There's a crabby old lady who's taken up residence in my psyche. I've decided that one way to rid myself of her presence is to share in the joy with my friends in the blogosphere. Aren't you delighted? I've decided to do so by means of a manifesto. Remember this guy? Or what about this whack job? Ok, maybe I shouldn't call it a manifesto. Do we know of any normal people who have written a manifesto?
I'm going ahead with the manifesto. It feels very empowering to me right now. I won't inundate you with the complete text, but rather parcel out the different elements to you periodically so as not to make you all think I've turned into a complete whacka-do.
My first rant in my T Manifesto: Home Schooling.
I've sat quietly about this one for too long. I've apologized for my position on this. When Claire was born, I "got" home-schooling, as I wondered how I would ever be able to send my beautiful baby out into the big, bad world of kindergarten. I know several people who are fine, upstanding citizens who dutifully and responsibly home school their children. I know that home-schooled children do very well on standardized tests and despite what others my speculate, do very well socially. I know this. Then what's my beef? Well, here it is, I take great issue with the fact that, at least in the state of Iowa, virtually anyone can homeschool their kids. Anyone. Not only that, but the parents have the right to use of textbooks and other materials. They can (and do) request that their children be allowed to accompany the class that would have been their child's on field trips, and to attend classroom parties.
As a classroom teacher, what did I have to do to get to where I am? Well, first of all, while in college, I had to apply to the College of Education and be accepted. I had to take a teacher competency exam (and it was slightly harder than "find your ass with both hands"). I had to do an initial "field experience, where I observed a class for a certain number of hours. I had to take classes in child development, child and adolescent psych., testing and evaluation instruments, human relations. I had to log more hours in field experience, where I not only observed, but was required to do a little bit of actual teaching. I had to take methods courses. I then had to student teach for an entire semester, which I did in Omaha, Nebraska. THEN, I had to apply to the State Board of Educational Examiners, whereupon I was issued a provisional teaching license. Since then, I have whatever comes after a provisional license that I must renew every 5 years with proof that I have been taking classes. To get a job in my district, I had to have a criminal records check. I had to go through Mandatory Reporter/Child Abuse training. I had to teach a lesson to my prospective employers. I had to have letters of recommendation. Once hired, I have to have regular evaluations done by an administrator. I have to have a "Career Development Plan". I have to meet the needs of diverse learners and follow this kid's IEP and that kids 504 plan. I have to contact parents regarding their kids' behavior and progress in my classroom. I am expected to fulfill "other duties as assigned". Some days, I literally have no time to use the restroom. 6:15- 3:30 is kind of a long time to wait. And not very healthy. But I digress.
So what am I saying here? We all have to jump through all of these hoops to be teachers. But, anyone who decides that school just isn't for them or their child can homeschool. So, if anyone can do this without going through all the things I mentioned, what does that say about my profession? Can this happen in other professions? Medicine? Law? Social work? Law enforcement? Massage therapy?
And, if it is indeed true that anyone can teach, then why the hell do we have to jump through all these hoops? Why can't anyone just walk in off the street and teach? I know some people who speak Spanish, couldn't they teach my class? What about someone who's a history buff- couldn't they teach history? And an elementary classroom? Come on! We've all been to school, right? So doesn't that qualify all of us to teach 1st, or 2nd or 4th grade? (elementary teachers, please note my sarcastic tone, I'm on your side)
Recently, homeschooling has become so mainstream that kids who aren't happy in their classrooms go home and request to be homeschooled. Are you kidding me? Part of life is dealing with difficult situations, teachers you don't like, classmates you don't care for. Sometimes, things at school don't entirely reflect one's home values. And isn't that a part of life as well? Kids are smart enough to realize that home and school are different. And yes, of course parents should be their children's first teachers. Of course. Everytime you interact with a child can be a teaching and learning experience. But it doesn't have to be the education. It should complement, not replace.
Do not even get me started on unschooling.
Rant over. I feel so much better, and the crabby old lady is quiet for now.
P.S. Does anyone else see the utter irony in the Unabomber's manifesto being available on the Internet?