Not being a parent, I feel uniquely qualified to give opinion on the practice of homeschooling. At least I am good company, since in a significant number of states, there is zero regulation of the practice, and anyone can declare themselves “teacher.” So, like I said, I’m uniquely qualified.
The chart says a lot. In those states of white, there are NO regulations whatsoever. Thus it allows a mere high school graduate in a state like Michigan (and one’s competence varies of course as to the quality of even that status), to “teach” their children. In red states, the requirements are high, requiring at minimum licensed teachers, testing and evaluations done on a regular basis. Most of these are required in the orange states as well. Iowa for example, required a licensed teacher, and evaluations done periodically along with testing. It does however, exempt the Amish type communities from compliance.
My first experience with homeschooling came in something I read or saw regarding Alaska. Folks who lived deep in the wilderness had no access to schools; heck they receive their mail ofttimes by biplane. As I recall, the two kids, schooled by mom, placed at Harvard and tested well above their peers. Wow, I thought. How lucky. If I had only had well educated parents who could have led me on an independent study into all those places my regular school had no “time” for in the rush to meet the general “citizenship” requirements.
I often thought that homeschooling as an adult would be something I would deeply love–giving my child an extra boost toward college. I still agree, there are circumstances when homeschooling is better. The obvious is when there is no alternative such as living in remote areas of a state. Another situation is well known to many urban dwellers–inadequate and substandard schools in their area.
As the map suggests, homeschooling, as schooling in general tends to be, respects to an inordinate degree, the state and the parent. The differences between states seems wildly variant. This goes hand in hand with our general belief that the state should not exercise too much control over families. They are sacrosanct in some sense, and only a serious state interest should intrude upon the family. One can look at custody issues with in vitro and all the other methodologies of giving birth to realize how ill-equipped the courts feel in tampering with family issues.
So the idea that we should regulate and to what degree is important. I am forced to look aghast at any state that makes no regulation of such an important issue. Having a well educated electorate, and one that is poised to enter college or university on a level of equality with other students, is I would think essential. Our world becomes more and more complicated, and our youth must be armed with the clearest and best information available to compete and make wise decisions, both for their own lives and for the lives of humanity itself.
It seems that generally speaking religion plays a major part in homeschooling decisions. Something like 33% cited religion as their reason for homeschooling. I ran into this first on a Catholic forum that is decidedly right wing. In fact, many of its posters are former born agains who have discovered the “true” church, but have brought their fundamentalist ways with them. They and other right wing evangelicals are near the largest segment of those who choose homeschooling.
And this seems irrationally wrong to me. These folks seem to object that our schools are too secular, and that they are, and by design. However, the answer it seems to me is not in homeschooling, since the science, math, and so forth are not impacted by religion. In fact the removal of religion from schools was imposed exactly so that information is offered as is, without editorial comment if you will.
The rightful place to indoctrinate kids (if you must) is at home. Kids should be learning biology unburdened by ideology. They can receive that at home, where no one can prevent it. One of my closest friends candidly explained to me how her children regurgitated the “answers” for tests as it related to evolutionary theory, but were at home told that such information was all a tissue of lies, since the good Lord set out all we need to know in one or both versions of creation in Genesis.
Why religious objections to secularized education is a reason for indoctrinating a kid in bad or no science, and splitting the brain into fragments, none of which can be reconciled, is beyond me. I simply object that it is wrong. It is child abuse. Said child is ill prepared for college for starters. Plenty of science professors in colleges and universities across the land gripe about the remedial education that must be given to these kids, and how some of them waste the class time arguing creationism. The vast majority of kids are there to learn evolution and thus prepare themselves for careers in science, not engage in a useless debate with a brainwashed kid.
We all know the consequences, either the child, too tied to parental control, keeps its head in the sand, and either flunks or engages in the repeat it but don’t believe it mode, or they crash and burn as now ex-believers, having had their worldview explode before their eyes in a torrent of actual facts. The former creates a non-thinking human robot, following blindly where no logic has gone before, and the latter becomes an atheist, unfortunate from a believer’s stand point at least.
I’m not against homeschooling, but I am against allowing minimally educated adults, who know not even as much as they are attempting to convey, all with an ideological bent which is demonstrably false, to screw with the minds of our youth. It is bad enough that our educational system is now substandard to much of the world today, let’s not make it worse by continuing to drag it into the morass of myth and fairy story. A troubled world requires more.
Oh, and just for proof, look to Texas which has been screwing with textbooks and such, all designed to push a creationist agenda. The upshot is that graduation levels in Texas are lower than Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia. Now, no doubt some will quibble with correlations here, but I think that the more irrelevant we make education, the less we graduate. Kids seem to sense mediocrity I’d say.
Home Education Magazine has the state laws of Iowa and Michigan, as well as all other states at the bottom of each page of their website. See what the regulations are in your state.
Homeschooling may actually undo itself after a generation or two. Theoretically, substandard home-school educators will give their children substandard education (while mainstream educators at least have minimum standards). Thus, the home-schooled students will be at a disadvantage, as you noted. This will likely cause them to enter a cycle of poverty that prevents them from having sufficient income or time to offer their own children homeschooling. Of course, this would not be the case in cohesive religious communities.
