Friday, March 7, 2008

Teaching degree to homeschool?

A recent California decision could make it more difficult to homeschool in the state of California. A judge decided that you had to have a teaching certificate to homeschool.

To an outsider, that might sound pretty good. Doesn't a teaching certificate teach you how to educate? Don't we want our homeschool parents to do the best job possible?

I actually thought about going the teaching certificate route when I considered moving to California. But other than perhaps fulfilling a few legal requirements, a teaching certificate would not prepare anybody to homeschool. In addition, the homeschooling teacher would have to become more prepared than ANY public school teacher out there, because in order to become certified to teach a child from Kindergarten to 12th grade, you would need to receive ALL of these certifications:

Elementary School Teaching Credential
- get a bachelor's degree
- complete a multiple subject teacher preparation program, including student teaching
- pass the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment
- the initial certification lasts for 5 years, within that time period a teacher would have to also need to complete additional requirements for a clear credential, which would allow them to teach their second child

Earn a Single Subject Teaching Credential for all required California high school subjects
* English
* Mathematics
* Social Science
* Biological Sciences
* Physics
* Languages other than English or art
* Physical Education
- get a Bachelor's degree (well, at least you have one from certifying for elementary school)
- complete a single subject teacher preparation program including more student teaching
- achieve a passing score in the subject examinations for all 7 required teaching areas

There are a few other hoops that need to be jumped through, involving English proficiency (perhaps for people that might need to homeschool ESL students?), constitution courses, and computer skills, but you get the idea.

I'm sure that 90% of public school teachers do not have all those credentials, but that's how the state of California is heading. A homeschool teacher would have to spend more time jumping through hoops than she'd have to do in actual teaching time!

What would a teaching certificate get you, anyway? Would it help you learn to teach your own children? Not much. Teaching programs prepare you to teach a large group of children. It helps you manage a classroom. Is all that student teaching that a homeschool mom would have to go through help them at all when they're sitting down at the kitchen table teaching US History to their 7 year old? Probably not, unless perhaps she has 30 children in school. Not even the Duggars are close to that (some of their kids are already grown).

I am not completely opposed to having homeschool families have some sort of... education. Perhaps a child development course in the earlier grades? Maybe a course on how children learn? Perhaps a basic proficiency test. But to require someone to receive 8 different teaching credentials in order to teach 1 child (or maybe a few more) is ridiculous. Teaching credentials designed to teach someone how to manage classrooms and teach multiple children are useless in the homeschooling environment. And it's ridiculous for this judge to make the comparison. I don't need to learn how to become a mechanic to learn how to put gas in my car. Neither do I need to learn how to manage a classroom of unruly high schoolers in order to learn how to teach one (hopefully well-mannered) child of mine English.


Julie said...

As a homeschool teacher, I've found being a certified teacher something to overcome. My prior experience as a classroom teacher, I think, has actually been a hindrance to me. I've learned a lot more about "education" on my homeschooling journey, than I ever learned in college or grad. school. (or the classroom for that matter) It's apples and oranges.

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