Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Carnival of Homeschooling Up at the Common Room

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up over at The Common Room. Alas, I didn't have any posts to feature this time around. But there were some good ones there that caught my eye.

There's this one from The Thinking Mother, which is particularly interesting given the subject of my previous post. This one takes the opposite approach: that with the existence of DirecTV (Satellite TV, which breaks the cable companies' monopoly) and TiVos (which allow you easily to record what you want when it's on, and then view it at your leisure while bleeping commercials), there's actually a whole lot of interesting, good programming on--on for-profit channels like Discovery and Animal Planet (for science), the History and Biography channels (for history), the Bravo channel (the arts), and so forth. And she makes the point that much of this programming has, in many cases, been superior to what's available on PBS. She also addresses the point that there are some advantages that TV documentaries have over books:
There is nothing like an exciting show about the Vikings to inspire children to want to learn more and read more about Vikings. There is nothing like seeing video footage of sunken ships and to hear interviews with treasure hunters.
Oh, hit me where I live, why don't you...

I don't doubt any of this. And this is definitely something good, that I recognize that Tonya and I gave up when we decided not to have a TV in our lives. And this is one reason that, while I have developed a loathing for TV, I fully respect the decisions of those who decide to keep one in their houses for educational reasons. Truth be told, the TV can be a powerful educational device, if used properly.

But... even though we acknowledge that we have made a sacrifice of something that could be worthwhile, and we do miss some of these better shows, we don't regret our overall decision. There are good shows on; there's also a lot of highly-entertaining, highly-addicting dreck that the conscientious viewer has to sift through to find the good stuff. And there is the never-ending temptation to have it on, to just watch one more show; I'd think my limited family time is much better spent playing with the kids in the backyard on these warm summer evenings.

Anyway, here's another post from the Carnival that I liked, by FatcatPaulanne. It details her journey as a homeschooling mother. I find I'm always interested in reading these kinds of stories; they're all so different. In some cases, the parents knew from the beginning they would homeschool; in other cases, they never wanted to, and they resisted right up until the moment they decided that action must be taken to salvage our kid's future and they took the kids out of school.

FatcatPaulanne is somewhere in the middle; her kids went to preschools (and some of them dropped out; imagine trying to explain that my kid is a preschool dropout!), and some of them went to public schools in the earlier grades. They soldiered on until the oldest was on the verge of middle school, but then decided that it was time. (She said she worried about what her husband would say about her desire to homeschool, until he said, "I don't have one good memory from middle school." That settled it....)

Anyway there's good stuff there.


One more post worth sharing: not from the Carnival, but from Dana, a regular in the online homeschooling community. She writes about the opposition and antipathy that nearly every homeschooler eventually gets to experience over their decisions.

One thing we homeschoolers deal with a lot is people who take our decision to homeschool almost as though it were an attack on them and their values. It is as though by making the decisions we do, to take our children out of the traditional classroom, we are implicitly condemning them and the more traditional decisions they have made.

Dana explores the idea that there may actually be something to this; that, in some indirect way, our decision to homeschool can legitimately be interpreted as an indictment of society. That is, by choosing to homeschool, we have implicitly judged the educational systems in this country--and indeed, our very child-rearing models--as flawed; we are passing judgment on the status quo, finding it inadequate, breaking with society, and searching for solutions that are highly countercultural:
When we advocate for acceptance of homeschooling, we are advocating for a philosophical shift in the nation. We are asking good parents who make decisions in the best interests of their children to reconsider that decision. Not directly. At least not those of us who advocate for homeschooling as opposed to evangelizing the practice. But we bring to the forefront the fact that other options are available....

We are challenging some pretty fundamental beliefs about how children should be raised and how families should be structured. We are questioning the frenzied pace of American life and putting a higher priority on a value most Americans share: family. Maybe that is a little too…uncomfortable.
And the point is, this challenge is leveled merely by the existence of people who are willing to opt out of the system. Imagine: people out there exist who are willing to turn down a free education for their children, because they find something lacking in it, or object to the kind of lifestyle that accepting that "free" education means for the development of their families! Who do they think they are? What made them so superior to the rest of us?

Food for thought.


Dana said...

Hey, thanks for the link! And the other blogs.

The television thing is hard. But this struck me:

...there's also a lot of highly-entertaining, highly-addicting dreck that the conscientious viewer has to sift through to find the good stuff. And there is the never-ending temptation to have it on, to just watch one more show;...

Um...computer. TV never did that to me, but the computer does.

We have a television but no channels. :) We just watch movies occasionally and I let the kids watch a half hour of something we get from the library in lieu of the nap they no longer really need.

Anna said...

I've found that the really good stuff from channels like Discovery Health are made into DVD and available at the library for free. Yeehaw!