Wednesday, June 6, 2007

More Thoughts on the "9 Reasons to Homeschool" Article

I've been busy the past couple of weeks with my parents coming from Massachusetts to visit us and also just spending lots of time outdoors with the kids enjoying summer, so I did not get a chance until now to read Christina's post over at Closer to Fine with her thoughts on Michael Pakaluk's article about the 9 reasons to homeschool. She put her own twist on the original 9 reasons to make them applicable to a broader audience. Pakaluk's Pilot article was written from a Catholic point of view, with certain beliefs about the importance of religion, family structure, and the desirability of protecting children from various elements of society that not all homeschoolers share. In rewriting the 9 reasons from a different POV, Christina makes some very good points IMHO.

Pakaluk's original #4 stated: "Homeschooled children more easily become friends with their parents." Christina felt that this focused too narrowly on the parent-child relationship to the exclusion of other important family relationships such as those between siblings and the extended family. I definitely agree with her as traditional schools typically separate siblings out into different classes, often even twins. The homeschooled children I know generally are extremely close to their siblings, particularly the ones from larger families. Freedom from the school's calendar also allows families to spend more time with grandparents and other relatives. I have the flexibility to pack up the kids and go spend a month visiting my parents and in-laws a couple times per year without disrupting their education or incurring a fine.

Pakaluk's original #5 stated: "Homeschooling requires that the father play the role that he really should play in his children’s education." Christina felt that mothers are also isolated from their children's education by traditional schools. Also, of course, not every homeschooling family is a traditional nuclear one.

Pakaluk's original #6 dealt with the unity of studying and religion. This is a "hot button" issue in the homeschooling community, as people tend to have very strong opinions one way or the other. However, Christina makes an excellent point about homeschooling allowing parents to raise their kids with their own family's values (religious or secular).

Pakaluk's original #7 was about fostering "a lively patriotism". Christina took issue with the political POV behind this and replaced "a lively patriotism" with "good citizenship". I would personally argue that patriotism is an vital part of being a good citizen, but Christina is correct in that it is important to be an active and informed citizen at all levels from one's local community up through the global one. This goes back to the discussion of "communitarianism" that I blogged about the other day.

Pakaluk's original #8 stated: "Homeschooled children can enjoy the innocence of childhood longer." He was referring specifically to protecting children from premature knowledge about sex. This is another "hot button" topic in the homeschooling community, often (but not always) stemming from religious beliefs. Christina rewrote this as "Homeschooling protects the well-paced development of the child." I agree that this is very important, particularly these days with all the "hurried child" syndrome to use Dr. David Elkind's terminology. Children are not mini-adults and the modern push to have them grow up fast has a very negative impact on their mental health. Christina is correct that the problem goes beyond just sex.

Christina also makes some excellent points about how homeschooling better integrates education with life, provides respite from the high-pressure tempo found in many of today's schools, and allows flexibility in the event of a family crisis.

It's always good to take a look at things from a different perspective. I suspect I share more of Pakaluk's POV than Christina does. However, she did a great job at expanding upon Pakaluk's ideas to make them more inclusive and therefore palatable to a wider audience.


mimi.rothschild said...

Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading your blog. All seven of my children have been homeschooled or are currently being homeschooled. The benefits of homeschooling are amazing, especially compared what my child would be receiving at public schools. Thanks again!

Christina said...

A homeschooling mom, busy? :::gasp:::

Thanks for taking the time to share the original article via your blog, and for commenting in return to my thoughts on it. Homeschoolers are such a diverse crowd that if I only sought wisdom from those who are just like me (sociopolitically, pedagogically, etc.) I wouldn't have access to much! (I could expand that to "people" and not just "homeschoolers", too...)