search  current discussion  categories  teaching 

public education

updated sat 16 jan 99


Joyce Lee on fri 15 jan 99

Although retired from a varied and lengthy career as a public educator
absolutely devoted to and enchanted by the students, the teachers and
the process, I have never been able to decide which "works"
better...home schooling or public education.. I am definitely
influenced toward "home" schooling when I talk with intelligent,
creative, energetic, preferably young, parents who take advantage of
every opportunity to positively expand their kids' understandings of our
world and the humans who populate it. Their children are often a joy to
behold and in many cases will surely be the leaders of their chosen
communities. I envy especially the parents' mobility in and around a
currculum. It must be endlessly invigorating to not have to worry about
the thirty or so who are lagging behind in any given classroom, the
thirty who can neither flourish in a restrictive, repetitive, limited
environment nor are they able to make the leaps necessary to function in
a truly open, creative setting. The former is too often the public
school's role in spite of lofty proclamations otherwise, not because of
funding nor as a result of parental shortcomings...nope, then all we'd
need is more money (which would help, seldom hurts) or parent-education.
I'm afraid this particular Brutus ets tu, for our major flaw seems to me
to be a shortage of creative, open-minded teachers, accompanied by an
oversupply of repetitive, restrictive and limited teachers, limited by a
lack of intelligence and courage. Yes, yes, yes I finished my career as
an administrator (as Mel so kindly informed the whole list)...but I'm
not including administrators here because my experience is that they're
a pretty ineffective bunch (with notable exceptions...more's the pity:
that they ARE notable). It's the teacher who counts. Once the bell rings
and the door closes, that single teacher is the one who can make it work
or not. If she can manage to MAKE "it" work, one of her rewards is that
her influence with those who make educational decisions...boards,
parents, community well nigh limitless. These groups can be
very patient and accepting even of differing philosophies when faced
with such an educator. In too many districts it seems to me we've lost
hope for authoritative (that CAN be a good quality, you know),
thoughtful, courageous leadership and are simply thrusting fair-sized
sums of money at ANYBODY WILLING to move into the office or classroom,
no matter how brief the tenure, just so the slot can be filled...some of
the incompetent applicants are shocked themselves when they are
"selected" by the equally incompetent or at least disheartened
superintendents and shool boards. Given somebody, anybody, TRULY IN
CHARGE, we'd not "need" home-schooling and we could keep those creative,
competent, articulate, intelligent home-schooling parents and students
inside the public system where their influence and leadership is sorely
missed. And, yes, I am aware of the pathetic, angry, incredibly hurt
children who are seemingly educated at home for the sole purpose of
winning either the "misfit" or "druggie" championships of their teeny
worlds. God knows who's going to help them......

In the Mojave a bit torqued at the cruel and inhumane way we treat our
children....recalling the many times she "reviewed" a kid's schedule to
see how she might "help" a no-win situation....and realizing that he
didn't have ONE SINGLE TEACHER, out of six, capable of adding just an
iota of self-esteem to his day. To help, I'd need to change his whole
schedule and have all six teachers AND counselor and all their friends
"mad" at me...guess what I did? Power is wonderful.