When schools reopen in the US amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they will be even more restrictive than they already were. Schools have long controlled students’ movements and imposed constraints on where they can go, when, and with whom. With virus concerns, those controls will increase in quantity and intensity.
Some families may be curious about K-12 education models that favor personalization, small group learning environments, high-quality virtual programming and other innovative alternatives.
Harvard University publications continue to present a skewed perspective of homeschooling, spotlighting Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet’s call for a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling while failing to provide an accurate picture of American homeschooling.
The dominant narrative that billionaires are greedy and big companies like Amazon are monopolistic, exploitative tyrants is not only misguided but deeply troubling for the future of prosperity and human progress.
As a Harvard alum, longtime donor, education researcher, and homeschooling mother of four children in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I was shocked to read the article, “The Risks of Homeschooling,” by Erin O’Donnell in Harvard Magazine’s new May-June 2020 issue. Aside from its biting, one-sided portrayal of homeschooling families that mischaracterizes the vast majority of today’s homeschoolers, it is filled with misinformation and incorrect data. Here are five key points that challenge the article’s primary claim that the alleged “risks for children—and society—in homeschooling” necessitate a “presumptive ban on the practice”.
More than one billion students around the world are currently missing school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several US states have already canceled school for the remainder of the academic year, turning to online learning when possible, and other states are likely to extend their school closures soon. Some educationists panic about learning loss while children are at home with their families, and headlines abound about how “homeschooling during the coronavirus will set back a generation of children.”
At both of the grocery stores within walking distance of my house, there hasn’t been any toilet paper for days. My kids are asking why this is, and maybe yours are too. Sheltering kids from reality doesn’t do them any favors in the long run. It is both empowering and comforting to instead seize the teachable moment and replace confusion with understanding: in this case economic understanding. And you can only do that if you first acquire that understanding for yourself.
College students around the world left campus this month, unsure when they would return and what daily life would look like until then. Forced to leave their friends and classmates behind and return to their childhood bedrooms, young people, who on average are less impacted by COVID-19’s dire health effects, may understandably feel angry and resentful. Free and independent, with their futures full of possibility, these students are now home and isolated. It can seem wholly unfair and depressing. But the story of another college student in a similar predicament might provide some hope and inspiration.
As a homeschooling mother of four, and author of Unschooled, I realize that this time at home can feel overwhelming and is far from a typical homeschooling experience. There are some steps parents can take to make this time at home with their children more tolerable and rewarding for everyone.
We have collectively become so programmed to believe that education and schooling are synonymous that we can’t imagine learning without schooling and become frazzled and fearful when schools are shuttered. If nothing else, perhaps this worldwide health scare will remind us that schooling isn’t inevitable and education does not need to be confined to a conventional classroom.