The following article popped up because of the inclusion of one of the subjects of the article having homeschooled her kids. Otherwise, the article isn’t about homeschooling, but focuses on telling prospective employees how to implement online school programs. I’d say ‘teacher training,’ but I’m grumpy about mystiques lately.
(and it’s not just ‘teachers,’ the ‘homeschool mystique’ makes me grumble, as well, and don’t even get me started thinking about the power structure between medical people and ‘patients’ — the dental floss company I use refers to me as a “patient,” for crying out loud)
Teachers Go to School on Online Instruction, 11 August 2008, Education Week News, Bethesda, Maryland
A university professor who put her retirement on hold to become part of a new approach to education. A former teacher returning to her passion after home-schooling her children. A classroom veteran deciding to work at home so her child could attend half-day kindergarten.
Those educators were among more than 800 teachers, from 23 states, who gathered at a swanky conference center here last week with the goal of sharpening the skills they will need to teach this fall at schools partnering with the online education provider K12 Inc.
I don’t think I’d have blogged the piece if I hadn’t read the article and seen:
A session of about 50 elementary-grade teachers spent an hour rehearsing the initial telephone call that an online teacher must make to speak with the parent of each student. The presenter of the session told teachers to be diplomatic in setting ground rules for home instruction and to avoid seeming to read from a script. She advised them how to disarm parents who raised various procedural objections.
That just makes for a bad taste, although I know it’s SOP from an organizational standpoint. Manipulating the customer is status quo.
I suppose part of my reaction to this was primed by another website I read earlier today. On an email list, a mother wrote in to ask whether anyone else had accessed a limited-availability web link in order to received a free text. I was intrigued by the concept, and clicked. I found that the blog offered a variety of materials, some new, some old, but only for a single day. I wondered what the ‘gimmick’ was and continued clicking.
In the FAQ, the site’s writers advised that people taking advantage of the free “homeschool” materials (there’s that mystique thing again) were not allowed to share them with others. I read through the various entries and noticed that a number of the materials were ones I knew were in the public domain. If materials are in the public domain, they are copyright-free. You can share them with the entire town and the outlying counties for all anyone cares. I searched for some of the titles, and found them freely available — you just have to know to look for them.
I suppose rather than putting a copyright notice on the free texts that are still under copyright, it is easier to have a blanket prohibition against sharing any of the materials, and to limit availability at the site to create perceived scarcity. It’s also a way to get repeat ‘customers.’
In reference to the blog, offering links to materials is a service to people looking for interesting stuff. I think that’s a good thing. Saying that no one other than you can share public domain materials is selfishly disingenuous.
In reference to the training article, providing a paid-for service to parents who want to have their children learn at home is a good thing. Setting up the parents, aka ‘learning coaches,’ to be second bananas in their own homes is a power play. Yes, it’s probably the price of using a publicly-funded program, but the precedent leaves me queasy. Compulsory attendance laws followed the popular use of schools [page 3, footnote 4]. Publicly-funded “Pre-K” is following the popular use of day schools for little kids. What will follow the popular use of in-home publicly-funded education programs?
I ignored the free materials site earlier today, and then I almost ignored the article about training employees of online public school programs. Individually, they were ho-hum. Together, the micro-trend niggled. I hereby release my inner niggle.