Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Carnival of Anti-Homeschooling Part II: One Dad’s Cheeky Response to a Warning about Homeschooling

Parents should be aware that total home schooling can cause as many problems as it solves.

Whoa! This line grabbed my attention. It was the teaser line in an email alert for a most amusing article written by the Rabbi Shmuel Gluck. It was published on the website Yeshiva World dot com. Rabbi Gluck wrote a series of articles titled “Unhappy & Doing Something about It.” They were dedicated “to the art of understanding and, then, reacting, to uncomfortable situations.” Part three of the Rabbi’s three-part article contained a strong warning about homeschooling, filled with warm, home-spun Yiddish wisdom for those of us who are unhappy with our public and private educational choices and are doing something about it. I read this article thoroughly. If I am causing as many problems as I am solving by homeschooling my children, I’d like to know about it!

One of the greatest challenges of home schooling is the social factor. Without peers, children can’t learn the necessary skills needed in order to be reintroduced back into the classroom.

Well, there’s an interesting assumption. Where did the good Rabbi get the notion that homeschooled children will be reintroduced to the classroom? The vast majority of homeschoolers I have met in person and online assume that they will be homeschooling their children indefinitely, which is also the primary cause for prematurely gray hair, wrinkles, and the occasional afternoon conference with Johnny Walker by homeschooling moms and dads.

Rabbi dude, the “social factor” is one of the primary reasons we keep our children home from brick-and-mortar schools. I won’t go into a laundry list of societal ills right now, but rest assured that homeschoolers know that these early years are the important years for parents to train their children on how to interact with society while maintaining their morals and values, rather than sending our young children into the world and having society shape their morals and values. It is far better for us to teach our own children than to have their education shaped by teachers who profess political and societal views to which we are diametrically opposed. Besides, I’ve (temporarily) reintroduced one child to the classroom. His biggest problem was dealing with the language arts teacher who confiscated all his school supplies and the cute, jug-eared blond thing who was captivated by my son’s freckles.

If parents decide to remove children from school they must be confident that they can create all (not most) of the necessary components. These include: teachers, mentors (they can be the same), friends, patience on the part of the entire family, making sure that the children attend and participate in the home schooling, and the ability to keep the children as busy as they would be if they were in a regular school.

Rabbi dude, what incense are you burning in that funky candelabrum? I cannot speak for the rest of the homeschooling community, but it isn’t too difficult to get my children to attend our homeschool. They rarely get lost during their 27 foot journey from their bedrooms to the kitchen table. I keep my children busier than they would be if they attended a regular school because we don’t have all the distractions that take place during an average brick-and-mortar school day. We don’t need to take attendance. We don’t take lunch orders. We don’t line-up to go anywhere. We don’t lose instructional time while attending mass like students did at the parochial school where I taught. We are not constantly interrupted with disciplinary problems like I was with the students who wore their Buchanan County Juvenile Detention Facility jumpsuits to school as a fashion statement once they had been reintroduced back into the classroom.

Parents must also keep in mind that once the children are out of a regular school they may become so comfortable that they may not agree to go back.

We can only hope.

Most parents attempt home schooling as a temporary step, but find that, once the children are home schooled, they do so well that it “doesn’t make sense” to send them back. However, that may be more than the parents can handle. Home schooled children, even with an army of teachers, will require several hours a day from the parents.

Actually, Rabbi, most parents do not attempt homeschooling as a temporary step. We gladly invest several hours a day for the instruction of our children. They are our children. We invest this time and energy for one simple reason. We love them. God gave us these children and the responsibility to raise them. We take that responsibility seriously.  By the way, those of us who do homeschool don’t need an army of teachers. We are an army of one. And educationally speaking, we kick ass. Just read the test scores.

In other cases the homeschooling experience turns out to be a failure, but the children, who’ve been home for weeks, refuse to go back to school. In many of these cases the parents, who were so angry at the school, finally realize that it’s the children, and not the school, that’s in need of fixing.

Here we see the truth behind Rabbi Gluck’s analysis of homeschooling. He is dealing with broken families. He views homeschooling through the prism of broken families. I do not doubt that the youth he works with have genuine problems that need serious attention. There is one more step to take when parents realize that “it’s the children, and not the school, that’s in need of fixing.” If there are children that are in “need of fixing” there are families with challenges that go beyond education. My professional experience has shown me that poor academic performance is usually a symptom of other problems and the not the root problem. Obviously, that is not an absolute. Children may attempt to “refuse to go back to school” but that doesn’t mean that parents must capitulate to those demands. If they do, the tail is wagging the dog.

