Monday, July 21, 2014

How foreign of a concept is homeschooling these days?

My family is hosting three young boys from China. Their ages are 14, 15 & 17. They have been with us for almost two weeks and they will leave tomorrow. Our interaction with them has been a little bit limited. They spend most of the day with a group studying English and going to the local tourist sites.

Their diction is pretty good. I don’t think I’ve had any trouble understanding the words they say. But their vocabulary is limited. One of the boys has been studying English a couple years more than the other two. Fairly often we’ll ask a question or tell them something and the other two boys will immediately look to the first for an explanation. Even still there are times when we’ll say something and all three will give us blank look.

One of these times was when we first mentioned homeschooling. We explained what it meant and there was both a look of “Did I really understand what you just said?” and “How would that ever work?”

Scientists talk about a paradigm shift being very important in expanding our understanding of the world. As we learn new concepts or gain insights into the way the world works, we undergo a shift in how we perceive the world. I think this happened a little with the three boys as we explained homeschooling. They started to see the world in a new light.

I’ve wondered the last couple days if homeschooling may still a foreign concept for much of America. Many of my close friends also homeschool and I am worried that there may be a group mindset that since we understand homeschooling and recognize the value of homeschooling that most people most at least understand what homeschooling is all about. But is this true?

Even though we’ve gone from tens of thousands of children being homeschooled in the 1970s to a couple million being homeschooled now, I think there are still many in the United States who don’t really understand homeschooling.

I do think over time things will continue to get better. The number of children being homeschooled continues to grow. I think the drive to homeschooling is largely driven by how broken the public school system. Even though we may think homeschooling is well understood by our neighbors and friends, it may be there are still many for whom homeschooling is a foreign concept.

The answer is to be patience and explain how it works. We can help our friends through a paradigm shift. Over time more and more will come to understand homeschooling.


DavidLJ said...

It seems to me that homeschooling is a ver-ree bad idea for two young exchange students from China: they came here for exchanges, fershlugginer! Kids exchange with kids.

I had no trouble picking up French being dropped unprepared into Lycee. My German-American daughters had no trouble dropping into Japanese primary school.

Chinese kids dropped into an American school will be chattering away in English in 90 flat in all but the most strange circumstances -- and if there's a problem it will be clear in the first two days and can be fixed.


Henry Cate said...

I'm sorry it wasn't clearer. We didn't homeschool the Chinese boys. During our conversations with them we got to talking about homeschooling and they seemed to struggle with the concept.