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elizabeth's mfa

updated mon 26 jun 06


primalmommy on sat 24 jun 06

Elizabeth, homeschooling IS just parenting -- with a gradually
increasing level of outside information. And it is the most natural
thing in the world. You're right about that.

And the right person can clearly learn as much or more than he/she would
in an MFA program, by setting a high bar, working outside the comfort
zone and finding the resources.

I don't think anyone would argue with that.

It's not a less-or-more issue, but it's not exactly splitting hairs,
either. Homeschooler and MFA both mean something very specific, and
require quite a lot of frustrating, bureaucratic hoop jumping,
paperwork, and most of all, charting your course by somebody else's
institutionally imposed --(and sometimes arbitrary and ill fitting) --

To parent in North Carolina, you need to parent. By your own instinct,
following your own ideas.

To homeschool in North Carolina you need to file documents assuring the
powers that be that your student will be in attendance at least nine
calendar months per year... cover English grammar, reading, spelling,
and mathematics, as measured by standardized tests annually, which must
be made available for inspection ... verify that you have a high school
diploma or the equivalent... file notice of intent with the state
division of non-public education... and make attendance, immunization
and test records available to authorities upon request. If you fail to
comply you can be arrested.

(NC regulations are less complicated than some other states.)

Then, you have to dare not to put your kid on the bus when the whole
culture of back-to-school is against you... stand your ground against a
barrage of criticism and well meaning "advice" from in-laws and
neighbors, friends and strangers which will last for as many years as
you choose to deviate from the norm. Folks will accuse you of warping
your child socially, of ruining his chances academically, of
oversheltering and overmothering. You will be assumed to be a hippie, or
a fundamentalist, or an antisocial freak. Other homeschoolers who are
more structured or less, more faith-based or less, more waldorfy or
montessori, diverse or mainstream, schooly or unschooly may disapprove
of your approach and/or avoid your company.

But does any of this mean you are doing better "educating" as an
official homeschooler than you would without the hoops and papers?
Hardly. But it's why, if you tell homeschoolers that you are
homeschooling your preschool child, (or as some say, "homeschooling the
kids after school, in the evenings") -- you might get some patient

To get an MFA there's a similar list of requirements, forty hours of
this and twenty of that, meeting with advisors, papers and exams,
permissions and paperwork, a certain required grade point average,
paying fees and dotting i's and crossing t's. It's the
color-inside-the-lines approach to education, at least in the areas of
bursars and transcripts, numbers and stats. Maybe not so much in the
clay studio.

Most of the bureacracy is just crazy making, but if you want the
color-inside-the-lines degree, you have to do it that way. Do you become
a better artist, a better potter, doing it in school? I doubt it.
Working on your own, the only limits are your resourcefulness, time,
commitment and work ethic. In other words, the sky's the limit.

But if you apply for a college teaching gig and say you have an MFA from
University of Elizabeth, it might not cut it. I know that's not your
goal -- just sayin'. Officialdom is a process of jumping through other
people's hoops (even lame ones), not your own.

My point is, why assimilate the language of a formal status, as if it's
necessary to justify your own? Why isn't teaching toddler-child to kiss
nice instead of head-butt, "parenting"? Parenting is a fine and noble
pursuit. Why not consider your self-directed studies "lifelong
learning"? Bloom where you're planted. Don't call your apple an orange,
an apple just may be the sweeter fruit to begin with. It's too easy to
over-glorify the hoop jumping categories based on what society considers

Just my two cents.

Kelly in Ohio

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Fonda Hancock on sun 25 jun 06

Kelly, it may be that formal (ducumentation of hours, testing etc.) to
home-school in some places. I can speak from pretty good authority, that
it is not always so. I have been teaching in the rural H. Co. school
system for 22 yrs. and all a parent has to do is drop by the central
office and fill out a 1/2 page document stating their intention to home-
school. And if you don't do that, after maybe 30 days of absences you may
or may not get a call from central office asking you what is up. If you
never enroll you child in the first place it is like you don't exist as
far as H. Co. Schools are concerned. If you home-school and decide you
WANT to take the TCAP (Tennessee's brand of standardized test, then you
will be given a teacher who must find room in her classroom for your child
for the test. But if you don't that's not followed up on. The fact that
you have not graduated is not an obstacle and hours are not checked. I
have had students return to public school in the 7th grade after many
years of home-school because Johnny wants to play basketball of the Math
has become "too hard" for Mom to teach, when in actuality, the child being
2-3 yrs. behind one wonders if the math wasn't too hard the year before as
well. All this used to make me nuts, till one of my best friends, a
school board member asked me what was I willing to give up in resources in
order to pay for regulating the children who were, for an amazing variety
of stated reasons, pulled from our schools. This county is poor, rural,
has a small tax base and MANY retirees who are not really interested in
funding education. So if you opt out of the system, you're on your own.
Are there children in H. Co. getting a good home school
education..undoubtedly yes.. are all of them even being given the most
basic..I believe not. But I do know see why we don't spend the money to
find out. By the way, the far and away most common reason for pulling kids
out..being kicked off the bus, therefore necessitating someone to bring
them to school. I know this sounds like slap at all is
not meant to be. But I do think it should be understood that it is not
universally regulated and maybe it shouldn't be. But there are children in
the U.S. getting little or nothing, which could probably be said for
public education as well..but not in my classroom!
Fonda in Tennessee