Saturday, March 04, 2006

Home Education. Could Many More Parents Do It?

In the comments below, Leo asks some vital questions.

With regard to parents in denial as to their child's experience of school, Leo asks:

"Do you really think that the parents of those children you know would have any ability at all to home-educate?"

In the cases I was writing about, yes, I do. The thing that strikes me about these families is how well they parent their children outside of the school. They do a good job. One family lack for academic qualifications, but the thing that is striking about this family is that their children are very similar to the parents in that they too struggle to achieve standard academic success, but like their parents, they bring an enormous amount of unschoolie type skills to the game. Their parents may not know how to write a well-rounded essay, but they know how to build a house (without ever having been taught). They know how to mend a lawn mower (again self-taught). They know how to care for young children. All these skills the children have inherited and the parents encourage and guide. The family could also access other kinds of skills from the HE community, so yes...even with this family, with apparent educational disadvantage, I think that their children would be far better off at home than in school, where the children are bored, disaffected and often beaten up.

"Would the children be happy with their parents?"

Yes, in these cases.

"Do you think it would be enough for the parents to snap out of the school meme for everything to be alright?"

Yes, pretty much. Of course, families would hopefully continue to grow and improve together, but the baseline starting point would be very satisfactory in all three cases. Of course, these are just the ones we are talking about here. There would be other situations where this would not be the case, but it seems sad that there is such a simple solution out there for these families which they are just too scared or too entrenched to take.

"Do you think once a person is a parent, they have to quit on growing and conform to aging?"

Lol...NO. I think most people only really start to grow once they have kids.

"You don't want to force parents but you point them as immoral if they are not kind enough to home-educate".

I would point to them as deeply immoral if they knew they could do it, their children were suffering and yet they still didn't do it. However, the immorality of the situation in these three examples is strongly mitigated by the fact that these families are so heavily invested in the school meme that they believe they cannot do it. Information on how they could manage it would help, but is not even then necessarily sufficient, given the strength of the school meme.

"If there were no cruel truant laws and children were allowed to miss school, they would be happier bunnies. If they could miss classes... If they could go out and about in the street during the day without being harassed by police and idiotic adults... If they were allowed in public establishments during the day like the rest of human beings... If there were no stupid signs rejecting children from establishments like they were dogs...But no, your culture treats kids like shit and on top of it disguises it with science. You have to take a stance against that, not just the parents. Parents don't adopt memes out of the blue, it's all around them".

If we hang around waiting for the state and the rest of society to clean up its act, our kids would miss out. Far better to grab the initiative on a micro level and start the revolution that way. If one has any energy left over, putting the HE message out seems like a responsible idea. Tackling the need for ASBOs etc may be a waste of energy, since they are demonstrably necessary now for a population who have been institutionalised, infantalized and from whom all real responsibility has been removed.

10 comments:

Andrea said...

I think you've hit on it - many parents believe that they *can't* do it, when most people really can.

And then sadder are the people who don't even consider homeschooling because when it boils down to it, they just don't want to. Other things are more important than their child's education.

Ron R said...

"I would point to them as deeply immoral if they knew they could do it, their children were suffering and yet they still didn't do it."

I realize I'm repeating what Andrea said.

I couldn't agree more with that statement.

Leo said...

Right.

So those families you know can build houses and mend the law mower. Will those be enough educational opportunities for the children? Will that open up their lives? What about parents that don't even have those kind of skills? I'm sure many can't build or mend crap.

You say children can learn many skills from other home-educators too. I don't know about that, I find home-ed groups very hard to get into.

Perhaps I am anti-social, etc - stuff that is forgiven from chidlren but not from parents, right? ;)

You try to make home-ed to sound very simple, but it is not. If you are in a comfortable position and it comes "natural" to you, then it will feel easy to you. To other parents it might be very hard. To me sometimes it feels I am back at school again, having to go through things that didn't interest me then and don't interest me now. So do not point the finger at them.

The British school system certainly frightens me and if I think I cannot carry on home-educating any further I am flying back to Portugal. I will be in your group of moral degenerates then. ;)

Anyway, my question was not even about skill ability, but about heart ability. Do those families you know have the heart to do it? Do they want to do it? Do they want to quit on their own dreams? Does mum want to stay at home and start doing home-ed groups for a living?

