Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Homeschooling Disadvantages": A Rebuttal

Today, my mom told me to read this article here, and then right a rebuttal. And so, here, in all it's homeschool student glory, it is. :) Please note that I live in the USA, and so the quote from the Bill of Rights might not be valid, if you do not. :)
(I apologize for any mistakes.)

Homeschooling is an ancient tradition. I'm not sure how far it dates back, but I'm willing to bet that it goes back very far.. and like most good traditions, it is still around today.

Why? Why do parents choose to keep their children home? Why do they choose not to send them to a big brick building where they will be taught under the guidance of "qualified teachers"?
There are several reasons. The first of which is that of learning.
Learning. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines it as "To gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction or experience... to come to be able... to come to realize".
Many parents find that the instruction, and learning experience, in public and private schools is inadequate and lacking in many areas. Believe it or not, so do many students. I remember last summer, at my summer camp, I shared a tent with a girl, "Dana". Dana and I had many conversations about the pros and cons of both homeschooling and public schooling, and even though she herself was a public schooler, she did not come up with any pros for public schooling, except that it was easier for her parents.
We did, however, come up with many pros for learning at "home".

First of all, you know what you're learning. You know what your kids are learning, and you can control that. If you want to teach that the world was made in seven days? Then go right ahead. No one's there to stop you. Some people find that a dangerous idea. "Who's to say what they're being taught?" they say. Let me quote a very importance piece of paper in this.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Therefore, parents have the right to teach their children what they want. They may not be right, but they have the right to teach their kids.
So, you can control what you/your kids are learning.
You can also make sure that you/they are learning at their own level.
Story time!
I have a friend. We'll call her "Jane". Jane didn't learn to read, and she didn't learn to read. In fact, she didn't learn to read until she was about 7 or 8. If Jane had been in public school, she would have been held back and labeled "slow". Fortunately for her, Jane was homeschooled, and her mom wasn't about to let her not learn, even though she couldn't read.
So her mom read to her. She read books, and more books, and many, many books. Jane became a small expert on several topics, including Ancient Egypt.
Oh, and to those who it interests... Jane is now a fantastic reader, and has read the entire Lord of The Rings trilogy.

I myself was at a higher level than my public school peers for many years. It is only recently, and thanks to my extensive traveling last year, that I am back at my "proper" level. At school, I would be expected to be learning at the same rate as everyone else. This is difficult for us children/teenagers.

Yet another benefit of learning in a homeschooling environment instead of a public school one, is that you get an incredible love of learning. We homeschoolers do not learn because we have to, or because it is required. No, we stuff our heads so full of information that they almost burst because we can. Because we want to. Almost every homeschooler that I have met (and I've met quite a few), have an unsatisfiable need to learn more. What is life if you aren't learning something? What is life if every day isn't full of something new that you didn't know before you woke up?
That seems to be the attitude of most homeschoolers. I'm not saying that public schoolers cannot have a love of learning. I am simply saying that the environment created by homeschooling is much more inductive of that mindset than the public school must be.

The second major reason that people homeschool themselves or their children is, believe it or not, socialization.
"a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position."
Socialization is a tricky subject to talk about. On one hand, there's the question about how you get to meet people if you're at home all the time.

I think, here, it is important to define my term of "home". Home can mean, of course, simply "a family's place of residence", as my dictionary says. Or, it can be defined as "wherever it is likely to find or locate a certain individual or group of peoples". Most homeschoolers use the second definition. Home to most of us can include friend's houses, forest preserves, swimming pools, libraries, museums, and churches.
So, if you use that, being at "home" all the time is actually a pretty good thing, for socialization. To add to that, a lot of homeschoolers take classes in art, language, writing, history, music... you name it, they'll probably take it. There are, in fact, organizations that act as a sort of "public school for homeschoolers". They are useful for people of my age, who are trying to earn CLEP and AP scores for college and high school credit.

Besides these organizations, there are co ops for homeschoolers. Homeschool groups. I belong to a HOUSE group, which is an easy way for me to meet other homeschoolers, of all ages. To add to that, I (and many other homeschoolers) take lessons in things such as musical instruments. these are not necessarily at public schools (which is, I think, what Sandy, who wrote that article, was concerned about). They are often from private tutors, which is actually the norm for most of us. Besides that, if you need more "out of the house" activities, many of us are religious and go to some sort of religious gathering... or even if we are not, there are thousands of other extracurricular that many of us attend. Girl Scouts.. 4H... Boy Scouts... Campfire... the list goes on and on.

One of the benefits of socialization in a homeschooling environment is that you are never forced to talk to a person. If you don't want to see someone, there is almost always a way that someone can make sure you don't have to. In school, on the other hand, you constantly have people shoved at you, that you might not even like. Bullying is a huge issue, and it tends to thrive in public schools.
Story time!
I have a friend. We'll call him "Tim". Tim goes to a public school. Tim suffers from depression.
Instead of getting support from his peers about this, Tim is bullied because of this.

