The trend in news stories about ‘regular’ homeschoolers — who leave their houses, ‘socialize,’ and go to college— remind me about the Europeans who ‘discovered’ the New World. People, nay, civilizations, were at home on the north and south American continents long before the Europeans set sail. But these well-peopled civilizations didn’t ‘count’ (from the Euro-centric point of view) until pale-faced monarchs decided to expand their territories. Author Jared Diamond offers explanations in Guns, Germs and Steel as to why the Europeans came to dominate the New World, but despite this dominance, the Europeans did not ‘discover’ the American continents and their outlying islands. People were already here.
In the same way, ‘regular’ people have been homeschooling for years, even though today’s news reporters, and many of today’s new homeschooling parents, are unaware of them.
Expanding the horizon for home-schooled students, 6 December 2007, The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts
Advocates cite wider range of shared outside activities as helping fuel growth of practice once relegated to fringe
Readers of the article don’t have to get past the sub-heading before the doublespeak begins. “Advocates,” “practice” and “fringe” speak to the still-fringiness of homeschooling in the eyes of the writer/editor/publisher. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen any of those words applied to public schooling in the mainstream media, and I don’t think either “practice” or “fringe” is applied to private school providers and users. Compare and contrast with homeschooling.
The Boston Globe writer emphasizes how homeschoolers are getting out of the house. Writers don’t seem to know that we always got out of the house. Did nobody keep track of the articles written at the time? In the military, with the members in almost constant motion, this forgetfulness about past actions and strategies was called ‘a lack of institutional memory.’
He is part of a fast-evolving home-school movement that is traveling away from the stereotype of child and parent at the kitchen table. Shapiro does spend most of his day with his mother, but not alone. Instead, she shuttles him from one group activity to another.
The home is no longer where all the action is in this new wave of home schooling. Although some instruction takes place at home, parents now choose from an increasing number of options that allow their children to interact with and learn alongside other home-schooled peers. The opportunities for socialization are numerous – swim lessons at the YMCA, staging a play with like-minded friends found over the Internet, or any of myriad academic courses offered at cooperative schools in the area.
‘Homeschooling outside the home’ is nothing new. Homeschooling parents have been allowing “their children to interact with and learn alongside other home-schooled peers” as well as ‘interacting’ with anyone they run into for years.
In 1994 the youth center at the overseas military community I lived near put together an art course for homeschooled kids. Not only was the class another service provided by the youth center, but because the kids had flexible hours during the day, we were able to use facilities when they were usually standing idle. The youth center personnel contracted with a locally well-known tour guide and photographer, Andrew Cowin, who took the class (and us chauffeurs) to museums. The other instructors for the class were a local sculptor, and an artist. The kids had an art show at the officers club after the class ended, and I wrote an article about it all that was published in Home Education Magazine. Unfortunately, the 14-lesson class didn’t continue because of the cost (300 1994 dollars per kid, at first blush — over $400 each today), but we did give it a shot.
A sampling of HEM articles about community activities for homeschoolers from the earlier years are:
- Jul/Aug 1989: “How to Arrange Apprenticeships and Mentorships for Home Schoolers,” by Betty Breck
“I’ve arranged several successful apprenticeships and mentorships for my 14-year-old daughter, Kristine, and in the process have learned some valuable pointers that might be useful to other home schoolers.”
- Nov/Dec 1989: “Homeschooling on the Other Side of the World,” letter quoted by Penny Barker
“Sometimes with other children and sometimes alone with Abhishek, I am able to explore our natural environment and watch people involved in various skills. It was delightful for us to meet the potter living in a thatched hut.”
- Sep/Oct 1991: “Homeschool Support Groups and Resource Centers” by Jerry Mintz
“In my recent travels and communications with homeschoolers around the country, I’ve seen an interesting and new phenomenon developing as the homeschool movement grows: the homeschool resource center.”
- Jul/Aug 1994, News Watch column by Linda Dobson
“‘Fed Up with Schools, More Parents Turn to Teaching at Home; As Numbers Grow, Students Join Sports Leagues, Field Trips, Science Labs; Will They Be Social Misfits?’ Steve Stecklow, Wall Street Journal, May 10, 1994, p. 1″
Yes, most homeschooling parents continue to do the best they can for their children, and many of them do the hard work they feel is necessary for their children to have the best educational childhood that can be arranged. Kudos to all of them. But the historical background shows that the ‘pioneering’ homeschoolers, and their subsequent followers, weren’t all fringe-dwelling agoraphobics.
posted by Valerie