The pace of change in the world is increasing. Therefore primary skill – the type of literacy that we need to teach – is the ability to teach oneself.
My wife and I have homeschooled our four sons. Two are still at home being homeschooled, two are in college. A particular episode with my oldest son Timothy stands out – it was about 5 years ago. A particular concept in algebra stumped him – it might have been quadratic equations. He complained that the particular online instructor poorly taught that lesson.
I didn’t even check on whether he was correct. My response to him: “So what?” You have the world at your fingertips. Find someone else to teach that concept. I was rather stern. I told him that his learning was his responsibility regardless of the quality of instruction in the particular online service we were using. That he was to become his own best professor.
With Sheralyn’s backup – I’ve been teaching that lesson with Timothy and the other three boys ever since. Timothy has since told me that his comfort level with seeking out information has become a huge competitive advantage for him versus his peers. He is doing extremely well in his engineering coursework.
I think that homeschooling unfortunately occupies both tails of the bell curve in primary education. The best prepared students are homeschooled. I think the worst prepared students probably are too.
Some of the low end results in homeschool can perhaps be excused by learning disability. The reason the parents chose to homeschool was some learning problem – that child was going to struggle regardless. And maybe a loving home environment would be best for that particular child.
But some homeschooling parents are simply not pushing education like they should. And policy makers are pointing to the Turpin child abuse story to fight homeschooling. Its far too broad a brush with which to paint the entire community. It ignores the high end results of many homeschoolers – the right tail. And it ignores the many cases of abuse and mediocre education that sometimes occur on traditional school grounds.