Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Education or Crowd Control?

I know a lot of teachers. Most chose the profession for noble reasons. They dreamed of imparting knowledge to eager little minds and entered their first teaching job with grand plans. Many quickly became disillusioned simply because teaching often takes a back seat to crowd control.

As an aid in a public school classroom, I was put in charge of an egg timer which was used to monitor each child’s turn at a microscope. The children spent an entire class period waiting for their chance to view a leaf for 90 seconds. The rest of the time, they were coloring at their desks. I remember wondering how this classroom lesson could possibly be superior to a child's casual observation of the variety of leaves in his jumping-in pile at home, followed by a session with his favorite coloring book. Still, I realized the teacher had done the best she could in the time allotted to provide each of the 28 children in her class a chance to view a leaf up close.

As a longterm, committed homeschooling parent, people sometimes assume I have issues with school teachers. Nothing could be further from the truth. I respect and admire a teacher's willingness to help educate other people's children. I just don't believe a classroom is the most effective environment for teaching most children. My issue is with the system; not with the individual teachers, who are trying to do the best they can with the only educational method they have ever been exposed to.

A member of my homeschool co-op is a former teacher who claims she can successfully teach her own children despite having a teaching degree. The implication is that much of what she learned in college was aimed at maintaining control of a group of children, communicating effectively with their parents, or satisfying bureaucratic requirements. As homeschoolers, we do not have to concern ourselves with these types of things.

Homeschoolers don't need parent/teacher conferences. We don't spend time on role call or announcements. Our children don't have to wait for our attention with their hands raised. They aren't engaged in busy work, designed solely to keep them quiet while we deal with another student's needs. Their education doesn't take a back seat to our filing required reports and filling out forms necessary for keeping track of a classroom of full of children.

Ironically, the National Educational Association routinely supports bills that would highly regulate homeschooling. Although their members complain of being subjected to unnecessary red tape and curriculum mandates, the NEA would impose similar restrictions on homeschoolers.

Homeschoolers are free to do what teaching professionals entered the profession hoping to do: teach. No wonder homeschooled children score an average of 32 percentage points above their public schooled peers. This observation appears to be lost on those who would choose to impose classroom-style "school" hours, group management teaching methods, and the filing of additional reports on homeschooling families.

Families who homeschool have demonstrated a desire to free themselves from classroom education. Our methods are working and we have no need for crowd control. We'll continue to fight additional regulation by the very institution from which we are seeking to separate.

For additional statistics on homeschooling, check out Time4Learning's American Homeschool Statistics page.

1 comment:

  1. For me it is the simple lack of awareness that goes along with modern society. All of the current social standards in education are only 150 years old. These standards have not proven themselves to be positive except for economic progress for the country. From what I can see there has been a lot of $ and still starving people in the world. Summing this up: I would rather my child learn how to live out the special gifts given them and live by intuition. I unfortunately find little of that no matter where I turn, sometimes even in the world of "homeschooling".


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