I’m willing to bet that Rabbi Gluck doesn’t know many homeschoolers. He probably has not visited and observed a successful homeschool in operation. He painted a monochromatic picture of homeschooling with an extremely broad brush. I encourage him to increase his knowledge of and experience with homeschooling before he publishes any more articles on this subject.


Brownie said...

Thanks for posting that! It is interesting people's different perspectives on homeschooling- and how so very wrong some of them are ;)

Hey! I had the "talk" with Sir. I'm homeschooling Blondie FT next year. He only has one rule: that she's actually educated. (That's based on my eclectic, disorganized, almost unschooling approach to HS.) So I will buy a boxed curriculum this year. I can do that.

Brownie said...

Thanks for the congrats. I tell you I was so relieved that I almost started to cry.

Linda said...

Love it!!! You know I just LOVE this kind of post! Have been reading as often as possible. Sorry I haven't commented lately! Just finished a 5-week stint of homeschool conventions every single weekend. I still wish we could collaborate on a blog...are you moving to Illinois anytime soon??

Michelle said...

Wonderful response to this poor man. One would only wish that before an article is written and published, that the author actually does some research before spewing out what he/she believes to be true.

Have a great week!

L. said...

Cheeky, veeerrry well done cheeky. So there!

TobyBo said...

~ gasp ~

You "Don't take lunch orders"?

No wonder the Rabbi is concerned.

Carrie Schmeck said...

*Cough* *Sputter*
I love your response to the possibility that our kids may never want to go back to public school. Seriously. Nice takedown.

John Hitchcock said...

Great post! As classroom teacher of science for 46 years (half public, half Christian both in New York and California) I am a firm advocate of homeschooling. In fact, my wife is assisting our daughter as she homeschools her three daughters.
I am also an adjunct professor in a four year university where several of my students have been previously homeschooled. In the "for what it's worth" department... they are some of the best students, actually able to carry on an intelligent conversation (go figure!) and frequently have the most intriguing questions.
As my octogenarian Swedish uncle often said, "Fight the fight. Keep the faith."

Subvet said...

The "social factor" is the prime reason my two autistic sons are in the public school system. We felt they needed daily interaction with the same peers. Were we wrong? Are autistic children in more need of this than regular kids? I'd appreciate the views of yourself and the other commenters here on this. If the wife and I have been barking up the wrong tree we'd sure like to change it.


Kathleen said...

Wow--what an off-track article!! Great responses!

Sgt. Wolverine said...

I've never understood the socials skills argument used against homeschooling -- it seems based entirely on the assumption that homeschooled kids have no friends and spend no time interacting with other kids, or anyone else for that matter.

luckeyfrog said...

I think the majority of homeschoolers, are just like you; however, I have known students who pull out of a public school for "homeschooling" when a parent is about the face legal repercussions for their child's truancy. There are also parents who, like he said, think that maybe homeschooling will fix a temporary problem. These may not be the majority, and he shouldn't have referred to ALL homeschoolers in his article, but they do exist.

I think his first sentence you quoted is reasonable- not that homeschooling WILL cause those problems, but rather that it CAN, if homeschooling is not done properly. I am glad that you and most other homeschoolers make sure their students do spend time in social situations, and teach academically rigorous curricula, but be careful to defend ALL homeschoolers.

Arby said...


Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Rabbi Gluck’s opening line is only reasonable if you would agree with the following two statements:

1) Parents should be aware that total public schooling can cause as many problems as it solves.

2) Parents should be aware that total private schooling can cause as many problems as it solves.

Unfortunately, the good Rabbi was not analyzing education. He unfairly and inaccurately singled out homeschooling for criticism. Please note that he went on to say that “If parents decide to remove children from school they must be confident that they can create all (not most) of the necessary components.” ALL. His statement implies that if a parent cannot recreate all the “necessary components” of a brick-and-mortar school then the homeschool experience is not good enough. That is incorrect. He does not define the “necessary components” of education. There are many components of standard public schooling that are simply unacceptable. Would it be acceptable for a homeschooling family to promote a failing student to the next grade level simply because of their age? In public schools this is called “social promotion” and it is done all the time.

I’m not certain what you mean by “but be careful to defend ALL homeschoolers.” Nowhere in my post will you find that I wrote a blanket defense of all homeschoolers. I clearly stated that I cannot speak for all homeschoolers.

Again, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

Come back anytime!