First off, a big shout out to my friend Carla for this week’s song, You’ll Be Mine.

It’s by a duo of sisters, Allison and Catherine Pierce, simply called The Pierces.  It has a light, lyrical sort of pop meets adult contemporary vibe.  The harmonies remind me of some of the best things I like about Fleetwood Mac when they had all creative cylinders firing.  There’s a little bit of the Bangles a la Hazy Shade of Winter or the Mamas & Papas (if they’d only been mamas, of course).  If Gotye owes Sting and Peter Gabriel each a nice muffin basket (and he so does), the Pierces should definitely be calling Edible Arrangements for a little something for Lindsay Buckingham, not to mention a spiritual shout out to the late John Phillips.  Just saying.

Their album containing this song is called You & I.  It was produced by Coldplay’s bass player, Guy Berryman.  He and Coldplay’s drummer both play on the album.  I’m intrigued to see where these sisters end up.  Pop music, read here, commercial and mainstream success and acceptance, is such a simplistic and narrow field.  The charts are dominated by the latest Disney star, hiphop and Katy Perry.  Every once in a while, something of quality like an Adele or a Florence and The Machine sneaks in there, but honestly, how often does that happen?  The Pierces on paper seem made for pop.  It’s approachable music; lots of fans from other genres will be able to appreciate it.  Both sisters are distractingly pretty so that works with today’s shallow visual based media.  However, their music is actually good… so, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.  If Adele can make it, maybe there’s room for others as well.

So, right now you’re looking at this blog’s title and waiting for the other shoe to drop… you aren’t wrong.  Though I adore music and it is a huge part of my daily life, I didn’t start doing Musical Mondays just for the catchy hooks.  I usually have a point.

Home schooling is an interesting topic.

I say this because Allison and Catherine come from a very interesting background.  1.) They were home schooled while growing up in Alabama.  2.) They, unlike 75% of today’s home schooled children, are NOT right-wing Conservative Christians.  3.) They are only a few years younger than me and as they describe the music they listened to as children: Simon & Garfunkel, Seals & Croft, Cat Stevens, Carole King and Joni Mitchell.  I know what their house sounded like, a lot like the house my sister and I grew up in once upon a time.  4.)  They come from the tradition that actually invented home schooling, yep, they’re the children of hippies.  Cool, huh?

It shows in the above video, doesn’t it?

At this point I just KNOW my mom would want me to point out that my parents weren’t hippies.  They didn’t have time, what with college, meeting, getting married, having me, my dad holding down three jobs, though they did love the music.

Where was I?  Oh yes, home schooling, not a fan.  I liken it to parents who decide to have their young children on a strict vegan life style.  Can it be done well? Yes.  Is it usually? No.  Most parents simply aren’t qualified or have the time and the patience to be able to make a vegan lifestyle work with the nutritional demands of a young child’s developing brain and body.  Kids need fat and protein.  Likewise, home schooling, can it be done well?  Yes.  Is it usually? No.  I look at the parents I’ve met who home school and I usually see people who are not qualified or do not have the time and patience to be able to make home schooling work with the societal and educational demands of a young child’s development and interaction with people not like themselves.  Kids need exposure to new ideas and the freedom to explore the world.  You remember the world, right, folks?  It’s where we live.

When I was researching this blog, I expected to find lots of negatives to home schooling.  I did find negatives, but I found a few concrete positives as well. Some positives that I can really relate to are an educational setting without bullying or peer pressure.  Also, home schooling offers gifted or special needs children a chance to learn at the pace that suits their needs.  Parents have the option of emphasizing the values they feel are important, or the aspects of history they feel most strongly about.  (Clearly, I would include a women’s studies section!)  On the other hand, the negatives were not what I would expect.  One mentioned was cost.  You’re still paying for public schools through your taxes, yet need to purchase educational materials for your curriculum.  Not to mention, home schooling requires a substantial time commitment, necessitating one parent staying home.  This definitely affects the household earning potential.

As late as 1993, home schooling was still illegal in many states.  While it now legal, and a growing, more accepted phenomena, it is under regulated and its effects are not well-known.  Proponents point to good scores by home schooled students on standardized tests, however, there is no way of knowing if those same children would not have scored just as well, if not better, with traditional schooling methods.  After all, one could argue that home schoolers have more involved parents, so the active parenting, combined with main-stream education could yield an exceptional student.  Impossible to say either way.

Regardless, I respect the right of parents to make this decision for their families.  That being said, I think if you are going teach your children, you should have a teaching credential.  Only ten states currently require home schooling parents to have even a high school diploma, let alone an advanced degree or teaching expertise.  I also believe, despite the bullying that sometimes occurs,  it is critical for children to go through the pain and joy of dealing and bonding with their peers.  I want my children to develop relationships with authority figures other than my husband and myself.  It’s a big, wide world and my children will be better prepared to face it and thrive in it if I let them find their wings, rather than clipping them, keeping them safely caged in the home coop.

Regardless of how you feel on the topic, these sisters are undeniably talented and in this instance, home schooling clearly resulted in two multi-dimensional, creative, individualistic, strong women.  Good for them.  You can learn more about The Pierces on their website.

"You and I" EP by the Pierces Released May 30th, 2011