Throughout this week, the Daily Herald has published a series of articles focusing on homeschooling and those who choose to provide education to their children just a few feet from their bedroom.
If you have not had the opportunity, we would highly recommend reading reporter Braley Dodson’s three-part series that delves into the statistics behind homeschooling, the resources available to homeschooling parents and what curriculum is used by homeschooling parents in Utah.
As members of the Daily Herald Editorial Board read over the stories, a few things struck us that we felt we should weigh in on. We first want to say how intrigued we are to see homeschooling growing in popularity. Just 10 or 15 years ago, homeschooling was more foreign, and often met with stigmas and stereotypes. Children who were homeschooled were often criticized as being socially awkward.
With the increase in popularity — and the statistics to back that claim up — stigmas are coming down and stereotypes are being dismantled. We hear less about social discomfiture of homeschool students and more of opportunities to participate in learning programs outside of the classroom.
The spike in homeschooled students also drives the market, and drives the need for more resources. Online education programs, extracurricular co-op organizations and elaborate curriculums are more readily available than ever before. Those who choose to homeschool their children no longer need to throw their arms in the air in an exasperated state of unknowing dread at teaching from home. The resources are more readily available, and we are glad that will prepare students for the future in ways seemingly well as traditional school.
Several members of the Daily Herald staff were homeschooled, and have spoken fondly of the lessons they learned decades ago. As favorable as those experiences were then, we wager homeschool programs today are even better.
We hope that with the vast resources available, mothers and fathers trying to become teachers feel prepared.
We understand there are valid concerns for those choosing to homeschool their children. Children learn in different ways. Children absorb information in different, maybe slower or faster ways. Children may even have medical issues that make exposure to other children difficult. Each of these are valid reasons and while local school districts typically provide resources to answer every concern, parents should have the choice to opt in to homeschool.
However, we frown on the idea that those removing their children from traditional schooling are doing so for the wrong reasons. We believe education in Utah, while it has its points of concern, is strong, overall. We value and respect the certified, trained and experienced teachers who comprise the network of educators across Utah Valley.
We hope that political, religious or other opinion-driven differences are not primary causes of parents opting to remove their children from traditional schooling. Children should be exposed to a variety of opinions and different schools of thought. Someone teaching about government should discuss the merits of both Republicans and Democrats. A teacher instructing about world religions should provide equal understanding on all religions, not just those they believe in. And the unsavory aspects of history, like the questionable resume of Christopher Columbus or even the realities of Abraham Lincoln’s ambiguity towards slavery, cannot be glossed over just because of disagreements about facts.
It pained us to hear anecdotes of parents opting to homeschool over issues such as differences of opinion with regards to historic figures or political talking points. Doing so propagates an echo chamber effect, and leaves children unaware to other opinions and ideologies.
We are supportive of homeschooling for the proper reasons. We each agreed that we would leap at the opportunity to choose hiking over physical education. After all, does anyone really want to do another shuttle run? We likewise applaud the value of education earned online, and the infinite resources available at the click of the mouse. The younger generations are already so tech-savvy, it makes so much sense to integrate education into their learning, as many traditional schools already do. Plus, a homemade grilled cheese will always top those square, cardboard-esque slabs of pizza any day.
Homeschooling has its merits, as much as traditional education. We want those who may be juggling the idea of homeschooling to know it is now a more manageable means of education with readily available resources and well-crafted curriculum programs should the parents and children be committed to the time and resources it requires.