we need more than teachers


The uproar over well-trained teachers seems wall-to-wall.  But homescholing has proven over and over that untrained parents can provide the support for kids to do well.  It is a fact that isn't on the radar of mainstream media.  

When new to homeschooling, parents often worry deeply about whether they can homeschool if they do not have training.  But if they keep homeschooling  for some years, they often find to their surprise that their kids are doing well.  How can that be?  Sure, parents who are masters of a subject often have kids who know that subject well but the majority of homeschoolers are not subject experts (though we underrate the amount of knowledge people have: genius is common, re Gatto).

It seems to be a process where the support, guidance, and mentoring helps the child learn and find the things they can learn from or with.  Families customize curricula, revamp when a kid is unhappy, adjust the structure, make snacks, change subjects or unschool .... homeschooled kids do well by getting support and attention and the small adjustments that help them in their journeys.

In fact, teachers that homeschool often have pre-set ideas about curriculum and learning that can hinder them, the way midwives with extensive medical training can be more prone to create issues than lay midwives, like the way reliance on medical imaging can lessen manual skills for medical personnel.

There are subject experts -- like Less Helpful Dan, and there are great master teachers like Salman Khan and there is always a core need for these teachers. And homeschoolers frequently access anyone who is offering great stuff -- I heard of Khan way before mainstream media, from other homeschoolers, of course. And there are homeschooling parents who teach their children what they know: mathy parents often have mathy kids, etc.

But most homeschooling parents act as counselors and facilitators. They support the learning, follow the child, find interesting things to do and see, and when they do teach, they adjust materials to the child and quickly find materials that are easy to use. Homeschool parents spend huge amounts of time conferring with their kids, talking, selecting materials, transporting, adapting .... if schools were to truly support learners, the staffing needs would be many, though the structure would be greatly changed.

Schools can learn this lesson:  what we really need are far more supporters, facilitators, and counsellors.  Where in the current system does a kid go when he thinks the current science text doesn't work for his learning style?  Who chases down a different text?  Currently, that is just too bad but it could be different.

In most public schools, counseling is understaffed to the point of uselessness; longtime home schoolers often know more about college prep than the local high school counselor.  And staffing levels mean that the majority of kids get no counseling of any strength at all. If high school students could build portfolios like homeschoolers do, it would mean  that we would need staff we really do not have at this time:  counselors would be working with students and families both.  Right now, the staffing for schools puts a hierarchical bureaucracy in place that administers and coordinates huge issues, from people to supplies to curricula.  Staffing needs for learning centers would be far more decentralized in order to respond well to the needs at each school. 

We don't need to layoff, we need to restructure.  And if schools became learning centers, sending out surveys to find out what families need, implementing programs from all-day classes for working parents to part-time classes for others, from 6 am to 11 pm, we would need loads of teachers who may also be facilitators or counsellors as well as parent volunteers.


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