Oct 6, 2010

Homeschool vs The Bullies

Recently I landed at Dan's blog, Single Dad Laughing, and his post on bullying.  It got me thinking, because I was bullied from third grade through ninth grade.
Dan talks about getting bullied from the day he moved into a new school mid-year and how he went from a happy kid to a kid full of self loathing and hatred by the end of the year. It only took seven weeks.
I've had a lot of therapy, but we never got into the bullying too much.
It does explain in huge part why I was so mean to my younger sisters.
Dan does a great job explaining the mind of kid who's been or is being bullied and how to go about correcting the problem so I won't go into that here.
What I want to explore is how this is affecting my children.
I hated school. First, it was boring. Second, I got picked on. Nobody likes that.


We have already decided to home school our kids, but I've started to wonder how much of that decision is based on my (and The Hubs) experiences in public school.


I've explained to lots of people why we are making this choice.


Reason One: America's Public schools are based on the Prussian Educational System, a system designed to create a complacent and mediocre populous. My children are not mediocre. I want my kids to be able to fully explore all aspects of things they find interesting. We recently spent TWO MONTHS on volcanoes. The Boy knows more than most adults on the subject. He can identify igneous rock at thirty paces. He can tell you all about how The Snake River Canyon was formed and spot a shield volcano from a moving car. Did I mention he's three?


Reason Two: The current public school system teaches to the lowest common denominator. (if you can't remember what a denominator is, thank your public school)
School has been dumbed down and dumbed down and dumbed down to the point we no longer expect anything from our kids, and so nothing is what we get. I expect my kids to perform to their highest potential. I expect my children to complete the current high school curriculum by age 14. I think this is an attainable goal for ANY kid of normal intelligence.


Reason Three: Current public schools trap kids into thinking ageism is OK. By having them interact only with kids their own age, they only learn how to interact with kids their own age. How is that helping anyone?


Reason Four: If children study what they love, they will learn to love studying. We will cover all the basics at home with our offspring, but if I need to change the way a subject is framed so my child can grasp a concept, I can.


Reason Five: The School District is not my child's parent. I am my child's parent. I have a sister who was HORRIBLE at spelling so the school placed her in special ed. The school got LOTS of funding for special ed. Want to know how they "fixed" her spelling problem? They only gave her HALF the words the other kids her age were learning to spell. My dad nearly hit the roof by the time he found out (18 months later). Turned out it was impossible to remove her from special ed, so he enrolled her in a learning center after school.  She's still a terrible speller. The only thing our family found special about special ed was that it wasn't especially helpful and, in fact, harmed my sister.


Reason Six: I want to teach my child to be a good person. My child should learn morals, not tolerance, not about how Jimmy has two dads, M.O.R.A.L.S. 
Morals are what frame a society. When a group of people start thinking each individual gets to say what's right for that individual, no amount of police officers and judges and laws will keep us safe. Case-in-point: A girl in North Carolina is suing her school district (courtesy of the ACLU) for the right to wear a nose piercing in school. Her parents say she belongs to The Church of Body Modification. Seriously? I belong to The Church of Your Stupid, then. It would not surprise me one bit if this girl has spent her whole life learning to be entitled, and if next year she finds herself "entitled" to someone elses wallet or car.
Does that make me an Absolutist?
Absolutely.
Some things (most things) are VERY black and white. Either it's right or it's not. (I would like to point out that just because we don't agree with someone’s actions doesn't mean we don't love them as a person.)


By now you're asking what this has to do with our having been bullied at school. I wonder how much of the above reasoning is cover for a bigger question.
How big a part did our experience with bullies play in our decision to teach our children at home? 
We all want what's best for our individual children. We all want them to be smart, funny, caring, well-liked and safe. Can a system that tolerates, and in some cases encourages, bullying really be a safe place for my children? Since I'm the parent I get to say no, it's not.
So I do.
Public School isn't a safe place for my children. 




  
Maybe later we can talk about why. As always, I have MASSIVE opinions about that, as well.

10 comments:

DeNae said...

Hello! I'm TOTALLY middle-of-the-road on this subject, and more than anything I applaud you for thinking this through. You're going to be a great home-schooling mom.

I have 4 kids, ages 14-23, which means they're probably closer to YOUR age than mine! And back in the day, home schooling was really just starting to hit the mainstream. So it wasn't until I was actually pretty desperate that it even occurred to me to just keep them home. You're very fortunate to be able to make this choice with so many resources available to you.

May I share with you some of my own experiences regarding the concerns you discuss in this post? Just observations, not criticisms, I promise!

I love your reason one, and I hope your children are always able to do this. There will come a time, of course, when deadlines will have to be taught, but it certainly isn't at age 3!

I think your reason two varies from state to state, district to district, even school to school.

I don't think there will ever come a time when public schools are worse about segregating kids by age than the church is.

Reason four is great, although it doesn't address the reality that we often have to do things we don't want to do, in ways proscribed by others. And I do wonder (a bit) about a slight contradiction between this point and point six. Can people expect to have things tailored to their individual needs - like your sister and math - or can't they? If society really does have the right to demand that individuals conform to group standards, then isn't that an absolutist argument for sending kids to public school?

