Yesterday, on a train back from Chicago (where a local Teachers Union strike just ended), I met a couple on holiday from across the pond. They're on a tour of the US. They're both around retirement age after serving many years in the UK health services industry. Curious, I asked them about their firsthand perspective of publicly funded healthcare. This drifted into a chat about the opening ceremonies and televised Olympic coverage of NBC and the BBC. When they queried about my profession, we moved on to education.
At first, they wanted to know the basics of homeschooling:
A. It depends on the state.
Q. Should parents have credentials to teach their children?
A. Depends on who you read; but, no. I've seen indications that an educational credential may, ever so slightly, decrease your students' performance.
Q. Is there a national standard for curriculum?
Q. Can homeschoolers get into and succeed at a University?
As we talked, I secretly wished I had ordered "a spot of tea" instead of my cranberry juice. I also noticed that our new friends were warming to this homeschooling thing. They shared stories of how poorly education in their country was going, and insights into the legislative changes that correlate with the decline. They talked about rising prices of higher education now that their country could not longer afford to subsidize everyone. We discussed dropouts and achievement, funding and outcome, nice ideas and painful pragmatism.
Day-to-day I find myself in a crowd that is mostly "hip" to homeschooling. So it's fun to encounter those outside the movement now and again. It's a good reminder that even those interested in education may still need to be educated about the home educational model. I enjoy reporting that homeschooling works. I like opening people's minds to the possibilities and benefits of teaching your children at home. And I love sharing a solution that has blessed so many families, especially in a time when the other options are fraught with systemic problems.
Do you get to chat with people about homeschooling and Sonlight? Have you had the opportunity to get an international perspective on a topic recently? Please share!
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester
P.S. If you're interested in learning more about homeschooling, just ask! Or swing by the Homeschool 101 section of the site to learn more about getting started on your homeschool journey.