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LAmom

The Forum vs In Real Life

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I must say that I am a bit perplexed by the disdain and low opinion for "IRL homeschoolers" in this thread. My dad taught at a university for a time and he and other professors I have spoken with have felt that former homeschoolers were the best students. It seems that most of you believe that most of the homeschoolers you have met are not very academically oriented. How do you know what goes on in their homes? Why do national statistics not bear this non-academic homeschooler trend out?

 

You may not have experience with homeschoolers who care little about academics, but some of us really have run into them.  Consider yourself lucky.

 

Here are actual direct quotes I have personally heard from actual conversations with people who have said that they aren't academically rigorous or they didn't bother looking much into homeschooling before starting out.

 

"We're raising saints, not scholars."

 

"We don't study history, it's irrelevant."

 

"What do you mean by Classical Education?  I"ve never heard of that.  We do Abeka."

 

" I picked Abeka because everyone I knew was doing it and if everyone's doing it, it must be for a good reason."

 

"We're going to homeschool because you can buy books with the answers in the back, so it won't be hard for us as parents."

 

"Our kids really need just consumer math, higher math is for kids going to college and our kids won't be going to college-it would just indoctrinate them into secular humanism."

 

Typically, homeschooolers who are considering college as an option are categorically more serious about academics than homeschoolers who openly state they don't want their kids to go to college-they want them to learn a trade.

 

  I also think there's a new element in the homeschooling community that assumes if you toss a textbook at a kid at the kitchen table, they'll win spelling bees just because they're homeschooled-just look at the research about homeschoolers!  They seem to think any idiot can homeschool and don't set high standards for themselves and their children. Their attitudes seem to focus on the location of homeschooling above all, not the opportunity homeschooling provides to customize an education to a child.  Those are two very different aspects of what people mean when they use the word "homeschooling."

 

This same element exists in the private schools and high performing public schools.  These seem to think that if they just fork over tuition to a private school or move to a better ps district, their child will automatically improve academically.  Since so many different factors affect academic outcome, they're being naive if they think the change in venue is a magic bullet. Sometimes yes, and sometimes, no.

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Personally, I wouldn't lump CC people in with non-academic homeschoolers. My IRL CC'er acquaintances are the most rigorous homeschoolers I have met. Half of the tutors in our CC have undergrad or graduate STEM degrees, and their kids are planning to go into engineering or military academies.

I contributed on this thread and said CC seemed to not be for us at this time, but.....I would agree that the women I know who are involved with CC have higher Ed degrees and are academically vigorous. I wouldn't say CC users are non academic homeschoolers.

I agree that I wouldn't classify CC families in the non-academic category, not at all. Simultaneously, I wouldn't classify them in the category of those seeking the highest academic rigor either. (For me, I see that category as those who are seeking higher levels of achievement like multiple AP/college level courses or multiple courses beyond single strand sequence courses or unusual independent studies) The CC approach seems completely on par with a solid standard/traditional high school college prep education.

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You may not have experience with homeschoolers who care little about academics, but some of us really have run into them.  Consider yourself lucky.

 

Here are actual direct quotes I have personally heard from actual conversations with people ...

 

I think my all-time "favorite" was:

 

"Oh whenever we hit anything hard we just skip it and move on.  It can't be important."

 

That was told to me by the mom of 5th - 8th graders.  I found myself puzzled as to how anything at that level could be deemed hard, but then again, I work in our local high school, so perhaps I'm biased.

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I'm a bit shocked by some of this thread since I last read it!  Firstly, where we live (New England), people in general are very academically oriented.  Most people who homeschool do so because they believe their kids will have a better educational experience than at school.  This does not always mean more rigorous - I find that many who were very "laid back" in the early grades are really no further behind in 6th grade, really.  I haven't met a homeschooler that didn't want their child to go to college!  But honestly, I love having different perspectives from different types of parents.  As I mentioned earlier, I'm on the more rigorous end of the spectrum, but also there is no one that I feel is not giving their children a good education, in their own way.  I can't even imagine purposely keeping my child's opportunities low because I want to shield them from certain world views or experiences.  I honestly have not encountered that.

 

Also, I find that having a co-op is vital to our homeschooling.  Moral support for me, social links for my kids.  And the older they get, the more academics we're including.  Next year we'll have a lab science, and one of the moms has offered IEW writing for several years.  I can't imagine homeschooling without a IRL community.  I think it would be hard to be in an isolated aread, or an area where there was only "one kind" of homeschooler.  We are not religious, and luckily most people in this area homeschool for other reasons.  Some co-ops require you to be Christian, but most do not.  Most homeschoolers I know encourage free-thinking and open-mindedness, try to incorporate interest-led learning, but also hold fairly high standards for their children.  I would never think that going to a co-op decreases the "rigor" of our homeschool!  In my mind, it makes it possible.

