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homeschool classes: elizabeth

updated wed 19 apr 06


primalmommy on mon 17 apr 06


I'm sorry you had a bad experience with a homeschool group, but I can't
sit back and let anybody paint an entire population with a brush that

>I don't like homeschool classes in general. Moms and
>Dads who are "teaching" are too engaged and involved
>to let someone else control their kid for an hour.

That's news to a lot of us who will gladly drop our kids at summer
camps, theater programs, scout events, lessons and sports of every sort,
happy to get a break from 24/7 parenting.

> They aren't homeschooling because they want the kids
>to be free. They are doing it because they want their
>eyes and their curricula and their rules 24/7.

Let's start here. First of all, of the thousands and thousands of
homeschoolers in the country, you feel you know what motivates them all?
Disclaimer or no, your statement could use some qualifiers. I do know
homeschoolers who are control freaks. My local organization, though,
(200 families strong) is made up of "unschoolers" (Read John Holt, I
don't have time to bring you up to speed in a single email.) We follow
child led, interest based approaches to learning, and as the kids get
older, they choose their own curriculum and methods of learning. Lots of
folks do. Check out "the teenage liberation handbook". Widen your social
circle a bit.

These kids are certainly "free" in that sense of the word. What they are
NOT is used to the dictatorship of a traditional classroom, the coercion
to march in lock step and speak only when invited. They are not used to
the carrot of good grades and the stick of bad grades/trips to the
principal/public humiliation. They are used to a much more adult, humane
power structure. So if you can't teach using any other tool besides fear
and intimidation, well, stick to kids more used to a structured,
top-down learning environment.

The comments I am hearing tell more me about the teacher than the
students. Teachers on Native American reservations in the Pacific
Northwest had to adjust their approach, to accomodate kids who were not
socialized to be competitive, wave a hand to be called on, or otherwise
put themselves "ahead" of classmates. Does that make Native Americans "a
pain in the ass" and unteachable, or does it mean the teachers had to
put down their hammers and not treat everything like it's a nail? The
best teachers I know have done some time in the Peace Corps or some
culture outside of their own cozy realm and rules... nothing like a
different mindset to make you stretch as a teacher.

>I may someday homeschool my own kid and may turn to
>the other side of the least I will have
>some perspective on just what flavor a-hole I am being

I can give you the view from here.

There are two reasons that this post has me just weary and annoyed
instead of furious:
1.) this tired old logic has been handed to me for a decade now -- from
total strangers to family members to the latest clueless, childless
reporter writing an attention grabbing article. And

2) I knew everything about raising/schooling children, too, when I
hadn't done it yet. Just like I was sure having a baby wasn't going to
slow down my studio life or interfere with my focus on pre-baby goals.
Funny how life can be humbling, eh? Check back with me in a decade.

The fact is, the only thing one homeschooling family has in common with
another is how we educate our children. Beyond that we are of all races,
all levels of education, urban and rural and suburban and traveling the
planet, religious (all religions!) and secular, jerks and really good
folks. I would say the percentage of assholes to good people in the
homeschool community is roughly equivalent to the percentage in
"schooling" parents. In other words, nothing you can make broad
statements about.

>5-17 is too big a spread for anything but a family reunion.

Depends on the teacher. In the tens of thousands of years before
industrialized, factory model schooling was introduced, the natural way
of learning was for older kids to help/show younger kids, and learn by
helping/following adults. No shiny gold stars, just the intrinsic reward
of mastering a skill. Nobody telling you what you have to learn and with
what tools and in what order, no being segregated into large blocks of
kids with the same birth year and zip code year after year.

Unless you need a class that has learned to sit in silence and feign
attention, kiss up to teacher and follow instructions, it shouldn't be a
problem to let a mixed age group fade in and out, interact and explore,
allowing for shorter attention span among the littler kids.

>Odds are one of the parents just wants to learn the pottery
>skills herself so that she can trade it for spanish lessons from
another mom.

Adult learning and barter are a bad idea because... (?)

