Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In Defense of Public School

Last spring I wrote about my reasons for homeschooling. I explained that I was home schooled through middle and high school, but I now find myself in front of a bunch of tenth graders 180 days a year. My first day in high school, I was the teacher. I had no experience as a teacher, no teaching degree, and the majority of my ideas about high school came from Saved by the Bell. That first year was sometimes terrifying, and consistently eyeopening.
I am now in my seventh year of teaching, and I feel like I am knowledgeable enough about both homeschooling and public schooling to recognize both of their merits.
Tom and I want our children to be home schooled, and I stand by my reasons that I home school. However, there are some things our children will miss out on, some wonderful and beneficial things. And while for us, for our family, the pros of homeschooling outweigh the pros of public schooling, I feel like it's important for me to really examine what my children will miss.
I work with so many wonderful, dedicated, creative, and inspiring teachers. These men and women care about our students. They care about their jobs. They care about the future of education in our country. They are, by and large, pretty amazing. Homeschooling my children means I limit my children's ability to interact with these teachers on a consistent basis. I lessen the potential number of adults who can inform and influence and impact my children. I acknowledge that keeping them out of public school puts a greater responsibility on me and Tom to make sure that we expose our children to other adults, with other opinions, other passions, and other perspectives. If we don't, we run the risk of raising children with narrow views, who may never get excited about engineering even though they would have loved it because they never had the right adult in their lives to kindle that flame. I believe that we can take steps to help our children discover hidden passions, explore various ways of learning, question previously formed opinions, but it is not built into the system the way it is with public school. Homeschooling means that my children have less opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with a variety of adults. I hope that by acknowledging this fact, I will be better prepared to help Sena, Gus and Arlo interact with as many grown-ups as possible, and not just my friends and family, who share many of my ideas and views, but other adults, weird, different, even "subversive" adults, as well.


  1. *Applauds* This is why your kids won't be the stereotypical homeschooled kids. It seems like so many people homeschool their children to shelter them from other opinions, beliefs, and influences. It's really very very sad, and why homeschooling gets a bad rep. I was a public school kid for most of my life, but was homeschooled for a couple of years because health issues made it necessary, and I can definitely see the merits of both. SO much respect for you.

    1. Sheltering kids from other ideas and views seems like the worse possible reason to teach them at home, though I have to say that there is a huge part of me that does desperately want to shelter them from meanness.