No one’s going to DIY that for you, sweetheart

Published by Lori Pickert on February 6, 2015 at 01:15 PM

It’s called DIY for a reason.

Wired published a story Homeschooling Only Deepens Silicon Valley’s Rift with the Rest of Us and I responded with the following rant on Twitter:

 

I love kids and I love great educators and I want great schools for ALL kids. But anyone who thinks it’s easy — or even doable — for one family or even a group of families to waltz in and disrupt their local school is … incorrect.

If I had the power to walk into my local school and change how they are doing things to how *I* think things should be done … gosh, just think of it. I bet they’d welcome me with open arms. They’d get out the red pen and start changing their schedule right then and there to accommodate my ideas.

But of course it doesn’t work that way.

To say that homeschooling parents are terribly selfish for just leaving and doing what they think is best for their own kids (a song homeschooling parents have been hearing from the very beginning) is to overlook the fact that schooling parents are just as selfish every time they

- sign their kids up for an extracurricular activity,

- move to a better neighborhood,

- hire a tutor,

- buy an educational app or book or film,

- help their kids with their homework,

and on and on and on. Not EVERY child has those benefits. Should you do for your child what you aren’t willing to do for society?

Please do not assume that just because people homeschool, they don’t contribute to the public schools or to all kids. You have no idea whether they volunteer, tutor, help out a teacher friend, buy school supplies, or offer to do free trainings and workshops. You know nothing about what they’re doing for all kids.

What you do know is what YOU are doing. Are you advocating for change? Are you in there demanding whatever it is you want? Are you rallying other parents to the cause?

Or, how about this: Are you asking your local school what they need? Do you know the average teacher spends at least $500.00 every school year buying materials out of his or her own pocket? Do you know they don’t just buy art supplies but soap and paper towels?

Whatever it is you’re doing, start there. DIY it. Be a self-directed learner. Educate yourself. Then decide what you want to do with what you learned.

If you believe with all your heart that I have the power to change your child’s education, that means you have the power, too. Use it.

5 comments

Comment by maryz on February 6, 2015 at 03:33 PM

Lori, I have been reading your blog for a long time. It has always inspired me to be a better parent and educator. I have two girls and thought very hard about home schooling and a private school. For many reasons neither choice was right for our family and both of my children attend public school. This does not mean that my children are not encouraged to follow their own interests and work on their own projects. We limit extra-curricular activities so they have plenty of time for their own project work. It's not perfect, but it works for us and for them. I have never felt that it was an either or proposition (public school and child initiated learning) and my kids take some of what they do in school and apply it to their work at home and some of what they do at home and apply it to their work at school.
Would I like to see changes in the public school? Absolutely. That is why I attend school board meetings, volunteer at the school, meet with administrators etc. I speak to other parents and share information, I advocate and I educate. Your twitter comments echo my own experience. Schools and school districts are huge slow moving tanker ships being driven by a many self-appointed captains. It is a frustrating system to say the least.
Despite all of this, I was inspired by you, Lori, to first take a job in a public school and to return to earn a teaching certificate. It is a step that at times feels like hitting myself in the head, but I know that not every child has a parent that sets up a project space for them or encourages them to follow their own interests. I might not be able to change an entire school, school district or national education system, but I can change the experience of the children in one classroom.
I wanted to share this because I agree with you that we all have the power to affect change and we shouldn't abdicate that power to anyone else. I do know that nothing is going to change if we waste our energies pointing out what divides us instead of working together to advocate for what unites us. Maybe Wired will read a bit of Camp Creek and find a bit of inspiration.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 6, 2015 at 04:11 PM

thank you, mary! <3 <3 <3

the PBH umbrella (which is really a self-directed learning umbrella) shelters a LOT of parents of kids who attend school. 

you are a shining example of someone who puts their time and energy where their beliefs are. so much love to you.

Schools and school districts are huge slow moving tanker ships being driven by a many self-appointed captains. It is a frustrating system to say the least.

so true

Despite all of this, I was inspired by you, Lori, to first take a job in a public school and to return to earn a teaching certificate. It is a step that at times feels like hitting myself in the head, but I know that not every child has a parent that sets up a project space for them or encourages them to follow their own interests. I might not be able to change an entire school, school district or national education system, but I can change the experience of the children in one classroom.

