Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Uberblogger Amy Welborn has an interesting post on those most ancient of educational issues, the Soccer Mom and the Cult of Athletics.

"My oldest daughter is in seventh grade and is playing basketball. Last night she brought home this letter:
"The bar has been set and set high for Girls' Athletics at (school name). The tradition of (mascot name) athletics will be handed down into the hands of our 6th, 7th & 8th Grade girls. As parents, it is up to us to be sure those girls who want to continue that tradition are in the best possible position to do so."

A list of agenda items for the pursuance of being worthy of this tradition follows.

The discussion at Amy's page is interesting, but I found myself thinking about the frequent objection to allowing homeschooled kids to participate in school sports: that homeschooling provides an unfair environmental advantage to parents who are singlemindedly driven. Maybe Susie wins all the state spelling bee competitions because she does nothing else at home but read the dictionary. Maybe Johnny would compete unfairly because he does nothing but practice and would fail any academic standards, but as a homeschooler he doesn't have any. (We pause to ask ourselves, in this land where high school football is the state religion, if this would really make homeschooling Johnny much different from UIL Johnny, but leave that thought for now.)

The fact is, there's a tinge of truth there. Offspring #1 loves math more than anything, and is pretty darn good at it, and so we spend a huge chunk of each day on math and math-related stuff. This year she's started doing competitive math, which she loves, having her dear daddy's Crush 'Em All competition gene. And there being only so many hours in a day a small person can work, other subjects can get crowded out; she doesn't do much art or music, for instance.

So is this a reason for homeschooled kids not to be permitted to compete? Putting aside the argument about wielding a long spoon when supping with the devil (in other words, if we're happy without the state's regulations, we have to be happy without access to the state's sports teams)--a worthy argument, but not what I'm interested in here--are the potential advantages enjoyed by homeschoolers really that different from the advantages enjoyed by type-A hypercompetitive two-income soccer families who send their kids to camps, clinics, and competitions?


Blogger MrsDarwin said...

When I was being homeschooled we actually did far more music and art than math, but as I can calculate the square footage of a room for painting I figure I turned out okay :) .

Frankly, I would guess it's a fairly small percentage of parents on either side of the schooling issue who have so much time and drive (and money, in some cases) that they can single-mindedly train their offspring to win glory in sports or spelling bees or what have you. Kids naturally tend to have strong loves and throw themselves into one big project at a time -- seems like it's the job of the parent to make sure that don't focus on one love to the exclusion of all other scholarly or extra-curricular pursuits. I myself would never have stopped reading long enough to crack a math book if I hadn't been made to do so.

6:51 AM  
Anonymous Big Tex said...

But homeschooling does offer kids the opportunity to excel. My in-laws down there in Austin are a prime example. Five of my wife's siblings (albeit two are in college) have had ample time to engage in musical pursuits. Sarah, plays violin and drums, and has recently starting learning guitar. Kevin does piano, trumpet and accordian. Matt does guitar piano. Mary is just now picking up the bass (electric). Brian plays guitar, bass, mandolin, and banjo. It's enough to make this product of parochial school "sick" and envious. Plus, they ALL sing and sing rather well.

This musical endeavor of theirs is nothing terribly new, as their parents have always encouraged music. However, they have thrived in the homeschooling environment. "Well, our schoolwork is done, so why not play some music?" My wife and her two older brothers are also musically inclined each playing an instrument.

Had they all been in public or parochial school, I doubt they would have as much time to develop their musical talents.

10:40 PM  

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