Recently I had a party and the main course was pizza. When we lived in Amarillo, I used to make pizza frequently since heating up the apartment by using the oven wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is any day in San Antonio except for the day when the northerner comes in sometime around the Texas-OU game and the one day after all the stores winter clearance sales where the temperature drops below freezing and you realize that none of your kid’s winter clothes from last year fit. Since we were long past those days (or they were still in the distance days to come-depending on how you look at), I really wanted to use the bar-b-que grill so I wouldn’t heat up the house.
I figured I should find out if using the grill would actually work before the day of the event so a couple weeks before, I made up a lot of pizza dough and experimented. I tried using the heated stones like I used to do in the over-even more messy than usual. I cooked some in pie tins, some on foil, and some directly on the grill, all with less than desirable results.
Then I decided to try a variation of a technique I read about in the grilling cookbook that I got my husband for father’s day. (It’s got to be the most useful gift for me that I ever got him.) I essentially “toasted” the dough quickly on both sides on the grill and then removed it to put the toppings on it. I then returned it to the grill to melt the cheese and firm up the crust. Success!
It worked out great. I could make up enough crusts and grill them ahead of time and then everyone could make their own pizza. Not knowing what toppings everyone would want, I bought everything and then some. I have enough left over pizza crusts and toppings to last for the summer. Everyone seemed to enjoy making their own pizza and no one died of food poisoning.
So what does this have to do with homeschooling? No one ever taught me to make pizza. It wasn’t delivered, take out, or frozen. I didn’t hire a chef to make it or teach me to make it. Once I started thinking about, I realized that no one taught me how to use the grill or change out the propane tank. I don’t recall receiving lessons on how to use the bread machine I got for my birthday. And no one told me to try different methods to see what worked. If I had discovered that I couldn’t make pizza dough to save my life, I always had the option to hire a chef or take pizza making lessons. I didn’t force everyone to make the pizza using the same ingredients which would have made planning much easier.
Knowledge is not static, we have to learn all the time or adapt. In this instance, it would have been fajitas if the pizza didn’t work out but I could have just as easily hired someone to teach me how to do it. Get the analogy here? Why do people think that homeschooled children whose parents do not know algebra will never learn algebra? Most parents, homeschooling or otherwise, will initially treat a cold or fever at home but will seek out medical attention should the fever continue or their child breaks a bone. We don’t require an official to tell us it’s time seek professional help. We are well aware of our own limitations.
Even teachers acknowledge that there are some situations better handled by people more specialized in the field. However, that specialist is referred to by the teacher rather than the specialist checking up on each and everyone of the teacher’s students.
“Ah, but what about the homeschoolers who don’t…” Of course there are going to be some parents who fail to act in the best interest of the child. But the same thing happens in the public education system. And until the authorities that be document the extent of the problem (and I assure you, they could) then please spare me your anecdotal evidence. For those that might argue otherwise, I want to know when are you going to get your food handler’s permit from the county and let the health department inspect your kitchen? After all, isn’t a well feed child even more basic and critical to the well being of society than an educated one?
Just in case you didn’t quite catch on to what I was trying to get at, I offer the following summary:
1. Learning happens in many ways, very few of them happen at school.
There are lots of ways to learn to make pizza. We are responsible for learning an amazing number of things critical to surviving in the modern world and it’s up to us to figure out how best to accomplish it.
2. Schools, as recipients of public funds are held accountable in how they use the funds. Therefore, teachers must meet specific qualifications and budgets are carefully designed to efficiently use their funds.
I’m not taking public money to learn to make pizzas so I don’t have to prove that I’m qualified to make to pizzas or am using a qualified instructor. I can also waste money on ingredients to allow my guests a full range of the pizza ingredient experience.
3. Schools require that the vast majority of students be taught the same way. If a child fails, she usually repeats the class taught again in exactly the same way. (Kind of like speaking more loudly in English when the Italian speaker fails to understand you the first time.)
I could try making pizza’s in different places using different techniques to find out what worked best for me.
4. Unless schools are willing to start firing teachers and principals (has anyone heard of any teachers being fired because their students didn’t pass the TAKS?), they shouldn’t be worrying about homeschoolers.
Unless I start selling my pizza’s or my guests end up in the emergency room, the health department has got better things to do with its time.