Much of what I thought about home schooling was wrong. The conventional wisdom about this rapidly growing dimension of American education is too simple, too stereotyped and too stale. For instance, the Home School Legal Defense Association, despite its energetic lawyers and many admirers, is not the leader of home schooling in this country. There is no leader, and no reigning ideology. There are instead at least a million American children -- the real figure is probably twice that number -- whose families want them to learn at home for many reasons, often having little to do with religion or politics.He relates the story of a die-hard liberal who reluctantly decided to homeschool:"...by the time my son was in the fifth grade and thoroughly miserable, I was willing to do anything -- even if it meant having to bite my tongue and join up with the wing-nuts who I thought dominated the home-schooling scene," she said. She met some home-schoolers who were not Republicans. She took her entire family, even her mother, to a home-schooling conference organized by the Virginia Home Education Association. And on the first day of her uncertain new life as a home-schooling mom, her son walked into her home office with a stack of books under his arm. "Hey Mom," he said. "These are all the books that I've been wanting to read but never had a chance. Can I read them now?" He read for 11 hours that day and 10 hours the next. She decided this might not be so bad after all.Matthews is not afraid to highlight potential pitfalls of the movement as he also states:The formerly home-schooled students who wrote me were often similarly enthusiastic, but they had no qualms about discussing the downside of their experience. Justin Morton, who home-schooled in Portland, Ore., from second to eighth grade, said the worst part was the boredom: "When you're home-schooled, you are stuck in your house with your parents and siblings all day every day, and it gets incredibly dull. My best friend was the mailman."All in all, a surprisingly fair treatment of the pros and cons of the homeschooling alternative.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Lessons in homeschooling...
Jay Matthews, from the Washington Post, had an article on June 29th titled, Getting Schooled on Home-Schooling. He closes by asking his readers involved in homeschooling to send him their thoughts, pro and con. On July 27th, in Correcting Misconceptions about Homeschooling, Matthews published some of his findings. He writes: