For Professors' Children, the Case for Home Schooling

They enjoy learning. For nearly all professors, the chance to review and expand their own youthful education in a variety of fields is a treat that almost transcends the educational needs of their children. Mathematicians, for example, relish the chance to reread the literature they half-missed when they were mastering geometry, and English professors, like me, enjoy the chance to relearn the astronomy they once loved before calculus crushed their hopes for a scientific career. They often see themselves as learning with their children rather than simply teaching them.

They are confident in their ability to teach. Professors often see teaching their own children as part of a continuum of pleasurable obligations to the next generation; they seek to integrate the values of their profession with the values they live at home. Since professors often teach the teachers, they tend to believe — perhaps with some hubris — in their ability to teach effectively at all grade levels. But more often, they recognize their limitations and seek collaboration with other parents — often professors themselves — with different areas of expertise. —W. A. PannapackerFor Professors’ Children, the Case for Home Schooling (Chronicle)

Pannapacker’s list doesn’t don’t completely overlap with the reasons my wife and I homeschool, but I enjoyed reading it.

Of particular interest to me is the one about how much time is lost shuffling students around during a typical day in what my son calls “the school building”:

Without all the crowd control and level seeking, the formal requirements of education can be completed in only a few hours a day, leaving lots of time for self-directed learning and play. As a result, home-schooled children generally learn faster and with less boredom and less justified resentment.

I’m always extremely nervous about wasting time passing out papers or doing other housekeeping during class. Maybe too nervous.

I was surprised to see how prominently Pannapacker mentions bullying. Junior high was difficult for me. I remember horrible Machiavellian power struggles on the bus, where I spent an hour and a half each day, ducking spitballs. Desegregation meant that I was bussed past two junior high schools in more affluent suburbs, to a third school in a less affluent area. I remember a gang of tough girls tried to get me to hit one of them, presumably so they could tell their boyfriends to “protect them” by beating me up.

I remember my first week in Catholic high school, when it felt like I was floating down halls full of kids in crisp button shirts. Once a jock with four or five of his buddies dared me to step outside, but I had just dumped a carton of chocolate milk over his head, so I can understand why he was mad at me. I ended up getting out of the fight by confusing him.

Him: Why’d you throw chocolate milk at me?

Me: I wasn’t aiming my chocolate milk at you, I was aiming at this total jerk who’s been throwing food at me for three days in a row. He’s really stupid and cowardly, since he only picks on me when he’s with a group of his friends. You should go pick a fight with him — he’d probably be a lot more challenging to pick on than a wiry, pasty-skinned loner who’d really rather prefer to study for his Latin test. But thanks for the suggestion that I’m a severe threat to your social status, such that you are forced to retaliate with violence.

Him: Why’d you throw chocolate milk at me?

Me: Were there some words in there that you couldn’t understand?

Lunchroom Crowd: Ha ha!

Him (blinking): Why’d you throw chocolate milk at me?

(I got that survival tactic from “I, Mudd,” a classic Star Trek episode in which Captain Kirk confused a planet full of androids by flooding them with illogic.)