;_; so moved!!! cannot thank you enough for your kind words; YOU inspire ME x a million.

you know you don’t just change the experience of the children in your classroom — you affect their entire families … their *extended* families … and their friends … and their community. the multiplier effect of an excellent teacher is truly staggering.

i don’t regret a single second of my time volunteering in schools, donating my time even after i opened my school, and not a moment of the time i spent in the classrooms of my own school — 55 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.

you are definitely buoyed by what you are able to do — every *single* child you are able to help — but it is a hard row to hoe when you are alone in a program and unsupported by administration, as many great teachers are. i hope you get a great school to work in, mary!

I agree with you that we all have the power to affect change and we shouldn't abdicate that power to anyone else. I do know that nothing is going to change if we waste our energies pointing out what divides us instead of working together to advocate for what unites us.

how frustrating it is from EVERY perspective to read a parent saying the things in this article. teachers are thinking, come and volunteer in my class. bring us materials we can build with. start an after-school club and RUN it; don’t ask me to run it because i’m already swamped. every principal is thinking, come to the school board meeting and support us when we want to make changes. vote for our budget to be raised. volunteer in the lunchroom so my staff has more planning time. and on and on and on.

this isn’t a problem of homeschoolers vs. schoolers; it’s a problem of people willing to work hard for what they believe and put their time and energy where their mouth is vs. people who want someone else to magically improve everything without their help.

thank you so much for your wonderful comment! xoxoxo

Comment by Wendy on February 7, 2015 at 10:19 AM

The truth is that often the public school doesn't want parental help. My kids started out in public school and I was that parent that said, "When can I be here, how can I help. Let me set up a program for your low readers, let me set up an art night, let me improve your selection in the library with my research, let me work with my hands with a child who needs a little one on one - and all for free. They were okay with a very limited amount of that in kindergarten, some in second grade, but by the time we hit the testing grades there was no getting into those classes to help in even a limited way. The only help they would accept at that point was popping popcorn and copying worksheets. They were too busy doing test prep. to have time for any one on one help for anyone who was struggling or for any 'disruption' of a parenting helping in the classroom. Sickening. When it didn't work out for me to help all the kids, and my kid ended up being the one who needed a challenge in his school work, instead of just another worksheet that was too easy, I offered to provide work on the same concept, but at his level. But even for my own child that wasn't an option with in their system. It's a lovely idea to think that parents are really in charge of their child's education within the public school, but I think it is a myth.

Comment by Cristina on February 12, 2015 at 02:33 PM

My random thoughts as I read the article:

The author seems to think that DIY educators should DIFM (Do-It-For-Me)

How is my family homeschooling causing a disruption? Because we make public school kids jealous? I haven't seen any teachers lose their jobs because of us. We didn't stop paying our property taxes so they are still getting our money.

Education isn't supposed to have winners and losers? Then why do we hold up students' test scores and grades to public scrutiny? Grades pit student against student, school against school, district against district in a futile "race to the top."

Mark Zuckerberg did not throw his talent or creativity at the Newark Public Schools, he only threw his money. Had he offered his creativity, he would have been dismissed as someone who does not hold degrees or experience in education. Schools have never tried creative solutions. If things aren't working, they do them more and they cry about not having enough money. Well guess what? I made my kids' education work on a shoestring budget, on one income, while paying my enormous school tax bill in an area where we are considered lower middle class. And I did it all while jumping through the hoops set up by our state, one of the highest regulated states for homeschooling. I have no sympathy for the system or its supporters who consider homeschoolers nothing more than upstart rabble-rousers that mess with the status quo.

Loved your responses, Lori!

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 16, 2015 at 06:45 PM

Education isn't supposed to have winners and losers? Then why do we hold up students' test scores and grades to public scrutiny? Grades pit student against student, school against school, district against district in a futile “race to the top.”

beautifully said!

and i agree with you so much about the budget — i ran a small independent school for several years with the highest qualified teachers and although my family had to make sacrifices to make it happen, we were able to educate dozens of other families’ children. when teachers from private and public programs would visit and say “we don’t have the budget for this,” i would laugh!

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