There are many false ideas about homeschooling. Several months ago I began a series, that I plan to add to from time to time, that I call “Homeschooling Myths.” So far on my blog I have faced down the “Myth of Socialization” and the “Myth of the Patient Homeschooler.” Today I’m tackling the “Myth of Incompetence.”
Much like the “Myth of Socialization,” the “Myth of Incompetence” is a two-sided issue. On the one side we have the belief that all teachers, by virtue of the fact that they have received a specialized education, are automatically competent to teach. On the other side we have the belief that because most homeschooling parents do not have those credentials, they are automatically incompetent to teach their children.
Both assertions are patently false.
I would like to approach the first issue by sharing from my personal experience. Very few of my readers know that before I had my own children, I did teach in the public schools. However, I wasn’t a full-time teacher – I haven’t finished my Bachelor’s degree yet (though I’m working on it!) – but you typically don’t have to have a Bachelor’s degree to be a substitute teacher (or at least you didn’t back then). So for several years before I became a full-time mom, I filled in as a substitute teacher at the local elementary school that I myself had attended. In fact, I was considered so “competent” that teachers at that school who knew they would be out of their classes for an extended period of time (for maternity leave, for example) would specifically request that I take over their class.
I learned something from my experience as a substitute teacher. What I learned is that there are two keys to whether a teacher will be competent or not (and neither of them have to do with their education). Those two keys are:
- They must have an innate love for children; and
- They must have an innate gift for teaching
Now I would like to clarify something before I go on…I do not believe that as a parent you have to have an innate teaching ability in order to effectively teach your own children. The reason is that your love for your child will drive you to find the materials, curriculum and yes, even the patience to teach your own children well. Love for our children is a force so powerful that it will impel parents to risk life and limb for their children. So the prospect of teaching them should not seem insurmountable. In fact, it is not at all as difficult as those who have the monopoly on education in this country would have you believe.
But there is a completely different dynamic going on with classroom instruction. For one thing, no matter how much a teacher loves the kids in his or her class (and remember, I said effective teachers must have an innate love for children) that teacher will never love those children as she loves her own, or as their parents love them.
Additionally, the challenges of teaching a classroom full of kids, with some kids who are natural learners and others who are struggling to just keep up…if they’re lucky…makes it essential that the teacher have some innate understanding of how to present material in order to keep the gifted ones learning while bringing along the students for whom learning is a challenge. And frankly, I don’t believe any college education program really teaches what the real-world classroom is like. I spent some time in classes that were part of the core for a degree in education and they had nothing to do with actual classroom instruction – a realization that I predict many new teachers come to at about 10 a.m. on the teacher’s first real day of teaching.
With that being said, it is not difficult to see that there are likely many teachers in our public school system that are not competent. The truth is, people go into the profession of teaching for many reasons that have nothing to do with whether or not they love kids, or whether they can, in fact, teach.
Some go into teaching because they like the schedule. While teachers do spend some of their “off-hours” grading papers and planning, they still have much more time off than do their counterparts in other professions. This means that if they end up having kids of their own, they will finish their workday at about the same time their children are getting out of school, and they will have vacation time when their kids are out of school as well.
Others go into teaching because they love a certain subject: history, math, science, literature, whatever. And they think that teaching that subject will be a wonderful way to spend their lives. Whether or not they actually have the ability to teach is usually not even a part of their thought process.
Then there are those who go into teaching because they have bought into the notion that certain professions are, in and of themselves, more “holy” than other professions. I wish we could disabuse our society of the assumption that all doctors, nurses, teachers, etc. are inherently better people than, say, the owner of a local restaurant or the manager of an office supply store. There are good and bad in every profession. There is no particular profession that has a corner on beneficence.
And frankly, even if an individual goes into the teaching profession because they do have an innate love for kids and they do have an innate gift for teaching, that doesn’t guarantee that the children in their class will be truly educated.
According to the late Chris Klicka’s book Home Schooling: The Right Choice: An Academic, Historical, Practical, and Legal Perspective, progressives in this country purposely began the dumbing-down of our educational system late in the 19th century. For all the posturing and pontificating that liberals and progressives do concerning their desire that our children receive a “quality education,” it is a lie. Yes, I said a lie. If you doubt my assertion, read Chris Klicka’s book. It is thoroughly researched and notated.
You may ask why these people would want our children to, in reality, be uneducated. It’s simple: elites throughout history have known that a truly educated populace cannot be easily controlled. I know that I don’t usually broach political topics on this website, but it’s impossible to tackle the subject of our incompetent public school system without touching on politics because the education system is so politicized. Few parents realize how much. It’s quite common in our nation to demonize Wall Street and the “big corporations,” but one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, influence in our nation’s capital is the teachers’ union, aka the National Education Association. The NEA is the primary reason children in our public schools do not learn. They are so busy protecting their own, and promoting a hedonistic, socialistic agenda, that they have no time for actually improving the educational system in our country. There are a number of ways that the NEA is actually destroying education in this country:
- For one thing, no matter how incompetent or immoral a teacher might be, it is virtually impossible for school boards to fire them. The power the NEA wields at every level – local, state, and national – is a huge roadblock to effective education.
- The NEA is too busy promoting a hedonistic, socialist culture to actually focus on real education. I have talked about this in previous posts. The NEA is actively campaigning at the United Nations to further degrade and sexualize our children, including very young children. It is a disgrace.
- The NEA has a monopoly on our education system and regularly demonizes any and all other educational alternatives – and they especially despise homeschoolers. Perhaps because we’re making them look bad?
The end result is that even the best teachers are essentially teaching with “one hand tied behind their back.” They are forced to teach filth under the guise of sex education. They are forced to teach junk science in the name of “saving the planet.” And they are forced to teach revisionist history that has no basis in fact. As far as reading and math are concerned, those subjects take a back seat to the agenda of those who would “radically transform” our nation.
On the other hand, homeschooling parents for decades have been consistently turning out kids that are articulate, intelligent, educated, well-informed, and (gasp!) better socialized than kids who have attended public schools. By the way, the next time someone wants to throw the old “socialization” question at you, explain to them that studies have shown that homeschoolers are: more involved in community organizations, more involved politically, and more involved in church and charitable organizations. They are, in fact, far more “socialized” than the kids who are drinking, drugging and sleeping around at your typical state university.
The truth is, if you simply look at the statistics, it is abundantly clear that homeschoolers are effectively teaching their children. We are, in fact, quite competent.
So that’s one more myth effectively disposed of. Can you think of some others I should tackle in the future?