Sunday, July 10, 2005

"Home Schools Run by Well-Meaning Amateurs"

What better sign can you get that Home Education is thriving, than to witness the proliferation of ill-informed rants about it from teachers unions and other organisations representing schools!

This one from the NEA in the USA, where this kind of thing is clearly happening too.

One of the amusing things about this article, and it is a feature that is common to many of these kinds of pieces, is that the case is made that you need to be an expert in something order to be able to teach it . Clearly though, when it comes to trying to educate about home education, for some odd reason, you don't need any expertise whatsoever. Could this be a rather basic error of not catching yourself in your own contradictions, by any chance?

By the way, I don't think it essential to be an expert in the subject before you can teach it. What you do need to be able to do, is to be aware that one's knowledge is not (and probably never is) perfect and that one is therefore prepared, through a process of conjecture and refutation, and seeking out appropriate sources of help, to improve upon that knowledge. It is perfectly possible to do this profitably in the company of children whom one is helping with learning, since this way they can learn that knowledge does not come as fixed infallible packages from some authoritarian source, but that knowledge grows and hopefully improves, and is worked out in their own minds, through rational criticism: hypothesis formulation and rejection of poor theories.

In addition, there is simply no way that any teacher, even within their own area of specialisation is going to be an expert in everything that a child genuinely wants to learn and surely we can all acknowledge that a child learns best when he is learning what he is interested in learning. An openness to the acquisition of new knowledge is therefore all that I would ask of any teacher. (If only the NEA author had this basic premise!!)

Yep, this article and it's ilk do indeed look as if they were written by a bunch of people with vested interests, not wanting to come to terms with the semi-conscious realisation that their educational theories don't stack up.

HT: Natalie and Daryl.


DannyHSDad said...

I agree that being the expert isn't the point, it's the humility to want to learn even more. Knowing one's limit and what tools or what other experts to turn to is the key to education and imparting that skill -- rather than spoon feeding details.

I've gone more into details with my point by point response to the article as Arrogance of Public School, if you're interested....

Carlotta said...

Love your fisking, Danny and agree with all of it. Will be visiting hsdad again.