I fear this post may be controversial, but I didn’t start blogging to hold back my true feelings, so here goes!! (Readers are ALWAYS free to leave their KIND dissent!)
Last week I followed a discussion on a Homeschooling High School email group which troubled me. The issue began with someone raising the question of whether diagramming sentences was an "impractical" skill and therefore a waste of time for both teacher and student. As the discussion continued, it became evident that there were those who believe that ALL grammar instruction ("Does every word in a sentence really have to have a name?"), Algebra, Geometry ("Who ever really uses Algebra and Geometry anyway?") and essentially much of what can be classified as "traditional" education should be discarded in favor of teaching practical life skills. I was left wondering what these folks actually DO teach their children.
As a parent who has chosen to teach my children at home, I have a wonderful privilege and responsibility. I have taken on the task of preparing my children spiritually, emotionally, and practically to live life in our world. This is a huge responsibility. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am all for instruction in life skills having a significant place in our children’s education. What I am not for is the teaching of practical life skills in place of critical academic instruction.
It seems to me that there is an important question that ALL homeschoolers must ask themselves:
WHAT should we teach and HOW should we teach it?
As I reflect on the discussion of "practical" vs. "traditional" education, I’m forced to ask myself these questions: As the homeschooling movement moves away from the traditional school model, do we run the risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Are we ridding our homeschools of valuable academic instruction simply because it seems a little dry….or perhaps a little too much like "school"?
I am not going to attempt to suggest what the ratio of "practical" to "traditional" should be. I AM suggesting that as we attempt to avoid the pitfalls found in the school model, we also need to be mindful of the danger of allowing the pendulum to swing too far in the other direction.