Community is the classroom for home-schoolers, 7 September 2007, Kalamazoo Gazette, Kalamazoo, Michigan
“Kalamazoo is home-school friendly because we have so many options,” says Peter’s mom, Tami Webb, executive director of the Kalamazoo Area Home School Association.
“The Home School Performing Arts of Kalamazoo does drama classes and plays. The Kalamazoo Area Tutors have almost any academic class you could want for your child. The Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Air Zoo and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts also have classes. Area support groups have field trips galore. There are several different sports available through the home-school sports leagues. So you can just pick and choose what you want.”
Sandwiched nay saying
This article is of the comprehensive kind, credits John Holt and Dr. Raymond Moore and his wife, Dorothy, for the modern homeschooling movement, and includes references to both religious and general homeschooling. The only irritant I find is sandwiched in the middle of the article — the ‘obligatory’ nay saying from education professionals.
Still, the relatively unregulated nature of home schooling continues to make it a controversial issue for educators. Their concerns center on the risk that, under the guise of home schooling, abusive or neglectful parents could keep their children out of school.
The mention of abuse is a red herring because, heaven help us, bad things can happen whether or not a child is in school. Will some homeschooling parents hurt or neglect their children? Or will some public schooling parents hurt or neglect their children? Who knows, but because the children are human, and surrounded by other humans, the possibility exists. The only way to guarantee that no one harms any child is to isolate children from other humans. Isolation removes the “guise” of privacy from parenting, but it, too, harms children. What is next — CCTV in homes a la Winston Smith’s telescreen?
Then there is the “risk” of institutional schooling.
- bell curve of violence from passive-aggressive clique-snobbery on up to kids with weapons
- long-term effects of poor teachers
- sexual abuse (in the list of news reports that Google sent, the article after the Kalamazoo piece is, “Goshen teacher pleads guilty to sex with minor”)
- educational malpractice
How likely is it that reporters will ask homeschooling support groups for comments on any malpractice in schools, and crimes by any school employees against children?
They also question the effectiveness of free-form learning in preparing students to function in the adult world.
And I question the effectiveness of mass-socialization. My local paper had a report just yesterday about headstones destroyed in a local cemetery by a small gang of teens. Shouldn’t a reporter write an article about school socialization?
The Kalamazoo article began with a description of a 16-year old homeschooler who has accrued college credits and plans to attend college. Does that, or does that not, indicate “effectiveness?” Did the reporter write a positive article, and then did a higher-up insist on ‘balance’ and ‘objectivity?’
The National Education Association, one of several educational organizations that oppose the practice, contends that, “home schooling cannot provide the student with a comprehensive experience.”
Why do reporters consult the National Education Association? It is a teachers union, and its business is keeping down the competition. It will never be in favor of homeschooling.
To make a comparison, when Paula Deen published her cookbooks did reporters ask the National Restaurant Association for an opinion? When Sandra Betzina published Power Sewing Step by Step, did reporters check to see what the Garment Industry Development Corporation thought of home sewing? If it is not usual to check with competing industries when one or the other side unveils the latest piece of sliced bread, why are parents’ activities with their flesh and blood children any concern of a union? Next thing you know, we’ll be having newspaper reports encouraging makeup and hair stylist locals to picket stores that sell hair curlers.
To backtrack a little, what ‘jobs’ happen at home under the “guise” of family life besides cooking, sewing and personal care? Imagine how much paid work could be created if at-home life was eliminated. There must be many public services hidden by the privacy of homes. Why do social commentators ignore this co-opting of gainful employment by Scroogey families when we could all spend our lives caring and serving each other at jobs, and sleep at night in those pods for Japanese salarymen? We’d have full employment, more tax flow for a greater number of services, plus everyone would be observable at all times. Win-win from union and governmental perspectives.
And since I’m on a tear about this one small paragraph, why is homeschooling called a “practice?” Is institutional schooling also a “practice?”
We all know that when an activity is referred to as a “practice” that there’s something dodgy about it. Nobody refers to the ‘practice of gardening,’ the ‘practice of hair washing’ or ‘the practice of driving a car’ — people just garden, or wash their hair, or drive. But, try the ‘practice of nudism’ or the ‘practice of the occult arts.’ Definitely dodgy. Then there is that “practice” of homeschooling. Hmmmm.
Article is still a winner
Still, apart from the (editorially?) Freudian-laced paragraphs flying under our objective radar, this Michigan article is a winner.
- [F]ueled by the power of the Internet, the multi-million-dollar home-schooling market is booming …
- Kalamazoo has a wide variety of organizations, from the Christian-oriented KAHSA to the diverse, secular Kalamazoo Home School Connection.
- No matter what their methods, most Kalamazoo home-schoolers scoff at the stereotypical perception of their children as isolated intellectuals.
- The friendships, fun, games and the other fringe benefits of school days are also prevalent.
- I think that is one of the greatest things about home schooling, you get to see the greatest potential of your children come to fruition.”
Kalamazoo sounds like a great place to homeschool.
posted by Valerie