Here we go again. Some clever blogger read an article about a homeschooled kid and felt compelled to write her own commentary on why she would never do that. This time it’s Ericka Souter, who titled her list 7 Reasons I’d Never Homeschool My Teen.
Souter does applaud parents who choose to homeschool, believing as she does that it’s something she could never do. Homeschooling parents hear that all the time, of course. “You homeschool! I could NEVER do that.”
The irony is, Souter’s seven reasons for never homeschooling her teen are all on my list of reasons for homeschooling mine.
1. She says she might be able to handle algebra and geometry, but she could never teach calculus because in her own high school experience, it went in one ear and out the other. Well, there’s the fact that homeschooling parents don’t teach everything. Think of us as curriculum directors, or guides. The resources we have to choose from are plentiful — community colleges, tutors, and other homeschooling parents are all available for those who don’t want to tackle teaching a particular subject, and of course the internet is teeming with possibilities. Many parents love to brush up on subjects, or learn new things with their kids. They look at that as one of the perks of homeschooling. But all those practical points aside, what is Souter saying about her own high school education? In one ear and out the other. Yup. That’s why her number one reason for never homeschooling is just the opposite for me.
2. She says that it would be too intimidating to make a college lecture her child’s first “intense” classroom setting. I agree with her that first impressions and experiences are important, which is why we chose our kids’ first “intense” classroom experiences carefully. All our kids entered the community college realm as teens. For me, this becomes a reason to homeschool because of the quality of education. The process has allowed them to pursue subjects they care about in depth. Their interest in learning helps them retain the material. When they develop serious interests, they also develop goals for the future, which inevitably include the learning of subjects they might not have cared a whit about otherwise. For my kids, it’s been empowering and exciting, not intimidating.
3-4. I lumped these together because I think they’re about the same thing. She says she and her teen would quickly get sick of each other, and that when her kid complains about his teacher it’ll be about her. Since I seem have to counter all these reasons (which are more like misperceptions) with a dose of reality, first I’ll point out that homeschoolers are out in the world, often independently, more than they’re at home. My teens have packed lives, and even when they are home (as my 14-year-old daughter is right now), we’re just as likely to be doing our own work in our own spaces as we are to be hanging out with each other. But what about that hanging out with each other? Yes, that’s another reason I homeschool, so that I can enjoy positive relationships with my kids. As far as teachers, homeschoolers have many, so no worries on that front. But really, I think this is just another version of the relationship anxiety expressed in #3.
5. She says when she complains about her crappy job, she’ll be talking about her kid. Maybe to Souter homeschooling would be a crappy lifestyle, but for many of us, it’s a major plus. I understand it’s not for everyone, and I don’t expect it to be, but often, people reject it because they don’t understand what it is, which seems to be the case for Souter.
6. She says she can’t teach him the survival instincts he’ll learn from navigating through cliques. Lots of people think that negative school experiences teach “real life” skills. Let’s think about it, though. In the “real” adult world, are people put into age-segregated packs? Nah. The real reason this becomes a plus rather than a minus for homeschooling, though, is that I think high levels of daily stress are more likely to be harmful than helpful. In my observations, teens (homeschooled or not) can get so caught up in social drama that it sucks up considerable energy and draws their attention away from other pursuits. Homeschooling allows me to help create a balance in my kids’ lives so that they’re freed up to pursue and achieve other things.
7. She says she’s not a trained educator, and that being one is exhausting. It is true that being a school teacher is tough and exhausting, but homeschooling parents don’t have a room full of 20+ kids to manage, and they don’t have requirements about teaching to the test. It’s not a comparable job at all, thank goodness.