Homeschooling is not a new debate in our household.
Kira and I have been weighing the pros and cons ever since we decided to have children.
And all along the way through the discourse, there has never been a clear answer.
For many parents, the decision is fairly simple. They would either never try to school their children outside the public education system, or would never put their children into the public stream.
Often, decisions are based on strong convictions that dominate the decision.
Of course, the majority of parents never even entertain the idea of alternative education.
My time in school was largely positive, while Kira came away from her experience with a distaste for school.
I was fortunate to have been in schools where the standards were high and the staff were competent and interested. Though Kira has always been eager to learn, her enthusiasm was not met by her schools.
It is no surprise then, that I tend to favour the public system and Kira felt there must be a better option.
Not having any specific grievances with the public schools, I held that as long as they could do a better job at educating our children than we could, then it would be the logical choice.
After all, they are a team of teachers and administrators with government funding and a mandate to properly educate all children.
You may notice that the preceding sentence is full of traps;
it most certainly could be reworded with more cynical syntax.
The public system represents an ideal that is not often fulfilled; especially in terms of equality and impartiality.
Funding shortfalls, union interference, disinterested parents, slow reactions to innovative teaching methods, and a litany of other corrosive influences, have created adequate delivery of education; but not an ideal one.
There are, of course, fundamental disagreements among policy makers, regarding the goals of public education.
Recent years have seen an emphasis placed on better preparing students for the 'real' world.
Just what constitutes the real world is dangerously subjective.
That realization is what has affected me most.
In Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel, 'Brave new World', the children are educated by conditioning them through repetitive experience and subliminal influence.
These highly effective methods produce well defined results; the children learn exactly what they are intended to learn. This controlled form of education develops adults that are predictable and fill their predetermined niche in society, perfectly.
Isn't that what we want for our children?
To know everything we want them to know?
To have all the skills we want them to have?
To fit into society?
To have a good job, make good money, and take their place in a vibrant economy and stable, well ordered society?
Educating our children away from the public system would place us among a minority of families.
One my concerns, (though not Kira's), was that our children may not be well enough socialized.
Indeed, that is one of the most common concerns with homeschooling; among people who do not homeschool.
Within the homeschooling community, that issue has been repeatedly addressed.
However, we live remotely, and the opportunities to play and learn with other children are fewer.
At the heart of it, the socialization of our children means something different.
I looked the word 'socialize' up in a few dictionaries.
I'll let the definitions speak for themselves.
v. so·cial·ized, so·cial·iz·ing, so·cial·iz·esv.tr.
1. To place under government or group ownership or control.
2. To make fit for companionship with others; make sociable.
3. To convert or adapt to the needs of society.
(Free Online Dictionary)
Socialization describes a process which may lead to desirable, or 'moral', outcomes. Individual views on certain issues, such as race or economics, may be socialized (and to that extent normalized) within a society.
: to make social; especially: to fit or train for society or a social environment; children are socialized according to a given cultural pattern.
I have never been concerned that the public system will not teach my children to read.
I have never been concerned that the public system will not teach my children numeracy.
I am, however, deeply concerned that the public system has a specific goal set for my children.
That goal is to socialize my children
and prepare them for the real world.
The real world is a place where they do not question authority.
The real world is a place where they become valuable consumers.
The real world is a place where they are ready for the factory floor,
or the cubicle.
The real world is a place where art is superfluous and unproductive.
The real world is a place where they are predictable and conform to expectations and fill their niche in a well-ordered society.
I do not wish to diminish the passion and effort of those teachers who altruistically educate children in the public school system; they are a cog in a greater machine.
I simply want my children to be able to understand and interpret their world through their own eyes;
and not through the eyes of the state.
So we will homeschool our children.
(The considerations that we have taken into account are far greater than what I could fit into a blog post.
There are literally dozens of specific issues related to educating your own children.
And though there are many problems yet to be resolved, the weight of the argument falls to the side of homeschooling.
Regardless, the choice as parents is ours, and ours alone.)