Wednesday, November 08, 2006

An old debate: Homeschool vs. Public School

In a recent topic on phatmass, one poster had this to say:
....it seems to me you have the typical view of the homeschooler, the stereotype, which I get alot here at school. "oh you were homeschooled, you didn't have a life. You didn't learn from real teachers, how could you learn? You didn't interact with other kids. You are socially stunted. You didn't have opportunity." Its all carp. I am happy that I was not sent to public school. Most of the peeps i know that did, ended up hating learning, and I believe the best thing homeschooling did for me is teach me to value it above everything else. On top of that, I got self-discipline, self-reliance, and a top notch education. I am currently pursuing a degree in Chemical engineering and hopefully go for a ph.d. (My advisor says its do-able anywhere between 8-10 years of total college) Public schools might give loads of opportunity, but one persons success (yours ) doesn't make the system a success
And since I have an opinion on most things, I too had something to say...
And using your line of thinking (and speech): Homeschooling might give loads of opportunity, but one person's success (yours) doesn't make the system a success. I, like Balthazor, have seen plenty of kids go through homeschooling and come out a total flop. Socially and academically they are not where they are supposed to be. And before you jump and say that you are fine and that not all homeschoolers are that way, let me assure you that I understand. Not all kids that come through public school are where they are supposed to be academically and socially. But you have to apply the same principles and efforts both places.

Before I get much further, I pretty much recognize that most people will assume that their way of doing things is better than the person who does it differently. I find myself in the middle. I believe in both systems but only because I recognize the following:

In both systems the child must work for an education. It is not handed to them. Certain standards must be met in order to advance through the system. While some would claim that homeschooling gives a 'better' education, there are still minimum standards for getting through the curriculum. (This is where I would use the example of friends who have homeschooled and are not at all advanced academically and possibly not at all where they should be academically.) It honestly doesn't matter whether you are at home or at a school (private or public) when it comes to self-reliance and self-discipline. If you want the best education out there, you must learn to be self-reliant and self-disciplined. You have to make sure you complete your work on time to the best of your ability, utilizing all possible resources. No one takes your hand and helps you through it. You must be responsible for completing the work and, if you desire, doing more than is expected to make sure that you're learning - and learning as much as you can. (By the way, I have noticed that a lot of homeschooled kids think that they got 'top notch' education but if you were to compare their syllabus to a syllabus of some schools, they would be blown out of the water. I'm not saying that I don't think homeschooling can be top notch, just that you must not come into this assuming that because you succeeded to a fuller degree than someone from public school that you automatically 'win'. This goes back to the bolded portion at the top.) We, the children who were not homeschooled, did not automatically lose when our parents decided (for whatever reason) that we would go to private/public school, just as you, those who were homeschooled, did not automatically win when your parents decided to teach you themselves. It is absolutely necessary that the parents be involved in the younger years in helping their children to succeed and in helping to give them the tools necessary to succeed on their own. Teaching good study habits early on will make all the difference in later years. As the child gets older, it is still important to have parental involvement but at some point, it becomes the primary responsibility of the child to make use of what he has and to succeed with that to the fullest extent.

Let's take an example. You give a homeschooled child the best curriculum in the world. He has an articulate teacher with the patience of Mary. But he does not have the drive. He does not make use of all of the wonderfully advanced tools he has. His parent/teacher may push him to try and try and try, but if that child does not wish to succeed, he will not. On the other hand, you have a child in public school. It's mediocre, comparably. This child wishes to have the best education he can get. He listens and takes notes in class and does all of his work, turning it in on time. He utilizes the resources around him: the library, free hours with his teachers, the counselors, etc. He does well. Why? Because he does have the drive; he does wish to succeed.

Although it may seem like homeschooling provides a child with more opportunities than public school, that is not always the case. Often times, public schools offer children opportunities that would not be readily available to homeschoolers or that homeschooling families may not be able to afford. (Public school families wouldn't be able to afford it on their own either, but because they are in the system, they are able to make use of these resources.)

In the end, I believe that both ways of schooling have great opportunities for success, but it is all relevant. If a child wishes to succeed, he will. If he does not, he will not.

----
And I must say that I give a lot of credit to those who can afford to stay home with their children. I applaud those who make the financial sacrifices in order to teach their children. I commend their efforts and respect them for their reasonings. Some of the coolest parents I know stay home with their little saints!

7 Comments:

Blogger Barb, sfo said...

Thanks for this. My 2 older children are "Catholic-schooled" and so will the little one, next year. Often, what I read in many blogs that encourage me otherwise as a Catholic parent, condemn my decision to "outsource" my children's educations.

It all ultimately boils down to, what is right for your family? There is no "one size fits all" educational method, format, or system. It's possible that one or more of my children may need something different, farther down the road.

But we don't need to tear each other down because of the choices we are making to educate our children. Wouldn't it be so much better if we support each other, help fill in the gaps that each system has?

Thanks for the sidebar link...I'll be happy to reciprocate.

11/09/2006 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Laura H. said...

But we don't need to tear each other down because of the choices we are making to educate our children. Wouldn't it be so much better if we support each other, help fill in the gaps that each system has?

Couldn't have said it better myself. ;)

11/09/2006 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Elena said...

