“It takes a village…” That phrase is the founding principle on which public, and private education systems are built. The assumption is that a group of people with varying experiences and expertise can educate a child better than a single person with a single perspective and limited expertise.
In the annals of educational lore one reads about how apprenticeships taught for understanding, churches taught morality and social skills, and home life taught basic customs and courtesies. Before mass urbanization, a village really did do most of the educating in most societies on the planet. In truth, formal education did not really exist as we know it today until pretty recently. As professions increased in complexity, and societies became more secular, school systems began to develop to act as a microcosm of what village life would have provided to a child; an education.
In America, public schools began to take shape almost immediately upon settlement by Europeans. The first public school was opened in Boston in 1635, with statutes requiring all towns of 50 or more residents being passed enacted as early as 1647 in Boston. In 1790, the State of Pennsylvania Constitution makes public education available free of charge to indigent children essentially positioning education as one of the first public welfare programs in the young history of the United States. The battle for one’s right to attain an education rages still today. Chief among the areas of contention where public schools are concerned is whether or not a parent should have the right to educate his or her child independently and without the aid or influence of a state board of education.
Detractors of homeschooling routinely argue that a village is best, and given modern society’s level of complexity, public schools provide the best village experience, both in quality and breadth of social and educational experiences. The logic here seems sound and is grounded in the simple question: What parent could possibly provide a child with more resources and experiences than public school systems? The answer is quite honestly, none. No single parent, wealthy or not, can build a system at home with art classes, sports teams, history, language arts, science, math, and career exploration opportunities that match public education in rigor or depth of knowledge.
Homeschool champions will rebuke the claim of depth of knowledge. And they are not entirely wrong. Many public school systems are so broad that what seems like an ocean of knowledge waiting to be explored from the outside is more often akin to a puddle of poorly explained concepts waiting to be tested ad nauseam. Homeschoolers will tell you that a village is what they provide their child; a small, intimate educational atmosphere where a child can truly explore the depths of a few subjects rather than skim the surface of academia at large.
Alas, we don’t know what we don’t know. The vast majority of home-schooled students will eventually enter the formal public education system at some point in their lives. It has been my experience as a classroom teacher that more often than not, these students are far behind their peers despite their parents’ best efforts and intentions. Make no mistake, my home-schooled students are by no measure capable of less, they simply lack the knowledge base required by the state to be deemed proficient in subject areas I teach. That said, my home-schooled transition students are typically far more emotionally intelligent, and socially aware than their public school counterparts. They also tend to gain new knowledge very quickly and are “caught up” in no time.
The question then becomes, why are home-schooled kids behind to begin with? The answer is the same reason a public school student with an ill-equipped or underfunded social studies program will be behind his or her peers in history class following a year of poor instruction; lack of educator understanding of state requirements.
In Texas, we have Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS. The Texas standards are notoriously difficult to break into consumable chunks of information. I’ve met several teachers, I’ve even been one, who struggle to craft a lesson that will go beyond memorization of facts and produce lasting understanding and transfer of knowledge to scenarios later in life. The lack of alignment with state standards is so overwhelming in public school systems that it’s difficult to articulate here. If professional educators can barely make sense of the standards, what chance do homeschoolers trying to teach every content area have? The answer: slim to none.
Like it or not, given the tradition of government involvement in education, the economy of education in the United States is a mixed one. You can choose to teach what you want to teach, but your child will not be deemed ready for college, or employment by the state unless he or she demonstrates knowledge of facts deemed essential by the government.
To help you achieve this basic standard, and provide the depth of knowledge you want to provide to your child in all aspects of his or her education, The Meurig Group has gathered educators from both the public and homeschool arenas to build core content area curriculum that is carefully aligned with state standards. Our goal is to help you harness the power of public education and marry it to the intimacy of a homeschool setting.
It does take a village. Our purpose is to build a better, more efficient village.