Honesty first---I taught a total of nearly 30 years. In that time, I had students from age 3 to 73. Twenty five years was in Devils Lake, about five years in junior high and over twenty with seniors. I am pro-public education.
I posted a Kahlil Gibran poem yesterday. The first lines are:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself.
Two lines in the second stanza read:
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
I believe it is a parent's job to raise Adults, not eternal children. It is our duty to raise our kids to be informed and involved citizens, not brainwashed to believe as we do, but to becitizens who can think for themselves, people who are prepared for a future that will be very different from the present. We need to teach kids to question everything and everyone; to be people who are not obedient automatons. People who as adults will not be victims of dictators, false prophets, and scam artists. Remember Nazi Germany and other totalitarian states? Orderly obedience led to Hell for many.
Kids who "have their own thoughts" says the poet. These thoughts should based on accurate information, not propaganda or biased emotionalism.
We should strive try to raise people who are lifelong learners. To do so we strive to meet the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual needs of our kids. We strive to give them good food and rest; security and safety; love, support, and discipline; connections with friends, family, pets, and neighbors. We encourage reading and let them chose their own books. We encourage curiosity when we take them out of doors and provide experiences and lessons in nature, geography, art, music, architecture, engineering and history as often as we can. We parents know a wide range of subjects, but we cannot be knowledgeable about all topics.
Are we prepared to know how place and life experiences influenced a writer? Are we informed about the era of a piece of literature? Can we help identify irony, sarcasm, hyperbole, symbolism, analogy, themes, motifs, and the many other literary devices that enrich literature? What about rhyme scheme, haiku, sonnets, odes, and numerous other forms of poetry?
I have a Master's Degree, but I am no expert in physics or trigonometry. I thoroughly enjoy the biological sciences, the social science and geomety, but I am not prepared to take my own children as far as they can go, or have gone, in advances mathematics and the physical sciences.
I do not believe that anyone who keeps her kids home is doing right by her kids. There is a difference between "schooling" and "education." "Schooling" is imposed---"education" is drawing out (e=from, duct=a tube)
Recently, the Home Schoolers raised a fuss in Bismarck over their kids taking the achievment tests kids who attend school have to take. WHY? What are they afraid of?
They said "We teach a different way." So what? The children either learn the material and about people, or they don't. The method and materials are hardly the issue, although some of the materials deny science and have rewritten history.
Memorizing is NOT being educated. It is the lowest form of learning. Spelling Bees and geography contests are great fun, but not education. They do not require questioning, observing, theorizing and testing the theory, logic, and that wonderful quality---curiosity.
Public Schools are not perfect. No one, nor any system, can be "all things to all people." But in schools, kids have the opportunity to hear various points of view, meet a variety of people, and learn to negotiate to get along with people of different incomes, values, abilities, talents, heritages, families. At the high school and above level, their teachers are specialists in the subject matter. This variety is preparation for LIFE.
Seven billion people occupy this planet. We must learn to get along, to share and protect the earth's resouces. We must learn to discern the difference between truth and bias, spin, charged language and just plain mis-information. We must learn to respect each other, and set a goal of Peace for All. We do not learn that by staying in the shelter of home. We do not have the wide variety of experiences the world and a variety of teachers and classes has to offer.
I know a woman who dropped out of high school and ran away who home "schools." I know another who works full time 30 miles from her home who claims she "home schools." Her kids are home alone all day. I know another family who are educated and who farm. Their kids are bright, well read, well mannered, but they have few social skills.
Again, "Your children are not your children but ....Life's longing for itself." "They have their own thoughts." Rejoice! Encourage them to be free, to read and think, to be discerning, to be accepting of differences, to be kind to all. Let them become themselves.