I was going to start this series off with "Why So Many Kids?", but I got quite a few comments in the last post about homeschooling, so I'm going to address that first.
Lene mentioned that she is curious, but doesn't want to offend with her questions. I think there is a right and wrong way to ask people about their convictions. Let's review, shall we?
- Wrong - "Why, for the love of all that is normal and sane, would you do such a thing? WHyyyyyyyyyyyy?
- Right - "You have such an interesting family! I'm curious what led you to homeschool. Do you mind sharing with me?"
I think if you have a relationship with the person, the question will be seen as showing genuine interest.
Can you imagine if I approached a stranger and asked, "WHY would you choose that hairstyle? Did you WANT it to look like that? Are you a licenced cosmotologist? It looks fine on you, but there are people running around doing their own hair who are not qualified! There should be a law!"
Which brings me to the next topic. It makes me uncomfortable when someone asks me if I have a teaching certificate.
I do happen to have a teaching certificate, and I think this must give the impression that I think it is necessary to homeschooling. Quite the opposite!
Do I need to be certified to breastfeed my baby? To potty train my toddler? To teach my preschooler to tie her shoes? Do I need someone to proclaim that I am qualified to do those things? Do I need to request permission if I decide to nurse my baby until age 2?
Then why would I need to be certified to teach my own 3rd grader her multiplication facts? Or teach my 8th grader algebra?
When someone says that I am qualified to teach my own children, but there are those other homeschoolers who are not, I wonder what makes that person qualified to judge my qualifications or theirs.
One of my very dearest friends dropped out of school in 7th grade. She is now homeschooling her 13 year old daughter, who has tested above grade level in all but two subjects. In one of those subjects, she scored at grade level, and the other was slightly below.
Who of us would tell that dear mother that she is not qualified to teach her daughter? Should she send her daughter into the same system that failed her? The same school where the "qualified" teachers didn't care that she dropped out, never inquired why, never bothered to make sure she was learning her lessons?
Those qualified to teach her never prayed over her as she does her daughter. They never went over her math flashcards time and time again. They never said, "It's okay if you don't understand. We will go over it until you get it."
And in case anyone still thinks that having a system that requires all teachers to be certified will ensure ANYTHING at all, know that my friend that dropped out of school in 7th grade was 17 years old at the time. She had been neglected, overlooked, and failed since her early elementary years. All at the tax payers' expense! (Thank you, Friend, for allowing me to use your testimony!)
If you think that is an isolated case, Google "high school drop out rate" or "high school literacy rate" and see how effective mandatory certification is before you say that homeschoolers ought to be certified to teach their own children.
My husband and I are libertarian leaning, which is to say, you mind your business and we'll mind ours. We don't believe that we need the government to legislate how we should live our lives. We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence.
Liberty, as in freedom, to pursue the life we want for ourselves and our children, as long as we don't infringe on another's rights. That includes teaching our children as WE see fit. Not the government. Not our next door neighbor or our relatives.
We, the parents.
I know some of you disagree with me, and that's okay. I still love you all the same. (You are all my favorites. Each and every one of you.)
I think Karen B. said it well in the comments here:
"It seems that no matter what choices we make for our children, there's always someone out there that feels the need to tell us we need to do something differently. My husband got stuck in a conversation one night with another dad who insisted that we should be sending our children to private school instead of public school. I'm sure there were women back in the day who told Mary that she really should not have given birth to Jesus in a stable..."
Everyone has his own idea of what is best. Let each set of parents decide for their own children.
See also "Why Homeschool? Part Two"
See more of my thoughts on the topic of setting standards for others.