Thank you so much, Mrs. Y.!
I have written this message (below) some time ago and hoped that it would initiate a private exchange of opinions and experiences. But, because the topic is now unlocked, I believe I could as well post it here.
Dear Etsi, Linnapaw, Calligraphqueen, Livefreeordie, Quinault, and other parents who are homeschooling,
Without any intention to attack or insult you, or even to engage in a fierce debate, may I just ask you some questions about homeschooling?
I am wondering, how does it work? Most importantly, how can you be sure that when you explain various concepts of mathematics, science, humanities, language etc., your children really get a real understanding of them?
To this very day, I remember some wonderful teachers who worked with me when I was in middle and high school (in Kiev of the 1970-s). A woman who taught chemistry. A man, then 28 (who seemed quite old to us kids!), who taught math: I'll never forget his great sense of humor, which helped him greatly to explain even some pretty difficult theorems and their applications. An older guy who taught physics. A very young girl, just graduated from the university, who taught biology. They were all so different, each with his or her unique style, voice, manners, habits, with their own peculiar sayings, their unique funny, humorous sides. I cannot even imagine being deprived of all that, and I honestly cannot understand, just how the educational work of one parent or two parents can be equal or similar - or BETTER! - than the work of this big, diverse, highly dedicated team of professional pedagogues. Are you sure it can?
And another question. Why this confidence that the American public school teachers are so bad? My daughter attended many US public schools. Between 1991 and 1998, when we lived in Seattle, she was transfered by the Seattle school district to several elementary schols - she had a new school every year, because such was the policy of the school district. We, the parents, did not understand that, but just complied. Maryana suffered, of course, because of the need to adjust to new school every time. Yet, overall, it turned out to be a great experience for her. She had many wonderful teachers. Again, to this day we recall her math teacher, Mr. Lauer (whom the kids of course nicknamed Mr. Flower), who was just a super class professional. Then she went to high school in Seattle, and then to the high school in the Mississippi town where we live right now. And again, there were some amazing, magnificent teachers! Her physics teacher at Starkville high school was a former university professor, a Ph.D. Her biology teacher was a woman who had two Masters' degrees, one in biology and one in English, and you can well imagine how demanding she was about writing - she actually taught Maryana to write, being as good at that job as any highly professional English teacher would be. How can all that be taken away from a child or an adolescent?
Now, about the tests. Are you, and other homeschoolers, sure that these tests reflect the reality? I would perhaps think that homeschooled children generally take these tests well simply because they are taught to take tests. And they are, as a group, perhaps more disciplined, more compliant than the "horde" of wild public school kids. But what do they really LEARN in science, math, humanities, language, art, drama, social disciplines? Again, my personal encounters with homeschooled kids at my university were INVARIABLY tragic. I NEVER saw even one homeschooled kid to be able to grasp elementary biology, microbiology, human A@P (those are the subjects I teach to non-majors). They were always lost, had adjustment problems, depression, etc., and zero study skills...
I would be grateful if you briefly tell me about some details in your own homeschooling. How does it work, generally: what do you and your children do during lessons? Is there a supervision from the side of a professionally trained teacher? How regular is this supervision? How do you take care of the social needs of oyur homeschooled children, how do you teach them to adjust to groups, interact with groups?
Many thanks in advance for your answers. Again, please forgive me if you saw ANY inclination on my part to attack or insult you. I really can come across as argumentative and passionate, but I really, truly do not want to hurt any person I am talking with, ever.
Best wishes to you,
George Pinchuk (Heorhij)