Please allow me to “go off” for just a few moments.
I’ll try not to be mean or sarcastic, but this really bothers me.
Let me back up: the other day, we received a PSA (Public Service Announcement) to run on the church’s radio station. As soon as it was dropped off at the office, I took it back to the radio room to record it. You see, we require that all PSAs be submitted in writing: that way we can just go read them into the computer, and as long as we clock in at 30 seconds everything’s great. Occasionally I may have to cut a PSA a little bit or slow down the pace of my words to fill the 30 seconds, but in general I’ve gotten the hang of things so that I can record a 30 second spot with no trouble.
All right. So I went into the radio room with this PSA which was from a local Christian Homeschooling Group. I turned on the computer and started to record the spot. I got halfway through the first sentence when I said, into the microphone, “I can’t read the rest of this! This is atrocious!” (Don’t worry, I wasn’t on the air: I was just recording the spot into the computer.) I got out the old red pen (I always have a red pen) and went to work on the spot. I had to rewrite the entire thing. I spent twenty minutes making this 30 second spot intelligible.
I left the original copy at the office, on purpose, because I knew I would take it apart sentence by sentence if I had it in front of me. A short summary will have to suffice:
Lack of subject-verb agreement
Improper verb tenses
Pronouns with no antecedents
Parallel structure that wasn’t parallel
Vagueness (I know you’re wondering how one paragraph can be both redundant and vague, but they managed to pull it off.)
I showed the copy to the secretary. Her response was, “And these people are teaching their own children?” Exactly.
Folks, putting “Christian” at the front of a title (as in a “Christian Homeschooling Group”) doesn’t mean what follows can be crappy. A Christian education should not be a substandard education. Christian music shouldn’t be sucky music. Christian art shouldn’t be schlock or kitsch.
I get the impression that some people in this group (and I have attended meetings of this group, so don’t think I’m entirely on the outside looking in) think that what makes a math curriculum a good one is if there’s a Bible verse next to every problem. Teaching your children the alphabet by saying, “A — All have sinned” does not make your children’s education better than a child who is in a public school, nor does it necessarily make his education more “Christian”: it only makes it more smarmy and pietistic. Christian education is excellent education, because all truth is God’s truth. God created our children’s minds: allowing those minds to atrophy by not feeding them is just as un-Christian as letting your children starve by not feeding their bodies.
There’s a T-shirt with a picture of a trailer on it. On top of the trailer is a TV roof antenna. The T-shirt says “Homskoold”. That PSA that was delivered to our station the other day is an example of why that stereotype exists. What’s really sad is, there are lots of really, really great homeschooling parents. Their children are excelling. The parents are excelling, because they are learning new things every day as they prepare to teach their children. The “A — All have sinned” people are giving the rest of the homeschooling families a bad name. And since they insist on tarring this brand of education with the epithet “Christian”, they are giving Christians a bad name too.
So, am I saying that only a Ph.D. is qualified to homeschool his/her children? Not at all. But before you teach, learn. If you don’t know whether it’s “should have went” or “should have gone”, learn. Look it up. If you don’t know whether to say “It is I” or “It is me”, or if you can’t remember if it’s “For you and I” or “For you and me”, find out. Before you teach your children, find out.
What’s really sad and scary is, I don’t think a lot of these parents care to get it right. A good education for their children is not their goal. Keeping them out of “the evil public schools” is the goal.
Yes, yes, I know there are substandard teachers out there too. I had some of them. I had a history teacher in the eleventh grade who taught us about World War Eleven and James Oggulleethrop (Oglethorpe) and the Battle of Lexington and Corncod. She also taught us about those famous tribes of the ancient Americas: the Inkers, the Mayors, and the Ack-tez. She counted off on a test one time when she had asked us to name all the oceans and she put five blanks on the test. Naturally, I left one blank. She said I’d missed the Antarctic Ocean. I didn’t argue.
She had tenure. Fortunately, by the eleventh grade most of us were good enough readers to decipher what she was trying to teach us. And we had parents who could set us straight at home. But what happens when the parent is the only voice of authority in the child’s life?
There are people who want children to have a superior education. These people are concerned with getting it right. We call these people teachers. Some of these teachers are teachers by profession. Others are parents who have trained themselves to be teachers to develop their children’s minds to their fullest potential.
Those who are not concerned with getting it right should delegate this job to someone who is.