Special Ed is another one of those programs that differ widely from school to school. You're right; you are your kids' parents. But there are a number of 'institutions' that will require accountability from them - again, including the church - and it is kind of important that at some point they learn to adapt.

I'm only just beginning, in my middle-age, to explore what charity really means. It doesn't mean tolerating sin, but I think it does mean being sure we know where the line between "sinful" and "different" is drawn. I was much more an absolutist 20 years ago than I am now. Maybe life has just shown me there are very few easy answers, no matter how much we'd like to think otherwise.

Parenthood's biggest surprise? I didn't always know what was best for my kids. Still don't. That's been a tough, tough lesson to learn, but I'll always be grateful for 'outside' help at critical times, when I was out of ideas and relying on the wisdom of people I trusted.

Wishing you the very best on this long and adventure-filled journey!

DeNae said...

Hello! I'm TOTALLY middle-of-the-road on this subject, and more than anything I applaud you for thinking this through. You're going to be a great home-schooling mom.

I have 4 kids, ages 14-23, which means they're probably closer to YOUR age than mine! And back in the day, home schooling was really just starting to hit the mainstream. So it wasn't until I was actually pretty desperate that it even occurred to me to just keep them home. You're very fortunate to be able to make this choice with so many resources available to you.

May I share with you some of my own experiences regarding the concerns you discuss in this post? Just observations, not criticisms, I promise!

I love your reason one, and I hope your children are always able to do this. There will come a time, of course, when deadlines will have to be taught, but it certainly isn't at age 3!

I think your reason two varies from state to state, district to district, even school to school.

I don't think there will ever come a time when public schools are worse about segregating kids by age than the church is.

Reason four is great, although it doesn't address the reality that we often have to do things we don't want to do, in ways proscribed by others. And I do wonder (a bit) about a slight contradiction between this point and point six. Can people expect to have things tailored to their individual needs - like your sister and math - or can't they? If society really does have the right to demand that individuals conform to group standards, then isn't that an absolutist argument for sending kids to public school?

Special Ed is another one of those programs that differ widely from school to school. You're right; you are your kids' parents. But there are a number of 'institutions' that will require accountability from them - again, including the church - and it is kind of important that at some point they learn to adapt.

I'm only just beginning, in my middle-age, to explore what charity really means. It doesn't mean tolerating sin, but I think it does mean being sure we know where the line between "sinful" and "different" is drawn. I was much more an absolutist 20 years ago than I am now. Maybe life has just shown me there are very few easy answers, no matter how much we'd like to think otherwise.

Parenthood's biggest surprise? I didn't always know what was best for my kids. Still don't. That's been a tough, tough lesson to learn, but I'll always be grateful for 'outside' help at critical times, when I was out of ideas and relying on the wisdom of people I trusted.

Wishing you the very best on this long and adventure-filled journey!

becky said...

DeNae, I get what you're saying about the kids needing to learn accountability and deadlines. We do teach those (even at three) but not with "school". Our kids have household chores and we teach deadlines with money management, i.e. our family wants to go to a movie Friday, but the kids must earn 5 pennies first. If you want extra time to play with Dad, toys must get picked up before he's done with work. That sort of thing.
I'll be the first to say that not all parenting styles work with all kids and each parent knows what's best for each child.
I shutter at the control parents turn over to the government (and the church) when it comes to raising children. God gave me these precious souls and it's MY responsibility, not the school, not the state, not a teacher, to make sure they learn to be quality people and contributing members of society.
Perhaps parents should teach personal morals, and church and school should reinforce those morals which BECOME group and then societal morals.
I never did get around to addressing why I think public schools are useful. An educated populous is necessary to ensure a working country, both politically and economically. However the current culture of entitlement we're teaching kids (everyone's a winner, etc) aren't conducive to a working country. Kids also need to learn how to fail, pick themselves up and do better the next time.

melissa said...

Let me first say that I am impressed with how well thought out your reasoning is. That said, I am and always have been fundamentally opposed to homeschooling. I do think that there are certain instances when homeschooling is a viable option. I also tend to think that the day is rapidly approaching when, as faithful and believing LDS people, we will need to pull our children out of society and either teach them at home or in private schools run by those who share our belief systems. However, I just don't personally feel that that day is here yet. I feel that being able to be a socially adjusted member of society is most often based the social experiences from our childhood and youth. And the homeschooled kids I have known, when I was younger, as adults now, and the ones my children now interact with, ALL have seemed at least just a little off. I think a good education is very important, and with the way the schools and society are now that makes our job bigger and more important as parents. But, I also feel that learning how society functions and how to properly function within it is quite important. As you know, I have ADD. Sometime around jr high and high school, school got hard for me. Not hard as in I couldn't understand or keep up. Rather, hard as in I lost interest and didn't (as opposed to couldn't) do the work and so I was the source of a lot of meetings and conferences and special attention. I wasn't actually diagnosed until after nearly flunking out of my first semester of college, though. But, I did learn a lot about how, regardless of my needs to alter my environment to best suit my own strengths and weaknesses, in order to be a part of "the system" I still needed to learn how to best work within the confines of that system. The hubs' school experience was much different than mine and he did encounter quite a bit of bullying and was involved in several really violent fistfights, as well as often being at odds with his teachers. But, his grades were always really good. So, his viewpoint is almost as far from mine as possible, and he is even more opposed to homeschooling than I am, for much the same reasons. Plus, aside from all of that, I know my kids. They are highly intelligent and more than highly active. Calling them a real handful is a huge understatement. And, to be frank, there is no way I could handle them all day every day of their entire childhood, including being their teacher. Already with Molly, we have found that she and I in the roles of student and teacher is like trying to mix oil and water. I need a school to send my kids to, for their good and mine. Now that I have said all that, however, I am really impressed with parents who choose to homeschool. It takes real organization and dedication. And, who am I to say what is right for a family that is not my own?

