Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The role of home teacher

Copied from a message board, where someone asked "how important is it to be like a teacher when homeschooling?"

I think it's important to recognize that institutional schooling represents a sort of contracting out of the academic education portion of the responsibility for raising a child, and that this is a relatively recent practice in the scope of human history. The idea of having separate roles for "teacher" and "parent" is a little artificial.

Imagine if you will that the government began providing universal free meals for children. Cafeterias would be set up in neighbourhoods and three times a day children would be delivered there to receive the meals cooked and served by trained nutritionists. These nutritionists attended special training in handling the cooking needs of large groups, and in managing the crowds of children, their table manners, their social behaviour during meals and so on. This quickly became the norm, with almost all children reporting to their nutritionists for their meals. If you as a parent decided to feed your children at home that would be allowed but considered a little unusual.

So if you decided to feed your kids at home, you would not say "It's important to be clear about my dual roles -- at certain times I'm their mom, and at certain times I need to act like their nutritionist. I need to learn how nutritionists act in order to successfully feed my kids at home."

A little silly, don't you think?

I see the distinction between "being a mom" and "being a homeschool teacher" in a similar light. They're not separate roles. We tend to see them as separate because culturally we have made an artificial separation, assigning the roles to different people. If they're not going to different people, they don't need to be different.


  1. Excellent point. I think this hit home to me in full force back when I read your post about parents contracting out their kids' bicycle-riding instruction. So silly! As an educated adult who knows my children extremely well, I am having no difficulty with the idea that just as I taught them to hold a fork, I can also teach them to enjoy a book with me or to play with numbers (in some places known as Math) or to observe the natural world or to care for a younger sibling or how to swim. Amazing... but not really. :)

  2. This is a great analogy! May I post a link to this post on my facebook page? I have a number of homeschooling friends that would enjoy it and I'm sure several who school more traditionally that would as well!

  3. Certainly, Meesh, I'm flattered.

  4. ITA. Teachers have to act like teachers because they must manage large groups. This is one of the big failures of public education and one of the big reasons we decided to homeschool. Unschooling philosophy aside, why would I waste my kids' time by farming them out to a public school for 6+ hours a day when we can accomplish the same amount of work in less than 2 hours?

  5. Deborah Swart5:41 pm


  6. I'd also like to quote this on my blog. with all due credit, of course! Would that be okay?

  7. Quote away, thanks for asking!


  8. I've always said that for me there was no dividing line between parenting and homeschooling my kids.

  9. This was our BIGGEST obstacle in home education. My son having attended kindergarten and 1st grade at our local public school, he could not see me in any role other than mom. I could not know possible know how to compute or do experiments or write papers--I was a MOM. Didn't even matter that I used to be a teacher in a real brick and mortar school--I was a mom and moms could not teach LOL


This blog is moving to archive-only status. Please consider posting comments instead at the active version of the blog at

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.