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Homeschooling: the Best-Worst Education

Thursday, September 12, 2019


Perhaps you have read Charles Dickens’ introduction to Tale of Two CitiesIt was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, etc. The same list of contraries can be said of home schooling: it is the best of choices, it is the worst of choices, it is the most rewarding education, it is the most frustrating education—depending upon your individual situation. So in the following list of positives that make homeschooling the best choice for some, I have listed some possible negatives (the “howevers”) that make it the worst choice for others.

  1. You get to devise your dream curriculum and hire the most creative, enthusiastic teacher in the universe for your child—yourself. There is a blank page in front of you. The only thing you need to do is to paint it with the colorful dreams and aspirations that you have for your child. “I will give my child the education that I always wanted,” you can say as you put the paint brush to the educational canvas. However, blank canvases give some parents the willies and instead of being excited by the possibility of creating the dream curriculum and school structure, they get overwhelmed. 

  2. You get to bond with your children. You think of Harry Chapin’s poignant song “Cats in the Cradle” and don’t want to make the same mistake as the father in the song.  However, some parents who aren’t cut out for homeschooling (and there are some), build up resentment regarding their schooling responsibilities and start venting their frustration, even anger, on their children—a very bad situation. Homeschooling is a great opportunity to spend more time with your children, but if it just makes you irritated with them, opt for alternatives.

  3. You get a loose schedule. Homeschooling allows you to tailor your family schedule to suit your own style of living. If you don’t like getting up at the crack of dawn to get the children off to school and enjoy family time in the late evening, homeschooling allows you to arrange your schedule accordingly. However, some families use homeschooling as a cover up for laziness and disorganization—with disastrous results.

  4. You get time for other things like music, art, birdwatching, etc. Reality TV is in vogue today perhaps because reality “life” is not.  We’re living in a world of abstraction. In their home school, however, children get to talk to real people and do real things, like cooking, beekeeping and flower arranging. However, sometimes parents neglect academic essentials in the pursuit of these enriching, authentic experiences. Unfortunately, cooking, beekeeping and flower arranging will not prepare your children for successful careers in engineering or editing.

  5. You get controlled socialization. You can prevent the childhood trauma of bullies at school and at the same time provide wholesome socialization for your own children with families that you trust. However, it is beneficial for children to have some interaction outside the immediate family—especially children with no siblings. Also, parents often don’t realize that their little darlings are capable of corrupting other children as well. “The big, bad” world, in other words, is in their own home!

  6. You get a chance to re-think what education is. America is following an out-of-date model, formed at least a hundred or in some cases two hundred years ago. With homeschooling, you get a chance to streamline and modify the old model and discover what education is really all about. However, the downside is that many homeschoooling parents do notreevaluate education and end up following conventional models blindly (and badly) and repeat the errors of public education in their own homes. 

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