Friday, April 08, 2005

Homeschool or Public school?

There has been a lot said about homeschoolers. Personally, I have only witnessed the media portray homeschoolers as pariahs, stupid, or religious crackpots.

But what does the evidence say? Read this report at HSLDA on homeschooler performance and their performance as adults.

The study shows how much more superior your average homeschooler's education is on an average budget of $500.00 a year compared to their public counterpart's $5,000+ per year budget.

This report doesn't mention much outside of educational performance. For instance, a homeschooled child will never or almost never be caught having oral sex in a school bathroom, dealing drugs, shot, killed, bullied, threatened, ostracized, and lead to believe the workplace consists only of ones own age, intelligence, and social status. Chances are, the homeschooler isn't going to have "self-image" issues either. The homeschooler lives their life in the real world, where as the public school system is a glorified day care facility.

Note from the article that high school students, and not young children, benefit mostly from homeschooling. It's obvious that the children in public schools learn in spite of the circumstances they are put in.

A common objection heard is, "They won't be able to socialize properly." Or something to this effect. When this occurs, I try my hardest not to laugh directly in the faces of these people. "Social skills!" I exclaim. You mean my child won't know how to assault, torment, engage in sexual activity, commit acts of drunkenness, get involved with the drug addicts, tattoo and pierce themselves, and the like?

Well, I don't want him to have social skills then if that's how you define them! Losers.

Maybe I was too harsh on the media. In fact, I change my mind. If the contrary to this lifestyle is considered to be a pariah, then pariahs my children shall be!


At 4/20/2005 6:29 PM, Blogger Seth T. Hahne said...

Dear .357,

I don't really know you so I don't really feel it's my place to be contrarian (nor do I really want to be all that contrarian), but I just wanted to say that I think you're maybe over-simplifying a little. I don't know, maybe it's just different here in California, but home-schooling is becoming (or at least seems to be becoming) a far more acceptable option for education than it was, say, ten or fifteen years ago.

And then, your post seems less interested in addressing real concerns than it is in simply proclaiming victory. Q.E.D. Socialization is a real concern and those who inquire about it are not advocating knowledge of assault, fornication, and drunkenness as being "good socialization" - and the fact is, most publicly schooled Christians will not engage in these behaviours, just as most home schooled and privately schooled Christian children won't.

I am not against Christian home schooling and see many benefits to it. However, like any educational system, there are hurdles that it needs to address and, hopefully, overcome. My last few serious relationships have been with home-schooled girls and despite all their great qualities (some brought out by their unique educations), they each had a variety of difficulties with the world around them due to an under-developed sense of social tactility. And this by their own admission. Though they were among the more socially adept of the home-schooled I have known, they each had troubles that might have been remedied had their parents focused more rigourously upon socialization.

I'm not saying the concern can't be overcome, but it does need to be addressed. And to simply dismiss it with an exclamation that avoids the issue entirely is not helpful to those expressing concern and if that sense is carried over into the actual education of children, it should prove unhelpful and perhaps even damaging (as it would engender an unrealistic understanding of the world and perhaps a sense of arrogant elitism in those educated).

Again, I'm pretty darned happy with a lot of the strides I'm seeing occur over the landscape of home schooling in my area and I'd hate to see counter-productive arguments being forewarding - for I only think such would do harm to the cause.

At 4/21/2005 11:01 PM, Blogger CDM said...

the dane,
Go ahead and comment. I'd especially like it if you did it often. After all I have your blog linked don't I?

Yes, you are right, I am being a simplistic. My intention wasn't for a thorough analysis of the woeful state the Public School machine is in. The report I linked to sufficed.

The reason why my post "seems less interested in addressing real concerns than it is in simply proclaiming victory." is because I had no interest in addressing "real" concerns with homeschooling. Feel free and bring them up if you please. I'd like to hear them.

"I am not against Christian home schooling and see many benefits to it." I should hope not. I did notice on your blog you claim to be a Christian. ;)

"My last few serious relationships have been with home-schooled girls and despite all their great qualities (some brought out by their unique educations), they each had a variety of difficulties with the world around them due to an under-developed sense of social tactility." Such as?

My 7 year old homeschooled son often meets people of all ages, races, religions, social positions, and professions. His public school counterparts are confined to a room with the same age children, same education, same everything. Very much like a lab experiment, now that I think of it. I have to wonder which child has a warped sense of the world around them?

At 4/22/2005 7:08 PM, Blogger Seth T. Hahne said...

