Thursday, October 4, 2007

Rabid Homeschooler Alert!

Okay, so I am a perfectly reasonable person. I, also, before today, had never encountered someone soooo apposed to homeschooling. Wow!

So, there I was, working out at my gym, talking away with another woman. We were talking about our children and I told her that I homeschool my kids. She said, "Well, I guess that's okay if you really do it." What?????

I tell you, I turned into Super Kristina Defender of all Homeschooling. First, let me preface this with this: I am not really a fan of unschooling. I believe that children need a vigorous base of learning, to include the classics and Latin and lots of other things. Unschooling is, for the most part, child led. I know that many unschooling parents help guide their children; because it is child led, it is diametrically opposed to classical education, again, for the most part. (After all, most children are never going to want to learn to diagram sentences, but it is an integral part of being a good writer and understanding the English language.) Also, I just couldn't handle the need to always be figuring out what were good learning opportunities. Plus, I'm a bit compulsive and I need to be in control.

However, I do know that parents who unschool ARE homeschooling. Their children ARE learning, and usually more than they would have learned in school! So, I went off on her and told her how unschooling (because after further discussion it came to light that unschooling was her only exposure to homeschooling) can teach a child. And really, come to find out, she didn't know what her "friend" is doing with her kids, it's just what she "thinks". I doubt she has ever asked her friend what she does with her children. For all she knows, those kids might be sitting at a desk all day writing. Ugh!

Then, I got hit with the S-word. This is the word that almost all homeschoolers hate, socialization. "But, are you making sure they have social opportunities and can function in social situations?" Are you telling me that school is a social situation? Here, I thought it was a place to get an education. My reply? "I am making sure my children swim. If they were in school, they would be sinking. My son is so much more intelligent than most kids his age that he has a hard time making friends. They just can't communicate with each other. If he was at school, the teacher would not be searching through 3 counties and more to find him a friend. No, he would be sinking. So, yes, I am TEACHING my son to socialize (which we all know is a misnomer)" I am teaching him how to make it in the real world and how to get along with children his age on their level and go to other people (mostly adults) to talk on his level. He is learning to care about children smaller and younger than him and that it is okay to swim against the school:).

So, then, she said, "Well, you have to go out a lot to make sure they get a good education (huh?) and you have to take them everywhere with you!" So, first to address the "go out a lot" part of that comment: why? When they go to public/private school, they don't "go out a lot". They might go on one or two field trips a year, more if they are lucky. The rest of the time, they are stuck behind a desk 7 hours a day being dumbed down. To the second part of that statement, "I have to take them everywhere with me, anyway! I'm a stay-at-home mom. I don't put them in daycare so that I can go to the grocery store (although I'd like to sometimes :D)."

This woman's misconceptions about homeschooling were astounding to me! I knew this existed but had never come in contact with it before.

So, now that the foam is starting to recede from my mouth, I'll sign off with this. Homeschool doubters beware, Super Kristina is on the watch!


  1. Kristina,

    While I have found your blogs entertaining, there is one request that I feel needs to be addressed. Let me start by saying you are a stay-at-home mom and home-school your children and these are both your choices. I have chosen to be an educator and by choosing this profession I am following in the footstaeps of my father, mother, aunt, and uncles. My wife is an educator. My 8 year old daughter wants to be an elementary school teacher when she grows up and I can't think of a finer career. I love working with children and watching then achieve success (and yes success does happen every day in every school across this great country). I do not see students sink or being dumbed-down in the classroom, rather, the teachers I work with go above and beyond to assist their students. Schools today are being held to even higher standards then ever before. That being said, just as you were insulted by that lady's comments at the gym, I have been continuously insulted by your attacks on the area of education. I consider these personal attacks on my family as well. Just as I have never questioned your choices please find a better way to express your opinion. A true defeatist will attack the opponent rather than defend their position. If there is a way to block me from being able to read your blogs and you choose to do that then I would be disappointed since it is one way I get to see my nephews and their experiences. Let me conclude by saying that I have always offered you nothing but respect and I will hope in the future you will do the same.

