Friday, March 04, 2005

The Oxymoron of Home Schooling

The library book sale season has begun. With wagons in tow; my Betsy-Tacy pal & I ventured forth to Boerne, Texas to pluck the wheat from the chaff and turn said wheat into bread. Or, to be more accurate into money via E-Bay and Amazon.

Book Sales are attended by several distinct groups. There are the dealers - easily spotted by their wagons, rolling carts and tubs for transporting books. These days dealers fall into two categories - those who carry their knowledge in their heads & love books and those who know nothing but can operate a scanner. The former each have their own niche and buy what they know. Bookselling is so diverse that 6 dealers can cherry pick a lot and each come away with totally different books.

The scanner folks grab up anything that looks remotely new and retire to a corner to key in the numbers and check them against Amazon. They are a pain since they have no manners, no common courtsey and no respect for books. They are greedy and they want to make money. Period.

I like making money too, but I love the thrill of the hunt and I enjoy matching people with long lost literary friends.

Group two are the voracious readers, who buy to read. Many are retired and snap up armloads of their favorite authors. They are friendly and fun to chat with.

And in the third group you have the homeschoolingl mothers and their broods. They are easily spotted by their strollers, which are the size of a Mini Coooper and their children, which are numerous and often wailing and howling at the top of their lungs.

And there in lies the oxymoron. From what I've read parents opt to homeschool because they love their children and only want the best for them. They feel that the parent and only the parent can provide the care and education their children need. Yet these women (and it's always women) seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to allow a baby to cry non stop for an hour or a toddler to throw a temper tantrun while they look for books. It's very painful for the other book buyers and it's got to be hard on the children too.

One mother had 2 toddlers in a double stroller who cried so loud and so long they were beet red and choking. She seemed oblivous to raised eyebrows and evil teacher looks (something I'm an expert at delivering) sent her way by the rest of customers. Yet another carried a baby under one arm like it was a sack of potatoes and never seemed to notice the squaling and crying going on under right her nose (or armpit).

Overheard at today's sale:

Child ( whiney tired voice)"Can we go home, we have lots of books at home, I want to go hooommmmmeeee".

Mother "No, we're homeschoolers and we're not going home till I've looked at every book".

Child (very LOUD and whiney voice) "I want to go home NOW!". Child gave an academy award winning performace of "the terrible twos" which mother ignored but which gave everyone else a headache. Child set a new record for non stop screaming without stopping to breath.

How can mothers who claim to love their children be so deaf to their cries and uncaring of their needs? Not mention the sanity of everyone else in the vicinity?

32 comments:

Mamacita said...

You rock. You absolutely ROCK. What a great description of the phenomenon that is one of the (many) banes of the intelligent person's existence.

Julie said...

Oh yeah! The kids on my block who are homeschooled...oh, never mind. And ditto for so-called "attachment parenting."

dj sciz said...

I have to admit that I'm terribly prejudiced about home schooling, and that my prejudice is fed by ignorance. As a teacher at the college level, I'm always worried that I'll get home-schooled students in my classes. I have no proof of this, but I expect them to be well-informed and very dogmatic. That's because I've noticed that many home schoolers are fundamentalist Christians. Then again, if you can't afford to get your child into a good primary school, then what do you do? (And if you can't afford a good primary school, can you afford to home school?) I just don't know. It's a conundrum.

Kris said...

I'm sorry your main experiences with homeschooled children have been so negative. Not all mothers of homeschooled children behave as those you describe. And I've observed plenty of uncaring mothers and badly behaving public-schooled children. I homeschool, go to book sales, love books, AND sell on Amazon, yet have not displayed any of the behaviors you described. In fact I don't take my children to book sales because I don't want them to be trampled and pushed around by rude, competitive people. I love books and buy books I love. I love book sales, book stores, and libraries too! If you choose to be informed on current research about young adults who have been homeschooled, "Home Educated and Now Adults" would be a good place to start. It's based on extensive research of 7,000 adults who were homeschooled for at least 7 years. I have often wondered why so many people have such a strong hostile, angry, and emotional reaction against homeschooling. It feels like the same type of pre-judgment racists and bigots are guilty of. And it hurts my feelings in the same way a victim of bigotry would be hurt.

Mamacita said...