melissa said...

Let me first say that I am impressed with how well thought out your reasoning is. That said, I am and always have been fundamentally opposed to homeschooling. I do think that there are certain instances when homeschooling is a viable option. I also tend to think that the day is rapidly approaching when, as faithful and believing LDS people, we will need to pull our children out of society and either teach them at home or in private schools run by those who share our belief systems. However, I just don't personally feel that that day is here yet. I feel that being able to be a socially adjusted member of society is most often based the social experiences from our childhood and youth. And the homeschooled kids I have known, when I was younger, as adults now, and the ones my children now interact with, ALL have seemed at least just a little off. I think a good education is very important, and with the way the schools and society are now that makes our job bigger and more important as parents. But, I also feel that learning how society functions and how to properly function within it is quite important. As you know, I have ADD. Sometime around jr high and high school, school got hard for me. Not hard as in I couldn't understand or keep up. Rather, hard as in I lost interest and didn't (as opposed to couldn't) do the work and so I was the source of a lot of meetings and conferences and special attention. I wasn't actually diagnosed until after nearly flunking out of my first semester of college, though. But, I did learn a lot about how, regardless of my needs to alter my environment to best suit my own strengths and weaknesses, in order to be a part of "the system" I still needed to learn how to best work within the confines of that system. The hubs' school experience was much different than mine and he did encounter quite a bit of bullying and was involved in several really violent fistfights, as well as often being at odds with his teachers. But, his grades were always really good. So, his viewpoint is almost as far from mine as possible, and he is even more opposed to homeschooling than I am, for much the same reasons. Plus, aside from all of that, I know my kids. They are highly intelligent and more than highly active. Calling them a real handful is a huge understatement. And, to be frank, there is no way I could handle them all day every day of their entire childhood, including being their teacher. Already with Molly, we have found that she and I in the roles of student and teacher is like trying to mix oil and water. I need a school to send my kids to, for their good and mine. Now that I have said all that, however, I am really impressed with parents who choose to homeschool. It takes real organization and dedication. And, who am I to say what is right for a family that is not my own?

melissa said...

Okay, after all I had to say before about why I wouldn't even consider homeschooling, to show that I am open-minded nonetheless and to perhaps give you another resource to look into, or at the very least another perspective, I have a friend from college who now has 5 kids of her own, and they are in the process of adopting two more (one is a teenager and one is maybe 6 or 7, I forget). She kind of stumbled into homeschooling her kids and posted her story on her blog: http://simplyschooling.blogspot.com/2008/12/my-turning-point.html. She also has a Masters in Human Development and a background in teaching and such and has now been homeschooling for years, so she is a great resource for all sorts of info on the subject. She also happens to live in Idaho.

melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
barbafamily said...

Loved this blog post - amen to all of it - it echoes a lot of the reasons why we homeschool!

The changes in my children since we began homeschooling are AMAZING, just a couple of them...

1. They actually act their age now instead of trying to act older like the crowd does (they are not "too cool" for things)

2. They actually love to learn (my oldest, at 8 years old HATED school - NO 8 year old should hate school)

3. They are more comfortable in their own skin (more self esteem)

4. They socialize SO MUCH BETTER with people of all age groups

5. We have a closer relationship because they don't leave me for 8 hours a day to go to school and then have another 1-2 hours of homework on top of it

Those are just some of the wonderful things I've noticed in my children since bringing them home to school. I'm so thankful for the oppotunity to be able to do it, to spend the extra time with them and teach them things they would never learn in school.

P.S. Have you read A Thomas Jefferson Education? I would HIGHLY recommend it!

expressmom said...

I homeschool my kids. I teach them morals. Morals, ethics and values. Some of which include, not judging others (we leave that to the Lord,) not making sweeping statements about large majorities, being inclusive not exclusive, and honoring and respecting the decisions of others. We don't tolerate people, we respect them. Very little in our world is black or white, there are great big areas of grey.

A lot of kids that are closed minded, can't accept others (flaws and all), and feel superior due to their skin color or religion get picked on.

becky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.