Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » CO-OPTING THE HOME-EDUCATING SOUL?
  • CO-OPTING THE HOME-EDUCATING SOUL?

    Filed at 12:16 am under by dcobranchi

    The more I think about it, the more I hate co-ops:

    Josh, 10, and Zach, 8, have always been homeschooled, a style of education sometimes misconstrued as socially inept or curriculum-intense.

    Their mother, Carrie, and other parents of homeschooled children are turning to co-operatives, or co-ops, to change those misconceptions.

    “(My sons) are not huddled at home with the door shut,” Carrie Matthews said. “This provides a varied way of teaching to expose them to just more than studying at home.”

    See what I mean? By giving the school contagion an entry vector, co-ops are making even home educators denigrate home education. There’s more:

    “There are subjects, even as a certified teacher, that you’re not comfortable teaching…like chemistry or algebra II. But other parents have a passion for it,” said Kathy Anderson, who founded Master’s Hand Homeschooling Enrichment Program in Longmont seven years ago as a way for homeschooled students to learn in a classroom setting.

    As Barbie once said, math class is tough — but is forcing school on your kids, even for just a few hours a week, really the only answer?

    The Longmont campus this year is serving 60 students in 13 classes, Anderson said.

    Crikey, they have campuses!

    A licensed educator, Anderson began this co-op as a way for parents to pool their expertise and teach each other’s children.

    “It enables you to have control over your child’s education,” Anderson said.

    I hear freedom=slavery, too.

    Said Carrie Matthews: “Personally, I don’t know how I would homeschool without it.”

    Co-ops — homeschooling heroin.

    (And yeah, before anyone asks, I have plenty of personal experience with co-ops. Why do you think I’m so cranky?)

    14 Responses to “CO-OPTING THE HOME-EDUCATING SOUL?”


    Comment by
    Beverly Hernandez
    August 31st, 2005
    at 1:39 am

    Hi Tim,

    I’m not crazy about co-ops either. I didn’t mind the short Friday classes for science or cooking or other fun things when my kids were younger, but as they were older, I just hated them. We were part of the STAR program for a while at Biola University, but in my opinion, it wasn’t homeschooling and it left little time to get to what I wanted to do with them. Sure they only met 2 days a week, but they gave assignments for 5 days a week, and being there 2 days, hmmm…. it never quite worked out. We didn’t stay in the program long. They might as well have been in school.

    Beverly


    Comment by
    Lillian
    August 31st, 2005
    at 7:02 am

    Great points, Tim. Now you just have to persuade your older son.


    Comment by
    Alex Haas
    August 31st, 2005
    at 7:16 am

    I have told you more times than I can count that we don’t have to do it. I just want the high school English credit from the Shakespeare class.


    Comment by
    Lillian
    August 31st, 2005
    at 7:22 am

    Number 1: You certainly don’t need to go to co-op to get a high school English “credit” — somehow we’ll muddle through the rest of your transcript for St. John’s.

    Number 2: Of course we don’t “have” to do it. You’re not holding a gun to my head. But you told me — seriously, for once in your life — that it was important to you, and that you really wanted to go. So I let you. It’s kind of like CAP. Just call me SuperMom.


    Comment by
    Rikki
    August 31st, 2005
    at 9:16 am

    I recently joined an unschooling co-op. It’s nothing like what’s described in your article. Key things are different, we work more on theme days. No child is required to participate in any activity if they don’t feel like it and there darn sure isn’t any ‘homework’ being given out.


    Comment by
    Tim Haas
    August 31st, 2005
    at 9:32 am

    I hope it stays good for you, Rikki. All I can say is beware — what you describe is much how ours started three years ago. Something about putting an adult in charge of kids in a room seems to bring out the inner schoolmarm in everyone.


    Comment by
    Lillian
    August 31st, 2005
    at 1:08 pm

    Oh, Tim — it was only two years ago. See how fast things can devolve?