Anyway, neither option is good for society.
You know, I don’t object to it in theory, and juxtaposed against awful local schools, it can be a god send. My bitch if you will is against states that offer no regulation and allow ideologically backward individuals the opportunity to perpetrate this brainwashing without regulation or counter imput. Thanks Westward and welcome to our discussion.
I was biased against homeschooling but I have to report that my attitude has changed. Home schooled students, those I meet at the library, are voracious readers. They love learning. They are motivated to learn. I can’t say that about a the majority of regularly schooled students, in fact, quite the opposite.
Indiana doesn’t have strict regulations it is true. I ended up homeschooling a niece during her junior year in high school. She went back and graduated with her class. She kept a portfolio of the work she did and got credit for it. Otherwise she would have dropped out and who knows what would have happened to her then.
The school claimed she was doing college freshman level work but it was all I could find for her using my own and the library’s resources. She was very proud of her portfolio and she later confided that this gave her the confidence to do better in school and not be as influenced by her peers. Good stuff all around I’d say.
Liberality, I agree, that in the hands of educated and rational people, homeschooling can be a fine thing to offset bad local schools, but my beef is allowing the fundies to home school and teach their backward and false “biology” and geology etc to unsuspecting children who have no option and don’t know they are being led down a path of intellectual dead ends.
I believe that in the hands of rational educated people, homeschooling offers a lot of students a better alternative. I want regulations that are strictly enforced, that’s all.
The issue is really how we’ve lost touch with education’s overall purpose. My French buddy–who spent several years in California, where his father worked in the Consulate–summed it up very nicely. Most Americans view education as vocational training: get good grades to get into a good college to get a good job.
In France (where I’ve spent much time), the educational system is focused on creating citizens–an educated electorate that makes good choices for the whole rather than the few. I’ve been there several times during the week of high-school baccalaureate exams. The tests led the nightly news. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing–man in the street interviews asking teenagers, “How hard was today’s philosophy exam?”–and hearing these kids, wholook and act exactly like our kids, rattling off about Kant and Hume and Foucault. Next day, science. Next day, history, etc. Meanwhile we drill our kids to fill in little circles to indicate the best provided answer…
I go through all this because I think the homeschooling phenomenon (and its religious undertow) is partly due to our general apathy toward education. It’s something we do to keep the kids busy, instead of invest the time and energy to create solid adults. And then, as you point out, when overgrown kids are free to teach their kids… well. As Westwood points out, this is not a sustainable idea–it’s a very fast sprint down a very short runway.
Tim, thanks so much for the insight into France’s system. I do note they allow homeschooling where Germany and Sweden do not. But I rather think that “religious” reasons are not acceptable as a reason. I appreciate much your comments that we train for jobs rather than for intellectual clear thinking.
I have the same doubts about homeschooling for the same reasons you cite. I think it can be OK where there are standards that need to be followed but still wonder about it. From what I understand, the successfully home-schooled are also exposed to a lot of activities with other children and are therefore socialized well; but what about those who are sheltered so much that they don’t interact enough with others, particularly others with different points of view? Surely when they get into the real world they will have issues.
Maui, I think you point out all the pitfalls. Undoubtedly, it is most difficult to arrange proper socialization when you child is home all day with being schooled. While you can cart them around to things, still, the kids have an important element missing: the discussion of what happened at school that day, the gossip and so forth. I would think the homeschooled kids would feel like outsiders.
Hmmm, as far as socialization, from my limited experience with home-schooled children (usually related to work), I would say your concern with oversheltering is closer the mark. I found them to be quite poorly socialized in terms of how they interacted with strangers, in particular other children their own age — they seemed arrogant towards these other kids. They also were not particularly respectful of adults that were not their own homeschooling parents/teachers (they might be polite, but they did not listen to anybody else’s “rules.”) In general, there seemed to be no real understanding of the basic parameters of what to do in public, even simple stuff like holding open a door for someone. So, yeah, all this to say I think they are lacking in practical experience of life: if they’ve never had a door held open for them, or never had to tolerate people they don’t like, why would they bother later on?
Blisterina, thanks for your input. Very interesting examples you give. I hadn’t thought of that, but you are right I think. The analogy is to the super bright kid that acts more like an adult than a child. They can be quite presumptuous at times from my experience. They fashion themselves as equals and act accordingly. No doubt they have grave difficulties with others their own age from their arrogance.
I hope you are correct! We need to learn Foreign Languages! English is tied with Chinese as the most Difficult, complicated language in the world to learn.
Thanks…I didn’t get the translation through on my computer. Don’t have the language software installed.
A die hard once explained to me why He does not feed his children his way of life. He described religion as an addiction. While he admitted to his kids that he enjoys his religious addiction he doesn’t push it on them.
he told me that if he was a heroin addict he would not want his kids to become one, so why then would he push a different addiction to his children. He did divulge the facts about his beliefs, but that was all.
thats most interesting. I find faith such a very personal thing, that it doesn’t translate well to others. I think it fine to expose one’s children to church and faith, but beyond that, it really is not something you can force. And it shouldn’t be forced. When we are ready, if we ever are, it comes naturally. Having a historical framework simply serves to give a foundation that may be added to, changed, or whatever at the point of choice.
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