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Homeschooling in Eagle Rock

As students and parents alike prepare for 'Back to School,' an upcoming book on homeschooling by a NELA mom reignites an old debate.

In February 2011, when Eagle Rock Patch was a little more than three months old, we featured a “Mom’s Talk” column about homeschooling that elicited a flurry of fascinating comments from readers.

"I'm really interested in homeschooling—or 'unschooling,'" wrote Michelle, an Eagle Rock mom whose inquiry about the pros and cons of this alternative form of education inspired the column, titled “Would Homeschooling Work for an Eagle Rock Family?” (Homeschooling, which had become practically extinct in the 1970s, now has some 2 million practitioners across the nation, according to the National Home Education Research Institute.)

We thought that everyone associated with the column as well as anyone interested in exploring the world of homeschooling, would be interested to know about a forthcoming book on the subject.

Titled The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling, the book’s author is Quinn Cummings, an actress and writer who lives in Silver Lake. Cummings chose to home-school her nine-year-old daughter after she somehow managed to convince her well-meaning elementary school teachers that she was “incapable of mastering long division when, in fact, she simply didn't like long division.”

This past Friday, the Wall Street Journal carried an essay adapted from Cummings' book, scheduled to be published August 7. “Everyone is worried that I keep my child in a crate with three air holes punched in it and won't let her have friends until she gets her AARP card,” writes Cummings in the essay, clarifying that while she does have the long answer for people’s worries, she prefers the shorter one:

“Homo sapiens have walked the Earth for at least 130,000 years and, in this time, they learned to be human from their elders, not from their peers. Mandatory education in the U.S. is less than 150 years old. Learning to be a productive adult human by spending a third of every day with other kids might be a good idea, but it's too soon to tell. I'm still unsure that the people best equipped to teach a 14-year-old boy how to be a man are other 14-year-old boys.”

Click here to read Cummings’ Wall Street Journal essay.

Click here to view a YouTube video in which Cummings talks about homeschooling.

And click here to read Cummings’ blog, The QC Report.

Finally, click here to read—or re-read—the Mom’s Talk column. Or peruse the following comments from readers to get an idea of homeschooling:

"I loved being homeschooled. I was able to study what I cared about, and when I had to study something that I didn't care for, I was able to do so in the company of my friends in a class environment that one of the group's parents had put together for all of us. I love being able to talk to anyone without being innately biased by mainstream culture with regards to their age, gender, religion, ethnicity, or political beliefs."

"My husband and I considered home schooling, but we soon decided against it. The main reason is that we work from home and we realized that it is very hard to get much done with a couple of kids at the house all day. Although, I strongly believe that no matter what type of school kids attend, the MOST important learning must happen at home. A true love a learning can only be instilled by parents. Even more importantly, lessons about how to be a good citizen, a steward of our world and a morale person are things that make a child thrive. Institutions can't teach those things. So those of you who can make home schooling fly, more power to you."

"I have been interested in homeschooling since before my kids were born as I have an aunt who sent me great examples a few years ahead of me. We came to Eagle Rock from Washington state, and let me tell you L.A., right now, is the place to be home schooling! There is a large diverse community including semi organizations such as FACE-LA, WISH in Pasadena, and two friends and I have just opened a home schooling resource center in Atwater Village called Urban Homeschoolers. We wanted to offer space for classes especially for the older kids. I always hoped my son could follow Zephram and others example and go to community college when he got to be a teen, but as the economy has gotten worse, that option is more difficult. So we are setting it up for ourselves! The homeschooling community is really what makes the whole thing worth more than I can say. We love it."

Julie Walmsley July 31, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I did a story about a homeschooled boy in Agoura Hills two years ago and it changed my mind about homeschooling. I always thought of homeschooled children as socially inept and/or the product of religious zealots, living insular lives. Actually, what is insular is living in the world that schools create. Alex and his sister Talia live their lives out in the community, participating fully, not organizing their goals and self esteem around the rigid microcosm in which they're enrolled. http://agourahills.patch.com/articles/hometown-hero-alex-lebowitz
Suzanne July 31, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Given my relationship with my highly oppositional child, I am convinced that home schooling would not have worked for us. However, I can see that it could be really wonderful for some families. I think homeschooling is only as good as the motivations of the parents who do it - I've known some parents who do homeschooling because they're complete and utter control freaks, both intellectually and in terms of their children's social environment. I don't think home schooling is for everyone - not every family has the luxury of a stay at home parent (who, often enough, is the mom), no less a parent who has the discipline and willingness to learn along with the kids - and I also think there's a value to public education that goes beyond academics. But I'm more open to it than I was previously.
Ajay Singh (Editor) July 31, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Thanks, Julie. Homeschooling's core principles certainly do presage the new world of internet-based learning, which is changing classrooms as we know them (much more in universities than in schools so far)—and that might be homeschooling's ultimate triumph.
Nelson R Grande II July 31, 2012 at 06:49 PM
There is no better school than Life, itself. All the book knowledge in the world will count for nothing if Life Lessons are not applied. Life happens at Home and at a Controlled Schooling Building, alike. Whether to Home School or not just depends what Life Lessons you feel are best for your child. Having stated that, my wife and I choose to Home School our 2 year old. We will continue the trend beyond the standard 5 year old induction. We've lost faith in LAUSD and feel the programs they teach are not the most productive. There is no course on Critical Thinking for Kindergarteners. There is no basic physiology course. There are more details. But I don't want to digress. As far as the social aspect, our boy knows and plays with many children of different ages. We definitely don't want him cooped up. A strong Life Lesson, as mentioned above, is Human Interaction with all types of Humans. There are also lots of online groups that gather Home School kids for Social Time.
DebtFreeTeen August 02, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Homeschooling was amazing! I am now in my first year of college and I am doing great. I'm not burnt out like a lot of my friends! Chase

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