Some food for thought after a recent interesting read on The Case of $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers (article here).
How hard can it be to teach pre-schoolers?
Most people will probably conclude that it can't be difficult at all. It definitely isn't rocket science.
But can everyone do an equally effective job of coaching and guiding pre-schoolers?
As long as we are literate, we should be able to coach our little ones in their academic progress. What's more, with the resources freely available on the Internet nowadays, it does empower parents and older siblings alike, hence giving the illusion that everyone can teach.
I do stress the word 'illusion' for good reasons.
Everyone can provide answers. But NOT everyone can be an effective teacher.
Even in formal schools, when teachers are supposedly qualified with the right certification, it doesn't mean they will be effective in delivering the lessons and achieving learning outcomes.
How can we tell if a teacher is effective?
It isn't straightforward but the easiest way is probably to look at the outcomes delivered (i.e. the children's learning progress over a reasonable period of time).
Great teachers (like great leaders) do not just provide answers. They should be able to inspire a child to want to learn more by heightening his awareness to his world and teaching him how to enquire, hence cultivating his curiosity and intensifying his thirst for knowledge.
Even with a passion to learn, a child's learning progress can be accelerated only if he has good learning habits and positive attitude, which are definitely qualities that effective teachers should and will take pains to instill in the child.
Passion for teaching and love for a child alone, are also not enough to make one a great teacher, though they may help to motivate a teacher to put in more efforts.
So, while all parents should and can play an active role in their children's education and learning journey, not everyone can be an effective teacher in delivering a holistic education to their little ones.
Which is why I don't think homeschooling is a viable option for every family, even if a parent is willing to put in her best efforts. The dismaying academic results at PSLE of some home-schooled children as compared to the national standards tells plenty.
Perhaps some didn't even bother to try hard enough because of the low importance they place on such methods of assessment. Or perhaps their kids are just not exam-smart and can't deal with the stress of having to perform in a set amount of time because they have been used to a stress-free home-schooled environment??
Of course, these families would have good reasons to homeschool their kids in the first place and probably find the consequences acceptable in return for the other benefits.
It is a case of to each his own.