Hi Laura,

I'm a new reader - found you through the Catholic Carnival. I'm also the homeschooling mother of six children ages 17 to 1.

So of course this post caught my eye and I decided it needed a good old-fashioned, (and good natured!) frisking! (a blog term)

Not all kids that come through public school are where they are supposed to be academically and socially.

Who defines where someone is supposed to be? What standards are using for academics? Social graces? And where does the faith (which is the main reason many of us choose to homeschool) fit into your critique?

But you have to apply the same principles and efforts both places.

Why? I chose to homeschool because it wasn't like an institutional education. So why do I have to apply the same principles, efforts or anything to it?

In both systems the child must work for an education. It is not handed to them.

True enough. But can you also agree that a homeschooler has much more freedom and flexibility to learn in a way that is best for him/her? Institutionally taught children are required to learn certain things, at certain times in certain ways, period. As no two people were created equally, I don't see how this cookie cutter approach to educating children is supposed to be the best for all or even most children.

Certain standards must be met in order to advance through the system.

Did you know that "the system" was designed to educate the working class? The system feeds itself. I am more interested in learning and education for its own sake, rather than meeting artificial standards to advance through an artificial system.

(This is where I would use the example of friends who have homeschooled and are not at all advanced academically and possibly not at all where they should be academically.)


Is it possible that your friend has some sort of a learning disability that would have made it very difficult to be one of 30 in the classroom, where has the individualized attention he received from a parent at least got him to the level he is today?

If you want the best education out there, you must learn to be self-reliant and self-disciplined.

I agree with what you're saying to a point. However there comes a point where an institutional program rewards learning and regurgitating to a test and not a real interest in learning and knowledge for its own sake. When you spark that desire to learn, kids want to be disciplined because it is exciting and enjoyable for its own sake.


You have to make sure you complete your work on time to the best of your ability, utilizing all possible resources.

Again, I agree with you to a point. But remember deadlines benefit the institution, not the individual. If my kid can't get the times tables down in third grade because he just is not developmentally ready to, will the world end if we take another year to learn them? I think not.


No one takes your hand and helps you through it.


I do! ; ) that's one of the benefits of home schooling!

I'm not saying that I don't think homeschooling can be top notch, just that you must not come into this assuming that because you succeeded to a fuller degree than someone from public school that you automatically 'win'.

Uh... we're not playing. That's the point. If I have literate, functional adults, who love their God, understand their faith, serve their community and live, love and play fully, I'll count that as a success. Whether or not they had four years of Latin on top of that doesn't particularly matter to me.


We, the children who were not homeschooled, did not automatically lose when our parents decided (for whatever reason) that we would go to private/public school,

I was completely educated completely in an institutional setting. That's why I homeschool.



In the end, I believe that both ways of schooling have great opportunities for success, but it is all relevant.

Did you mean relative?

----
And I must say that I give a lot of credit to those who can afford to stay home with their children.

I always hate that. What does it mean "can afford?" We scrape by every month and hope to make the ends meet. But this is important so we make it our priority.

That's all. Thanks for posting this thought provoking piece!

11/10/2006 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Laura, I applaud you for the thought and time you took with this post. I have been working on my own post "To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool?" and you have said, in your own beautiful manner, what I find myself thinking: whatever I decide, I am, as the parent, the FIRST CATECHIST of my child. Whatever tools I use - homeschooling or non-homeschooling - I am ultimately the one who will stand before God to account for my job as a parent (that said, I must note that NOT ALL things can be put as a burden on parents) (and now what was intended to be a short comment is getting longer and longer and ...). Great job and happy day to you! :)

11/12/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Laura H. said...

Elena, I have not missed your comments! I have actually started to respond to them but probably won't get around to posting a response until after I come home from New York! Sorry!

11/12/2006 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Elena said...

No worries! It gave me something to blog about for the Homeschool Carnival - which is good because I was a complete blank for this week!

Have a good and safe trip!

11/12/2006 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Spunky said...

Stumbled here by way of Elena, I'd like to address a few things you said.

1. I, like Balthazor, have seen plenty of kids go through homeschooling and come out a total flop. Socially and academically they are not where they are supposed to be.

Couldn't the same be said about Jesus and his band of twelve disciples. One turned out to be less than he should be. Should we fault the educational method for the disicples failure. No. That would be absurd.

Education is discipleship. It relies on both the teacher and the student to be a success - as God defines it. Not as WE or the STATE define it.

You shall love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

2. If you want the best education out there, you must learn to be self-reliant and self-disciplined.

The Bible doesn't preach self reliance, but total dependence on Jesus and the Truth. He who finds his life shall lose it. And he who loses his life for My sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:39).

3. I believe in both systems...

I understand your reasons. But te underlying assumption is that education is neutral. And a diligent child will be a "success" no matter what the method is. But education is not neutral. Jesus said, "He who is not for me is against me." The public schools do not teach "in Jesus name" nor do they seek to glorify Him, or make disciples in Christ. Therefore according to the words of Jesus they are against the Lord. Putting Christian children in the counsel of the ungodly is warned against in Psalm 1.

Your answers to the question of education are logical. But logic isn't the only consideration. We must consider what is also Biblical.

11/13/2006 05:20:00 PM  

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