Check out this interesting article on homeschooling or unschooling, as some call it, over at the New York Times.
As a trained educator who is constantly thinking about how I can reach and teach all of my students, I find some of the ideas held by homeschoolers to be downright brilliant. Let kids learn about what they want? Fantastic idea! Let kids dictate what time of day and what environment they want to learn in? Excellent, sign me up! Teach kids about everyday applicable skills that are necessary for living a full life? I'm so there!
I was first exposed to homeschoolers when I was living out in Seattle. Homeschooling was very prevalent there and since I was in the educational toy industry, I got lots of chances to talk and interact with families who had chosen that route for their kids. Some of the people were great and some of them were a little cuckoo...just like the rest of us. The main thing I noticed was that all the parents who were homeschooling were definitely involved in their child's education. Which is a lot more than I can say for many of the families in the general population.
But the jury is out for me about other things in regards to homeschooling. I already am afraid I've scarred Oscar in some way due to the lack of play dates in his young life. Will he be unsocialized? I know that most homeschoolers work hard to assure their kids get exposed to other young learners. But would I be able to do it? Can every parent who homeschools manage to do it all? Being a parent is hard enough without throwing in that huge chunk of responsibility.
I think that homeschooling parents do need to show some sort of expertise or willingness to learn about pedagogy before they embark on such a huge task. Wanting to do it should not equal being able to do it. I want to be a doctor, but so far, they aren't just letting me scrub in. Some of you may say, "Well, it's not like education is brain surgery." To that, my response is this: Come and spend a day with me people. And then you can tell me what you think.
Overall, I think it is a great alternative for some families.
Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?