Friday, 23 April 2010

Home educators are weird?

Well that was the sentiment expressed by a work buddy of mine the other day. We were out on the usual round, me as the volunteer, and him as the hired hand. Instead of the usual music on the radio there was a speaker venting bile against the usual right wing suspects in America. She spoke at length about how wrong Milton Friedman was, and how mean people had been to New Orleans post Katrina. Not being up much on either, I kept my mouth shut and my eyes on the scenery, half listening to the speaker and thinking; "Well that's a new one on me." Then she vented some drivel about there being an increase in hurricanes and tornadoes due to warble gloaming, and I fought to keep a straight face. Being a regular reader of Wattsupwiththat, I understand that there has actually been a decline in the frequency of category 5 storms the speaker was wibbling on about.

We pulled up at the delivery and as usual I began to get out of the van and pick up the gear we were going to fit. Only my work buddy said. "Why're you in such a hurry?" Which I wasn't. Then he insisted I sit in the cab listening to the speaker go on about how evil private education was, and what bad people the Republicans were for not writing the American teachers unions a blank cheque with public funds.

This made me rather uncomfortable, but mindful of my status in Canada, I kept my tongue firmly clamped between my teeth. I have no sympathy for either the extreme right or left, and oftentimes would rather they all went on about their rights elsewhere and left the rest of us mere mortals in peace. On the other hand; what the hey. It was a sunny afternoon, and to be quite honest I wasn't all that bothered. We completed our task, and returned to base having completed the rest of the round, it was then my work buddy rather crossed a line with me. "Hey Bill, don't you think all home schoolers are weird?"
"No." I responded. I really didn't understand what he driving at.
"I did some work for some home schoolers once, and they were weird people." He then went on to give me chapter and verse on how difficult he'd found them to work for, and why should people have the right to take their children out of the school system. I responded about Mrs S being in Home School support, and said that although the people she dealt with could be difficult, they were no more or less so than she had been used to dealing with as a full time teacher in the UK. Probably even less so, as these were people who had elected to educate their children in person. He didn't play the 'Paedo' card, but had he done so I would have been less than polite.

When I related this tale to Mrs S that evening she was rather scathing. "Has he ever had children?" She asked.
"Two, I think." I replied, and I know for definite one of them didn't graduate from High School. Although I didn't tell her that.
"Well, he can't have done much of a job with them." She said bluntly, and went on to be rather disparaging about parents who expected teachers to do all the work of educating their children. My wife spoke at length about her lack of respect for those who see their only parental responsibility as to feed, clothe, and dump their offspring in front of the TV, with no other input apart from acting as an unpaid taxi service. I just shrugged. I like the guy, but he does go on sometimes.

Mrs S and I have no respect for 'Hands off' parenting. For us, the payoff has been two intelligent young women who are making their own way in the world, and will be much better of than we have been. That's because my wife and I understand that the Human race is a relay race, and you have to get the next generation ready to pick up the baton. This entails helping with homework (and sometimes even University coursework now), answering daft questions in a non-judgemental way, helping them overcome their mistakes, and generally just being there to pick them up when they fall.

We have also told our two that we intend to be the most disreputable grandparents on the planet. If that doesn't act as a contraceptive, I don't know what will.

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