Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Homeschool Hysteria

Two nights ago when I was out with my wife, I said to her, "When I taught university and my colleagues learned that we homeschooled our kids, their response was, 'Oh, that's cool.' But now that I'm a high school teacher, when my colleagues learn that we homeschool our kids, they say, 'You're severely unqualified to do that and your children must not be learning anything.'"

Of course, that's a paraphrasing, but their line of questioning belies such a thought process. Despite the fact that I'm a professional teacher and that my wife is even more of one than I am, my colleagues just can't get around their love of credentialism.

I had a post a few months ago about a conversation with a colleague where she expressed feeling unqualified to teach 6th graders because her credential is for teaching grades seven and above. In a more-recent conversation, she has told me that she is going to pay her own money to get some sort of "level one" training, even though she already has the next two levels of training, because she feels her resume looks suspicious without it. She can't get our school to agree to pay for it because she already has the next two levels of training.

Economist Bryan Caplan has begun homeschooling his junior-high-aged sons, and he had a blog post recently about the hysterical questions he gets from regular people compared to the relaxed question he gets from his colleagues. It reminded me of the reactions I get at work. I think the hysterical reaction comes primarily from the quasi-educated. Like the graph you sometimes see of the uncanny valley, there's a gulf of ignorance through which everyone must pass as they become educated. In this gulf you know enough to know there are experts and to understand the desirability of relying on expert knowledge, but you are too ignorant to judge expert knowledge on its merits, so you look for markers of merit, and thus you come to rely exclusively on credentials. You've been educated just enough to be a complete idiot.

There's a lot of room for discussion about just how intentional it is that nearly all Americans these days are educated just enough to leave them in the deepest depths of this uncanny valley. For now, my purpose is merely to point out that it is from this group of quasi-educated that our educators come. As Arnold Kling would say, have a nice day.


Nancy said...


The Man Your Husband Is Worried About said...

Comments that are just links don't get published (unless you're HAWT).

Nancy said...