NPR’s Michel Martin interviewed three former and current homeschoolers.
Michel Martin and Tell Me More – Parents On The Pros And Cons Of Homeschooling:
MARTIN: They say it takes a village to raise a child, but maybe you just need a few moms and dads in your corner. Every week, we check in with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy advice. We wanted to continue our conversation about homeschooling, whether the idea of teaching your children at home sounds amazing or like your worst nightmare.
Our next guests have all been there and will share their stories. Michael Farris is chair of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He’s also the chancellor of Patrick Henry College in Virginia. That’s a college designed for homeschooled students but also welcomes other students. He’s also a dad of ten, who helped home school his own children. Shawn Spence is a former teacher and a mom of five who homeschooled her children for a number of years. Also with us is Paul Hagen. He was himself homeschooled, he now teaches in a private middle school and he’s a dad of three. And Paul Hagen is one of the hundreds of listeners who wrote to us on Facebook and Twitter about their experiences with homeschooling.
Oddly, since this interview followed the Joshua Powell interview and his beef with Virginia’s religious exemption -there were no non-religious and currently homeschooling parents interviewed. Pssstt…there’s a huge tapestry of those families available.
Shawn Spence described many homeschoolers’ experiences well:
SPENCE: …it was in Baltimore where we started. And our children were having a difficult time, after moving to Baltimore, with the educational experience. Overcrowded classrooms, stressed-out teachers, ill-prepared teachers, lots of behavioral problems. Indicative, unfortunately, of most schools in this country right now. And actually, the first person who introduced homeschooling was a teacher at that school. Our son had been reading, already in kindergarten, and she had 30 people in her class, no TA, and she said I can’t help him. He is bored. He is spending his entire day with his head down. And we – you should help him, because we can tell that he’s just going to be lost here. And so I was not unfamiliar with homeschooling.
When I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I had a great couple and all four of their children were homeschooled. So it was not foreign, it was just that I was pregnant at the time with child number five and it was really the last thing that I wanted to put on my plate. But I’m so glad that I did. I immediately connected with a homeschooling organization, Umoja Home School Group in Baltimore. At that time, we were servicing about 30 families. We grew to service 80 families. And we did everything that kids in school did. We had gym. We had field trips. We had sleepovers. We did the things that our children would normally do, even though – and we also group taught in certain cases. If this parent worked at, say, a science facility, they would have the kids come and visit and they would bring in scientists. So it was very much a group effort. And I’m so glad because our children were able to learn at their pace with their specific learning style. And that is very different, because I think the whole, group them in and teach everybody the same way mode, hasn’t worked.
SPENCE: But there also are opportunities and I am so excited about things like Open University, because many universities are realizing that the cost of education – so this adequate education that the previous guest discussed is not available just because you go to public school. And we’re very clear about that. Private education is where people are – where we’re competing. So there is a gap between public and private education already, initially, regardless of where. So when you look at the opportunity for MIT, University of Michigan, they have Open University, have courses that you can attend online like he did, GED courses. There is an opportunity in the community to fill those gaps without having to subject yourself to abuse.
The interviews are informative and reveal the many facets of home education and individual family determinations.