I just found out that one of my college roommates is homeschooling her son. She made the mistake of asking me in an email recently why I decided to homeschool. My answer was so long that I decided to post it here, too, as every homeschooling blogger inevitably seems to post a list of reasons for why they homeschool. Here it is:
1) My oldest sister did it successfully, so I've seen a good example of it.
2) My mom was a schoolteacher. She worked for the NEA just after her marriage and was disgusted by the alcohol abuse and promiscuous sex indulged in by her co-workers when they went to conventions. She still has a deep dislike of the NEA and always had books in the house like Why Johnny Can't Read and other such books about the negative aspects of newer school curricula. She encouraged us to read them, and I actually did, bookworm that I was.
3) My mom was an elementary schoolteacher, so she saw the "reading wars" up close and was very frustrated at the "look-say" way of teaching literacy and the general disrespect shown to parents' wishes about when/how their children should be taught to read. She taught us all how to read independently of the schools.
4) My parents were always very interested in education issues. My father once ran for school board. When I was a preschooler, they ran a private school for a year or two. As a result, we had a house full of textbooks and quality books. Much of my childhood reading was out of older textbooks, and I remember using a couple of them to help my youngest brother learn to read back when I was in high school. My skills with younger children have developed quite a bit since those days, so I'm pretty sure I can teach my own children how to read. :)
5) Ed schools and publishers have been turning out many nonsensical, busy-work-filled curricula for decades now, and they've gotten entrenched in the schools. Most annoying, they mock or downplay phonics instruction, which approach appears logical for those unaware of the reasons for the irregularities in written English. I've learned five or so languages now, and one thing I'm convinced of is that reading and writing are obviously based on symbol-sound correlation (i.e. phonics) in most modern languages, including English. Teaching "sight words" and "guessing strategies" is much less effective and even harmful to developing readers. Tutoring a couple of local boys this last school year convinced me that even "balanced literacy" is counterproductive and producing many poor readers. The schools aren't getting a chance to ruin my daughters' reading abilities with their non-evidence-based popular methods. Especially since we're raising them to be bilingual in German and English, and they'll need an ability to read phonetically to figure out all those lovely compound German words!
6) I didn't sacrifice my health, comfort, a second income (potentially substantial, given that I'm an attorney), etc. to be a full-time mother just so my offspring can spend their best waking hours in the company of other immature children and an overworked teacher. I brought them into the world, and I take full responsibility for raising them (well, dh has some responsibility, too). Also, why should the schools get them all day just as they're starting to become good company? (Not that infants aren't wonderful, but they sure lack conversational skills...)
7) Discovery math is largely unrealistic and wastes a lot of time. It took humans millennia to develop modern mathematics. Expecting students to come up with it on their own is unrealistic and leads to frustration. Also, group math projects are overused and not nearly as helpful as educators seem to think. Left to themselves, children often "discover" wrong conclusions, and they remember those wrong conclusions. Exercises with prompt, corrective feedback are essential to becoming proficient in math. Since I graduated in mathematics, I feel strongly that my daughters can excel in math, and I will help them do so.
8) School socialization is negative in more ways than I can list. There's a reason I left high school at 16; it started with me becoming a bullied pariah in 5th grade. I am still dealing with effects of the persecution I received from schoolfellows. A little negative social experience--I'm fine with my children having to deal with that as appropriate for their age and maturity. In fact, I plan to have my children participate in public school on a part-time basis. Have them spend all day in a public school setting? No way. By the time they get to high school, they are awash in rude behavior, low scholastic expectations, immodest clothes, immorality, a ridiculous emphasis on proms and clothes, omnipresent encouragement to have boyfriends/girlfriends, rated-R language, substance abuse, self-destructive behavior, moral relativity, cheating, and racial/class/ability discrimination (I'd like my children to learn to "look upon the heart" rather than just the outward appearance).
9) Children aren't inmates. I'm very grateful that my parents weren't the type who made us go to school all the time, no matter what. If we had a legitimate reason for not wanting to go, they were just as happy to let us not go to school. As a result, we weren't the type to "cut" class. Where's the rebellion in an excused absence, anyway?
10) Healthwise, it doesn't make sense to force little children into mingling with hundreds of other children everyday and high school students into being away from home for over 12 hours a day (dh was often away from home from 5:30 a.m. until after dinnertime when he was in high school). Adults aren't even at work that long!
11) Public schools are not the place anymore, if indeed they ever were, to be fairly exposed to more than one side of a story; there's always a subtext of "this is the right answer for the test" (well, except for some discovery math questions ;) ). For children to be exposed to many facts, even those which aren't politically correct, homeschooling seems to be the best way to go. I want my children to learn to weigh different theories, respect those who have come to different conclusions than they have, and make logical, calm arguments in support of their own political/scientific/social/etc. conclusions.