Crisis schooling is a sudden forced stay-at-home educational structure, due to the current COVID situation. Teachers are doing a phenomenal job adapting in such a crazy time, and it is an incredible effort from the school systems. However, it comes with so many challenges. It is very difficult, it is not planned for, teachers in many areas have little resources to help them, and syllabi have to be overhauled. Families have had their lives turned upside down and they now have to adjust to a totally new lifestyle. Children miss their friends and families, and they are worried about an illness that could kill themselves or those they love. None of this is easy, and none of it is normal.
But this is not real homeschooling.
Do not let the merited frustration at “crisis schooling” be directed at actual homeschooling.
There is some negativity swirling about homeschooling right now, but this is not a normal situation. It is amazing what people have been stepping up to do during this crisis. Teachers and parents alike are working together to get some normality and structure to keep education going during this time. We have to appreciate them and the amazing job they are doing. This situation is incredibly difficult and some have pointed this difficulty at homeschooling.
Harvard Magazine recently published an article called “The Risks of Homeschooling.” This article is a very clear ideological view on homeschooling, stating that homeschooling is dangerous and even authoritarian by parents. Another example has been the many video posts -- even Kristen Bell in a recent video called “home schooling” the “two worst words in the English language.”
While I sympathize with the hardship this has put on many families and teachers, I feel compelled to share my experience in hopes to let you know that homeschooling is not meant to be the way it is right now for many.
I was homeschooled for my whole life before attending and graduating from a public university.
I found homeschooling to be an incredible blessing -- both during my time as a homeschooler but perhaps even more so in the years after.
The daily routine was structured. We had live classes and rigorous homework, but the ability to create and explore in a flexible setting was invaluable. The individual attention of live teachers and my parents created a dynamic that allowed us to thrive educationally, always tailoring the study time to each student's individual needs and strengths. We were always close with each other and encouraged each other.
For us, homeschooling was always just a school without walls. It was broadening and freeing in many ways.
Even more, we had a vibrant community and outside school life. We had homeschool communities, events, workshops, science labs, and so much more. We were social and encouraged in the arts through fine arts lessons, community drawing classes, music lessons, choirs, theatre programs, STEM/robotics programs and so on -- all around the community (not just with other homeschoolers). We volunteered countless hours in the Church and local communities -- pancake breakfasts, outreach programs, food drives, nursing homes, libraries, and civic service opportunities.
For me, homeschooling was the opposite of anti-social. It empowered me to be even more present with our community, and this taught us to build relationships and socialize with people of all ages and walks of life -- not just our peer classes of similar ages.
Homeschoolers are not home all the time as crisis schooling students are forced to be. In fact, homeschooling students are also missing their families, friends, activities, communities, and events right now.
Our online program always encouraged exploration and student-driven learning. We were challenged to understand not just the right answer but HOW to get to the right answer and to analyze how to process information. In essence, we learned how to learn. Everything was a venture towards truth.
We were enrolled in a private long-distance program with a fully accredited diploma. We had consultants to help us tailor the curriculum to every student. We had a support network and a great program to assist us. There were online classes that were structured and based in the classical/great books curriculum models and Socratic method of discussions.
Not only that, but our online teachers had the support team of the school behind them as well! Syllabi and class formats for online meetings were there. The office, consultants, and teachers were all working together to create high level learning opportunities for students and tailor the education to every student.
Homeschooling for us had a multi-leveled support system behind it, and teachers had time to strategize and work with lesson plans, but also the flexibility to cater to their individual classes.
It was not teachers being thrown into teaching in a different setting, reformatting all their classes at the drop of a hat, trying to find new ways to teach all topics, and overcoming technical issues/difficulties. Teachers' efforts in this crisis are absolutely valiant and many teachers are doing a great job -- but not all have the kind of support, training, or resources to change the curriculum in such drastic ways with no prep time.
Homeschooling also never had the kind of stress attached to it as it does for children in these times. Their worlds have been turned upside down, and they are confronted with the stress of a looming pandemic. They are worried for the health of their families, grandparents, selves, and many have missed great educational milestones -- graduations, prom, and so on. Many are in need of food or supplies; many parents have lost their jobs. In many areas, they can’t leave the house except for a walk, often wearing masks and disinfecting upon returning home.
Our current situation is not a real look at homeschooling.
My experience with homeschooling was beautiful. Homeschooling taught me so many skills and I carried the disciplines into my collegiate work. I am grateful to this day for my time homeschooling and the rich, diverse education my parents and curriculum program provided me. Most homeschoolers I know also had similar experiences and have grown to be amazing adults, contributing to society, professional workplaces, and communities.
I wanted to share my story to maybe prompt you to consider a different side:
Crisis schooling is not the same as homeschooling.
Mary Rose Gallipeau (MODG '16) graciously allowed us to share her thoughts here. Miss Gallipeau recently graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education (K-12).