http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/03/28/learning-lessons


Danville Express

Perspective - March 28, 2008

Learning lessons

The recent ruling in Southern California about parents homeschooling their children has sparked a statewide debate over whether parents should be required to hold teaching credentials in order to instruct their own children. Hopefully more education would always make a person a better teacher but to evaluate whether a credential would improve a parent's teaching ability, we must consider its purpose.

Credential programs prepare teachers for work in a classroom. Students in credential programs for elementary school teachers learn how to instruct many children in many subjects, in classrooms where each child has his or her individual learning style. They are reminded repeatedly to consider that each child comes from a different home situation. Student teaching is an important part of the program, observing a teacher in action, working alongside the teacher, then taking over the teaching responsibilities under her tutelage. Credential programs prepare teachers to manage a classroom and, increasingly, how to deal with a multitude of cultures and languages.

Are these lessons necessary for homeschooling parents? Teaching a few children - especially when they are your own - requires an entirely different skill set. Here in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, homeschooling parents work with the district to make sure their children are following the curriculum.

To be admitted into a credential program requires an undergraduate degree and classes in specific subjects such as health and special education; usually 30 hours of classroom observation; plus passing the California Subject Examinations for Teachers. CSET tests writing skills and basic knowledge in reading, language, literature, history and social sciences, as well as science, mathematics, physical education, human development and visual and performing arts. Perhaps homeschooling parents could be required to pass the CSET to show they have good general knowledge and aptitude in reading and writing, but there seems to be no reason for them to learn skills to teach a varied population in a classroom.

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