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Doing school at home ≠ homeschooling

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Posted on: 23 Nov 2020
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"Would I homeschool my children? Hell, no! I love them too much."

I spent many years teaching. I taught Hebrew at a cheder and Jewish history at a school. But more than anything I taught maths – as an extra maths tutor (5 years) and a school maths teacher (2 years). My students regarded me as a good teacher. I believed I was a good teacher. I loved teaching maths.

Would I homeschool my children? Hell, no! I love them too much.

When I was growing up (which was very long ago, although not quite as long ago as my kids sometimes think), homeschooling was the purview of hippies and religious fanatics – at least that was the impression I had. Very few people knew a kid that was homeschooled in South Africa, which may have had something to do with the fact that it was illegal here until 1996. In my youth, every now and then on a school outing to the museum in Queen Victoria Street – why were all outings back then to the same museum? – we would come across a kid in plain clothes with a parent in flowing robes. We would nod knowingly, and laugh with our friends about the poor kid who had to spend all day every day with their parent

Today, homeschooling is quite fashionable and, dare I say it, rather mainstream. Home school associations abound, there are a plethora of curriculums to choose from, and a variety of models from one parent-one child to smaller cottage schools. In the aftermath of the pandemic, these figures have no doubt soared and will continue to do so, with many parents considering their options for 2021. 

When we made the decision to enrol Sam in Valenture Institute earlier this year, before the pandemic and before the term ‘online schooling’ became a catchphrase, people mistakenly thought we had taken the decision to homeschool him. We explained again and again the difference between homeschooling and schooling that happened to take place at home. I made it very clear that I was not taking on the responsibility of educating my son and that he was very much part of a classroom in a school with teachers and classmates. 

Although lockdown brought the words ‘online schooling’ firmly to the fore, it did very little to explain the true nature of remote learning. During the pandemic, brick-and-mortar schools were forced to teach their content via online platforms like Zoom and Google Meet. In other words, lessons took place online instead of face-to-face. 

Online schooling, on the other hand, involves purposely designing curriculums, classrooms, assessments, and teaching methodologies to take place remotely. Its very essence is online and it uses all the tools necessary to deliver quality education via an online platform. 

Would I homeschool my children? Not a chance. Because it is always different when it is your own children, no matter how good a teacher you are. I wouldn’t risk my children’s future on my ability to stay focused, up-to-date, and... patient.

Would I enrol my children in a purpose-built online high school? Hell yes!  

Written by Caryn Gootkin

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