So, I perusing a lovely compilation on homeschooling by Evelyn Saenz, of The Homeschool Club, this morning discussing their decision making process when it came to providing a home education. When I made my way to the comments below, I found this answer in regards to the question “Is homeschooling right for your family?”
I immediately found myself offended. My first thought was of all the glaringly inexperienced teachers I came across in my own public school education. As much as we would all like to think that that the individuals who are nurturing are children’s mind away from home have vast experience and an unsurpassed amount of depth in their knowledge of the subject matter they are teaching, the fact is, many are straight out of college, and find themselves grasping on rails for life in those first few years trying to figure out what they are doing.
A statistical Brief created by the Bureau of Education Information and Accountability Services of the Florida Department of Education shows that in the 2006/2007 school year 61% of the teachers’ highest level of education was a Bachelor’s degree. Among this 61%, the average years of teaching experience amounts to only 9.76 years. Now keep in mind that these 9.76 years of average experience involve adjusting to a completely new set of students each year, and in the case of middle and high school teachers, multiple sets of students each year.
As a home educator I already of 8.97 years of experience with my son as a mother and his teacher, the only primary teacher he has ever know, giving me the opportunity to fully understand his learning styles, abilities and the best methods for him to personally learn. This brings me to the second reason why I found myself so offended; in my opinion by calling a mother, an amateur teacher in regards to her own child you may as well say she isn’t qualified to be a mother.
This quickly reminds me of a quote from Elizabeth P. Peabody, in her 1887 publication, “Education in the Home, Kindergarten and The Primary School.”
“Whoever proposes to become a kindergartner according to the idea of Frœbel, must at once dismiss from her mind the notion that it requires less ability and culture to educate children of three, than those of ten or fifteen years of age. It demands more; for, is it not plain that to superintend and guide accurately the formation of the human understanding itself, requires a finer ability and a profounder insight than to listen to recitations from books ever so learned and scientific? To form the human understanding is a work of time, demanding a knowledge of the laws of thought, will, and feeling, in their interaction upon the threshold of consciousness, which can be acquired only by the study of children themselves in their every act of life—a study to be pursued in the spirit that reveals what Jesus Christ meant, when he said: "He that receiveth a little child in my name, receiveth me, and Him that sent me;" "Woe unto him who offends one of these little ones, for their spirits behold the face of my Father who is in heaven."
Now, regular readers of my blog know that I am not religious, though spiritual, but I very much agree with this statement. I believe in a day in age when parents quickly send their children off to daycares and preschools the understanding of the patience and care that go in teaching young children, not math facts or grammar, but the very basic of life that will set them on their way is very much lost. If a mother can carefully teach her child how to crawl, walk, talk and more, even if it is her first child, is she not justly qualified to educate said child beyond the nursery years?
In fact, I would be willing to bet that if you asked most home educators what the most difficult part of educating their children is, it wouldn’t be that which can be taught from books, but rather the morals, values, love of learning and ability to provide their child with a strong self-confidence and self-reliance that will benefit them more than what the mother has taught from the book because this is what allows them to continue to teach themselves their entire lifetime. Public schools may have textbooks, standards and standardized test covered with their so called experienced teachers, but when it comes to the other, I think there can be no more experienced than the home educator.