same maturity scan of them?  My almost 8 year old is getting more socialization now than she did at public school- and I can guarantee it is higher quality and preparing her more aptly for 'the real world'.  She socializes with her babysitters, her grandparents, her family, the cashier, the dentist, the librarian, her ballet class, her sunday school teacher, her classmates at church, her neighbor friends, and the list goes on.  Compared to the 6-8 hours a day she used to spend sitting at a desk quietly, walking the halls quietly, trying to eat her lunch in 20 minutes or less, and spend countless minutes, perhaps hours, a day 'transitioning', she is actually socializing in a way that makes practical sense.  When adults look to grow in a life area- they don't look to people who are at the same level- they look to those who are older, or wiser, or more experienced to provide advice.

Now all this to say, I'm not an anti-public school.  I have a teaching degree.  I went to public school 2-12th grade.  It works great for many families.  For some it is the only option.  I respect their choice, they have made it freely and have done what is best for their child at that time.  Perhaps even someday we will send our daughters back.  

When you can have a healthy and balanced discourse without spouting from the hip imaginary statistics and practice your brand of 'tolerance' than perhaps we can have a more profitable conversation.

What arguments have you faced in the world of homeschool vs public school.

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