Friday, February 09, 2007

What does the general public think of homeschooling?

I often go to internet news sites to read articles about homeschooling. They tend to be faintly pro or blatantly anti, but the majority fall into "obviously homeschooling is better academically, but what about ...?" (usually socialization)
I came across a rather bland article out of Scotland that fit this pattern, but it was the comments that shocked me. Some folks, even those not sucking on the educational system teat, don't even admire homeschooling, they are repulsed by it. Some of the comments and my reaction:

"Most home schooling parents keep their children out of public schools to indoctrinate them with a private brand of religion. It’s not a horror of public schools so much as a horror of exposing their kids to people who don’t believe the seas will turn to blood in their lifetimes, etc.
And publicly funded education made us a world power. It was intended so. And it has been defunded, and most importantly depopulated, by what is essentially classism and racism. All else is jibber-jabber."
Only 35% of students are homeschooled for strictly religious reasons. However, it is a perfectly legitimate reason to homeschool since parents don't necessarily want their children to be indoctrinated in the religion of secular humanism found in public schools.
We are a world power for many reasons, mostly due to the economic and political freedom available only in the United States. It is certainly not due to our 150 year old dumbed-down school system. Most of the founders of our republic were homeschooled. Just as a child's test scores fall the longer he goes to government school, our country's scores fall further behind other countries the longer we subsidize a corrupt and socialist system of education. Defunded? The school system gets a majority of property tax dollars, going up every year. More money is not the answer to the Education Department's ills- it needs to be dismantled entirely.
"I live in the South, in a relatively small town without a lot of options as far as private schools. The local Catholic school has recently closed and it never went past the 8th grade. The black:white ratio is about 60:40. So as you can imagine there are several people that either home school or have moved to a small school district nearby that is mostly white."
If a parent wants better for their own child, knowing they can't change the system, people on the left simply starts calling names like racist. Is it racist for me to want my children to not be exposed to rampant materialism, sex, and drugs? (available at our local "great" public school)

"I would love to have been home schooled had it not been some form of social suicide, seems like a great way to learn though."

"Home schooling is a good option for “kids who don’t fit in” or those at the IQ extremes. However IME it’s more for parents who can’t get along with others’ ideas, whether those are religious, academic, or social. The results are a mixed bag. You’ll never hear about the kids who fall through the home school cracks."

"I can related to this in a way. An ex-neighbor of mine had four children, three were being home schooled while the oldest had just entered the 10th grade due to wanting to play sport. The first time I meet their two youngest I swear I thought they were retarded. They acted like they were scared of everything outside and seemed to stare and grunt a lot. Later I learned the mother was home schooling and knowing her I wondered just how bad the kids would end up. While other kids played outside these kids stared from behind windows or bushes. The second one began interfacing with me in odd ways. Treated me like an idiot and was rather insulted when I’d put him in his place. His father finally explained to me how his son, 15 expected more respect from me, especially since I was not a memeber of their church. Well thank goodness they moved. It took me a year of disrespecting their cult like living, but it worked."

"I always thought home schooling was a way for over-protective parents to isolate their kids from society. It ends up doing more harm than good because even though schools don’t have the greatest curriculum, what they are good at teaching is human interaction. It’s really the social context of schools that ends up being the best education for children being prepared for the adult world. Its social skills that lead to success, not book smarts."
I knew a great many socially inept people during my childhood, and guess what? All of them went to public schools. Social skills are pretty simple to learn. Do we really need to spend tens of thousands of dollars simply to teach how to play well with others? If our society in general is an indication then that reason is a complete failure. Simply look at our crime and litigation rates. As for the idea that social skills are the key to success, we can't produce engineers with no knowledge of math and physics, physicians with no knowledge of science, lawyers with no knowledge of history, and writers with no knowledge of grammer.

"I had to go to college for four years, take numerous tests, and get a license just to teach one subject. But if parents think they can teach their kids every subject better, then more power to them.
I no longer teach high school because I got sick of kicking kids out of class, having the police come to my class room to arrest one of my students, and hearing about how a student was absent the day before because he was home with his dad smoking pot before his dad had to go back to jail. But I’m sure all those were the fault of teachers…"
Education degrees are so simple to get that you might as well be able to send off for one with cereal box tops. The Praxis national teacher exam is easy, yet I hear all the time of local graduates having a hard time passing on the 3rd and 4th try. These are people I want teaching my kids? I don't think so. There is certainly no corollary between a degree and knowing how to teach. This profession has the highest percentage of people who quit in the first 5 years because colleges do not prepare their students for the chaos of the public schools.
The homeschool community has addressed the issue of teaching complicated subjects in many areas with co-ops, tutors, and computer tutorials. If I managed to get through my local high school then I can easily teach my children how to learn to read, do arithmetic, and write a coherent paragraph.
I wish I could show these people all the great success stories in the homeschooling world, such as Jonathan Bate, the #1 ranked graduate at West Point. However, just as people did not believe in Jesus even after seeing his miracles with their own eyes, these blind souls will never see the good in homeschooling.


Tammy said...

Great post.

No matter what we do, no matter what we say, there will always be some kind of stereotyping of homeschooling.

Well, unless our society somehow gets out of "let's put everything into a box so we can define it" thinking.

And how can we do that, if everyone in our society spends their formative years in school?

In the meantime, I'm glad we have choices. Even if those choices are misunderstood. And maybe that's a good thing. A little knowledge in the wrong hands could be dangerous :)

Thanks for the post!

Dana said...

This is something I always wonder about. So many of these types of discussions begin with some anecdotal "evidence" and some vague assertion about all the homeschooled children they supposedly know.

And I wonder, just where are all these homeschooled kids hanging out? And I've seen public schooled kids with the same sort of aberrant behaviors. Why do they get a pass without blaming their educational environment?

Summer M said...

Great post. It never fails to amaze me how many stereotypes and assumptions there are about homeschooling out there. And so many are negative.