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Friday, January 16, 2009


my children all go to public school, I went to public school, my parents are both teachers, I am a teacher yet....I secretly think home schooling is a better way. I don't do it because I love for the kids to leave the house and go to school and there are good things about it but deep down I think it's not the best way.

I have been subbing this school year, and I have been reminded again all the things that I think are not ideal about our public school system. First and foremost it is not about the teachers. Most teachers are wonderful, caring, idealist people who want to make a difference in their students minds and lives (some aren't but I don't think that is the majority of the problem) It's just a herculean task in an institutional setting.

Here's what I don't love.
In no particular order.

standing in line quietly. The most important thing. Put a bubble in your mouth and don't talk in the hall. Don't talk at lunch, don't talk to your neighbor. Quiet. I completely understand the necessity of it. If 20 kids are talking and one teacher is trying to teach no one can hear. And if 100 first graders are allowed to walk through the halls to lunch without a bubble in their mouths it would sounds like 100 elephants and every other grade would be distracted. I know this...but I don't like it.

Moving from one thing to another to cover the lesson plan and everything that is on the test. So quickly that some kids never get it, some kids get it but can't stay to think about it long enough for it sink in, or if you are really bright you get it but never mind being interested because we have to move on.

Conversely and at the same time, bright kids finish their assignment and then have to sit "quietly" while they wait for the others. Do you know how much waiting there is in a classroom?
Wait for the roll. Wait for recess. Wait while the slower kids finish. Clean up and wait for the next topic. Wait.

Some kids cry and misbehave and get a lot of attention, that they need, at the expense of the other "good" kids. Who also need it.

..and then we get to high school. And kids drink in class. And throw up on the bus because they have morning sickness. And talk in language that would shock a sailor. And many can't read, or don't read..and really what's the difference then? And. And. And.

I am 100% confident that Brother, for example, has not learned anything new in his two years of school. He can read. He could almost read when he started and learned quickly...while they were still on the letter "F" or something. He learned because we read every day. And he reads. And he is read to. And this has gone on since he was listening in utero. At school this year they are learning to add and subtract and what numbers are bigger than others (like 5 or 7). At home he multiplies, and wonders about infinity, and what is bigger than it. And velocity and volume and weight and how fast the earth spins and how many half cups of sugar to use if he wants to make a double batch of cookies. He knows about government because he listens to his dad, and geography because we have a globe, and history because of books and movies and talking. And the same thing goes for his sisters. S was actually home schooled for part of middle school, and it was such a delight to have her home...but oh how I worried: was I covering enough, was I missing something. I couldn't take the pressure. It was worry for naught, when she went back to school she was ahead for the next two years. You can learn SO MUCh MOre when you have one on one attention, even if it's broken up between laundry and crying babies, and shopping trips, and life.
I am confident that the children learn more at home and take it to school to share, than they learn at school. I am grateful mine have both..and feel sad for those who don't. Too many kids don't have homes where learning happens, in a good way.

Oh and one more thing. School takes so much time there is none left for extra talents to develop. Piano, art, sports, cooking, French, knitting, whatever.

...the kids all do well at school, and like it, and have friends...they complain and beg to stay home, but once they are there like it, I've seen them and they are happy. Yet I am randomly and out of the blue hit with angst over our educational choices from time to time. Does everyone agonize like that? Probably.


Mark and Beatrix Houghton said...

I totally agree with you! The pulic school system is messed up.
I blame the lack of discipline on account of the teacher's inability to do anything about misbehavior.
Same ol' song...when I went to school...lalalala...the teachers were able to whack us with the ruler and apply other physical torture to keep or to get our attention.
I am not saying that hitting the kids is correct, but someone needs to get that job done.
Now days, the parents are unable to discipline as much as the teachers, because they get blamed for child abuse.
Stoopid! As you would say.
I teach the independent study students sometimes (all grades from K-12) and they learn so much one on one it's incredible.

It is also wrong to pack the classrooms with 30 + students.
So many things should be changed and corrected but the liberal attitude makes all that impossible.
It will get worse...but that's politics...

Head Nurse or Patient- you be the judge said...

I think most parents do have that- especially if they help in the class at all. It almost breaks your heart to see the total lack of concern that some parents have. Backpacks NEVER emptied, dirty clothes and kids- and I live in a nicer area for the most part. I have been blessed with intelligent children. I know that they do well, despite all that, because of this. However, I know I can not do home school. My children will listen to others where they won't listen to me, and my "patience" when helping with homework is a good indicator that I should not try to teach them at home.
I wish I could, because I know they would be so much farther ahead than they already are.

Mel said...

Great post! No talking, and the children here aren't excused from the lunchroom until every child on their table is finished! Don't get me started...

Yvonne said...

It is tough, and I'm afraid it's only going to get worse. Certainly don't know what the answers are. I guess we just do our best as parents to fill in the gaps at home.

Kathy said...

What a great post! I totally agree!

The Wendler Family said...

Oh Lana, this was such a great read! Thanks for taking the time to share it. I agree with you. I want alot of kids and home school. I am worried, like you that I might not cover everything, we will be interupted by babies and laundry, etc but I'm sure overall it is what's best.
From the sound of things, your son has been and still IS home schooled! I'm sure you could continue full time. Sounds like you would do a great job!

Now back to things about public school: I also think that each child learns in different ways and am worried about how some kids perform due to their greater need for hands-on/one on one learning. Now that Obama is President, who know what will be changing in our public schools. I am worried about things now and by the time Amelia is ready to start, I cringe at the thought of her going to public school. I hope homeschooling is something I can do well no matter how many children I have.

wendy said...

I agree. And I did homeschool for a few years. Loved it. But I also know my oldest was missing something. And now they are all in school. and doing well...

What frustrates me is parents who complain but do nothing to help.