Yesterday, I volunteered at our local library's book sale. Several local teachers had been given gift certificates from a grant to purchase books for their school. We were all glad to see them come and redeem these certificates. But, I found some interesting thoughts and emotions in my head as they were there.
First, I wanted to be respected by them. I have found that I often desire this from other teachers. I was once one of them--a middle school teacher in the public schools. But, I've found as a homeschool teacher I've rarely had their respect when I tell teachers that I homeschool. I don't think it's seen on the same level professionally.
Honestly, I'm a better teacher now after homeschooling my children for the past 7 years than while I was teaching middle school. I've learned so much about how children learn. I've learned about paying attention to the process of learning more and being more observant. I've learned much more about how children learn to read than I understood when I was student teaching in first grade. I've set aside a lot of dogma I was indoctrinated with--like the idea that it's better to read anything than not to be reading and whole language reading methods are the best way to teach reading.
But, there was another thought running through my head. It was "This is why I homeschool." I listened as the teachers discussed what books to get for the kids. I was surprised as they passed over good, classic books in favor of Pride and Prejudice and the Zombies and a lesbian romance book (the teachers had a discussion about the value of why they wanted it in their classrooms). I asked the middle school language arts teacher what books she liked for her kids or what favorite authors she had for them. She couldn't tell me a single one and just blew me off. I am always looking for suggestions for good books--that's why I asked.
Part of why I homeschool is because of what I want my kids to learn and be exposed to. There's only so much time in a school day. Why waste it on junk? I want to teach them what is right and wrong. I want them to learn and not just learn what a state standardized test wants them to know. I care about what my kids read. The teachers responses reminded me of how I felt 10 years ago when I was teaching middle school. Teachers believe you just need to get kids reading. It's a rare teacher (I had a friend who was one) who thinks kids need to read books that have good writing and language in them and not just what interests them even if it isn't well written.
I don't homeschool simply out of a reaction to our culture and what the public schools teach, but it was a catalyst for me seriously considering it as an option for our family eight years ago.
Speaking of which, I need to get to homeschooling...