In the Homeschooling by the Numbers thread, there was much back and forth critical of criticisms of homeschoolers lacking content knowledge--mostly centered around the ideas that a) schools have the same problems, and b) tailoring to one's child is a good thing.
Wrt to the first criticism, that school teachers lack content knowledge, I've created a not-for-profit corporation to address this. MSMI, the Middle School Mathematics Institute, is aimed at parents, teachers and schools serving students in grades 4-8, offering a variety of services to help build the bridge to Algebra 1.
For teachers, we offer intensive workshops, known as "institutes" that teach the math behind the school mathematics that teachers are teaching. It teaches the foundational pieces to help teachers understand that math is meant to be coherent and precise, and they must teach it that way as well. For schools, we help them to move away from their textbooks-as-curricula, and understand that nearly all available textbooks have incredibly great deficiencies, so great that only a very skilled teacher will be able to overcome them, We then help schools to address their standards and curricula to raise the difficulty and mathematical maturity slowing over those grades so students are prepared for algebra. For parents, we over free talks and pamphlets to help navigate what a good mathematics education would look like for their children.
One group I've not reached out to, even though I have many contacts in that group, is the homeschooling community. Should I? How? I'm happy to reach out to them as I do parents, but I haven't tried involving them as teachers.
My last institute was 5 full days. My next is going to be 9. It takes that many days just to begin to start to teach what mathematical reasoning looks like, even to experienced elementary math teachers.
I find that they homeschoolers I know are even less likely to find the time to attend such an event. One day workshops every month aren't enough. None of the homeschooling mothers I know, even if they are willing to afterschool Singapore, are willing to essentially take a course in learning elementary math if it required meeting weekly.
Am I pitching it wrong? Is there something I can do to reach them? I'm willing to admit that I must be all things to all people, but what would it take to get to them?
I already have to thread the needle--positioning MSMI as supporting teachers in a way that makes them not feel attacked for lacking content knowledge, but instead, supportive of their being asked to teach more and more sophisticated math. I have to reach administrators and tell them that their textbooks are terrible and teachers don't have the knowledge they need to do what their state has asked them to do, and they've basically been given no other options, since all US textbooks are terrible and elementary teacher certs don't require any math. I have to help parents to feel empowered even as I sound the alarm about their child's math program.
That's a lot of defensiveness to dance around. And yet, in homeschoolers, it seems even higher. So even as they admit to me that they don't know any math, and their children know more than they do, they don't want to learn more.
What should I do? How could I reach them? What would it look like?