>I was told that I didn't have any right to "lay my
>hands on" any of their children for *any* reason and
>that they were going to tell everyone in the network
>that I was a dangerous teacher.

Honey, this is not just a homeschool phenomenon. Check for lawsuits
against school teachers and pricipals who can't think of any better way
to reason with a small child than physical bullying. I know you live in
the South and some principals still have paddles down there... but I
live in the land of "I don't advise laying a hand on MY child." We have
managed to parent with non violent discipline; it's not hard to do. I
have seen the irony in teaching kids, "Use your words" and "don't hit"
(especially people smaller than you) - and then backing it up with a
good yanking or spanking.

>Just watch your back with homeschool parents.

This just ticks me off in so many ways I can't even go there. Are you
aware of the prejudice you're spewing, or the stereotype you've bought
into? Replace the word "homeschool parents" with any other group --
Jewish parents... Black parents... Gay parents... Lithuanian parents...
would anyone tolerate that? Why is this different?

>I had to get over that aspect of Kelly's life to
>open my mind to liking her, which I do very much.

And now you've offered me an aspect to get over. As a woman in my 40s,
with kids who have turned out to be nice, polite, creative and
respectful human beings, there is no part of me that feels insecure or
needs the approval of folks who have no concept of what happens in my
home. But narrow mindedness and perpetuation of stereotypes always rub
me the wrong way.

You're new to this motherhood thing so here's a little primer:

Anyone who is more attentive to their child than I am is a "hover

Anyone who is less attentive is selfish and neglectful.

Anyone who imposes more rules on kids than we do is rigid and power

Anyone who imposes less is spoiling the kids and being a doormat.

Any homeschoolers who use more structure and curriculum than we do are
control freaks.

Any who use less are irresponsible.

Any kid older than mine is "old enough to know better".

Until mine is that age, then "he's just too little to know better".

OK. I've had my say. I do know some really annoying homeschool parents,
and some kids who are being homeschooled BECAUSE they don't work well in
a group situation (gifted, challenged, or just quirky.) I also know some
really annoying schooled parents, and school kids out of control, so I
make no broad assumptions.

I agree that homeschooled kids are less accustomed to a sit-and-listen
approach, more used to being engaged hands-on (and questions flying)
while learning. It can be a challenge for teachers, no question. Some
argue that the kids require the lock-step skills imparted by traditional
school, but I can't see that they need it for anything besides school
Even college is more interactive and individual based. And I have seen
enough new lost grads -- spit out into the world blinking and bewildered
after 16 years of being assigned and graded, told what to do and when --
to think a little self determination is not a bad thing.

And a disclaimer: I have great respect for school teachers. My grandma
was one, my dad, I was one and may be again one day. We have maybe a
dozen school teachers homeschooling in our organization. Schools are the
best hope for our future and the generation in which my children will
work, live and marry. But ask a schoolteacher how happy he/she is about
huge class sizes, about teaching to the test, about being pushed to do
it one way and having to abandon kids who might learn best another way.

Meh. I'm done. Other stuff deserves my energy more.

Kelly in Ohio

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Elizabeth Priddy on tue 18 apr 06

I found your post and nothing there was very
surprising as I have read the party line on
homeschooling myself. I am considering it, all of it,
not just the granola jollies it would give me.

I addressed many of the things you said in my other
post when I had not gone down far enough to find it,
so see the firt one for that.

The fact that I ralize my predjudices and try to
overcome wthem when tehy come to my attention is the
only response to how narrowminded and extreme I am.
You might take a look at your remarks about the south.

I reserve my right to remove a subverbal and violent
child from immediately endangering another child. And
if its your kid, you might get an education on freedom
and responsibility from a social contract theory

The idea that I am rigid, authoritarian, and top-down
in my classes with children is so laughable that you
should really be ashamed of that assumption. Kids
would not like me very much if that is what I was.

But think what you like. Perhaps we can have some
face time together someday and you might decide I am
not nearly as bad a teacher as you imply.

Ialso don't want to talk about it anymore, especially
here. You are bashing my life's work. Thanks.

Elizabeth Priddy

Beaufort, NC - USA

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