I am supposed to give a talk tomorrow on why I homeschool, and it is supposed to be under 3 minutes. Here is my planned talk:
My name is Jonathan Bartlett, and I am a homeschooling Dad. In Oklahoma, the homeschooling movement is growing by leaps and bounds, but some people on the outside are curious about what motivates us. Therefore, I thought it might be helpful for me to take a moment and share a bit why our family does homeschooling, and I think many of these reasons are shared by a large number of homeschooling families.
To begin with, I should say that I graduated from Union Public Schools, and at the time it was one of the best schools in the region, and probably still is. I had great teachers and great classmates. However, after graduating, I started to realize that there were problems with my education. These were structural problems – problems that are innate to the very way that public schooling is organized.
First of all, my own first goal with education is teaching my children the family’s values and morals. I hold this goal much higher than the intellectual education itself. However, as a public institution, schools are not permitted to instill deep values in the pupils. They can instill some surface ones, like don’t cheat and don’t steal, but they are systematically incapable of shaping students to the values of the families they belong to.
Along the same lines, each subject is missing many important aspects because of the need for being secular. Philosophy, morality, aesthetics, human nature, and the design inherent in nature are integral parts of EVERY subject, but are systematically left out of a secularized education. The lesson to children is implicit but quite clear – nothing except the material aspects of subjects are really worth knowing.
Another issue is with family and community. Public schools minimize the importance of both the family and community. After taking the bus, spending time at school, and staying after school for sports, your family becomes just a group of people you happen to eat dinner with. Homeschooling, instead, puts family membership at the center of children’s lives. It also exposes children to more people outside their own age group – younger kids, older kids, the elderly, professionals, and homemakers. It puts them in the center of a much wider community than is available in an age-segregated school, to allow them to see and experience the wide variety of gifts and needs that different members of the community have.
A final issue is that I think that all of our children deserve special attention. The fact is, in any class, there will be kids who make trouble. The only option that teachers really have is to minimize the damage that these kids do. But is that the best option for those kids? When homeschooling, parents can know the problems that their children are causing and actively work to solve them without worrying how that impacts twenty other students.
Thankfully, Oklahoma is the best place on earth to homeschool, both from a legal and social perspective. There are a number of co-ops, support groups, and organizations to help you get started and stand with you in troubled times. Our family takes part in organizations like Classical Conversations, AmbleCommunity, and OCHEC, and these are just a tiny fraction of the groups available to help you connect with other families who have the same issues you do. We are all families working to make our kids productive parts of the community. That means something different for everyone, which is another benefit of homeschooling – you have the freedom to do what works for your family.