The emails are arriving fast and furious in my inbox: Public relations folks offering up this commentary from a homeschooling expert or that homeschool curriculum to parents who now find themselves doubling as full-time teachers, navigating the new online learning world we’re living in.
I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a post that outlines good resources to use as you “homeschool” your kids during the pandemic, but I’ve been hesitant. On one hand, some schools really aren’t giving parents much direction right now, and some of us do want the extra help; on the other, there are a whole lot of parents out there who are already buried under work stress and financial stress and home stress and, oh yeah, there’s a Zoom classroom meeting at noon and a packet of assignments due by Monday, and they don’t need me to put anything else on their plates.
Something about the topic felt icky. It wasn’t until I came across this tweet that I could truly pinpoint why:
Thanks for this term - it encompasses this situation perfectly. Emergency Remote Teaching =/= online education. ERT is what we're doing this right now in #HigherEd. @marcia_lynn @DocRobinYoung @LMcD4 @funnyfishes @polarisdotca @CaptActin @TCNoel @SJDJ @davidhik @redlipblenny https://t.co/vyi662TFTu
— Megan Barker (@meganbarkerase) April 7, 2020
Call it “Emergency Remote Teaching” if you like or, I don’t know, “Total Bullshit” if you’re feeling brutally honest. There’s got to be a term for what parents are doing right now, but it’s not “homeschooling,” the same way that what is happening right now is not equivalent to regular online education.
Homeschooling is an intentional act. It takes true commitment from a parent (who often does not also work outside of the home). There are online and local homeschooling communities and co-ops that share resources and support one another and get together for classes, field trips or social events. Yes, homeschooled kids still leave the house.
Back in 2012, when things were normal, Jamie Martin wrote a “Homeschooling 101" piece for Parents.com discussing the requirements for becoming a homeschooling parent:
According to [John] Holt, author of the best-selling book Teach Your Own, the most important thing parents need to homeschool their children is “to like them, enjoy their company, their physical presence, their energy, foolishness, and passion. They have to enjoy all their talk and questions, and enjoy equally trying to answer those questions.” For the majority of parents who homeschool, the only prerequisite is the desire to do so, along with a dedication to the educational process.
Y’all feeling that desire? Is the dedication to the educational process embedded deep within your soul?
My point is, we don’t need to put any additional pressure on ourselves right now. As more and more states announce that schools will indeed be closed through the rest of the school year, we need to do something to help our kids keep learning, whether that’s muddling through whatever online learning programs our individual districts have managed to organise or cobbling something together on our own.
But we’re never going to live up to the image in your head of the creative-yet-organised homeschooling mum with the neatly arranged school supplies in colourful bins and the binders full of activities. This is different. This is temporary. This is emergency remote teaching and emergency remote learning.