Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Occupation: Overprotective-Private-School-Yuppie-Dad???

Yesterday we visited the school to which we will likely send our son. It is a private school. So what? Lots of people send their kids to private school. Well, I was (and may be again) a public elementary school teacher. Hypocrite! Right? I know of some public school teachers who would say so. I know some who would say, "I don't blame you!"

In fact, if I hadn't taught in a public school, I probably would never have even thought of sending Benjamin to a private school.

That being said, the schools here in Wisconsin, in general, are very good. The schools in our town are very, very good. But we want to shelter our child while he is young and impressionable. Are we spoiling, overprotective wackos? Well, not surprisingly, I say no.

I had this discussion once with someone of a similar opinion. He and his wife homeschooled their children. They often got the question, "But aren't you worried about socialization?"

His answer was, "Yes! That's why we homeschool."

This comment gets to the root of our feelings as parents. In school, kids learn behaviors from other kids. Good behaviors and bad behaviors. In public schools, classes are large, there aren't funds for sufficient supervision. The schedules are filled with loose transition times where students have lots of unecessary opportunities to socialize with little guidance.

Counterargument: If you brought your kids up well, they will be good role models and will rarely pick up negative behaviors from other kids.

I disagree. While teaching, I've seen too many good kids pick up naughty habits. Do they learn   that they are negative behaviors? Of course, and quick! The brighter, good ones also  quickly learn that they shouldn't do them … until  they think that adults aren't around.

Another counterargument: All kids learn naughty stuff from their peers. We're only delaying the inevitable, and denying them an opportunity to learn about self-control, and about kids who are different, kids who may suffer hardship. Any bad behavior they pick up is a chance for parents and teachers to give an object lesson on right and wrong, why other people misbehave, etc., and to teach self-control.

Again, I disagree. Public school, private school or home school, there will be ample opportunities to teach self-control. We want to minimize  learning by negative example, not maximize  it. There is a time and place to learn that Johnny may have hit Bill because he has a hard home life, or that Mary swore at her teacher because she her parents don't monitor what she sees on TV. I contend that the best time and place is not in a 2nd grade classroom, nor even a 5th grade one. Part of my reason for saying so is that young children are still developing the abstract thinking abilities required for adult-like self-regulation.

There are myriad other reasons why we will probably choose the school we having been scoping out. (Blog posts, however, should probably be shorter than this one is already. In the future I would like to write about:
-Why I have the crazy belief that private school (and this one specifically) is any better than public school
-Curriculum and academics
-Organziation and management
-Diversity or lack thereof
And maybe I will.)

Right now, I'll just say I am so very thankful that this is even a possibility for our children.


Nikita said...

I agree...I am a teacher too (unemployed nowadays) and I also have watched children learning bad's necessary to pay too much attention!

Anonymous said...

I totally support homeschooling. I am seeing "groups of parents" that gather for the common cause of sharing the duties of home-schooling.
Public and private schools will continue; however I see an explosion of creativity in learning on the horizon.
Socialization will occur the best and most natural way, activities based upon mutual interest.
I would like to see more teachers desiring to homeschool consider expanding to perhaps 4 children for specific activities, for pay.
Example, an educational trip to the zoo enriched with a compliment of academic challenges.
your sister the art teacher