Volume 4 Issue 1

Oceanview... Opinions of a Homeschool Father

by Michael Leppert

As I gaze out my window at the wide Pacific, daydreaming...

I think it’s time for a tri-level system of awarding college degrees. Level One Bachelor’s Degree (lowest tier) in any field, should essentially say, to the prospective employer: “The degree-holder can complete four years of an endeavor. He is not outstandingly bright in this field -- maybe not even fully literate -- but he can see the hoops and jump through them. He forms opinions but cannot actually reason and/or think. By and large, he may know more than he did at high school graduation; to this we cannot attest, but he has learned our game and played it. He should in no way be seriously considered for any higher degree unless and until he demonstrates his ability beyond a reasonable doubt. This degree serves as a commercial piece of paper to aid the bearer in gaining employment.”

Level Two Bachelor’s Degree would communicate to the prospective employer or other examiner: “This person has demonstrated proficiency in his field of endeavor. He has also learned and proven that he knows how to think rather than merely form opinions. He is likely a good candidate for higher degrees if he desires, but may require extra attention.”

The Third, and highest, tier of my proposed degree program would state: “This person has demonstrated significant mastery in his academic field. He can reason, analyze and act upon these mental functions. He is a self-learner, able to find information independent of our instruction and capable of processing the information with intelligence. He may even be able to impart his knowledge to others with a high level of skill. He should be considered for any higher degree he wishes. (This person knows his stuff).”

Wouldn’t it be loverly to have the sheepskin mean what it did in its origins -- a testamentary document to one’s knowledge and skill rather than a receipt for monies paid and parental expectations met?

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M. Scott Peck, in his still-timely 1978 book, The Road Less Traveled states: “Love is not simply giving; it is judicious giving and judicious withholding as well. It is judicious praising and judicious criticizing. It is judicious arguing, struggling, confronting, urging, pushing and pulling in addition to comforting. It is leadership. The word “judicious” means requiring judgment, and judgment requires more than instinct, it requires thoughtful and often painful decision making.

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To every parent in America who holds the opinion that he/she is not intelligent enough to teach his/her own children, let me remind you of the occurrence of the college graduates (!?) in Massachusetts who took the prospective teacher test in 1998 wherein half of them failed. Can anyone who successfully completed elementary school work not teach the same information to his/her loved ones at least as well as a Tier 1 (see above) college grad? Parents need to give themselves the credit that is due them. Teaching this elementary education information is not that tough! With the proliferation of teaching aids, manuals, lesson planners, etc., anyone who successfully completed grades K-8 and is fully literate can pass this sort of material on to his offspring. The high regard some parents may have for “teachers” could be a child-like carry-over from their own grade-school days, when Mrs. Hootchamajigger or Sister Mary Non Sequitur was a respected adult in their young life. If you feel unqualified to teach your own, now may be the time to rethink this position. If you can function in your adult world, you can teach your own children up to high school level, even. To teach high school higher math -- sure, you need to be good at it; I know homeschooling parents with math degrees from “math heavy” universities who are certainly qualified to do so. Find such a person in your own world and hire him/her to teach your children when it becomes necessary. But for other subjects which don’t require specialized understanding -- go for it! You are smart enough, you are good enough, and doggedy gonnit, a lot of people like you!

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