When Kevin Sorbo and Sam Jenkins first met on the set of the TV program Hercules 20 years ago, they knew pretty quickly that they were headed for marriage.
What they didn’t envision, however, was that they were also headed for a career as homeschool parents. As Kevin tells it, such an idea was almost anathema to him, particularly as he was raised by a devoted public school science teacher.
But devotion to the public education system began to wane as Kevin and Sam’s oldest child got into grade school. As Sam explains in her book, They’re Your Kids, she had three epiphanies that eventually made the family decide to homeschool:
1. Too Much Busy Work
This epiphany first hit Sam while helping her 2nd grade son with some homework worksheets. According to her son, the teacher regularly told the class that the work was unnecessary. As Sam explains:
“It dawned on me right then: This busy-work had to be turned in, so she could report he had done something – anything – to ensure the school could collect their money for Biwa’s attendance. That’s how it works in school. Check the box.”
2. Parents are Substitute Teachers
Sam next realized that by entrusting the class “busy work” into her hands as the parent homework helper, she had turned into the substitute teacher, and with this role came all the resentment and disrespect that a classroom substitute is unfortunately saddled with:
“[I]t didn’t feel so good’ frankly, arguing with my child over what the teacher wanted him to do, versus what Mommy required. Why was I suddenly pitted against the teacher in this scenario? I didn’t fit in this role. This was my child, made from Kevin’s and my DNA. No one knew him better than we did and I knew that grade school material well enough to teach it to him backwards.
I dug a blank notepad out of Biwa’s backpack. We started back at the top, reviewing the principles of addition. I made some practice problems for him to do. Our disconnect dissolved instantly, Biwa looking to me for knowledge, reaffirming his and my faith in me as a mentor and parent.”
3. Public Education Destroys the Parent-Child Relationship
Sam’s second epiphany quickly led to a third:
“I realized the school structure of sending work home is strangely geared to form a wedge between the parent and the child. Too nefarious of a concept for me to digest then, it would dawn on me slowly. I don’t mean to intimate this is a purposeful set-up, but I do contend that sending homework home with children who have been in schools for a full day already, is not a recipe for a successful home life.”
For the Sorbo family, these revelations caused them to conclude that in spite of the fact that they felt terribly inadequate, they were the best teachers their children could have.
Not every family will take the same action as the Sorbos. Regardless, is there a rational basis for their action? Does the public education system build loyalties between teacher and child to the detriment of the parents? And are these loyalties beneficial, especially if schools are loading children down with busy work part of the time?
Image Credit: Movie Guide
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.