Wednesday, March 04, 2009

When other people say "But what about...?" with genuine concern

But what if you miss stuff?

What about the things they teach in school that you can't teach at home?

What about learning to socialise with large age-sorted groups?

Doesn't anyone check?

How will you know whether you're covering the whole curriculum?

What if you don't want to teach her long division because she'll never use it in real life?

Are you really allowed?

How will you know you're doing it right?

What if she's not normal?


hfnuala said...

I can't think of any time in my life other than school when I needed to deal with large groups of people all the same age. Mixed aged groups have been the norm since I got to college.

Still, maybe I'm weird.

la glitz said...

Ailbhe, I'm not quite sure what the point you're making here is. Is it 'These are questions to which I of course have all the answers', or 'These people raise interesting concerns, and I think they're worth considering', or 'These people may think they are coming from a position of genuine concern, but actually these questions are undermining and/or aggressive'? Would you mind clarifying a little? I ask because, as a professional educationalist, these questions are ones which seem worth considering to me.

la glitz said...

Actually, to clarify, having thought a little about what I'm really asking here: it's not so much that I think the questions are worth consideration (though I do.)

I am more asking whether 'who teaches whom' is a place for dialogue, where such questions might be put and answered (with respect for the usual internet etiquette), or more a private place for the like-minded to work out their own ideas on homeschooling without the input of others.

If the latter is the case, then I apologise for intruding.

Ailbhe said...

I was just listing the questions I was asked in one phonecall. From someone genuinely concerned.

Most of them are questions which seem very tchuh-that's-obvious and they really do all seem to boil down to fear of the unknown, BUT I have been thinking about this stuff for 24 years now so it's perhaps easier for me than most.

Which of them do you want answers to? Or, better, what are your specific questions?

la glitz said...

Ah, that does make sense. It's less that I want answers to questions (as though I had a right to demand them!) and more that I was wondering whether concerned questions, per se, were seen as intrusive. I wasn't sure whether the post was intended to single out the questions for scorn, or just to note that certain people articulate these concerns, and that addressing them is part of the home-schooling process.

I have spent many years thinking about these questions too, and have come up with very different answers to yours (obviously, or I wouldn't be pursuing the career that I am pursuing.) So rather, a big part of my question is, am I, as a professional educationalist, who would have many of those concerns and more, the enemy here? Or am I part of a wider and inclusive discussion about education?

la glitz said...

And (to continue) is that discussion to be had on this blog, or would you prefer this blog to be kept free of that kind of debate?

Ailbhe said...

Huh, I don't think that a specialist formally educating people who have chosen to be where they are learning things which they have expressed an interest in learning is *at all* at odds with my answers to the questions I'm asking!

People are asking me (personally) these questions about my not-yet-five-year-old, after all, not about a school-leaving-age person with some degree of generally-recognised autonomy.

la glitz said...

Ah, but I think that's partly where we disagree. I see myself on a continuum with educationalists at all levels, from kindergarten teachers to primary school teachers and special needs teachers and drama teachers and the rest, and I see the work I do as a part of an educational system. And I also think, for what it's worth, that the likelihood of people getting to be in a position where they can make the choice to go into adult education is radically improved by attending other forms of formal education prior to university. But we're probably going to agree to disagree on that.

Ailbhe said...

I know of many examples of home-educated children entering the school system at all stages including at University level; the commonest stage over here seems to be A-level college. I haven't heard of any home educated child who applied for a university place and didn't get into *some* university, though perhaps you'd count the people who applied for or did other things - obviously I would hear more about the ones who *do* go to Oxbridge than the ones who don't.

la glitz said...

I'm really glad to hear that that's your experience. I do think that children who come from financially secure homes where education is respected, books freely available and an interest taken in their development are starting with the best chance in life. So although I believe that attending school boosts that chance, I do think that the starting advantages are the most important ones.

Ailbhe said...

I think attending school boosts that chance *for some people* and fucks it up hugely for others. I also, though it's early days yet, think I might have one of each kind in my house - we shall see, of course, but come back in 9 years and see if Emer is starting school. I have a Funny Feeling she will be.

la glitz said...

Ha! We will indeed see. I don't want to discuss the substantive issue of homeschooling here, just to be clear - I threw in the university comment as an aside - more to ask whether or not asking questions and working as a teacher were viewed as an attacks on you and your choices. I'm guessing the answer is no?

Ailbhe said...

Working as a teacher doesn't attack me. School, whether institutional or at home, suits some children. I'd never be able to home-school anyone, so if a child wanted schooling I'd have to outsource it.

la glitz said...

Thanks for answering the questions I asked here. I appreciate it.

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