Now, we do not want to be bullied. We do not intentionally give bullies material to bully us because of. I am under the impression that our parents do not want us to be bullied. This is one of the huge arguments towards homeschooling. During homeschooling, parents generally can watch the people with whom their children socialize with, and if someone is acting horrid, they know about it. Even if they do not personally watch this taking place, I have observed that most homeschool children and teens are much more likely to tell their parents about something like that, than public school students are. Based on that, I believe that public school students are far more likely to be "isolated" as the author of that article said, than homeschoolers are. And what's worse, the public schoolers are isolated by their peers, while homeschoolers are usually isolated because of their own choices. If I were to go up to a group of homeschoolers, and ask them why they didn't associate with some other people, their response would probably not be, "my parents won't let me talk to them" or something... it would more likely be something along the lines of, "I do not agree with their religion/politics/ethics".

One of the statements that come up when people discuss homeschooling is, "But parents aren't qualified to teach their children".
In fact, to quote that article, "Parents who aren't fully qualified to teach..."
I believe this is incorrect. Parents are one of the only ones qualified to teach their children. Parents teach their kids to talk, don't they? To walk? To eat? They might even teach them to read. (My grandma did so to my mom, and my mom's friend is teaching her son to read, even though he's also in public school). But for some reason, over the years, the right to teach your kids algebra has been taken away.
One of the ridiculous things that people say is that "but how do you remember that?". This is talking to my mom. Who was taught in a public school.
This concerns me.
Because if those people don't remember what their public school teachers taught them, how are they going to teach it well enough to us, that we remember it? Just because someone has a degree in teaching doesn't make them more qualified to teach us than our parents are! First of all, our parents know us and love us. If they care enough about us to homeschool us in the first place, they care enough about us to teach us properly. After all, if I had kids, and I didn't care about them... I'd send them to public school. They'd get picked on... I wouldn't have to deal about them..

But, our parents do care about us, so they homeschool us. And since they homeschool us, they generally are working one-on-one, or one-on-three with us, so they know how we're doing. This eliminates the need for standardized testing.

My problem with standardized testing is that it eliminates the fun of learning. It makes sure you learn "what's on the test", not "what you want to". So if I were to be taking an AP test on world history (which I hopefully will be, this winter), I have to learn world history... I can't learn world history until I hit the Victorian era and decide that, wow, I really REALLY like the Victorian era, and I'm going to take a break for a month or two, and just learn about that time in history. Those sorts of things happen all the time during my homeschool.. or we simply decide that something is boring and unnecessary, and I can cut it out of my schedule.
somehow, I just don't see that happening if I am forced to take a standardized test, to prove to public school parents that I am doing just as well as their children are (sometimes better).
No offense to public school parents.

So, I believe that homeschooling is a good choice. Then again, I am biased, having been a homeschool student my entire life. I find that most of the questions and comments made against homeschooling to be immature, uninformed, prejudiced, and stereotyped. I am not a stereotype. I am a person. I might be a young person, but "A person's a person no matter how small". Right? Even if they do happen to be taught at "home".
That is the conclusion to my (fairly lengthy... 1938 words or so!) rebuttal, if you can even call it that.
Have a nice day!


Cat said...

That was brilliant!

GeoQuester said...

Nice work! I agree with you.

I went to public school for a year (last year, 9th grade), after being homeschooled my entire life. It was the worst year I ever had.
I started out excited; I was trying something new, I was going to be around 2,400 other people my age every day. Then after about a month or two, my excitement died, I lost my motivation, and I started to be bored.
It's amazing the amount of homework they give you! The worst part of it is, the teachers don't really expect you to actually do it and do it well. They expect you to be extremely bored with ti an d skip a lot of it. I wasn't, and I didn't, and as a result I was staying up late to finish it after procrastinating all afternoon. This meant that I often fell asleep during the first class. I was far behind and a zombie by the end of the second semester.
I was also shocked by the other kids. They were so bored in class, and they whispered constantly and didn't do all their work! (This wasn't at all shocking at the end of the first semester.) They also teased a lot and were rude and disrespectful to the teachers behind their backs. (I'm not saying all of them were like that, but an amazing (to me) majority.)
All-in-all, I'm only just now recovering completely and becoming more active and interested in schoolwork again. I don't recommend public school at all to anyone, even for one semester.

Thank you as well for not being offensive to the author of the original article. Happy living/learning!

~Charissa (Imenpogumsalel, as you might know me on OYAN ;))

Patriots of the Republic Academy said...

Very well done. :)

Shawn said...

Could you please clarify the following paragraph? What do you mean that you are back at your 'proper' level? It sounds like you have moved backward but I don't think that is what you mean.

I myself was at a higher level than my public school peers for many years. It is only recently, and thanks to my extensive traveling last year, that I am back at my "proper" level. At school, I would be expected to be learning at the same rate as everyone else. This is difficult for us children/teenagers.

Angela said...

@Shawn: What I mean in that paragraph is that I simply did not do schoolwork while traveling... I find that traveling by itself is a learning experience, and I wouldn't want to lose my textbooks on vacation. :) So I did not do my homework, per say, for several months... bringing me back down to doing my "grade level" work, at least in some subjects.

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