Monday, October 19, 2009

Should be going to bed, but...

...just remembered a conversation I had this morning with a mama who is also a teacher (or worked as one before having her child).
 
We were chatting about homeschooling, and she seemed alarmed at the relative lack of reporting and accountability required of homeschool parents (as opposed to prior to 2002, when the board could investigate and demand all kinds of documentation from parents - while refusing to acknowledge that different kids and families have different learning styles). 
 
Why was she alarmed?
 
Because, she said, some parents might take advantage of this to just keep their kids out of school and... umm... well, I never did get exactly what she was implying that these irresponsible parents would do to prevent learning from taking place.  Imprison their children in boxes?
 
In my experience, it is almost impossible to stop an untethered child from learning.
Schools exist mainly to teach them how to line up and put on snowsuits and take them off again and share crayons and there's the drinking fountain.
You can't tell me the school day is all about learning.  In Junior Kindergarten, at least, the school day is 5% learning and 95% mopping up various sticky substances.
 
I told this mama that it has been my experience that the lousy parents - and really, I have probably met fewer than ten of these in my fifteen years of parenting - are usually the ones who seem more than eager to get rid of their kids after four and a half years, or sooner if daycare and/or preschool are an option. 
 
This mama seemed to think that was true, and lucky indeed for the children of these parents.  I suggested that these may be the parents who will most adamantly support full-day kindergarten, an initiative currently being pushed through in Ontario despite the staggering expense and unproven benefit.  She agreed wholeheartedly that full-day kindergarten would be ideal for these parents. 
 
Let's get the kids out of their clutches!
 
Well, she didn't exactly say that, but I was shocked at her belief - perhaps drummed into her as an educator? - that the role of school is to tear children from their home environment in order to educate them against their parents' better judgement.  And that there are lots and lots and LOTS of bad parents (perhaps a majority?) whose kids would be better off away from them all day, every day.
 
Didn't they give up that idea when they closed down the native residential schools?
 
I mean, I have overheard all kinds of crazy, paranoid-sounding rhetoric about the adversarial relationship between the education system and parents.  But this person (otherwise entirely intelligent and sane) was actually trying to convince me, from a perspective of experience, that was indeed a central raison d'etre of the education system.  I felt like taping a tinfoil hat to my head so I couldn't pick up her signals so clearly.  Or she mine.
 
Lucky, lucky, she seemed to think that I was a good-enough mama, and that Naomi Rivka and I will have no end of fun and adventure while homeschooling... as long as we make sure to stay on the happy side of the law and get all our paperwork filed.  (I told her I didn't think there was paperwork because school attendance here isn't mandatory until Grade One.  I could be wrong about that, but I'll keep on saying it until somebody sends me some kind of official notice to the contrary!)