Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Scary, Scary Harms of Homeschooling

At the risk of giving publicity to an article I don't agree with, I am posting about a slightly dated article The Harms of Homeschooling by Robin West. A friend of mine called my attention to the article and pointed me to a blog post commenting on it. I was quite pleased to see that West herself commented on the post and she did so in a way that suggested a far more reasonable mind than her original article. Despite my normally shy and reserved demeanor, I couldn't help commenting on it also, within the comments section of the post. The comments continue, because I just received notice of another one, which is what reminded me to write this post.

When I first read the article, I was surprised that it was published and even more surprised that it was written by a law professor. It was very alarmist, not terribly factual, highly anedoctal, and mostly just a rant. As anyone who has read the earlier posts on this blog, you'll know that I recognize that style of writing because it's so similar to my own. But I publish on a personal blog, not a university journal. Clearly I have some career soul-searching to do.

I just want to pull out my comment from the comment field and reprint it here because I like it, it makes me proud (up until the end when I go a bit nutty) and because there are so many comments that if I just leave this here hoping one of my blog's readers will find it, they might lose interest. I'm kicking myself for not linking this blog to my name but I was worried it would reduce the impact of my comment if it became clear it was posted by a nutcase.

- if I counted correctly, it's the 14th - this link might take you directly to it, but I've reprinted it below

Robin, I appreciate your comment here. I was disturbed by the alarmist nature in the PPP article and hope that the full treatment of it in your work does not sound as emotional and poorly reasoned. I’d also be interested in seeing your legal reasoning and hope you have more comprehensive coverage of the laws regarding homeschooling. As a homeschooler, I have only focused on the laws of my own state, Virginia, and have not had the time nor inclination to research beyond that. I would caution you against relying on the HSLDA (or NHERI) for your homeschool facts — many homeschoolers disagree strongly with that organization, it’s approaches, tactics, political and religious views, and how it derives it’s data.
I’m not certain why you feel that testing is the only way to give adequate evidence of education – in Virginia, it is but one option. Another option is an evaluation with an accredited evaluator. Personally, I believe in the value of learning to take tests, but I don’t see how that ensures a literate and numerate citizenry any more than a meeting with an evaluator.
I’d also love to hear more discussion about the state’s legitimate interest in education and how best to ensure that. I’m always curious to learn how private schools are regulated and why they are free from the concerns that plague homeschooling.
Finally, I think when you mention the “children of the over-educated and under-employed suburban mothers who simply would prefer to do this work for themselves than delegate it to the state” you show a fundamental lack of comprehension (and interest) for why many choose to homeschool. Simply stated, a homeschool education can be richer, deeper, and more individualized (and often has little to do with religion or conservative politics, which seem to be your greatest concerns). To comment on the mothers seems to underscore the emotional nature of the piece and sounds more like an attempt to ignite the Mommy wars than a reason why homeschooling should be regulated. It strikes me as poor reasoning that one moment you seem disturbed that homeschoolers are not accredited to teach their children and then you comment that some of us are overeducated (but I understand that advanced degrees are not teaching credentials. However, most homeschooling mothers have fewer than 30 children in their families, so perhaps they don’t really need teaching credentials. Which raises the question of what teaching credentials are and what they are for – a question no one ever seems to examine, they just seem to assume that homeschoolers should have them).
Thank you, Milton, for calling my attention to this article and for providing a forum for comments.

1 comment:

Suburban Correspondent said...

I took courses for teacher accreditation; most of them are geared to learning the skill of managing a classroom, complying with bureaucratic requirements (IEP's, etc.), and understanding different methods of evaluation (i.e., testing). To date, none of this knowledge has been needed in my "career" as a homeschooling mother of 6.