Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Friday, March 07, 2008


And Our Glee Club Practices in the Shed Out Back

I know something about theater. I'm not the world's greatest expert, but I've been doing it for awhile and I have a degree in it. I know enough about theater that I feel comfortable putting forth a case that I'm qualified to teach the subject to children.

I've got a good handle on grammar and spelling. I can point a kid in the right direction with a writing piece. I don't know as much about math. I can help a kid out with many math problems, but there's a whole assload about which I'm clueless. I know shit about science and my social studies skills are average at best.

I certainly don't know enough to say that my children, when I eventually have some, will be best served by staying at home with me so that I can control what they learn. In fact, I'd find the idea absolutely asinine. How the fuck could I justify restricting my kids' education to the lessons I can cobble together myself--even with some outside help--when I can, for free, entrust their learning to people who, if not always ideal, at least have degrees in teaching and are responsible to an administration and, ultimately, to parents.

Home-schooling is huge in this country. And I'm not saying that it's universally ineffective or invariably a bad idea. There are kids who come out of the home-schooling world with an intellectual edge over their peers; just watch at the National Spelling Bee and you'll see any number of kids who've never eaten a cafeteria lunch in their lives.

But, while it's not always a bad thing, neither is it always the smartest plan going. A fact illustrated by a quote I read this afternoon from a father whose homeschooling efforts are at the center of a court case in California. A California District Court decided today that children must either be taught in school or homeschooled by a credentialed teacher.

The father took solace in the response of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who came down firmly on the side of home-schooling parents and said that , if the courts were going to try to restrict home-schooling, he and other elected officials needed to intervene. The father's reason for not wanting his kids exposed to the horror that is public education? He doesn't want them taught about evolution and homosexuality.

"I want to keep and protect them until I feel they're mature enough to deal with these issues," he said. "I believe the creator wants us to protect our children from things we believe are hazardous to their character."
This gets right to the heart of my main problem with these people. It's not my right to impose my thoughts on others, I know. But what the fuck are you doing to a kid if you make sure that they're never, ever exposed to any ideas that don't gibe with your narrow fucking world-view? God forbid a child should ever learn anything that might lead them to ask a question.

This goes hand in hand with my other massive objection to home-schooling, which is the lack of normal--normal, I'm saying--socialization. Many home-schooled kids get to be with other kids at church or in other strictly controlled environments, but nowhere do they learn to be a member of the larger society outside of their compound.

Now, I'm generalizing a bit here, because not all home-schooled kids are taught at home because their parents are religious fanatics. Some are home-schooled because their parents are so incredibly full of self-love that they can't imagine anyone being a better teacher than themselves.

I'm sorry. This is, again, a giant generalization. And not all kids who come out of home-schooling are socially backward and weird. I have three cousins who were home-schooled and they are all three incredibly sweet people who, to the best of my knowledge--they're a bit younger than me and I don't hang out with them...ever--have intellectual curiosity.

Maybe the same belief in public schools that drove me to take up the cause by becoming a teacher fuels my hatred of home-schooling. Or maybe it really is an act of either hubris or moral myopia. I'm betting it's the latter.

You pulled your punches a little more than I would have (who doesn't?), but nicely written.

Every parent I've ever met who home schools is some crazy kook who shouldn't be allowed to teach any children anything.
We often get "homeschooled through elementary" students at our junior high, whose parents kept them home until they turned 12 and then thought they'd put them into the system due to the greater difficulty of the curriculum. They always seem to have HUGE gaping holes in their knowledge, and not just in the homosexuality/evolution area! They also usually have serious issues with any sort of thinking outside the box - any sort of imagining how another person might possibly have a different point of view than they do. I think it should be criminal for people without training to try to educate their children. They probably don't need a teaching license, but a degree from a liberal arts university (a non-internet-based one) might be a good first step.
There are many, many things I love about this, Joe.

First, your restraint. I can't believe you could close yourself down like that: it's truly admirable. When the knuckle-draggers of our world rail against homosexuality and - in effect - socialization in general; I tend to get a little upset. Perhaps even angry.

You covered your bases well, but only the dullest of readers could miss you anger seething through.

I do not agree with rape.

I do not agree with torture.

But I hope that one day, these people who think they can separate homosexuality from "society" feel the anguish associated with the aforementioned acts I do not agree with.
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