Monday, January 11, 2010
When Not To Keep Up With the Joneses
The Shelbyville, Tennessee Times-Gazette has a piece entitled "Why Do We Choose to Homeschool?" by one Shawna Jones. Now, I have no particularly strong feelings one way or the other about homeschooling. True, the quality of the education of a homeschooled child will depend on the abilities and dedication of the parents but that same can be said of the local public school and teachers. It's a bit of a crap shoot for the children either way. But Jones seems well positioned, as she claims:
My husband and I are both college educated. I have a dual major B.A. and A.A from an accredited university. I worked in the California public school system and passed the California C-BEST exam on my first attempt. I currently teach Spanish, algebra and drama with the Bedford County Homeschool Enrichment Program (HEP), and formally taught Spanish in an industrial setting for a local fortune 500.Ms. Jones says all the right things too:
Our children are actively involved in local recreation sports activities and events. They play on socially diverse teams, and study other cultures and ways of life in their "world geography and cultures" coursework.Well, almost all the right things:
Our children attend the Bedford County Homeschool Enrichment Program (HEP) co-op. They meet one day a week and attend classes in a structured classroom setting, go on field trips, and are involved in community events, such as the recent 2009 Festival of trees "Christmas around the world" at The Fly cultural arts center.
Again, my children are taught to understand other cultures and way of life; are actively involved in social public activities, such as soccer; and observe the world around us with interest and curiosity.
Unlike most parents who choose to home school, we did not make the decision for religious reasons. Bedford county schools, while keeping to the laws regarding separation of Church and State, do offer a great deal of leeway with regard to prayer at sporting events, upon news of a tragedy, etc., even allowing the Gideon's into the classroom. We are satisfied with the amount of [Christianity] religious freedom the schools here allow...trust me, the public school I attended in southern California allowed no religious flexibility.As the ACLU recently convinced another Tennessee school district, allowing the Gideon's into the classroom is no wheres near keeping to the laws regarding separation of Church and State. Already there's doubt that Ms. Jones' children will learn an accurate picture of our Constitution, not to mention current events. But then there's this:
While I wish the days of prayer before class still existed, I do not think my children need to mix religious beliefs with classroom studies...in our opinion, that' what bible study and Sunday school at church is for. Think about it, if we allow religious studies into the public classrooms it will not be limited to Christianity. Personally, I prefer my children not study and learn the Koran, Vodou, Judaism, etc., even it does mean a trade out to allow in the open study of Christianity in public schools.Um ... Does Ms. Jones know where the Old Testament comes from? Does she really not want her children to learn about Judaism? And what about her children learning about other cultures and ways of life?
Oh, well. Maybe the Jones' kids will take it on themselves to learn.
P.S.: I don't know how I forgot to mention this (except that I was really tired):
We tailor our academic material to coincide closely with the public schools', and even cover controversial material, such as Darwin's theory of Evolution. Yes, we are a Christian household. But we are also a "realist" household, and as such I believe my children should be aware of significant scientific events/theories within the world as a whole...that does not mean they have to believe it. Darwin's theory of Evolution is just that...a theory. If I don't arm my children with this controversial knowledge, then what becomes of them in college where they are expected to know it? I also teach them about other theories, including Creationism...again, just a theory. This is where we differ most from the "typical" home school family.All too "typical," I'm afraid.
I once tried to read a book written by a devout Christian that purported to be about other religions. What it really amounted to was not a comparative study, but a bunch of arguments against Judaism, Hinduism, etc.
I have a feeling that if Ms. Jones's children get any "world geography and cultures" coursework, it's of the same sort as that Christian "comparative religions" text - telling the students just how icky all those non-Christian, non-Western folks are.
Hopefully in this case, ignorance won't beget ignorance. Sometimes, these kids end up wise despite their parents. Sometimes.
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RI here is pretty unsuccessful at religious indoctrination. Think they've changed the name now, probably RE or something.
Good point, but the New Testament has some pretty strong science fiction sections too, such as the book of Revelation.