Teaching: the Noble Profession

Teaching, especially in the public school system, has become a thankless task.  That noblest of prefessions has been reduced, in all too many instances, to the role of being a mouthpiece for the National Education Association, a group that itself no doubt had noble beginnings, but which is now little more than an advocacy group for hard-left socialist policy.  I have a Masters in Linguistics, which provides me with enough of a skillset to easily teach high school English, but I am not qualified for the job because I haven't taken over 18 units of coursework that is required by the Educrats who make the rules here in Texas.  Just as well, I suppose.  I don't think I'd have the temperment for the job.  I would not hesitate to give failing students Fs, nor would I shirk from calling awful prose what it is.  Big no-nos in today's Can't We All Just Get Along (as long as you do what I want) society.  Warm and fuzzy isn't part of my character makeup.  The irony is that, with my lowly Masters, I am qualified to teach a variety of Humanities courses at the community college level.  No Educrat indoctrination required.  I would have applied for a position long before now, but those that are available are part time and come with no benefits.  And I can't afford to part with the health plans I have right now. 

I do have some past experience, however.  For over ten years, I taught guitar.  Mostly private lessons, but I also taught guitar in a classroom setting at a local community college for a while.  I have taught English as a Second Language (ESL), which I actually enjoyed a lot, and for five years I homeschooled my daughter (3rd through 8th grade).  That was also a very rewarding experience. 

You know, I don't have a lot of good things to say about the education establishment in this country, and for good reason.  But I also don't have a lot of good things to say about many of the homeschooling parents, all of which were mothers, that I've met.  At the few homeschoolers get-togethers my daughter and I attended, I was the only adult male there.  The feeling that I was the lone fox in the chicken coop was palpable.  A bunch of clucking hens, congratulating each other on the fine jobs they were doing homeschooling their children.  Some of these women spent more time hanging out online chatting with each other in various forums, congratulating themselves on the wonderful jobs they were doing than actually doing their jobs.  A couple of women who were regulars at these get-togethers had boys who were from ten to twelve years of age, whom they hadn't even bothered to teach to read yet.  And if they couldn't be bothered with teaching them to read (it might take them away from their precious forums where they spend all day congratulating each other about the wonderful jobs they're doing, and planning "educational outings" for their kids), do I need to even ask how far they had gotten with teaching them any math? 

Homeschooling wasn't easy.  It required a lot of effort on my part, and I insisted on equivalent effort from my daughter.  The advantage was that it didn't require nearly the amount of time traditional schooling does.  My daughter and I almost never spent more than two hours a day reviewing her homework (yes, homework!) and covering new material for her next assignment.  She probably spent another couple of hours -- maybe -- on homework per day.  This attitude of mine -- where work is actually involved -- which I'm sure the enlightened homeschool parents I knew thought was positively cro-magnon if not cruel, paid off for my daughter.  Big time.  You see, we have the good fortune to be living in the district of one of the best high schools in Houston.  Probably the best.  I decided I wasn't going to waste this resource, plus I knew my limitations and I realized that social interaction (which she wasn't getting much of) was important.  So, I put her back in school for her freshman year of highschool.  It was at that point that we both realized how well homeschooling worked out for her.  During my stint as her sole instructor, we hit math and science subjects hard, and were dilligent with English grammar and composition.  As a result of this focus, she coasted through her first two years of highschool math and science -- it was all review for her -- and English has been an almost effortless subject for her all through highschool.  So things worked out well.  Better than I had hoped.

So, take it from me -- if you're thinking about homeschooling your kid(s), be prepared to spend a few hours every day on the process.  Any more is probably overkill, but any less is short-changing your child's future.  Also, ask yourself the tough question: do you know enough about the subjects you'll be having to teach?  When your kids are in elementary school, this is rarely an issue.  But by the time they hit middle school, it can become one.  Lots of kids nowadays are taking algebra and sometimes even geometry prior to 9th grade.  They're usually getting most of the education in English grammar in 7th and 8th grade.  I didn't push my daughter any harder than she was able to assimilate the material.  If she got it, we kept moving along.  And if your kid is like mine, that is, bright (smarter than me, I'll wager), then you have to have the reserve capacity at your disposal to make sure you can stay ahead and on top of things.  If you've forgotten a lot, or never really did that well in school in the first place, then you're faced with two choices if you are dedicated to your kid's secure future: either you review or reacquire the necessary knowledge and skills you'll need as your child's educator, or you should let the professionals handle it.  Just the way it is.

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