Friday, February 8, 2008

Speaking Out

Today, I served as a panelist for Leadership SLO, a program of the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce. The year-long program takes future leaders on an educational tour of the area's services and infrastructure, from healthcare to finance to arts and education. Today was education day, and after their tour of SLO High and a variety of other discussions, the panel got its shot. It included one public school board representative, a magnet-school representative and me, representing homeschooling. We each gave introductory remarks, then answered questions from the Leadership class members.

Some thoughts came to me as I tried to be coherent if not eloquent. As I listened to both the magnet-school rep and the public school rep speak, I thought about how confined and restrained their teachers are by the various pressures of their situations: the system, government control, class size and any of a number of other issues the modern-traditional educator faces. As homeschoolers, we are confined only by the obstacles we accept, whether they be financial or social, academic or geographical. It also occurred to me that while some people homeschool primarily to shelter their children from the world, others believe their primary mission is to expand upon the education that might otherwise be available to their children. I believe I fall a little in both camps, but certainly lean heavily toward the latter.

The modern-traditional schoolers were very supportive of homeschooling. Even when given the opportunity to bash it, they wouldn't. In fact, one question asked of the school board president was, "What negative aspects do you see in homeschooling?" His immediate answer, "I don't think there are any. I think when homeschooling is done in a loving environment with the children's best interests in mind it's a wonderful thing. I think it's a gift." Wow! NOT the answer I expected, but I sure did appreciate it!

Meanwhile, the girls enjoyed a day at home with Mr. Daddy, the substitute teacher. While he said the plan for them was to play, it sure looked to me like they did some educational stuff, too. When I arrived home, the Matchbox-style cars were lined up in categories (coaches, winners and other competitors) near a ramp they'd erected. On the white board was a running tally of just how far each and every of those 20-some-odd cars had managed to jump, both clean and crash-and-burn. They were ranked by distance (winners in both the clean jump and the crash-and-burn categories). E also taught Mr. Daddy some language arts lessons. ("Today we're going to talk about mood in our writing.") They wrote poetry, and practiced their public reading skills, complete with emotion.

Good day was had by all!

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