Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Beginning of Our Decision to Homeschool

** Here's another repeat review, this one originally posted on February 7, 2007 on my old reading blog. Now that I've been delving into the topic, I've found so many reasons to homeschool and am thankful I'll have the opportunity to do so (though already praying to God for the patience and perseverance I know we'll need). I just received our textbook for the year, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and hope to spend some time this weekend thinking about a real "school" schedule. **

Kansas Dad came across this book and I convinced him to let me take it on my trip last weekend even though he hadn't read it yet. (I'm interested to see what he thinks.)

The main points (and some interesting tidbits) of the book seem to be (much abbreviated because I don't have much time to chat nowadays):

1. Contemporary education is doing exactly what it was designed to do: teach kids to do what they're told, when they're told, as they're told, so they can work for the man (my paraphrasing).

2. Contemporary education doesn't need to be "fixed"; it needs to be thrown out completely. Apparently, Mr. Gatto believes the whole model doesn't work and will never work. He did make a good point. We've been "educating" kids in schools (age-based classrooms, teacher certification, etc.) for 100-150 years. If we're to believe the media and politicians, it's failing our kids. If they haven't gotten it right by now, perhaps the problem is that the whole model is flawed.

3. Between school and TV, kids don't have any time to learn anything about themselves.

4. No one cares more about your child's education than you, the parent.

5. Teacher certification is designed to make parents believe they are unfit to teach their own children.

6. As a society, we compartmentalize people too often based on age. Kids are "locked" in schools and the elderly are "locked" in nursing homes (or isolated in their own homes).

7. The main job of institutions is not the "purpose" for which they are created; it's to provide for a future for the institution itself. All the teacher colleges, textbook publishers, standards consultants, administrators, etc., have a vested interest in keeping schools running and giving them even more money - because that's how they stay in business.

It's a series of speeches and essays, no hard scientific evidence or studies, but I did find most of his arguments compelling. We have talked often about sending our kids to parochial schools or homeschooling them. My sister-in-law is going to home school her kids at least through 8th grade. (She's trained as a middle school math teacher and says administrators often require a certain number of grades so teachers would assign worksheets they hadn't even reviewed as homework, just to get another grade in the book - how awful is that?) [Update: As of right now, my sister-in-law has decided to send her oldest to the public kindergarten for many very good reasons.]

I'm still not convinced I'll have the patience to homeschool, but I'm beginning to see the advantages may be worth the effort. In particular, I like the idea of making learning part of all life, not confined to 8 am to 3 pm. I also like being free of bells to end a class period, avoiding homework, covering topics with kids of different ages, family field trips (with other homeschool families, probably), and decreasing opportunities for bullies, drugs and alcohol to hurt my kids.

The debate about how our children will be educated continues; I'm sure you'll hear more about it. In the meantime, I'd like to know if anyone can read this book and not wish the tiniest little bit that you could homeschool (even if you have absolutely no intention of doing so).

I also really liked that it's printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. You don't see that very often.


  1. maybe one day we'll get there again, in the meantime we are still waiting to hear back from the background check :(

  2. I can't believe it's taking so long! I thought with the internet these things were practically instantaneous now. Sending prayers your way!

  3. Here's another book that might be of interest to you, especially as it is written by a Catholic homeschooling Mom, and incorporates philosophies similiar to what you're finding in Gatto's book, about our educational system in America being broken. This book offers another model. While we are not Catholic, I have this book on my wishlist and can't wait to read it! It's called: "Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home" by Elizabeth Foss.

    I remember standing at the same crossroads you're at, and wondering *if* I could do it...we chose to homeschool and while it isn't easy, there are so many resources for myself AND our kids, and I must say, having done it for 4 years so far, it is the best decision for us! We love it, for all the reasons you state, in this review post...and much more. Blessings! ~Danielle
    PS--I'm DeLand Shore's sister, and saw the link to your blog, on his blog.

  4. Hi Danielle,

    Welcome! I didn't even know DeLand had a blog. I'll have to find it.

    I haven't read the book you mentioned (it's also on my wish list!), but Elizabeth Foss has a blog that's quite good:

    I used to read it daily, but I needed to cut down on blogs so I haven't checked it out in a while.

  5. I started with the same book with my daughter. I think it's a good book, but we put it away. She's only 4. I'm loving Waldorf's emphasis on letting kids be kids at this age and focusing on fostering creativity and imagination. We're homeschooling too, but I plan to use Christopherus resources for doing Waldorf at home.

    Thanks for posting on my blog :) Sounds like we have a lot in common!


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