Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Teach at Home or Co-Op?

It's time for me to submit course offerings to the homeschool co-op that is my children's favorite (and coincidentially, my favorite also).

I have been pondering over what makes sense to teach in a group versus at home? So far I have only taught classes which are superior in groups than one on one teaching at home (in that co-op).

Now I am pondering what I'm not teaching at home that I should be teaching at home and wondering if I should offer to teach it at co-op then make my kids take the class. (These are not better or more conducive to teaching in a group setting.) The reason I have fallen down on teaching a few things here at home is that we're too busy and we are more disciplined about attending 'outside things' than getting stuff done at home. If I teach it elsewhere I'll create the deadlines and assignments and I as teacher will have to stick by them (because that's the kind of teacher I am when I teach other people's kids). Then if my kids were in that class they'd have to do the work too, more than if I taught it at home alone.

It sounds ludicrous to admit this but it is true.

So one thing on my mind now is which things are do-able in a group? Which curriculums are not suited for group use? Which make no sense to have a once weekly class on and truly need two or more meetings a week to teach it properly?

One thing I like about this co-op is the person in charge, and the board, give me autonomy to develop the course as I see fit. Whether anyone enrolls is another story. Students love the four courses I'm teaching now so I'm doing something right. But my offer made directly to my students, to teach how to write a research paper including MLA notation didn't go over well.

It helps if the co-op has some kind of philosophy to explain their existance. If the co-op is mainly focused on academics the parents don't want to teach or can't teach their own kids then that is good to know. If the co-op seeks to be a social place where fluff and fun classes are offered that's good to know. If the co-op has students who are of certain ages that have the bulk of classes offered to those ages then that's good to know.

Then there is the issue of what kids really do need to know and that they may not always want to learn about that thing. Which leads us to the issue with homeschool co-ops that some parents allow their children full freedom of choice on what to take so they may go for the fluff and fun not what is good and necessary (and some families may strike a compromise balance between the two).

Then the last challenge is if the kid is forced to take certain classes we have the coercion issue happening where they may not put forth good effort or do the assignments which can cause problems in the class so we're back to some challenges with apathy that schools deal with.

And lastly if the kid is not happy at the co-op the parent won't be happy then they may choose to not enroll again. In order to function the co-op needs the students! The rent for the building must be paid, we have no tax revenue paying for the facility. So we have to try to keep both the students and the parents happy. It's not always easy.

What would be great for that one co-op is to hold a parent meeting to discuss what the parents really want, which courses should be repeated, which new ones should be offered and so forth. However, most of the parents are too busy to attend such a meeting. Homeschoolers around here are busy people.

1 comment:

Tyrean Martinson said...

Our co-op recently had all the parents and kids write down a list of classes they would like to take and a list of classes they would like to teach (parents as teachers).

Then, when that list was compiled, each family chose their favorites off the list, and sent that information into the co-op leaders. We are hoping that this will help with that process, and it only involved a meeting of the co-op leadership board.