    Dave Flaherty

  2. Dave,

    Instead of ranting and raving here, I am going to try to respond to each comment you made. I had planned to make my next soapbox post about stay-at-home moms, but instead, I think I'll make it about education so that I can go more in depth without making this an impossibly long comment. Also, I feel that I should have put this post on my soapbox, but I thought it had to do with homeschooling--it does, but not really to do with my family. Sorry about that, I'm still figuring this out.

    Okay, I appreciate the fact that you are an educator. I respect and understand the fact that educators are undervalued in our society (and I'm not even talking about pay, here). I don't know if you know this, but I also wanted to be a teacher. I don't disagree with the idea that teaching is a fine career.

    Oh, I know that children achieve success in school, sometimes BECAUSE of schools and sometimes IN SPITE of schools.

    I do see students sinking in schools. I think that you might have misunderstood that comment. I'm not sure. I was speaking about sinking or swimming in the social arena. If you can point me to a school that doesn't have outcasts or cliques, please do so. (I know that the Thomas Edison School of Science and Math in Fairfax, VA comes close--but that's high school and what happens to these kids during those so tender formative years?) If you can point me to a school where every student has a friend based on his interests and not because they were outcasts, too, please do so.

    Dumbing-down: Oh, that's a hot topic for me. Here is my response, hopefully without flames. If you and your fellow administrators, school board, and teachers have figured how to identify each child's placement and then how to challenge each of those children individually in a school system that is based on age rather than ability, please, please, please, share this with the rest of the schools out there. I don't know how much research you have done on gifted education in specific. Gifted children are often being kept in "regular" classrooms because they inspire average students to do better and many people think that the gifted students will get by on their own. The main problem with this is that many gifted students really don't care if they are challenged. If they can churn out A work without having to struggle or work at it, they are happy. It gives them more time to make trouble, talk to their friends, and play after school. Frequently, they become underachievers because of boredom.

    School today may be being held to even higher standards than ever before, but I don't agree with the way that many schools today are reaching those standards.

    I'm not sure how you can equate the woman's (she was NOT a lady) attack at the gym with what I have said about education in general. Perhaps you have taken my comments personally, but that woman made her comment DIRECTLY to me.

    I'm not sure why you think I am a defeatist. When I moved here, I moved to the county with the best school system in the state with the intent of putting my children in school here. However, when I went to the councilor and principal about gifted education, they refused to consider my child until THEIR teacher had given him a recommendation, which at best meant halfway through the next year. Would they take his old teacher's recommendation? No. Would they take his test scores as proof? No. Would they test him, themselves? No. Besides, they said, our reading curriculum is very advanced. Unfortunately the reading curriculum, while perhaps being advanced for most 5th graders, contained books that Gabriel read in 2nd grade. Also, while the school system does an IEP for gifted students (which I was extremely excited about), they don't actually do anything with the IEP until middle school.

    Just like not every homeschooler is great, don't try to tell me that there aren't teachers that shouldn't be fired. You also can't tell me that public schools are the be all, end all. There are many problems in the public school systems. Many schools are trying to fix these problems. It will take time. There is no quick fix. These problems have been decades in the making and could take decades to fix. I support and admire those educators who can see the problems and try to change them. I don't support educators who turn a blind eye.

    It is hard for a public school to make accommodations for highly gifted students. The funding just isn't there. Also, there are not nearly enough teachers trained to teach them. Unfortunately, it is hard for a school system to justify paying to train a teacher to educate a highly gifted student when there isn't one in their school district at that time. So, when a student like that comes through, there is rarely a teacher trained. Also, many parents are not willing to advocate for their child. I am. However, I also happen to enjoy homeschooling, so my advocating will be for other people's children. (If you're interested, I recommend the book "Genius Denied: How to stop wasting our brightest young minds” by Jan & Bob Davidson.) Children with learning disabilities are now being accommodated, but it took a long time and lots of advocating by parents for that to happen. The same will probably hold true for gifted education.

    Finally, why would I block you from being able to read my blogs? If you want to comment on my blogs, please do so. The reason I have my soapbox is because I love to debate people. Gary hates it. So, I have to find some other way to do it. I recently found someone who is quite on the opposite political spectrum and we are having a blast, because we can debate.

    This is way too long for a comment, but oh well.
    I hope that helps clear some things up.


Please, be respectful. We're all friends here. We can disagree with respect.


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