In my other life, I'm a professional writer. And lately, we writers have noticed that a lot of people take good writing for granted. Anyone, the thinking goes, can write -- so why pay someone big bucks to craft an article for you when anyone can hammer out some words on a keyboard?
As writers, we know that good writing doesn't just happen. Good writers are also good researchers. Good writers are connected. Good writers conduct interviews with top experts -- and ask the tough questions. Good writers understand the difference between heresay and fact, and good writers know how to present opposing opinions in a balanced manner. Good writers make reading fun. We know how to structure a paragraph, a sentence, an article to attract your eye and amuse your intellect.
Good writers -- ones who have honed their skills for years -- are also typically peeved when someone with no experience is hired to write an article on, say, anything, because all too often that article ends up looking like this.
What does this have to do with teaching? Good question.
As a homeschooler, I've often argued that teaching degrees and certifications are unnecessary. Then I interviewed a woman who is National Board Certified teacher.
The amount of time and dedication she's put into her profession is amazing. (See Great Teacher.) And for the first time, I could see how, to someone like her, homeschool parents look like a bunch of uneducated hicks.
Being a classroom teacher is entirely different than homeschooling your children. To teach in a classroom, you need a broad understanding of child development, learning styles and curriculum. You need a teacher tool box, full of ideas for reaching every single student that crosses into your classroom.
Homeschooling parents don't need all that. To homeschool effectively, a parent needs to love and understand his or her child. I don't need to know all about auditory learners to reach my very active kinesthetic learner. I don't need to know how to handle an autistic child in the classroom because, frankly, none of my kids are autistic. I do, however, need to know how to handle a highly-spirited, gifted child.
And here's the kicker: Because I love my children, because I know them and want the very best for them, I, like most homeschool parents, will walk to the ends of the earth (or search the Internet all night, whichever comes first) until I find something that works for my child. Have you ever seen a homeschooler's house? It's filled with books, learning activities, games and curriculum catalogs. The bookshelves are likely jammed -- with everything from simple storybooks to college textbooks and books about learning theory, brain development and homeschooling. Most homeschool parents, like most dedicated teachers, spend years expanding their skills. Like teachers, we attend conferences. We share ideas. And we learn.
As a writer, I'm appalled when someone with no experience is hired to write an article. But I never -- never -- tell someone who wants to write that they can't do it. Because once upon a time, I was a Registered Nurse.