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Sat, 09 Apr 2005
Homeschooling Alone: Why corporate reformers are ignoring the real revolution in education

Reason Online has a good article on homeschooling, particularly the parts about how corporations are insisting on education reform on the one hand, while backing the status quo on the other:

If today’s corporate reformers don’t know much about history, they do display a well-developed sense of irony. In one breath, they argue for more “school choice.” In the next, they advocate the development of “best practices” that can be franchised from classroom to classroom and lobby for legislation like the No Child Left Behind Act, which essentially coerces all schools everywhere to teach the same subjects using the same methods and materials. To streamline an education system where “the vast majority of students and teachers are struggling against bureaucratic constraints,” IBM introduced its Reinventing Education program, which, in impeccably fluent Educratese, proudly touts its “student assessment practices, continuous teacher improvement models, and teacher instructional planning.” If there’s anything that can get apathetic students and teachers energized about learning, it’s “student assessment practices” and “continuous teacher improvement models.”
[22:28] | [education] | # | TB | F | G | 5 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

We homeshcool. One of the things the we found is that we were actually saving money by having my wife at home. We don't eat out except for special occasions. We don't have to maintain business appropriate wardrobe for her. My daughter isn't perpetually sick from being exposed to children who's health practices are marginal at best. We are all healthier because we eat better. Daria has some pretty hard to deal with food alergies and we don't have to worry about her getting slipped some red food dye.

My wife loves the situation because she doesn't have to deal with the stress of pink collar work. If your wife has a job that makes more money than that it may be a tough decision. But is comes down to the fact that I feel like I was short changed by the public school system. I don't want my daughter to have to re-learn just about everything when she becomes an adult.

By my estimation the only real sacrifices we are making is the fact that we have older cars at this point. We live in a nicer home, eat better have more time for friends and family. We almost never go to see the doctor. My daughter hasn't developed that "dog eat dog" attitude that you see in public school children. She knows how to have conversations with adults. She is one of the best behaved children I know. She plays cooperatively with other children, not competitively. She shares everything with everyone. She doesn't pick on other kids. (Should i go on?)

Giving up new cars and dining out is a small price to pay for the benefits to my wife and daughter.
Posted by
count0 at Sun Apr 10 08:52:02 2005

Everything count0 relates about their children fits our children as well, only they are going to be products of a public-school system in as much as that's where some of their education is driven.

Yet our kids are among the best behaved children we know, don't have a dog-eat-dog attitude (they are among the most empathetic people I know, adults or children) - could go on but they share the same attributes as count0's.

I congratulate count0 on a great success. Unfortunately 2 of 3 home-schooled examples of children we know appear to be (ongoing) abject failures, only their parents seem relatively unaware of this.

Homeschooling itself does not turn out marvelous kids - parenting does, regardless of where they go to school.  Our admittedly limited exposure to home-schooled kids suggests that those who only see through rose coloured glasses should be wary. One couple - a software biz dad, and stay at home mother who delights in telling everyone they are "unschooling" their kids  - kid-driven learning, no discipline at all (8 year old still has not started to learn to read...) - for some reason can't fathom that they've produced two of the most anti-social, uncooperative, frankly nasty (to everyone else) children I've met.

The other - an 8 year old who reads but lacks basic social skills and self-discipline - is the product of a parent couple one of which works at a local university and is quite convinced that nothing is learned in grade school until grade 10, so why subject the child to "formal" education before... ugh!

The third, stellar example we know, was taught by mom while family was reposted around the world thanks to the fathers biz. Bright, nice kid, as are the girl's parents.

A small sampling group I admit. Clearly there are lots of kids in public education that have issues as well, although I must say that our experience with our kids school has been quite positive.

Clearly some public schools may be better than others, and some private schools may or may not be better than public - but beyond the luck-factor of teacher-pupil pairings in any given year, its clear to me that success in school depends a lot on parent involvement.

Most teaching professionals I've met or know personally are in the profession because they love it and want to help kids excel. Sure there are outliers that don't fit this profile, and sure there are always going to be less able teachers along the way as well. That's the job of the parent to monitor and address if required.

We too gave up some things in order to give our kids the level of attention we wanted. My wife, a senior software architect, works part time, and spends most of her spare time volunteering at the school when not at work. I sold a consulting biz that kept me on planes and away from home, and work somewhat less but earn much less than my previously fully booked at top billable hour life, but at least I do it now out of my home office and am no longer racking up hundreds of thousands of air miles a year.

In exchange I get to play sports with my kids and their friends at the school three days a week after school, and my sons and walk or ride the 2km home from school. My wife is very involved in their education yet also gets to keep her mind working on software design challenges on a part time basis.

I too feel a little short-changed by the public school system - I was underchallenged and had the unfortunate experience of having more than my share of dud teachers in high school. But I'm not transfering my experience on to my kids -- that was 20,30 years ago now and I won't be concerned that the same will happen but will remain alert to the possibility. That's my job as a parent, among many. Unlike my parents, neither of whom were involved in our schools or education beyond "did you do your homework?" -- we are fully engaged in our kids education - if there are duds out there in the future, we'll know about it and take action, whatever that might have to be.

Meanwhile, I'm pleased that our kids are experiencing life both among adults and children of their own age. Among other things, it helps them reinforce and build upon social skills we've helped them acquired. through peer interaction, gaining experience in using compromise, and discovering how to assert themselves when required or how to ask for help when situations become difficult.

We too are learning things - blessed with some good teachers at our school we've learned how to deal with the fact that not all kids learn at the same rate, and we've been given some excellent tools for helping our kids move forward past their own individual hurdles. I'm not sure our home tutoring would be nearly as effective without the professional input we get from teachers at the school.

I'm positive that there are no one size fits all solutions for education. The choice between public, private or home schooling is one that needs to be made carefully not based only on the child's needs and abilities but also the parents. Some should not be leading a class even of only one...
Posted by
Michael Watkins at Sun Apr 10 13:40:33 2005

I agree with Michael on the vast majority of what he said. Involved parents make all of the difference in a public school education.

I also agree that there are a good number of people who use home schooling to hide their kids away form the world. I had childhood friends who's mother was mentally ill. She used home schooling to keep the world from her house. That was a sad situation and we even knew it back then when we were children.

The quality of education that my child could get from public schools isn't the issue. We could mitigate the damage caused by the worst public school by educating her at home in the evenings. A few hours of work in the evening and we could have her ignore everything taught in class and she would come out with a better education.

I feel that the entire question has been turned around. You ask "why in world would you home school", I ask "why in the world would you public school?" Have you examined your motives? If you are like most Americans you do it because you have been taught that there is no other way to educate your children and that you owe it to the state and society to let them have that piece of your child. Or you could feel that your family can't get by with just one income, that the financial sacrifice isn't worth it. Or is it that you feel that you couldn't competently educate your child (I doubt that since you are reading this fine blog...) I am not a collectivist. I don't feel that any money that could be made by having a dual income household is worth the loss, we have financially proven otherwise. My wife and I are both have college degrees.

Why should we public school?
Posted by
count0 at Mon Apr 11 06:57:34 2005

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