Monday, March 24, 2008

Homeschooling in the news

I read an interesting article on homeschooling by Gregory Millman in Sunday's Washington Post.

Millman wrote the kind of article on homeschooling that I think will hold more credence with the anti-homeschooling crowd than most pro-homeschooling articles that I see. He is not defensive of homeschooling, he just quietly goes about showing why homeschooling works for his family.

I am always happy when I see someone debunking the myth that we're all religious fundamentalists.
"And contrary to most popular belief, home-schooling isn't the brainchild of religious fanatics. It actually got started in the counterculture of the 1960s. In his landmark 1964 book, "How Children Fail," teacher and education reformer John Holt accused schools themselves of causing students to fail; eventually, he came to advocate a sort of "underground railroad" out of compulsory schooling. It wasn't until the end of the 1970s and into the 1980s that the movement spread through communities that believed public schools were threatening their moral values."

He goes on to say:
"My wife and I hadn't originally planned on home-schooling, but with six children and one modest income, we couldn't afford a house in one of the better school districts in the state. We were living in Plainfield, an elegant old central New Jersey city with typically poor urban public schools characterized by bureaucratic mismanagement, low teacher morale and student violence. In one notorious incident, third-graders in one school were strip-searched because someone suspected one of them of stealing $20. That wasn't what we wanted for our children. We first tried a local Catholic school, but we thought that the teachers' expectations for students were too low. Since we couldn't afford classy private school tuitions, we turned to home-schooling."

I become very uncomfortable with the strident homeschoolers who insist that we homeschoolers do everything better than the public schools. This is so patently false to anyone with half a brain. You just have to spend time with groups of homeschoolers to realize that we do things differently, but not necessarily better.

Millman says it well:
" Studies have shown that home-schooled children outperform the conventionally schooled not only on standardized academic tests but also on tests of social skills. This, I believe, isn't because home-schoolers do things better than schools do them but because we do better things than schools do."

He gives some good information on homeschoolers and college:
Home-schooled students' high performance continues into college. Admissions officers at IUPUI, a joint-venture urban campus of Indiana University and Purdue, and at Georgia's Kennesaw State University, have tracked the performance of admitted home-schoolers and found that they earn higher GPAs than the general student population. Associate Dean Joyce Reed of Brown University has called home-schoolers "the epitome of Brown students," telling the university's alumni magazine that "they are self-directed, they take risks, and they don't back off."

He ends with:
Conventional schools are like the nation's Rust Belt companies, designed in the 19th century but struggling to meet the standards of international competition today. School boards and administrators should be concentrating on ways to make schools more like home-schooling -- not on ways to force home-schooled children to go back to schools. People who are free to think for themselves usually get together and find solutions that are better than what bureaucrats can devise.

He says it so beautifully. Those of us who value liberty, who are free to think of ourselves find solutions that are better than those designed by committees and bueaucrats.

1 comment:

momof3feistykids said...

Thanks for sharing this article. I think it will give people a realistic, balanced view of what the home schooling movement is about.