 

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Also, I find that having a co-op is vital to our homeschooling.  Moral support for me, social links for my kids.  And the older they get, the more academics we're including.  Next year we'll have a lab science, and one of the moms has offered IEW writing for several years.  I can't imagine homeschooling without a IRL community.  I think it would be hard to be in an isolated aread, or an area where there was only "one kind" of homeschooler.  We are not religious, and luckily most people in this area homeschool for other reasons.  Some co-ops require you to be Christian, but most do not.  Most homeschoolers I know encourage free-thinking and open-mindedness, try to incorporate interest-led learning, but also hold fairly high standards for their children.  I would never think that going to a co-op decreases the "rigor" of our homeschool!  In my mind, it makes it possible.

You obviously haven't been to the co-op near my home.  I'll be sending Ds about 30 miles north for a chemistry class next year just to avoid the local classes offered.  I'm tired and I don't want to teach chemistry.  The local co-op would not offer any moral support for me.  When we were members long long ago, I was the one offering the support.  Most of the people we are friendly with now agree that joining the local group was a 'necessary evil' in order to meet other homeschoolers before leaving to start their own field trips, classes, etc.

 

On the surface, the local co-op/classes offered look great.  Many would think they offer rigor.  Yes, there's an IEW class, a lab science, even Latin.  However, discipline problems abound and kids are cheating worse than public school, or not bothering to do the homework at all.  Parents have no idea what their kids are supposed to be doing and can't understand why they need to have a thorough knowledge of fractions before moving into higher math, argue with the teacher about the need to test into algebra, and get really mad when their kids finish the class not knowing much.  The teacher who was hired to teach the science class with labs gets horrible reviews online (teaches at a local CC, where professors teaching same class consistently receive good reviews).  It does't seem to matter b/c none of the parents seem to have thought about looking for info about her online.   I used IEW somewhat for a high school class this year and had to heavily modify.  Whether or not IEW constitutes rigor depends entirely upon the teacher.  The teacher teaching IEW locally has no expertise or experience with teaching writing.  She cannot even discuss the idea of an essay having a logical progression of thought.  Her only concern is about fitting in as many stylistic techniques as possible. 

 

I've learned the hard way to look beyond the surface when it comes to outside classes, do the research, and ask a lot of questions.  Unfortunately, I've had conversations with many homeschooling parents approaching the high school years who think all they need to do is sign their kids up for a class at a co-op, drop the kids off, and they will have high school credit.  Some of them haven't even considered the idea that a class may not be credit worthy.  For Ds's class next year, I met with the teacher and discussed her approach to teaching, asked about how much time she would be willing to give for extra help if a student has trouble, looked at the notebooks and labs she requires, read some of her grades and comments on student papers, talked with her about her choice of text, and discussed her discipline policies in depth.  I also spoke with parents of kids who took her classes.  BTW, she will not just register anyone.  A parent who wants their chid to take one of her classes must have some sort of recommendation-- b/c of academic, attitude, and discipline issues.  That's quite a testimony to the type of homeschoolers she has encountered.  I require the same for any class I teach, and I will no longer teach at the local co-op (as of 7 years ago).

 

Be thankful that the co-op you attend is worthwhile.

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I think it depends on your local homeschool community and your personality. 

 

I'm genuinely shocked by new and some seasoned homeschoolers who won't do much research or reading about their options before they homeschool. This seems to be a big chunk of the homeschoolers I meet IRL  They poll the homeschoolers they know and like and mimic them instead of reading about all their options, clarifying their goals, developing and articulating their own educational philosophy THEN choosing curriculum based on that. Different people just approach life differently. I'm thorough in everything I do.  I know why I'm doing what I am doing and I know why I'm not doing what I'm not doing.

 

Those who just mimic someone they trust aren't people who want to discuss many of the things discussed on these boards.  So many don't have enough knowledge about Classical Education (in any of its forms) to participate in a discussion about it, so I come here and go to a few select homeschooling friends IRL for that kind of thing. Fortunately, there are just under 10,000 homeschoolers in my county, so I have a wider range of homeschoolers to choose from than most homeschoolers in the world. 

This is pretty much my take on forum vs. real life.  I am truly amazed at how many homeschoolers you have in your area!  I live in Boston, and let me tell you, it is a bit of a desert.  For all the focus people have on higher education in this city, you would think homeschooling would be more popular.  I guess most families in large cities have two working parents, so homeschooling isn't an option.  My experience in the big city is that people don't homeschool.  If I go west to the suburbs and smaller towns, there are tons more homeschoolers!   So the bottom line for me is I just don't know very many homeschoolers, and the ones I do know are mostly not aiming for the level of education that I am aiming for.  I am so happy there are forums for me to read and lurk on because I would never get this level of input and experience from the few people I do know.

 

 

Others have the ability to do all this but are simply not inclined. Not all people have a drive to exhaustively research, plan, solicit input, and compare notes. Some are perfectly happy to just use what they know of, what has worked for friends and family, what is easy/convenient/cheap... Not all homeschoolers are resourceful or deep thinkers, and they are certainly not all overthinkers like many here (myself included, LOL) seem to be.

 

 

I think this is very true.  Most of the people I know who homeschool are not so inclined to do as much research.  For me, not only do I homeschool as a "vocation", but it is also my "avocation" so I spend plenty of time reading, researching, and thinking about homeschooling because I just love it!

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