Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Earlier this summer, I suffered through a lecture from a middle school teacher who works here in my city. I was there at the pool with my Shakespeare and Greek history books spread out on my bench and she was on the bench next to mine, reading a book and taking notes for a Masters-level class she was taking at the local university. The topic of her impromptu lesson was how homeschooling mothers have a lot of nerve, seeing as how they think they can teach their kids without the benefit of college degree and a valid Indiana state teachers' license.

I listened with boredom and frustration; this isn't the first time I've heard a diatribe like this and I always find that it's best just to let them speak their piece until they run out of steam, keeping an impassive face and maintaining steady eye contact.

When she finished talking, I explained a few things to her about the nature of homeschooling of which she, with her bias, was completely unaware of. Like how if you, as a mom, aren't comfortable with teaching calculus, you can, oh, say....hire a private tutor! Or.....purchase a video course! Or....take an online class on that fascinating thing that Al Gore invented, the internet! Or....sign up for a class at a local junior college!

This woman seemed to think that homeschool mothers can only teach classes on things they are completely proficient in, which, according to her, were: 1. being really weird; 2. dressing funny; 3. baking muffins; and 4. voting a straight Republican ticket.

I couldn't resist needling her e-v-e-r so slightly with the information that my mother, who taught fourth grade in the public school system for thirty-six years, believes strongly that anyone can teach anything, given a good teacher's manual and a cup of flavored coffee.

So imagine my naughty glee when I heard on the local radio news break about fifteen minutes ago that the scores at both of our two high schools and all our middle and elementary schools here in my city have slipped well below the national average in the past three years. And this comes at a time, the announcer intoned in a doleful voice, when more kids from Indiana are graduating high school and going on to college than ever before.

I wish I were at the pool right now. Because if I were, and if I saw her there, I would so be rolling my eyes behind the protection of my sunglasses and smirking just a teeny bit.

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