by Rick Boyer
Although the home education movement has now had nearly three decades to demonstrate that parents are a child’s best teachers, there are still plenty of uninformed people around who cling to the old notion that only “professionals” can educate children. From time to time, you may be challenged on this point. So, in case you’re
- A new homeschooler who lacks the confidence of experience, or
- A homeschool mom who has just had a lousy day, or
- Blessed with a friend, relative, or in-law who is one of those uninformed people and therefore questions your sanity.
I offer the following simple remarks.
Don’t think that because you haven’t been to college for a teaching degree home education won’t work for you. So much of what is taught to students in teachers’ colleges is based on the falsehoods of psychology, sociology, and statism. After all what is so difficult about teaching? Most of what we learn in life we learn from people who aren’t paid teachers. Oh your daughter could learn to cook and keep house, and take care of babies in a home economics class at school, but she’ll learn more and better by helping to rear younger brothers and sisters at home. A classroom teacher can school her into that knowledge but it will work better if she’s discipled into it by her parents—and older siblings, if she has some of those.
What about the so-called “academic” subjects such as history, science, and math? Well, you either know something about those subjects or you don’t. If you don’t, you can learn them along with your child by working through good books, experimenting, and seeking out expert mentors where needed. If you already have such knowledge, why can’t you teach it to your children? Does it really make any sense to believe that a teaching certificate denotes superior wisdom?
If we stop and think about it, we realize that most of what we learn all through life comes through other channels than certified teachers. Look at business, for instance. Anybody who’s been in the workforce any time at all has acquired a tremendous amount of his job knowledge from bosses and co-workers, few if any are certified teachers.
Yet despite the fact that teaching is done every day by uncertified people, the mills of industry and commerce grind on, mostly uninterrupted by major glitches—except for those caused by the reading deficiencies of employees who graduated from public school. If you look through the yellow pages for a ceramics class or karate lessons, you want to know about the instructor’s knowledge of his subject, not whether he has been college trained and certified to teach.
But do I know enough about the subjects? Aren’t schoolteachers the top experts in their fields? Not usually. How many people who taught you math in high school had ever been professional mathematicians or accountants? How many science teachers had ever made their living as scientists? How many history teachers have ever published a book or a paper in a scholarly history journal? Get a grip, friend. The advantages of the family relationship and the ready availability of information today far outweigh the limitations you have.
So if you’re a new homeschooler, or if you’ve just had a lousy day, or if you have an in-law or outlaw who thinks you’re crazy, take heart. If you as a parent can’t handle the training of your own children, then God has been giving children to the wrong people for a long, long time.
(c. 1996. Adapted from Chapter One of the book Home Educating With Confidence by Rick and Marilyn Boyer. Used by permission.)
Rick and Marilyn are the parents of fourteen children, all taught at home from kindergarten through high school. They have challenged and encouraged thousands of parents and young people at conferences throughout the country and in several foreign nations. When Rick and Marilyn Boyer started home educating the eldest of their four children in 1980, they didn't know what they were getting into. Nearly three decades and ten additional children later, they know exactly what they got into--and they love it! www.thelearningparent.com
Rick Boyer will be speaking at an AHEAD conference in Ohio, June 21-23
Other AHEAD conferences in June: