Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Probem I Have With Labels

I was reading this post over at SeaBird Chronicles, on the subject of labels, or more specifically, how should we should define "homeschool." Why do we need a definition anyway? What purpose would it serve? I know a lot of homeschool parents who really have a DIY attitude about schooling. They basically write their curriculum from scratch, and their kids are doing fine. Others I know have a very school-by-the-book attitude, and their kids are doing fine too. Still others pick and choose from a variety of sources, including co-op classes, tutors for some stuff, and independant learning for others. Know what? Those kids are doing just fine as well.

I think the thing that makes all these different homeschool families alike is the commitment they have toward their childrens' education, and a recognition of their own strengths and weaknesses.

Some of the DIY homeschoolers that I know have a real attitude about having a tutor come in or having the kids attend a class on something like math or literature. Some hold the idea that having a teacher or a tutor isn't "real homeschooling." But these same parents have no problem enrolling the kids in a gymnastics course or guitar lessons. That is just goofy. Math and music, literature and P.E. are ALL important aspects of a well-rounded education. Just because you choose to outsource some of that does not make you a non-homeschooler.

By that definition, in fact, we would probably fail as homeschoolers. After all, Ace is attending an American History class with the Indian Hill Co-op, with a teacher, exams, and (eek!) HOMEWORK. Both Ace and Three attend piano lessons. Deuce goes to violin lessons. Plus, for two weeks during the summer, Ace and Duece attend classes with the gifted Worlds of Wisdom and Wonder program at National Lewis University. This year Three will be going as well.

The thing we should look for in a definition is: Who has control over our children's education? If we, as parents can choose what the kids learn, when they learn it, and how they learn it, then we are homeschoolers. If someone else, whether a tutor or the government, dictates their scope and sequence, then we are not. That is the bottom line.