One of the many unexpected consequences of the events of this year has been the heightened awareness of the issue of educational choice. Leigh Bortins, a homeschooling expert and founder of the curriculum company Classical Conversations, has been encouraging parents for years to take the reins when it comes to their children’s education and consider the options available. I spoke to her recently about those options.
The Epoch Times: This year’s pandemic, and the measures put in place to combat it, have unexpectedly highlighted issues of educational choice. How do you think this will impact the landscape of educational choices going forward?
Leigh Bortins: I have great hopes for free-market education and the many parents who are now looking for opportunities to be more involved in their children’s education in a way that satisfies their family’s goals. Usually parents make a decision on education while their child is still young and maybe not demonstrating particular strengths. This pandemic provides an opportunity for parents to re-examine the academic opportunities for even their older children who have specific interests.
The Epoch Times: The default educational choice for the majority of parents has long been public school. Do you think the public school system will have to make changes to entice families to stick with it going forward?
Ms. Bortins: The internet and globalization have already changed public schools. I’d encourage parents to look into classical education and see why so many parents are leaving public schools for a historically-proven education that builds a firm foundation for life-long learning.
The Epoch Times: You have chosen homeschooling for your family and encourage others to do the same. What are the key benefits of homeschooling?
Ms. Bortins: I love the flexibility of homeschooling. We spend about half the year pursuing rigorous academics and half the year with delight-directed activities. We balance expert teachers with amateur teachers. The meaning of amateur is lover. We want to be with lovers of learning the things we love to learn. Discipleship, coaching, and mentoring are hallmarks of education. We find tables and chairs to be a barrier to most forms of learning. Grassy lawns, workshops, playgrounds, church pews, and art studios are excellent places to study with your family.
The Epoch Times: What obstacles or misunderstandings tend to stand in the way of families choosing to homeschool their children?
Ms. Bortins: The first perceived obstacle is confidence. I believe every parent already homeschools. Walking and talking are as difficult to teach as reading and writing yet we do the first two with confidence and the last two with trepidation. Experienced homeschoolers have plenty of resources ready for you to use.
The second perceived obstacle is cost. I think a lot of us are learning we can do without meals out and vacations during quarantines and shutdowns. But I also think we are learning what we can’t do without—our families. All choices have a cost to them.
The Epoch Times: If a parent is just beginning to consider homeschooling as a possibility for their family, what would you recommend they do first?
Ms. Bortins: The first thing a parent should do when considering homeschooling is find a friend to share the journey. It’s such an unusual choice to some people, and the pressure to stop homeschooling once you start is enormous. Let me be that friend and say to you: “You got this! You are an amazing parent. I know your love for your family will conquer all fear!”
The Epoch Times: When parents are deciding what educational option is best for their child, what key considerations should they take into account?
Ms. Bortins: I’m one to ignore the obvious and research the impossible! These are my children after all and I want to know my options. It’s easy to stick with the familiar, even if you suspect it isn’t really working. Investigation is the real opportunity closed schools provide parents.
Please check out ClassicalConversations.com for curated classical curriculum, community support, and how-to videos. CC is a national support organization with local homeschool help across the country. As a Christian organization, we welcome anyone to join our communities.