Coming Attractions – The NFL At HGSE And More Homeschool

In the new print issue of TIME I take a longer look at homeschooling.  A few weeks ago I looked at the contentious issue of sports access in a column – should homeschoolers be able to play public school sports?  One of the most interesting aspects of that debate is that homeschoolers are not uniformly in favor of expanding access.  That points up the real tensions within the homeschool world as homeschooling evolves.  As Quinn Cummings – who has a book on homeschooling coming out later this year – told me:

“There are people who want to separate from the rest of the community, they don’t want to play sports.  But that community is about as large as it’s going to grow. That was the first two decades of homeschooling. The families that are coming in now are more likely to say we’re not doing this to limit our opportunities but to expand them.  We want to do this and to play lacrosse in the afternoon.”

That’s an evolution with big implications for homeschooling and public education, the article looks at how it’s playing out.

Are you ready for some football? Final speaker line-up for for the “What Can The NFL Teach Teachers” event at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.  Domonique Foxworth – he’s an NFL free agent cornerback and member of the NFL Players Association Executive Committee – will join Tim Daly from TNTP and Brendan Daly from the Minnesotta Vikings for the event.  It’s open to the public, Monday 4/2 from 5:30 – 7 at HGSE.  Among other topics we’ll look at how the NFL has combined a unionized work environment with a focus on performance and you’ll see actual NFL video and how coaches and players use it to learn and refine technique and a discussion of how that informs the increasing use of video in education.

4 Replies to “Coming Attractions – The NFL At HGSE And More Homeschool”

  1. It is called CLUB SPORTS.

    Homeschoolers ought to exercise their independent choices and START clubs.

    Their students will get better instruction and a higher level of competition.

    To demand access to high school sports is to admit the home school culture is NOT ADEQUATE.

    My children played club sports, eschewed high school sports, and are better for it. Public school sports are infected with malcontented parents, poisonous politics, and fan violence, coupled with a teacher supervision with NO AUTHORITY.

    A very good example of private club sports is the USAA swimming. Meets are held by certified swim coaches and referees, and there are internationally accepted rules that prevent parent meddling and destruction of viable programs.

    I highly recommend club sports. High school sports are primarily for making friends, and home schoolers already know that is NOT GOOD.

  2. I like letting my children play sports, but much prefer the events put on by home educators. Home educated children like talking about their subjects, while public schooled children are more likely to bully others.

  3. Public schools just have economies of scale that can’t be matched by homeschoolers. I think that just has to be part of the tradeoff between choosing to homeschool or enroll your kids in the public school.

    Obviously sports is one area where large schools enjoy economies of scale. Pretty hard for a group of parents to put together a competitive football team. You really need a LOT of participants, equipment, space, and coaches.

    But it isn’t just sports where schools enjoy economies of scale. What about the fine arts? Orchestra, band, drama? All of those are group activities that require space, equipment, and numbers that homeschoolers can’t match.

    Likewise things like science labs. The typical HS science lab probably serves 100 students/day for 20 years or more before significant remodeling or investments are needed. So the per-student cost is pretty low. A homeschool parent is never going to be able to create a well-stocked science lab without investing tens of thousands of dollars. So instead of using microscopes, glassware, physics equipment, etc. a lot of the homeschool curriculums that I’ve seen depend on virtual labs done on computer or low level “kitchen” labs that aren’t as rigorous.

    Are homeschoolers going to want to join the orchestra and band in addition to football? Are they going to want to audition for the school musical? Are they going to want to take AP chemistry because they can’t do organic chemistry in their kitchen?

    Either we are going to have a la carte schools in which parents and students are free to decide how much and what types of classes they are going to take. Or we are going to have state standards that specify a required curriculum.

  4. A few comments to the commenters.

    To Bill: If you read the article, you’ll see that our kid plays club sports. (I was interviewed for the story). It’s just that he has to travel 90 miles to get there, because in rural communities like mine, there ARE NO club sports once the kids reach later middle school/high school age, and the ones in the early years are purely recreational, not competitive. The community cedes that position TO their community’s sports provider – the local school. Rec level sports in towns like the one we lived in only go through sixth or seventh grade and are not played at a competitive level.

    Many folks think of their personal situation as able to apply to all others (viewing through their own lens), but there are many areas of Virginia where club sports do not exist. Your example of swimming is most telling. In our southern Virginia, there is not even a single public swimming pool, much less some kind of pool with a swim team program. It is so easy to presume that all communities have the same resources and alternatives, when in some towns, the schools have the ONLY resources (but in this case, certainly no pool).

    To educator: Yes, programs produced by homeschoolers are great. However, again, you have to have critical mass. In the whole county where we were living, I only knew of one other serious homeschooled athlete, and he was a baseball player. Our homeschool group had about seven families on a good day, and that was including those who only had toddlers. We love participating in activities with other homeschoolers – we just got home from a wonderful conference in Richmond put on by The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers – but to think that Mecklenburg County Virginia AND its surrounding counties would have enough homeschoolers to create athletics for homeschoolers is just not realistic. The numbers just aren’t there.

    To Kent: Your point about economies of scale is excellent as to athletics. I’d chide you a little on homeschool labs – indeed, there are more fetal pigs for dissection in homeschoolers’ refrigerators around the country than you might imagine. One of my sons simply took chemistry at our local community college during his high school years.

    However, Kent, you present a false dichotomy when you say “either” we are going to have a la carte schools “or” we are going to have state standards. The dichotomy is false not only in the sense of logical fallacies, but also in terms of what is actually happening! In Virginia, we’ve already had part-time enrollment for quite a number of years, where over half the school divisions in the state happily allow homeschoolers to take classes a la carte under part-time enrollment policies. It’s worked fine. Not only that, if anything, during the same period that part-time access to schools has been in place, I think we could safely say that schools have doubled down on state standards AND a required curriculum in school. We already have both, not “either/or”. If we counter “either/or” mindsets with a little non-binary thinking, who knows what innovations we might come up with! I know how natural it feels to think things have to be “this way” or “that way,” but in the space between, the liminal space, that is where creativity and problem solving probably lie.

    And by the way, some schools in rural areas would LIKE to have their teams and activities open to homeschoolers in order to more nearly approach the economies of scale which you so rightly point out as advantageous. If you live near urban and suburban schools, again, you might not be thinking of school divisions who would like to have more kids so they have enough to field a football team, and you might not realize that schools are the only community centers in those areas – the only ones providing, maybe, theater and music and chorus. Those folks are our neighbors and friends, and they’d like to have their local school boards have the option to decide whether it would be good for our town to make opportunities available to all the children in their service area, regardless of where some of those kids’ academics are delivered.

    Hope this helps provide perspective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.