Wednesday, November 07, 2007


So quite a few of the blogs I've been coming across during my surfing-at-work-while-waiting-for-proposal-pieces are written by mothers (always mothers) who homeschool. I have issues with homeschooling for a lot of reasons. The main one is that the mothers who are doing the schooling generally are not certified teachers. That is a big deal, even with little ones. When I was doing a field placement in a 9th grade class when I was in college, I had a student who had been homeschooled until that year. He was way behind academically, and even further behind socially. It was not good.

I admit that experience probably colored my perception of homeschooling a lot, and possibly unfairly. But I've also done some research on the homeschooling curricula that are out there. Now granted, most of these curricula are published by fundamentalist Christian publishing houses, and since my beliefs don't tend to be in that direction, I again may be biased. But a lot of the materials I've seen are poor quality at best, inaccurate at worst (and I'm not talking about the science curricula. I can't even talk about that objectively, so I'm not trying).

Today I came across the blog of a Catholic homeschooling mother. She linked to the curriculum she uses, and I clicked through, because I've never really looked at a Catholic homeschooling curriculum. I was hoping for something better, given the strong history of Catholic education, particularly in the US.

I was disappointed. I looked primarily at the materials for my areas of expertise, Language Arts and middle school. The literature collection consists of only novels by Catholic writers who are positive on Catholicism. The elementary Grammar books are called The Language of God (which bugs me on more levels than I can say - American English is not God's language, and I hate that the title implies that it is), and the the sentences in the textbook for 5th/6th grade are something right out of the 50's. Also, grammar instruction seems to stop in 7th grade. Trust me. Grammar needs to be taught and reinforced all the way through high school (and into college for that matter). Penmanship, however, is taught all the way through 8th grade (OK. Maybe that's not such a bad thing - though I would have resented doing copybook work in 8th grade).

Then there are these two books, which are considered part of the 8th grade curriculum for girls. Sewing, cooking, and homemaking. Your daughter will make someone a lovely wife at the age of 18, since she'll come to think that that's all a woman can do. I'm speaking from experience here. Until I was in 7th grade and going to the gifted program in my district, I honestly didn't think that a woman could be anything other than a nurse, a teacher, or a wife/mother. No one ever told me that, but those were the only examples I ever had. Why would you force that on your daughters?

And why only daughters? Shouldn't your sons know about homekeeping, too? What if they never marry? Or what if they become priests in a parish that is too poor to affort a housekeeper? Or what if they just want to be real men and help their wives around the house with more than just the heavy lifting? What then?

The history books are all history from a Catholic perspective? Where's the objectivity in that? In my experience as both a student and teacher in Catholic schools, they were always (relatively) objective when presenting history and the role Catholicism played in it (except maybe for the
Crusades. It's hard to admit when you made a lot of mistakes that resulted in the killing of thousands of innocent people).

I know that there are a lot of reasons that people choose to homeschool, with religious/moral reasons being primary. But you now what? If you parent your kids well, guiding them without smothering them, they are going to turn out OK regardless of whether your protect them in the cocoon of your home or send them off to the big, bad wolves of public school. What matters is how you influence them when they are home. If you nuture them, they will remember those lessons later on down the line when confronted with moral dilemmas. Trust me. I speak from the experience of having two parents who sent me first to Catholic elementary then to public high school. I had plenty of chances to go against the way I was raised. I could have gotten drunk every weekend (and most weekdays) very easily. I knew where the parties were. I could have gotten involved in all kind of things I was raised to avoid. But I didn't. Those lessons stuck. I'm proud of that, and I'm proud of my parents.

Wow. Guess I had more to say on this topic than I thougt I did. Who knew?

1 comment:

Jody said...

I am sorry you have had such a bad veiw of a few bad homeschoolers. It does happen just as there are some bad schools. Anyway what I wanted to say is that yes I am a Christian (all though not a Catholic) and I do use Christian material and I am not a certified teacher but I do have to say if I don't know something I will find it anyway I can. Weather it be asking someone with more knowledge on a subject or researching it myself. Most homeschoolers (not all of course) supplement their curriculum (if they use one)with other things as well.
As for teaching my children only christian veiw I do but I also know that they will need to see the other side of things also. Yes they will be learning how we believe but even if they went to public school we would teach them our beliefs to. So at least for my boy's they will learn what's out in the "real world" as well as what we follow. They can choose when they are older if they will have our same beliefs or not.
Oh wanted to say to that I do agree with you on boy's should learn homekeeping skills. All though I wouldn't be the one to teach my boy's how to sew because well I have never been good at that LOL. Now my husband might be able to teach them more about that LOL.
My boy's probably have more public schooled friends than homeschooled friends and they are friends with at least one family that is athiest. Granted we don't try to "save them" and they don't try to interfer with our beliefs but they are friends just the same. I even like the mother. I don't know the father to well so I can't say there LOL.
Ok sorry for rambbling I just wanted to let you know not all homeschool situations are like the ones you have encountered.