Chicago Blogger Has Eyes Wide Shut

Chicago Now blogger, Tom Byelick, wrote a post on what he thinks he knows about homeschooling.  

Tomfoolery: Eyes Wide Open
School is in session…now go to your room. By Tom Byelick

I’ve also been doing a bit of research on home-schooling and virtual (on-line) schools and I guess this is where I begin to question what it is we’re really trying to accomplish with our young people today. If the objective is to pump as much information into their heads as possible then, yes, perhaps schooling within the home (with or without the aid of on-line learning) might suffice. It just seems that we might be setting up our kids to be “book smart” but also as social misfits who could very well have difficulty carrying on a conversation with anyone but those who are closest to them.

Besides the “social misfit” silliness, homeschoolers tend to bristle with a phrase encompassing all of “our young people” in what “we’re trying to accomplish”.  Along accountability lines, taxpayers hope to have educated masses coming out of the public schools.  Reportedly, 37% don’t graduate out of Chicago schools and they’re thumping their chests.  If Mr. Byelick is looking for opportunities from his education degree, he should be looking at the oppressive school failures facing our young people today.

But instead, the focus is on missing those school socialization opportunities.  In response to a teacher’s comment to his article, Byelick said this:

Thanks, Michele, for your comment. I guess I would like to see more studies which focus on the social impact of home schooling in addition to those dealing with test scores. Even though the world is being overrun by technology, those with social skills still have an advantage over those who don’t. Although team sports and “play dates” can partially substitute for the social interaction I refer to, these activities are still conducted in controlled environment and do not substitute for lunch table conversation, classroom notes and whispers or even playground scuffles.

Controlled environments are what schools do well.  The school lunch table conversations seem to be a way to sneak and whispers are definitely invoked in the prison-like school formula.  The lunchroom where children must put their head down after they eat their institutional food with little hope of a homemade lunch.  (The Chicago Way is even more disturbing.)  It’s troubling any adult touts this situation where the biggest goal tends to be working around the system by trying to pass notes, doing minimal work and not staying in line.  There really isn’t any joy in playground scuffles.

Tom Byelick received some useful feedback from homeschoolers. His post is likely getting more attention than deserved, but then again, as a minority, homeschoolers don’t like missing an opportunity to defend ourselves against irrationality.  Mr. Byelick is open to going on an outing (homeschoolers call them field trips) with some Illinois educators. I think his eyes will see a few more educational possibilities than the traditional classroom.

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