Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Learning without a "real" teacher

Sometimes I'm Actually Coherent, a hsing dad's blog, has a long but very worthwhile post responding to a common question: how can homeschoolers have the audacity to think that they can provide an education comparable to that available through teachers (especially in high school) who are expected to be specialists in their subjects? Assuming that we are, indeed, talking about qualified, dedicated, interested teachers here (anything else is beyond the scope of the argument), why would you choose to forego what they have to offer and perhaps limit what your child is able to learn "from you?" (Already one point becomes obvious, if you're familiar with what homeschoolers, especially homeschooling highschoolers, do: it's not always about you yourself teaching a student; there are all kinds of ways to learn what you want to learn, and it's not always Mom struggling to remember grade 10 algebra.)

There's also some interesting discussion going on in the comments to the post.

For any of you who've just popped up here, we made the decision just over a year ago, after homeschooling our oldest since the beginning, to have her take some of her classes at the local high school. It wasn't because we disagreed with the point of that post, though (although I might have had a hard time trying to teach hairdressing); it became clear that our Apprentice's specific needs could best be met by making use of the school's resources. I think she has also found it somewhat--what's the word I want--reassuring?--affirming?--to know that she does indeed know her stuff in math, French and science; she's found the place where she fits into the system, and she's making the most of it (almost, I tend to think of it, as if she were attending a junior college for high school credit, as I know some hsers do in the U.S.).

By making that choice, we said no to some other options that the Apprentice would have had at home: more time to read books of her or our choosing, more time to participate in the daily stream of things at home, more time to help Mr. Fixit, more opportunities to take time off and go somewhere during school hours. However, she's gained a great deal as well, so we feel it was a worthwhile trade.

Will the other Squirrelings do the same thing? They are all so different that it's very hard to say. Of course the Apprentice's enthusiasm for what she's doing is influencing them; but if homeschooling high school looks like a better choice for them, that's what we'll do.

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