To begin my thoughts on this subject I must first make it clear that I myself am a product of homeschooling, and a fan of it as well. In spite of these facts about myself I do believe there are some problems inside the world of homeschooling. The concern or issue I am going to discuss today is the one regarding homeschooling parents unspoken or often spoken distrust of educated and credentialed teachers. Throughout this post it will be tempting to discuss the much larger topic of education in our culture but I will resist for the sake of brevity.
I have begun to notice a norm among people who homeschool their children, or those who wish they did but currently are unable, they distrust credentialed and experienced teachers. Most often this distrust isn’t explicit or verbal, but is subtle and unspoken. What I mean by unspoken is simply what goes unsaid, or specifically unasked. There is no way a homeschooling parent, unless they have been trained, really know that much about the job of educating children, and yet these same parents do not turn towards trained teachers for assistance and advice but other untrained homeschooling parents. Without meaning to come across offensively, it simply seems to be a situation of ignorance breeding ignorance. In other words I could liken it to untrained volunteer firemen asking other untrained (but more experienced) volunteer firemen how to fight a fire and not the trained (and experienced) fireman standing right next to him, quite preposterous isn’t it. But this sort of things happens every day, a homeschooling parent asking the advice of another homeschooling parent right in front of a credentialed and experienced teacher, without any consideration as to what input the credentialed teacher might have. A side note comment on how this might possibly stem from our current social idea that our own experiences are more true and valid than the experiences of the group, but I digress that point for another time.
Perhaps it is because the homeschooling parent believes all the educational problems exist because of teachers, and thus all teachers are guilty by association, that is if you have been trained as a teacher, you must not know anything really about the subject because you have received a corrupted education, or some non-sense like that. Of course there are bad credentialed teachers (many less than you think), just as their are many great homeschooling parents (I will let you form your own judgement as to how many there really are of them).
There is more to education than just learning facts, and there is more to being a good teacher than just being trained in it. A good education requires both good content and a competent and trained teacher instilling good learning habits and techniques, of course homeschooling can provide a great (perhaps superior) education over the “public” one, but this will not happen if the homeschooling parent isn’t gifted as a teacher, and trained as well. Ask yourself then, will a gifted homeschool parent gain the skills they need from other untrained homeschooling parents, or from those people who have dedicated their lives to understanding “schooling”? If you wouldn’t want an “untrained” and “uneducated” plumber redoing your pipes at your house, why would you want a similar teacher teaching your child?
I have considered the fact that one homeschooling parent might be trained by a credentialed teacher, and then that parent can pass that training onto other homeschooling parents, but again I am simply using the categories between untrained (but perhaps experienced) homeschool parents and trained teachers. Nor do I believe education is everything or that it makes one competent in their field. However, if having to choose between two types of people in certain fields like education (how one learns and should be taught), medicine, and law I would rather be trained by those who have professionally developed themselves inside those fields than those who haven’t. Again to clarify more, I am not discussing professorships here, nor am I making judgements about which schools one has been taught in. Of course there are schools and professors of every subject who are idiots and teach false info regarding their subjects, I am not talking about those people.
What I am simply speaking of here, is those homeschooling parents who will not ask the advice or input from a credentialed teacher with whom they share very similar beliefs and a world view. That is if they wanted someone to teach their children besides themselves, they would ask that teacher in a heart beat, but since they want to teach their children themselves, then suddenly the credentialed teacher isn’t considered as a source of help and information. That is the phenomenon that I am talking about here, and why it makes no sense to me. Why a homeschooling parent wouldn’t want advice from someone who has spent 6 + years learning how children learn and how to teach subjects as well as other intangibles like classroom and behavior management, is beyond me.