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Monday, November 21, 2005

Idiots and Why I Loved Homeschooling

What do the two have in common? Well... try to follow me on this one.

A couple of years ago, we homeschooled the boys for a year. It was awesome. It was amazing. My kids discovered that learning isn't all about worksheets and busy work and learning only what a select group of boring grown-ups in the state capitol thinks is important. And they learned a lot.

They went back to the public school (for several reasons). But, based on what I've read recently, and some of the things that are being taught to the boys, and my convictions, I'd homeschool them again in a heartbeat.

What did I read? Well, the 9th Circus Court of Appeals has been up to its old tricks again. A couple of weeks ago, they informed parents that they don't have sole authority to teach their children about sex (or anything else, for that matter). Then, last week, they decided that it wasn't a First amendment violation for a school to teach kids about Islam (including role-playing, taking Muslim names, fasting, and prayer). Fortunately, the 9th Circus is the most overturned appeals court in the country. Evidently, they keep SCOTUS in business.

Add to that what the boys have been learning. Evidently, Israel gets preferential treatment, and Palestine (which is legally where on a map?) gets the shaft. And a few other things. At least you can't screw up math and band all that much. Usually.

I'm not the only one thinking about homeschooling again. It's been a hot topic on other blogs (the Rott had a thread and an Instant Bark conversation or two get a little... heated on the subject). And the Humble Devildog is quite adamant about homeschooling any devilpuppies that might come along. A lot of other people are beginning to think that those crazy homeschoolers aren't so crazy after all.

Way back in the day (before I thought about homeschooling the boys) I thought that homeschooling was nuts. I mean, we're paying good money to the public school system, and, as far as ISDs go, Leander ISD really isn't bad. As far as they go. Then I talked to some people who were homeschooling, and those people weren't nuts. Then I started looking into it... and I was fascinated. And the more I read, the more I wanted to give it a try.

I will admit that we made a lot of mistakes. But we also got a lot of things right. And the boys learned. And matured. They didn't lack for social interaction (besides, you supposedly send your kids to school for socialization with their peers... but do you really WANT your kids to act like those rug rats?)... and they had fun. Learning wasn't confined to certain times during the day, certain days of the week. They took a modified online middle school class (when they were in 4th grade). They did research projects. They were learning how to learn (which is something often lost in a public school setting... they're not taught that... they're taught to regurgitate answers for the ever-important state testing).

Where am I going with all of this? Our Founding Fathers didn't go to a public school. The vast majority of the great minds from every century prior to the 20th were schooled either at home or in a church school. I'm not going to get into all of the indoctrination theories about the public school system in the US (which is based on a less than democracy-minded model). That's for bloggers who are far more knowledgeable and passionate about that. But I can't ignore the fact that the average classroom has to teach to the lowest common denominator. Or the fact that they are heavily influenced by liberal ideologies (just look at where the NEA sends its PAC money). Or the fact that, due to political correctness and some odd obsession with things not of the 3Rs, time is taken away from learning the basics in favor of learning ... other stuff.

Should everyone homeschool? Probably not. If your IQ is lower than that of a turnip, then it's probably better that you let someone else do it. But not having "training" is no excuse- you just have to have some initiative and the ability to learn. Not having patience? Not an excuse- they're YOUR children... you're not teaching the tricycle motor from down the street. Can't afford it? Well, that depends on how you budget and what your priorities are. No matter what society tells you, a family really can survive on one income, and it doesn't have to be a large income. A modest income, proper fiscal restraint, and some creativity go a long way. (I'd have to go back and check, but I'm 99% positive that we spent less than $1000 to homeschool the boys that one year. Both of them. A friend gave us a couple of books, we picked up a few more at a homeschool conference, found a BUNCH of stuff for free on the internet, and made plenty of trips to the library. And it worked!) And, honestly, I believe that, if more parents actually knew about some of the stuff taught at their local schools, they'd think twice about leaving their kids in that school system.

Me? It's not going to take much for me to go back to homeschooling. I already have the curriculum chosen, and the boys could still do band through a homeschool program. I'm already thinking about it... it wouldn't take much more...

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