Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Personal Pet Peeve: Bad Public School Teachers & Abusive Homeschoolers

As much as homeschool bloggers spend a ton of time defending the majority of homeschoolers from generalizations based on a few really horrible stories, how is it that I often see bad public school teacher stories trotted out by homeschoolers as reasons to avoid the whole system?

From the four or five stories of abuse and death of supposedly homeschooling families each year to large portions of homeschoolers who want to deny their children good science educations in favor of religious (or even anti-industrial environmentalism) instruction, homeschoolers are insistent that those cases do not damn all of us. Yet every horrible story of a public school teacher (presenting a huge segment of the population compared to homeschool parents) gone bad is listed as yet another reason to homeschool--painting each teacher with the same broad, tainted brush. There are certain bad philosophies shared by ed schools and so many teachers that one can make generalizations. Idiot teachers who might be mean or cruel are no more representative of public school as a whole than murderous, abusive homeschoolers.

Now that I am a firm fence-straddler, using both homeschool & public school, and hope to be fully entrenched in the public school culture next year (which can only happen if Flurpee would do her work!), I am have a very different perspective. I have seen homeschoolers do their own children a disservice and public school curriculum be much more rigorous than the instruction received at their homes (my daughter is still trying to catch up with some skills I had not taught properly). I have also seen incredible dedication by public school teachers who stay after school to offer additional help. I think I have a good perspective to see that public schools are not always awful and that homeschool is not always great.

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1 comment:

Bill Brown said...

This is a big pet peeve of mine too. There's an enormous advantage possible in specialization of labor and professional teachers *can* achieve much better results than amateurs due to pedagogical practice and expertise. My wife is a former public (and private) school teacher and she took her job *very* seriously. I've also met many similarly-dedicated professionals.

That being said, I have also met plenty of slackers and water treaders in the profession. And they exist in both the public *and* private systems. I've also met (and read) homeschoolers who have no business "educating" children. The temptation to generalize is strong, so I applaud your reluctance.

My wife, capable teacher that she is, decided against homeschooling because she was afraid that she wa too close to them to be objective. Instead, she aggressively monitors their education, picks appropriate teachers, augments their instruction, and volunteers in their classes.

I guess my main point is that the source of funding is less important than the pedagogical astuteness of the teacher.