Another anti-homeschool post has been making the rounds. I’ve been good and mostly stayed out of the fray, but there are a couple of points well-worn arguments against homeschooling that I can’t help but vent about a little.
First: Schools are better, because parents cannot teach unless they are experts in their subjects.
I was fortunate in high school that some of my teachers were bonafide experts in their fields. My chemistry teacher finished her PhD during her junior year. Uh, and that’s the only example I can think of. I guess because what made a stronger impression on me was our “social studies” staff, which was identical to the football staff. If these guys had any passion for history it was totally lost on me. Or maybe because when I looked at getting my master’s in teaching I observed that what I needed was a bunch of speech and child psych classes.
Are those classes needed to teach in a classroom? Probably. I have no idea. What’s not required, however, under the current system, is a lot of classroom hours or work experience in a particular discipline. Sending a child to school is anything but a guarantee that they will learn from experts in science, history, or writing.
I assume that great school teachers are experts in working with kids — something I can’t claim mastery of myself, though I feel competent enough with my own two, and that’s enough for homeschooling. I feel pretty sure that my PhD in lit would not make me a good middle school English teacher!
Second: public school is best because it is much more diverse than homeschooling, and exposes children to a wider array of lifestyles and worldviews.
I am going to put aside the question of whether or not that is desirable and just consider reality: most public schools are neighborhood schools. They are made up of kids from the same neighborhood. If the neighborhood is diverse, the school will be diverse. If — as is often the case — the neighborhood is not diverse (particularly by class), then the school won’t be diverse. If the neighborhood is diverse, the homeschooler is already living in a diverse neighborhood, and is therefore exposed to the same variety that would be present in the school. If the neighborhood is not diverse, the homeschooler has at least the same opportunities as everyone else to cast a wider net, arguably more so.
My memory of school was that it was a hothouse of conformity anyway!
My point is not that school is bad or teachers are stupid, or that homeschooling is best. I just can’t understand how someone can, in good faith, describe public schools as the near-exclusive stronghold of diversity and intellectualism — particularly in contrast with a group that is obsessed with educational theory, with maxed out library cards and a decidedly libertarian streak.