“Schools have not necessarily much to do with education… they are mainly institutions of control, where basic habits must be inculcated in the young. Education is quite different and has little place in school.” ~Sir Winston Churchill
My wife and I were blessed with twin girls in May 2010. We live in a pretty nice part of town in Cupertino, CA and the public and private schools here are great. My wife has never indicated a desire to homeschool our children, until very recently.
There was a sex scandal last year in Santa Clara with a math teacher and underage student, and my wife seems to have become preoccupied with it. About a month ago I brought up the subject of where we should start our girls at school, and she announced a plan to educate them at home.
She claims she has lost faith in the school system and wants the best for our children, and that only she can give them the education they need. I have pointed out that we can well afford private school, but she seems intransigent on this issue.
Robin, I do NOT want my children to be homeschooled. This is a very serious area of conflict in my household right now. What should I do?
Lee in Cupertino
Wow – what a great question. Thank you for writing!
I spent some time researching this issue so I could back up my opinion with data, but as it turns out there is very little reliable information out there on the results of homeschooling. Much of what you find online is embedded in articles on pro-homeschooling sites, and because parents in many states do not have to report to the Department of Education on how their kids are doing, the data is limited.
In other words, I don’t have a lot to go on here.
I’m going to lose my internet for a few hours shortly so I need to be brief. I’ll give you my opinion about homeschooling and then some advice for you based on our email exchange yesterday.
Their are basically two components to a child’s school education: socialization and book learnin’. I have no doubt your wife is intelligent enough to give your kids a great education, seeing as how she was a mechanical engineer before taking time off to raise your babies. However, you need to remember that teachers are trained in the teaching profession, so just being smart isn’t a guarantee that you can be an educator.
Then again, getting a teaching degree doesn’t make you a good teacher.
Let’s call a draw on this issue and get to the socialization aspect of school.
Socialization is the process by which children and puppies learn how to get along with others outside their family and obey the rules and norms of society, unless you are born in Florida, in which case the OB-GYN gives you a gun and an NRA membership card after you slip out of daddy’s hot dog bun.
Obviously, given the level of bullying that goes on in our schools today we have much to learn about how to socialize our children so they respect other kids’ rights not to be subjected to an atomic wedgie or vicious online intimidation. Kids were mean when I was growing up, but we didn’t have the internet. Some of these little fuckers are really scary.
On the other hand, I wonder whether your girls will have a full and well-rounded social life if they are homeschooled. I imagine it would be difficult to make friends and learn to share if you don’t attend school. Then again, I went to school and didn’t really have any friends, and I’m not known for sharing unless it’s “over-sharing.” Hmmm…I’m not quite proving my point here, am I?
Let’s get out of the big picture and drill down into your wife.
You told me she was sexually abused by a babysitter at the age of 12 and although she didn’t tell anyone about the abuse she sought counseling in college and graduate school and felt she had moved past what happened to her. I’m thinking maybe she didn’t, and honestly, I don’t know enough about this subject to opine whether one is ever really able to “move past” sexual abuse.
It is highly relevant that she never spoke of homeschooling until this very public case of abuse happened in Santa Clara. Suddenly she was (according to you) obsessed with the case and starting talking about educating your girls at home, despite her repeated expressed desires to return to her career once the kids start school.
In short, I think your wife is reliving her own abuse via this very public case and as a result suffers from unfounded fears about the safety of your local schools. After what happened to her as a child I can’t blame her, but you can’t raise your babies in a bubble because your wife was molested.
Cupertino is a fancy town with fancy schools, and if you want the very best education for them you have a nice selection of private educational institutions to chose from. Your wife is a trained engineer, not a teacher, so from a purely educational standpoint I think your kids would be better off without homeschooling.
It’s possible your wife is also getting nervous about returning to work after a long absence.
She told you last month she is worried she may have lost her edge during this break in her employment. I would encourage her to return to the workforce for 3 reasons:
1. Private school is expensive;
2. She loved working and seemed happier when she had a career, which is good for you and the family as a whole; and
3. Kids can be horrid, clumsy heartless little cretins. Leave the teaching experience to those who have hardened themselves against the casual malfeasance and stupidity of children.
In closing, I suggest you and your wife think about a visit or two with a counselor because whether or not to educate the children at home (thereby thwarting your wife’s career continuation) is an enormous issue with myriad implications for your relationship and the future of your kids.
A good therapist can talk to you both about all the issues, including your wife’s past and its possible impact on her reasoning on this subject, and do more for you than I can here. Your wife may also benefit from some solo time on the couch to explore how her experience as a child is shaping her world today. She may think she has recovered from the abuse, but additional work may be required.
Thanks for writing and please let me know how things turn out. You’ve got plenty of time to work this out so be patient with and kind to your wife as you both work through this challenging time.