Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dumbing us Down? The Hybrid Homeschool

This week on the Well Trained Mind forum, we have been discussing homeschool curricula that has been dumbed down. The OP posed the question of whether or not homeschool curricula has been made easier over the years. My position, was yes indeed, much homeschool targeted curricula has been written to make things "easy" for us uneducated, plain old moms to administer to our less than enthusiastic students. As the homeschool market gets bigger and bigger, many mainstream companies as well as new independent companies targeted at the homeschool market are producing inferior products designed to entice homeschooling parents into an easy out.

I think as a homeschooler, we need to be aware of our goals and keep them firmly in sight. Some of us focus on academics, some on family closeness, some on family independence from the "system," some on spiritual development, some on bringing their sn kids along, some providing a challenging program for their gifted/talented kids, etc. Most of us a combination of these reasons.

I homeschool for academic pursuits and well as relational pursuit. When I started meant being home, coming along side your children and teaching and discipling them. The "resources" were not as important as the goals.
Just to put this in perspective...when I started homeschooling, no one had a computer in their home and when my first graduated, there were NO online, real time courses. By the time my next dd graduated 3 years later, you could do your entire high school in front of a a message curricula written directly to the parent involvement.

It is almost like we need to apologize for simply homeschooling without all the bells and whistles, AP classes, CC classes, co- ops, online courses, etc...and the sooner the better....sigh. I do not want to hang my head and explain that we stay home to home school. That I am my kids primary, and only teacher and no, I am not worried about them going to college, because I am preparing them well for that endeavor.

And yes, homeschool curricula has been dumbed down. Much of it has been written to make it "easy" to teach and learn from, easy to box check, easy to fulfill a state requirement, easy to say you did it, when in fact you didn't. Some homeschool only curricula is just basically " here is what I did with my kid and he turned out ok, $100.00 bucks please.".

What turned me off to Sonlight, was Sarita Holzman's daughter went to Public High here she is writing high school homeschool curriculum, but didn't trust herself enough to use it herself I will probably get bombed for that one, but that was my feeling about Sonlight high school courses for a really long time.

I love that small classical schools will now share their curricula with us mere homeschoolers...and continue to because of the dollars and cents involved...but they (Veritas Press) will tell you flat out that there is no way you can give your own kid a rigorous education unless you send them to a Classical School, but since you don't live near one, or you would( their assumption, not mine). We will let you use ours...and now, let us get fancy and offer online classes (which were sub par in my opinion) and online interactive lessons (haven't tried these.). Face it...we are a great market...we have $$$ and if made to feel particularly inept, we will buy pretty much anything , especially where our little scholars are involved.

The onslaught of homeschool curricula is fed by fear...fear that we won't measure up to Public and private schools, fear of failing our kids, fear of not keeping up with the Joneses, and the curricula marketers feed this fear, produce more and more inferior products that we can't possibly produce a well educated child without, or makes homeschooling so easy, anyone can do it and produce excellent results, without breaking a sweat.

Then, we have on the other hand.....leave'em alone, let them do what they want, as long as they are home, they are doing more than the public school nonsense. If Johnny doesn't want to do math today, or tomorrow, someday he will. Maybe, but not probably.

I am not for semantic purity...and I hybrid homeschool sometimes, especially in the upper grades, but it is what it is. I think educational choices are wonderful, and when I need to farm out a class, I have no problem doing it, especially if one is available. I could not teach my high schoolers everything they needed...we hybrid home schooled. My 16 year old is apprenticing under his dad right now and taking outside trade related classes. I could NOT teach him how to pass the EPA exams or how to service an oil boiler....

I could not teach my oldest how to use in-design or photo shop pro, or how to use oil paints. She took classes for those things.

I do not think classes in and of themselves are bad things, on the contrary, I like to have them in my arsenal.

I guess my problem lies in parents who do not want to send their kids to public or private school...but somehow try to farm out every dang subject, refuse to teach their own kids anything including plain old manners and discipline, get annoyed when there is homework involved, then claim they are homeschooling....ummmm, no, not so much.

It also gets my goat when curriculum developers write materials that us dumb moms can pass off to our kids to make our jobs easy. Homeschooling is not easy, it is hard! It takes precedence over every other interest. It consumes my time and energy. It causes me to ask myself very hard questions and then forces me to answer them. I don't want to purchase junk...and I don't want to hand junk off to my kid doe because the experts say it is "enough".

What I love are well written, sequential, clearly written manuals that can be tweaked and supplemented easily to personalize it for my children. That is why I love TWTM. It speaks to me.....I can move my children through the stages of learning without feeling constrained by an badly written curriculum.

I am ranting now...sorry.......