This is a guest post from Erin. She is a public school teacher in Indiana and blogs at School Teacher by Day, Superhero by Night. For more information on this series and submitting your own perspective on education post, click here.
As a teacher, I believe in the choice to educate your child as you see fit. At the end of the day, I believe a parent knows best. I also believe in public education. When I see a blog about home schooling, I read on with interest. I like to know what they’re doing as part of their curriculum. It’s interesting to me–and often, I can find a great deal of common ground between what goes on in my classroom and theirs (because yes, it is a classroom, too).
But every so often, I come across home schooling blogs that make sweeping generalizations about public education. Generalizations that, as a public school teacher, I would never turn around and make about home schooling. Sometimes, believe it or not, these generalizations come from friends, friends who know that my job is in public education. I see statements that they don’t like public school because it means control. Because it means pressure. As if public education means that we’ve actually got a Pink Floyd meat grinder set up in the cafeteria for all the students. That all we do is force feed our kids rote memorization facts to pass the high-stakes tests. Am I saying that public education doesn’t need fixed? Not at all. It does. There are many things wrong, but in knocking it, you are knocking teachers who show up to work every day and try their hardest, despite the flaws.
Let me give you a brief glimpse into a recent day in the life on my 8th grade team. In Social Studies, students were working on the wax museum project, where for a day in May, they will get to become a person from US history. They got to pick their person and will be in the auditeria presenting to staff, parents and others from the community. In Science, students are hatching quail eggs. In Math, students are applying what they know of graphing to interior design to create their own living space. In my classroom, we’re reading Matched, a recent Young Adult literature release. So far, several of my students have told me that they’ve already bought the next two books in the trilogy because they’re so excited to complete it. Another student excitedly told me that he found a video game that’s dystopian, while another told me about a rap song that has alliteration in it. My students aren’t controlled. My students are thinkers. My students apply. My students make our learning relevant and exciting.
Do we have more rules than a typical home school setting? Well, yes. We have 1000 kids in one building. I imagine that if you had 1000 kids in your house, you would need a bit more structure, too. Are we unable to take as many field trips as a typical home schooling environment? Yes. Unfortunately, not all of my students can afford the one field trip a year that we do take, but we find ways to make this one affordable and enjoyable for all students. What I’m saying is this: educate your children in the way you feel is best for them. Explain your choices in a way that relates to you, but understand that on the flip-side, we’re out there doing a whole lot of good for someone else’ s child. Don’t jump on the anti-public education bandwagon because it’s the in thing to do. Remember that for eight hours a day, we may be the only adults that smile at a kid. We may be the only warm meal a child gets in a day. You may not think we’re doing the best we can, but we are.