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With permission and protective of privacy, I would like to share and comment on a letter received by a young family from their loving (grand)parents.
Please bear in mind that these (grand)parents are very sincere in their concerns and likely had no bad intentions in writing this note, even if displaying a profound ignorance of home education. It is equally important to understand that both parties claim a Christian worldview.
Note: Since the letter provides three main concerns, I have decided to break it up into three parts to be addressed over the next three weeks.
For those of you who are reading this, “GP” is what the parents (grandparents) wrote and “LG” are my comments. The original format has been modified to accommodate my comments.
GP – Dear “Kids,”
GP – A year and a half ago you asked us why we couldn’t support your homeschooling your kids, we didn’t give you a complete answer, but we have one now.
LG – Obviously, the GPs gave this issue some serious thought.
GP – First, neither of you are trained as schoolteachers.
LG – This idea is engrained in all our thinking, through what we are told and experienced. As a society, we have unquestioningly embraced the idea that the professional knows best. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the field of education. Extending this line of thinking, one should never cook dinner if not professionally qualified as a cook.
GP – As parents we do teach our children things from the time they are born and this is a natural part of parenting.
LG – This is leading to the classic “but” which usually negates the original statement. However, being gracious, one has to question why a “part time” job cannot become “full time.”
Furthermore, the (grand)parents did not see the conflict. I would be willing to bet that these folks are big believers in “natural” foods and naturopathic medicines, yet believe that “natural parenting” should be restricted to the minimum.
GP – Teaching our children to read, write, history, math and social studies requires an education that is specific to this task. We see this education as a job that, to be done well, needs a trained teacher who spent 4 to 6 years learning how kids learn.
LG – Where to start with this one? Notice the normalization of subjects as if life is comprised of such. Next, notice that each of these subjects requires a specialist. How many teachers have much more than a minimum of courses and experience in any one field?
Furthermore, what exactly did the “trained teacher” learn in those 4 to 6 years? The answer is given to us by the (grand)parents. They said teachers are trained, not taught, indicating perhaps that many are nothing more than indoctrinated sounding boards for the latest fad in education or progressive social construct.
How many of these “professionals” can think for themselves? I can honestly say that in my experience, few could or would publicly. In other words, most found it easier to simply repeat the narrative that they picked up in college rather than to question it.
Finally, 4 to 6 years learning how children learn? Really? What is there to learn and how can a single teacher address the specific learning processes and needs of an individual child? Only someone who lives with them can do that, namely, parents!
GP – Children have a right to be educated in this country and it is a legal responsibility of the parents to make sure this happens.
LG – Children having a right to an education and parents having the responsibility to make sure that this happens is self-evident and the very reason for home education. However, this is not the purpose of this statement, but rather to set the stage for another “but.” Read on.
GP – When you homeschool your kids and you fail at it, it is of no consequence to you, but to the child it has a devastating negative impact on them for their lifetime.
LG – Wow! Who said the parents are going to fail? More importantly, fail at what? How is a child’s failure of no consequence to the parents, unless they plainly don’t care about the children?
This may be the case when parents send their children to strangers in a school, but certainly not for those who give up a lot to keep the children home. I would certainly question the use of the word “devastating” as too strong, perhaps even melodramatic. Finally, who said schools don’t fail?
GP – We know “our daughter.” If you had had a desire to be a teacher, you would have gone to school to be one. You would have been able to achieve this because you are smart, simple as that. But you chose a different career path that you did well at.
LG – This statement is self-contradictory. If the “daughter” is smart enough to be able to teach other’s children, would she not also be smart enough to teach her own children? Oh yeah, I forgot! The only way a person can become a “teacher” is if (s)he has been through college.
A question I always asked my student teachers was whether they believed they were born to be teachers or trained to be teachers. The answer was unanimous. They were all born that way! This statement indicates a different understanding.
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