I've read articles about home-schooled kids who were head-and-shoulders above the public-schooled kid, but I've never met one in real life. The only ones I've met were the ones who were inevitably sent back to the public schools around the sixth or seventh grade, knowing nothing but the books of the Bible and how to sell candy door-to-door. I'm sure both sides of this issue can show horror stories and congratulatory stories; as a 26-year-veteran of the public schools, however, I can only say, Heaven preserve us from the majority of home-schooling parents and their pathetically under-exposed, clueless offspring. And don't even get me STARTED about the home-schooling parents who insist that the public schools take their kids for field trips, parties, lab science, music, etc. Either your child is enrolled and rightfully eligible for these things, or your child is not. Pick one. (But I musn't get BITTER about it. . . .)

Kris said...
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Kris said...
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Em T. said...

I am Guusje's friend who was at the sale with her. We comment on ill-behaved home schooled children because they're the ones we see on a week day at a sale with parents. Public schooled children are not able to attend on a Thursday or Friday. And we heard the moms of many of the howlers talking about being home schoolers, so we weren't making ill-founded guesses. I don't understand why moms who do this and want to buy books for their children don't trade off babysitting and leave their children with a friend so they can concentrate on shopping and the children won't be bored, miserable and crying as they assuredly were in Boerne, in droves.
Mind you, I'm not anti-home schooling. I'm anti badly behaved children in public.

Library Lady said...

I too am against badly behaved children in public, no matter where they go to school.
I have known a lot of home school kids and they are usually very polite. Painfully so, in terms of many of them are so shy they barely open their mouths in the presence of other children, despite all the social interaction their mothers will tell you about.
The fact is that kids need to be with other kids, interacting without the benefit of adults, in activities that they are allowed to self manage. (This goes for kids who go to regular school as well!)
A lot of home school kids are very well educated in the book sense. The problem is they don't learn the good and bad parts of interacting with their peers that school teaches. And no matter how erudite they are, that's going to give them problems in the REAL world!!

COD said...

The level of ignorance regarding homeschooling displayed on this site is frightening. You people are so willing to accept that throwing kids in a room of 30+ others of the same age and usually same socio-economic background is the only way to do things. Why? Because the government tells you so? Because you can't accept that there is absolutely nothing special about the act of teaching? Anybody can do it. Kids teach themselves to walk and talk by age two, yet you believe a teaching certificate stamped by a clueless government official is required to teach a kid anything. It's not. The results would indicate that the official certificate is more of a hindrance than a help.

The basic facts are simple and indisputable. HS'ers do better on nationally normed standardized tests. Whether or not those tests really measure anything significant is a debate reasonable people can have. They do exceedingly well in college. Stanford actively recruits homeschoolers and accepts them at twice the rate of the general population. Fundamentalist Christians are a minority of homeschoolers. Most homeschoolers are just families that think they can do a better job than a faceless government bureaucracy can do of educating their kids. In most cases they are correct. We accomplish more in 4 hours a day than the school kids get done in a week. That leaves my kids an abundance of time to read, pursue their own passions, or just lie in the backyard and look at the clouds.

All of which are far more worthwhile activities than being cooped up in a government controlled institution all day.

Mamacita said...

Intelligent parents who know what they're doing are NOT what is being discussed here. (Home-schoolers can pick and choose their students. The world can not.) The discussion here concerns those parents who choose NOT to discipline their children, and who would consider a day at a book sale a field trip. Please read more carefully and be discerning before you pick a fight. Kids who have been homeschooled properly often do excel. My experience has not been positive with this societal element, that was my only comment.

COD said...
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Mamacita said...

I have no desire to enter into any kind of debate. I stated my opinion (based on years of experience) and others have stated theirs. We all have encountered all kinds of people at their best, and at their worst, including homeschoolers. Yes, and including teachers. Nobody's experiences are the same. Mine are what they are; so are everyone else's. I wish mine had been more positive. They were not. I realize this isn't how ALL homeschoolers are, but it is the only way I have seen them: mostly awful and infrequently superior. I love children of all ages and can almost always find a way to help them in spite of everything; the worst problems in teaching (in MY OLD SCHOOL, which is where my experience lies. . . .) was dealing with unreasonable parents. Of which we all are guilty on occasion, including me. The difference, I think, is in the acknowledgment of it. (And why would parents who did not trust me to teach their children Language, somehow trust me to take their kids on field trips? They were hostile and furious when I said absolutely not.) (How could I have taken a child I didn't even know, and who had not done all the prep work to earn it, on a long bus trip?) It made no sense then, nor does it now. I'm glad some people's homeschooling experience is working out, and producing well-educated kids who excel. I'm truly hapy for you. Your kids are obviously not the ones who rode their bicycles almost daily to my old school and played on the playground unsupervised until we had to call the police to remove them since nobody was home when we called. . . . .