There are several real concerns that home-schooling parents need to be ready to answer or remedy (and there are many who are doing so). Here are three: socialization, academic quailty and educational breadth, and elitism.

Socialization, though you may feel it unimportant, is a real concern amongst those who are considering home-schooling for their own children. A good friend of mine and a deacon in our congregation was considering home-schooling his daughter but after observing the home-schooled children in our congregation (their personalities and interaction with others), he decided that he would opt for private schooling.

While a few of of the home-schooling children I have known have grown into well-adjusted members of the community, the majority are still hampered by or struggling against inadequacies that were magnified by their particular education. It's almost certain that many of these kids would have been socially deficient in their maturity regardless of educational style, but it may be (and indeed is presumed by many) that home-schooling magnifies such deficiencies.

Some of these issues are tactlessness, dependancy issues, arrogance in the face of new ideas or people of other persuasions, obnoxiousness, that brand of social incompetance that makes one stick out (in a bad way) in a group, introversion, hyper-activity, and an inordinate love of denim as a clothing option for articles other than jeans. Much of this may be due to over-protective parenting (other other parental issues) and should be easily remedied with a little effort on the part of home-schooling parents, but home-schooling parents who really care a wit about what others think about home-schooling should be willing and ready to demonstrate how they intend to overcome this difficulty - whether actual or merely perceived. Demonstrating how a home education can address issues of socialization may even be more important to your cause than whether it does or not.

The academic issue is important simply because academics within homeschooling is all over the map. Some children receive quality educations that should be the envy of any gifted child while others receive educations that are far below those in a good public school. I have known both types and a great number who stand somewhere in between. One family I know that maintains that home-schooling is the only proper means of education also allows their children to count time playing Age of Empires II toward their history requirement. One ex-girlfriend hadn't ever written an essay before Freshman Comp in college. Another was completely unfamiliar with the canon of American and British literature; actually, two were. At the same time, another was quite well educated and her parents made certain that her education in terms of reading, writing, and history were well-rounded.

So, obviously, home-schooling can meet this concern with a concerted effort by parents, but again, to evangelize the disbeliever properly, you must go to pains to show that you understand both the concern and recognize both the potential for deficiency and the existence in that deficiency in many home-schooling environments (case in point: Andrew here is an excellent example either of an inadequate education or of the kind of evagelization that home-schooling could do without).

The third area of concern is elitism. Granted, this is more a concern amongst the parents of home-schoolers - but this particular maladjustment can easily infect the attidtudes of children (especially as they spend so much time in their parents' company). While it is fine to prefer your type of education to that of another, there is a danger in believing oneself better than another for such a choice. An intellectually honest parent will admit that good things come from each of the primary educational choices (and that each is a perfectly acceptable option for godly Christian parents if approached properly). About seven years ago, my congregation was ravaged by the divisveness of home-schooling parents who actually had the gall to suggest that parents who publicly educated their children were in sin (or at the least, were weaker in their understanding of Scripture). It was a difficult time for the congregation while mothers became snide, haughty, defensive, and otherwise uncharitible over the brouhaha.

My parents' church is currently dealing with a similar issue in regard to the classical Christian academy that the majority of that congregation's children attend. And honestly, I have to confess my embarrassment that this is the kind of thing that Christians are putting their time into - the fostering of dissent over such a triviality.

I'm glad that your child seems to be receiving a well-rounded education and has plenty of opportunity for enganging social interaction, but you have to recognize that the home-schooling contingent has only in recent years done much to combat the conception that the reality is wholly other than this. As far as the sterile environment by which you characterize the public system, I will beg to differ from my own experience. Having grown up in the public school system, I was surrounded by students of a diversity of social, ethnic, economic, and religious backgrounds; my best friends were an Armenian Jehovah's Witness, a German Jew, a Chinese atheist, and a WASPish Presbyterian. I don't remember any time, either, when I didn't understand that I was to be a light amongst the darkness of the world. I recognized, due to good parenting, that just as my parents lived in a world filled with men of depravity who spoke of and acted in the deeds of the world, so too should I live in the world as a witness to my faith yet remain not of it.

Further, my teachers then, as teachers are now, were of an ecclectic variety. Ideologically, there was very little homogeneity present in those responsible for my education. Some were believers, some were atheists, some were agnostic, and some were pagan. Some were Democrats, some were Republicans, some were Libertarians, and some didn't believe they had any place to speak about politics to students. A good thirty percent of my Christian friends are educators in the public system (another thirty percent are in the medical field). They may not be able to teach Creationism, but they certainly hold to Christian ideologies (anyway, we should be happy that the responsibility for true religious education remains in the hands of parents and pastors, not in the hands of academics).

