I’m a teacher, but more importantly a parent. I very well understand what it takes to stand on both grounds, balancing my own beliefs on the No Child Left Behind law (NCLB) under those different roles.
Even before my kids Claire and James went to school – that was 2006 – I and my wife Cynthia had already discussed whether or not it’s best to have them homeschooled. Actually it was more like an argument than a discussion.
Being a professor, I was more than convinced that sending them to public school where they get to associate with a lot of people is better. I’ve seen it first-hand on how it benefits students, and I know Claire and James shouldn’t be deprived of the opportunity as well.
Cynthia apparently, had a completely different view on the matter.
She was worried about the school’s environment, about the curriculum public schools provide, about the growing dissatisfaction of the currently implemented NCLB.
She believed homeschool is better. And being a homeschooler herself, she’s convinced that managing our kids’ mode of learning is the best method to follow.
I understood her point, but she just failed to convince me effectively. And that’s how Claire and James ended up attending a public school.
Now the question is, ‘Did I make the right decision?’
I couldn’t say if it’s right or wrong but one thing I’m sure of is, I didn’t regret our decision. But now, I realized Cynthia’s concern; with the kids at school, we wouldn’t exactly know how they’re taught.
Are they adapting well with the other kids? Is their teacher proactive and sensitive to their needs? Are they performing well enough?
These are all questions left in the open. So when I found out that James had a difficult time during the NCLB’s annual testing, I asked myself; ‘Why?’ James’ a great kid. I personally help them at home and I know he’s a fast learner.
As my wife and I tried to evaluate what when wrong, we realized that indeed it has something to do with the learning environment. James wants things done in a ‘not-too-conventional’ way. He learns more when he’s given the freedom to experiment, to try things which are not usually available or allowed at school.
James felt contained. And NCLB’s annual standard testing wasn’t at all helping. I could still remember how Cynthia threw me that ‘I told you so’ look’ when James came home one day and said; ‘I don’t like school, dad.’
I felt so stupid.
So did we finally had them homeschooled?
No. Closer to that but no.
Cynthia and I however, made sure that our kids feel responsible and in control of their learning process. They’re still attending public school as of this writing. But to make things unique and fun for them both, I and my wife have been devising a sort of weekend lessons for them.
It’s far from traditional education where you feed them information they ought to know and remember. The style we adopted was more like the typical family bonding on weekends plus some strategic activities (indoor and outdoor) like visiting museums or attending recitals.
While I believe the present NCLB needs revisions to really fulfill its purpose in improving the overall standard of student education, I don’t think it’s enough of a reason for parents to totally remove their kids off of public or private school.
James says he likes it better on weekends, but at least now he’s also saying; ‘School isn’t that bad.’
So rather than antagonizing NCLB for what others consider as a limited scope of teaching, why not strike a sort of combination? If it doesn’t work, then you got to try something else. But if it does, believe me, it’s going to be real fun and rewarding.