Wednesday, April 3, 2013


So, we home-school.

We did for a few years when the oldest two were young, and then put them in school. Now, we are doing so again because of a career change, but, you know, really enjoying it.

That's my main thought: why define your schooling type so exclusively? We do that almost out of the need to draw vain satisfaction from talking about it to others.

"I'm a home-schooler!" - pride.

"They home-school!" - derision.

I have met several people who have told me, "Ya, we were home-schooled for part and went to school for part." That always struck me as a sign of disorganization and meandering... or worse.

Now I can honestly say, why not?!

Why is one form so much better than the other such that the other would offer no benefit regardless of the factors at play? That's simple dogmatism. Having now been a father and an educator for over a decade, I would say that those factors at play determine which is better at any given point in time: home schooling or school schooling.

On the one hand, when we first home-schooled, our children were afraid of their own shadows. On the other, Anne-Marie got them reading like ten-year-olds by five.

Of course, I'll never forget Isaiah's first day of school: the teacher showed him a list of bad words he could not say at school. He had never heard of those words before. That was not a stellar beginning.

What I'm happiest about right now, is that I have a chance to spend more time with my kids, and help them with those areas I see that they were either falling behind in, or were not being taught. Some kids do well in the crazy classroom setting, others do not. The fact is, most kids can benefit from a combination of the two. People who deny this a priori probably have some non-rational reason for it.

Anyway, keep us in your prayers. It's not easy.


  1. It strikes me that we all homeschool. Don't we? The divide isn't as clear as we suppose it to be. Yes, my children attend school for the majority of the week but the schooling doesn't end when they come home. And this goes far beyond help with homework. We catechise them both formally and informally; they learn chores; they talk with us about subjects that, oh wow, lead to something being learned. I am enjoying the best of both worlds right now. However, that said, the kids are insanely jealous of the Kerr kids because they are homeschooled!

  2. Good point, Elena. The only difference lies in how much time you have at your disposal... I happen to have some time now, which makes a big difference. i don't think we could manage it otherwise. The Afelskie kids have to stay at school: it's how I know it's a good one.

  3. Speaking about education, and this being a Catholic site, I have to mention an experience my own family has had, which badly scorched us. We have several children, all with high-functioning Autism. They do not rock in the corner and vegetate, as the common misconception goes. They are not monsters. They have at least normal intelligence level. One has the Asperger Syndrome form, and excels academically - places highly in Math competitions and so on. They have been homeschooled for the most part, and also trained in classical music. Sacred classical music, even. They tour overseas with a classical choir. They have professional manners. My husband and I usually get comments on how well-behaved they are. The only issues that set them apart is that they are not sports-oriented, and they socialize far better one-to-one than in a group. They are kind, decent, Catholic children.

    Now here is the problem. We did not want to homeschool, particulary . We wanted a Christian school community for our children. We were willing to pay the full tuition, abide by the rules, and volunteer our hearts out. We would have been extremely dedicated to any school community we joined. We are very family-and-community-oriented. We are the kind of family that these schools ask for on their websites.

    We went about trying to enroll our children in first one Classical Christian school in our city -- and were turned down -- and then tried a second such school. One school was specifically Catholic. Being honest people, we said that our children had high-functiong Autism. Perhaps we should have lied. Then all Hell broke loose. One administrator gave us a false date for the school Open House, so we would not show up. They refused to answer phone messages and e-mails.

    At another, when we arrived for the appointment the school office had given us for an interview, we were yelled out of the place by a Principal with a Theology, who insisted that she had received a mysterious phone call cancelling our interview. A likely story. As we had not phoned, we supposed the interview would continue. It did not. This School Principal was an astonishingly nasty and unprofessional individual (God help the children in her care). She was not going to have any defective children in her pure school, that was for certain! She continued being so offensive, we took our children and left. We then phoned the local Bishop's Office and asked how he could allow this to happen. We received platitudes in return. I contacted the schools' board of directors. They never got back to me. Such Christ-like behavior....

    My husband and I were so astonished at the way both schools tried to bar us and get rid of us, we thought we had stepped into some totalitarian regime.

    So, Canadian Classical Christian/Catholic Schools seem to think it is fine to treat my family as if we were lepers. Apparently, high-functiong Autism makes a child unacceptable.

    My husband and I are re-thinking our longstanding and faithful Catholic heritage. There aren't many families around anymore as Catholic as us. How in God's name could two private Christian/Catholic Schools behave in such an abominable manner? We had such high hopes for joining a Classical Christian school community, but the sickening hypocrisy drove us away. I was ashamed for them.

    So, Catholics beat the pro-life drum, but some Catholic institutions really only want to deal with the perfect children, it seems. If any of them arrive with a defect of any sort, you better dump them in the public schools. Right? Saying that we were disgusted at what went on does not begin to describe it.

    So, Colin -- can you explain this?

  4. Actually, you know one of these schools personally, Colin. I hope you are not going to play the avoidance game on this topic. Turning a blind eye to sin is as bad as sinning yourself, wouldn't you say?

  5. I see. Is this more of that "turning a blind eye when it suits"?

  6. Well, Colin, seeing as you were once the Principal at one of the schools that treated us so badly (it was your predecessor who gave us the bum's rush when we arrived for our appointed interview), and I wote to you about this situation when you were in that role (you did nothing), I cannot help but think that you are hiding a skeleton in your closet here.

    Haven't my fellow Catholics learned yet, after the whole criminal-priest fiasco, that you don't treat other peple this way, and if you do, hiding behind a wall of silence is only going to make you more guilty?

    I always lose respect for people who go on and on about their own righteousness -- on a public blog, even -- but then refuse to acknowledge the obvious imperfections in their system. I think the people involved in this school issue believe that if they ignore my concerns long enough, they will go away.