On Sunday, CBS aired another program on homeschooling, this one less strident than the network’s last memorable foray into homeschooling reportage.
The ABCs Of Home Schooling, 14 September 2008, CBS News (video report with full-screen function at site)
Despite the change in CBS’s attitude towards homeschooling parents, the report still reflects an institutional-default as the reporter’s standpoint. Institutional touch points throughout the report are:
- walking a child to school
- mom being a teacher
- implied necessity of institutional support
- college as follow-on
- asking college employee about quality of schooling
- questions about parents unsupervised in their relationship with their own children
All of those points are made in relation to institutional education, as if, despite the subject “Home schooling,” institutional schooling is the only valid kind.
I don’t know if objective reports about homeschooling are possible in a world in which testing, grading and credentializing are the ‘air’ that human development breathes. From Apgar to PISA, the lives of people during their childhoods, and beyond, are circumscribed by tests, charts and graphs.
In saying this, I don’t mean that all assessments should be abandoned. The condition of the newly born should be evaluated so that the adults caring for the helpless infant will know if the baby needs help. Also, reviewers should weigh the quality of the educational procedures supplied by taxpayers’ money (public schooling) to see if the methods used by the institutions receiving the public’s money (the schools) are effective. My point is that evaluating family life using the weights and measures appropriate for institutions is like using Interstate truck scales to weigh the ingredients for making one cake for a child’s birthday.
It is one thing for institutions and employers to confirm for themselves the ability of an applicant to function within expectations. Tests and interviews can do this. It is another thing for all learning and experience to be molded to those expectations. ’T is not the king’s stamp can make the metal better. (Burns)
The part of the report on Tau and Aurora Robinson is a pleasant human interest story. I enjoyed reading about Ms. Robinson and the travels she and Tau undertook. But, as so often happens with articles using homeschooling families as a focus, the report goes beyond the homeschooling story of one family and hems it in with the opinions of a college admissions administrator, and an entrepreneur whose website is structured in gatekeeper fashion to supply institutional-style materials from the Harcourt stable (Harcourt, Saxon, Steck-Vaughn). The human interest in the article gave way to the interests of business.
Despite the growth of the “market,” homeschooling is still about One Child’s Family. Whether that family has one child, or a baker’s dozen, homeschooling is about each child’s education. In life, the “ABCs of homeschooling” are not about college admission, brokering deals with publishing companies, or the bureaucrats from Alaska to Washington, D.C. trying to clean your house before their own is in order. Those ABCs are about the love of parents for their children, and giving the kids the materials and space to fashion their lives to the best of their abilities.