All that is to say that I think your presentation of the public system as a sterile, lab-ish environ is a bit skewed.

At 4/26/2005 8:52 AM, Blogger CDM said...

the dane,

Thanks for the thorough response. I'd like to respond in kind, but if you've been reading lately I've been busy closing on a house 8 hours away and interviewing for a new job.

I thought about your opinions as I read this post.

It has some good insights from one who was public schooled (like me) and homeschooled like my children. Since you've been focusing on the "socialization" part of homeschoolers, I thought this article may come in handy. BTW, did you get a chance to read the HSLDA report from my original post? The academic comparison was, after all, the primary point of the post. That is to say, the report shows the overwhelming superiority of homeschooling to State sponsored education.

My socialization comments were added as a cherry on top. And a very BIG cherry it is.

At 4/27/2005 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to take a moment to share with you all the "socialization" that I recieved from public school.
First and foremost, I was ridiculed to the point of tears constantly as a little girl becuase I had a huge overbite. I hated to go to school, and had more "fake" illnesses that I can even count. Is that healthy socialization?
Second, in high school, I was desperate to "fit in" and be pretty like all the popular girls. Instead of focusing on school work, I was obsessed with my looks, and how to improve them. I was sexually promiscuous in an effort to be appealing to the boys. I drank a lot so that I could be "cool" at all the parties. Eventually I turned to drugs, becasue that's what everyone else was doing.
All of these things led to severe depression upon my realization that NONE of them actually made me cool. I dropped out of school, got pregnant and ended up having an abortion at the age of 17.
THAT is the socialization that I recieved from the public school system. Again, is this healthy? Does that help to make me more "well rounded" than home schooled kids?
The sad thing is that I felt as if I never really fit in, when in reality the majority of girls I know now who were also eduacated in the publis school system, have almost the same story to share about thier socialization issues.
Now please tell me again how having a mom who was focused on my education, and my developement would have damaged me socially??
If anything I firmly believe that it would have helped, not hindered my social skills. The skills I recieved from the public school system led to a path of destruction. I was never taught "tact" or how to be "independant". I was taught to rely on the very sytem that was brain washing me. And when I got to college eventually, I was also unprepared. I had written essays, and read plenty of book on history, however, as I'm sure you know, high school and college are completely different. I had people in my classes that were grown adults, with families, etc. So yet again, I was confused socially.
The young people that I know who have been homeschooled are so well rounded and secure. They have no need to compete with others for attention or recognition, or acceptance. Several I know of have gone to college and are doing quite well there and in their jobs. They ARE prepared socially for a world of poeple different from themselves, as opposed to the public school world where everyone is the same age, and stage as you are.
The thought of kids needing the public school system for socialization makes me cringe. I never want my kids to have that kind of socialization.

At 4/29/2005 3:33 PM, Blogger CDM said...

Thanks for your testimony Anonymous. An all too familiar one, I'm afraid. I believe that homeschooled children that have been preserved from this environment actually are odd compared to their public schooled peers. Which is to say "odd" is good when one considers the norm.

Stop by again.

At 5/02/2005 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard : "Your homeschooled kids will grow up in a bubble and never know what the real world is like." Let's compare environments. Scene 1: Thirty children all approximately the same age, herded together in a crowded room, all doing exactly the same assignment at exactly the same time to exactly the same instructions, day after day, year after year. Scene 2: A handful of children of assorted ages, spread out all over the house and yard, doing independent assignments as they are capable, each lesson tailored to each student's interests and abilities, with the routine broken frequently for running errands with Mom or attending to family celebrations and/or emergencies. If Scene 1 appears to you to be more of a sterile "bubble" environment and Scene 2 appears to be different every day, every month, every year, then we agree. Homeschooled kids are the ones who truly live in the real world; public schoolers hear about the real world, but do not really experience it until they leave the institution.

Face it -- no one can love my child, care for my child, understand my child, or teach my child better than I can. Homeschooling adapts to the idiosyncrasies of life in a way no institution possibly can.
I will quote from my favorite homeschool T-shirts: "When you're homeschooled, there's no telling where you'll end up." Now picture Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, with the noble faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln faithfully watching over the horizon of this nation. "Mt. Rushmore: The National Monument to Homeschooling" -- 'nuff said.


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