I don't know, Carlotta, your attitude towards home-education sometimes reminds me of the boob-nazi attitude some mothers have towards breastfeeding - every mother must be willing to do it or else they are evil. They can't opt out of it, even if a good enough alternative is out there. We created the choice for mothers to work while dads stay at home to bottlefeed, but that is not seen as acceptable by the boob-nazis. It's like the only free woman is the one that doesn't have children. That is not fair, that is keeping irrational sexist traditions that have no place in a free world.

I also disagree with what you say about ABSOs, they will just make it worse, it's a vicious cycle. Treat people like they are anti-social, they will become you fears. There is no such thing in my country and I hope it does not degenerate further to that point. It's bad enough as it is. :(

Anonymous said...

Leo,

Incidentally, since your refer to the matter frequently (!), I'd like to explain what I meant by 'anti-social'. I meant, as defined by the dictionary, 'not sociable'. This, in my meaning of the word is not remotely pejorative just objectively descriptive.

There is another meaning to the word which is 'harmful to existing social order' to which you refer in your message above, but this was not intended at all in my past use of the word. I suppose if a child is sociable and a parent anti-social (non pejorative use) then a good solution would be to find other people who are prepared to help the child socialise.

D

Becky said...

my question was not even about skill ability, but about heart ability. Do those families you know have the heart to do it? Do they want to do it? Do they want to quit on their own dreams?

That's just it -- it is all about heart ability, as in, having the heart to do what's best for the children of your heart. And yes, as an adult, sometimes you do have to do things you don't always want to do.

You also don't have to quit your own dreams, certainly not forever though you may have to temporarily suspend or postpone them, in order to make sure that your children get off to the best possible start.

Our eldest attended two different school in two different countries. If we had stayed in the country with the good school (while we were on sabbatical in 2003), I don't know that we'd be home schooling at the moment (though I do have to admit that while we began hs'ing for academic reasons, a whole host of non-academic benefits have since become apparent to all of us in the family, and I've come to see the chance to spend so much more time with my kids is a tremendous gift -- they are really turning into marvelous people). But the school system in this province is so poor that we realized we had no other option. Our daughter was miserable, not learning anything, and begging for more of a challenge. Because we do farm, moving three hours to the nearest city with halfway decent private schools wasn't an option.

For our family, we do what we can and what we have to for the sake of our children's futures and their dreams. That's part of the responsibility we took on when we had them.

Leo said...

D,

We are using the same meaning for anti-social, but even with that meaning it is a pejorative enough term in our society. Yes, if parents are not social enough they can get schools to do it for them. Eureka! :P

Becky,

I believe people should be allowed to make mistakes and change their minds, parents included. Life is cruel and does not wait for you. Waiting until your children are grown to pursue your dreams is doing a disservice to yourself and your children.

The "cool parent" trend that is so prevalent in intellectual parenting groups nowadays is getting very unpleasant. I'm getting a bit tired of that to be honest. Well, very tired, actually. :)

Carlotta said...

"I believe people should be allowed to make mistakes and change their minds, parents included. Life is cruel and does not wait for you. Waiting until your children are grown to pursue your dreams is doing a disservice to yourself and your children".

Is it really impossible for a win-win situation not to be created here? Many HE parents (including single ones) don't feel they are self-sacrificing or putting their lives on hold.

Leo said...

Many of those win-win solutions you mention are just about making parents feel guilty so they feel the only solution they has is to want to feel good about being exclusive parents. Like that post you linked to calling parents that don't home-educate selfish.

Some parents feel they are not putting their lives on hold because they want to parent exclusively. Some people dedicate their lives to it and take joy from it. Others find they don't.

Some parents don't want to parent exclusively so it doesn't work for everyone.

Carlotta said...

But you don't HAVE to parent exclusively when you HE. It is conceivable that families could join together to help each other out for example. This works well if the kids are easily compatible. The parents don't necessarily need to get along amazingly either, so long as they have broadly similar aims with regard to how to treat children.

Leo said...

It is not really conceivable.