    Comment by
    Marjorie
    August 31st, 2005
    at 4:04 pm

    I hear you — I signed my DD, 5, up for a co-op this fall and changed my mind. What was I thinking? We’re skipping school because I don’t think its the best way, I’m a firm believer in unschooling. And yet, I had this compulsion to give my child a taste of school. Glad I woke up before the co-op actually started so I could make an easy exit.
    I’m in the same bind over Sunday School. She likes it and it gives her a taste of school that I feel guilty for depriving her. However, it dumbs down the content, which really should be interesting stuff. I’d rather not have her learn watered down stories as a child if she’s going to dismiss religion as pointless and stupid because of it.


    Comment by
    sharon
    September 1st, 2005
    at 9:08 am

    A new “co-op” (actually more a part-time private school, as the teachers aren’t parents) has begun in our city. It’s a sort of spin-off of an existing Catholic private school movement known for its academic excellence, and it’s been flooded with applicants. A large chunk of our Catholic homeschooling group is signing up.

    But it’s not clear to me that these are homeschoolers being sucked unawares into a school situation. These seem to be families who would have had their kids in a parochial or diocesan school in the first place if they could have afforded it. Now there’s an excellent one available with unbelievably low tuition. Why begrudge them the chance to make use of it?


    Comment by
    Tim Haas
    September 1st, 2005
    at 9:28 am

    Why begrudge them the chance to make use of it?

    Bitter experience.

    No, I’m kidding, and — though I think what you’re describing really is a part-time school, no matter what they’re calling it — I don’t begrudge anybody the chance to choose something that works for their kids, but I do hope they know exactly what it is they’re choosing.

    See, in all of this I’m talking more about school as a mindset as opposed to a physical place. Take a group of people who have severally rejected the factory model of education, put them together in one building for a certain amount of time on a certain day each week for “enrichment”, and a school emerges unbidden (and by that I mean increasing numbers of rules, and homework, and schoolish instruction methods, and an obsession with process as opposed to true learning). It’s really a measure of how deep schooling burrows into our psyches that, no matter what our intentions going in, it seems almost impossible to escape.


    Comment by
    sharon
    September 1st, 2005
    at 10:32 am

    OK, I buy that, and I agree with that. I think we’re looking at a distinction between “homeschoolers” and “families who homeschool,” where the latter are people who wanted or needed a particular kind of education, and homeschool only because what they wanted was unavailable, untenable, or unaffordable. While Catholic hs’ers seem especially to fall into the latter category, I know several families who homeschool because they feel they have no choice, but would happily take a private- or even public-school option that met their needs.

    I agree it’s about the mindset. And if a family is hs’ing not because they have the hs’ing mindset, but because their genuine preference is unavailable, I’m happy to see them get what they actually want.


    Comment by
    Sherry
    September 1st, 2005
    at 11:48 pm

    You don’t like co-ops, so don’t join one. What’s the big deal?


    Comment by
    Tim Haas
    September 2nd, 2005
    at 8:42 am

    I guess the big deal is, with co-ops proliferating and gaining more media attention, we as a movement seem to be slowly re-creating a system we’ve generally rejected. I find it interesting, and a bit worrisome.


    Comment by
    Kim
    September 6th, 2005
    at 4:42 am

    Disclaimer: We’re not in a co-op and haven’t remained in our local one mainly because I feel like it is weird to “farm out” your kids to various places for an education. We tried a science class and it was truly nice. No pressure, no rules (except don’t talk so loud others can’t hear what is going on) and no homework. It was hands on and review was all games. But, it was expensive and my kid only wanted to go for the 3 hour playdate that happened afterward. So, we just show up after now to play and do science at home.
    Devil’s advocate moments below;
    That said, I think you are assuming that most homeschoolers reject g-school models for the same exact reasons. Not everyone feels that home education needs to be child-led. Some people oppose g-school because of the class size, the poor results,the negative impact on kids’ humanity when forced to conform on a daily basis,and the inability of the teacher to tailor material to each child. As we all know the list goes on.Yet those realizations don’t necessarily lead one to the conclusion of unschooling even if it makes one opposed to the school model. So, maybe coops aren’t so bad for those who don’t unschool but who still support the movement. Maybe they don’t necessarily recreate the system but provide an alternative for those who wish to remain out of the sytem but who want pool resources. I think it would be wise for those involved in co-ops to be aware of the pitfalls of following a schoollike model too closely though.