Rockabye Baby said...
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Mamacita said...

Rude behavior is all around us. But when children are running wild on our school grounds at noon, but are not enrolled in our school, I think the homeschool assumption is probably correct. But this is the exception, not the rule. Most people in this world are considerate and kind. And some are not.

Anonymous said...

It is possible that some of the people who you describe as

Group two are the voracious readers, who buy to read. Many are retired and snap up armloads of their favorite authors. They are friendly and fun to chat with.may in fact be polite homeschoolers who have left their children at home.

Homeschoolers are like any other group in society - widely varied. And, like any other group in society, we get a little troubled when the most obvious/least normal of us are held up as examples of the norm. I think this may be why you have had such a strong reaction to your post.

Poppins
http://www.upsaid.com/teachermom

COD said...

Actually, the kids were likely truant, not homeschooled. I highly doubt homeschooled kids were running around the school playground. When we do go to the playground, we tend to avoid the local government center for youth indoctrination. You, or somebody, said it earlier. Nobody was home when you called. The parents most likely were working and thought their kids were at school.

COD said...

I meant to add this link to my previous post. Interesting article about homeschooling in today's Washington Post.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A12678-2005Mar6?language=printer

Mamacita said...

No, sorry, they were being schooled at home. It was just that sometimes, the mother was called in to work and she trusted them to work on projects in her absence. She did not believe us when we reported that her boys were on their bikes on our grounds until the principal went out there, physically coralled them, and drove them home. The parents were furious over the fact that the school confiscated the bikes. And again, I am not saying that this is typical homeschool behavior. It is just what we observed here in this area. We also had problems with parents wanting their kids to be included in the fun things a school offers, such as band, choir, music, PE, art, field trips, etc. Not good enough for math, but plenty good enough for parties. Again, not typical, I'm sure. But it was for us. Schools aren't perfect, Chris. Nothing is perfect. People make choices, and they don't have to justify them to anybody, if it works for your family. Most of the kids I've been in contact with were homeschooled for religious reasons, or because the parents became angry with a school issue and pulled the kids out to 'do it themselves.' This, again, is not the norm. But it was for us. I'm glad your kids are doing well. If it works for you, by all means keep doing it. You've thought it out, made your decision. And it seems to be working for you. I'm glad.

Anonymous said...
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Mamacita said...

Any comment made by a person who does not leave contact information is a bit suspicious, however.

COD said...

I'm actually in agreement with you on the field trips / art class thing. Any involvement in the school system could make you liable for school regulation.

However, I do see the other side. We pay 100% of the taxes that the school parent does, yet we are denied access. And really, there is no good reason to deny, other than the school system doesn't want to deal with the scheduling hassle.

Many school systems are now actively working to lure homeschoolers back into the system, because of the federal and or state tax dollars associated with school census numbers. It's all about the money.

I do believe that the best education system in this country would be open, with parents free to choose from government school classes, private classes, community classes, home education, and maybe even business or industry sponsored classes. I see the community as one big campus, with everybody piecing together a personalized education and with no silly statewide standards.

Right now, homeschooling is the the best approximation of the ideal system.

Mamacita said...

You're not denied access. You've chosen not to take advantage of it. People who have never worked in a school don't understand how hard it is to maintain a schedule, to account for the whereabouts of ever child at every given moment. Kids who wander in and out as it pleases a parent's wishes could not be supervised properly. All the things in a public school are for all the children enrolled in the public school. People who choose not to enroll their children are certainly allowed their choices, but once the choice is made, they shouldn't then try to pick and choose the parts of the choice they DIDN'T make, that they like or can't do at home. It's not fair. Schools only have so many books, so many lockers, so many desks, etc. We order them according to enrollment, plus a few extras for move-ins. Most schools are not able to accommodate a student who is not enrolled. A school is not a buffet; nobody should expect to take a little of this and a little of that, and leave. I think GOOD homeschooling is wonderful. I think GOOD public schooling is wonderful. Make a choice and stick to it, both sides. I also think both sides tend to stereotype each other, and this isn't good, either. Why can't we all just get along?

Kris said...

I promised myself I would pull out and stay out of the fray. I hope I don't get deleted again. I just think it's notable that: (1) I have not said a single derogatory thing about public schools or public school teachers. (2) My eldest son, who is in college now, was educated entirely by public schools. (3) Some public schools ARE willing to work with homeschoolers. My son, David attends English 1st period at the high school and comes home for the rest of the day. His counselor and teacher have been very helpful and supportive. He IS considered enrolled and they still get the tax $$, but the only services they provide are a seat, teacher, and textbook for this one class. They make the scheduling easy for themselves (and us) by scheduling it for 1st period. And on a positive note.. He has a wonderful English teacher. She has taught my son to write well and I am very excited about that! I will soon be writing her a long note thanking her! I'm thinking my defense of homeschoolers may have been construed as an attack on public schools and their teachers. It was not.

Em T. said...

I'm still bemused how this discussion derailed. The point wasn't that homeschooling is bad, but that if you want to homeschool and attend library sales, leave your children with a friend, relative or sitter. Babies and toddlers are absolutely miserable and cry nonstop. Older children get bored and restless which leads to them playing under tables, running and engaging in activity that is hazardous to other shoppers and themselves. It's a very bad choice to take them along, especially given that the parent has to ignore them in order to choose books. I don't think the beet faced screaming toddlers or the small kids running between the tables or the older ones begging to leave enjoyed the experience of being at a library sale.

Kris said...

The subject got derailed by comments from readers who seemed to be making sweeping judgments of homeschoolers. Comments like: "..one of the many banes of the intelligent person’s existence.." and "..the kids on my block who are homeschooled.." and "..I'm always worried that I'll get home-schooled students in my classes.." and the one that upset me the most, "Heaven help us from the majority of homeschoolers and their pathetically under-exposed, clueless offspring.." And I never did understand the comment about homeschoolers knowledge of door-to-door candy selling. Admittedly, I did originally overreact due to exhaustion and sleep deprivation. But I do stand by my original contention that there seems to be a widespread bias against homeschoolers.

Em T. said...

You're still ignoring the central question of why drag your children to places that are not appropriate, where they are uncomfortable and unhappy and a nuisance to others. No one has addressed that.

Kris said...

I don't know why they would do that. It's obviously wrong and I would not do it because I think it not only makes the children unhappy but could possibly cause physical injury. I've encountered very cutthroat people at these sales. Had you gone to the sale on Saturday, you probably would have encountered mothers of public-schooled children doing the same thing. Again, I think the debate really began in earnest because some of the comments to the original post, which I just quoted in my previously comment, were off the subject of book sales and were more about homeschoolers in general.

ChrisW said...

"And in the third group you have the homeschoolingl mothers and their broods. They are easily spotted by their strollers, which are the size of a Mini Coooper and their children, which are numerous and often wailing and howling at the top of their lungs.

And there in lies the oxymoron. From what I've read parents opt to homeschool because they love their children and only want the best for them. They feel that the parent and only the parent can provide the care and education their children need. Yet these women (and it's always women) seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to allow a baby to cry non stop for an hour or a toddler to throw a temper tantrun while they look for books. It's very painful for the other book buyers and it's got to be hard on the children too."

Here is where this subject derailed. It started right here at the beginning. Why do you lump all homeschoolers together with a couple of rude people? You make sweeping generalizations that all homeschoolers are inconsiderate to those around them and borderline abusive to their children. How would you feel if I wrote in my blog that all people that choose to send their children to public school are uncaring, unfeeling boobs? I suspect you and most of your commenters would be shouting all over my comment board. (Just to make it clear, I don't feel this way, I am making an example.) Maybe your perception of homeschoolers would improve if you got to know a few of them. It appears to me that many of you are making judgments of people that you don't even know.

Em T. said...

My general dissatisfaction is with people who think it's okay to take their children everywhere. Some places are not as child friendly as others, so in those instances using a sitter/trading off with a friend/waiting till Dad is home would be the better choice. There were numerous home school moms at this sale who brought their children along and it caused a lot of problems. Not just to us and other shoppers; the kids were bored, tired and visibly unhappy. I felt sorry for them all.

COD said...

Parents shouldn't bring their kids to inappropriate places. I think we all agree on that. There is nothing to discuss or address. It's no different than kids that throw tantrums at the mall or in a restaurant. Parents should remove them from the situation until they can gain control. Failing to gain control, they should leave. However, many parents don't do that, regardless of how they choose to educate their kids.

People are selfish, what do you expect us to do about it?

Sam(antha) said...

From the way you've decribed the kids, it sounds as though they are toddlers and babies. And generally speaking, people below the age of compulsary school attendence arn't considered homeschoolers