Friday, March 31, 2006

Homeschooling

A blogger friend, Pam, recently published a post about homeschooling. Many people commented on it, and I would have, but I didn't want to hog her space! So I decided to dedicate an entire post of my own to this hot topic.

First of all, I believe that the responsibility for the education rests solely on the parents. This doesn't mean that the parents themselves must educate, just that they must make wise decisions and remain informed and involved, no matter what decision is reached. Each type of school has pros and cons.

Homeschooling has the pros of maximum parental control/involvement, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, among others. But it also carries cons which I believe should be carefully examined. Children have limited social involvement, even if they meet occasionally with homeschool groups. There is often no opportunity for things like athletics, choir, shop class, band, debate, and others as simple as class discussion or group projects. While these things alone do not make up education in its entirety, I do believe--from experience--that they are extremely valuable opportunities. Also, many parents unfortunately do not possess the organization, dedication, and/or ability to teach their children properly. While they are proud of their "stand against organized spiritual apathy," their children are suffering from an improper and inadequate education (also spoken from experience--not as a homeschooler, but as a teacher). Of course, many parents of homeschoolers do a fine job of preparing their kids for college and beyond. But I believe those parents are the exception rather than the rule, especially as the material gets more and more difficult. Really...how many parents out there are truly qualified to teach Trigonometry, Chemistry, and Early British Literature?


Christian schools have the pros of social interaction, structured curriculum, and (usually) high standards of education. However, whenever you put more than one child in a room, you will certainly reap peer pressure as a result. Unfortunately, many, many Christian schools serve as breeding grounds for negative peer pressure. Parents who choose to homeschool are correct in their recognition of spiritual apathy in schools. My own parents chose to homeschool me for a year, for this very reason. They did what the Lord led them to do...even though I admittedly hated it. But you'd better believe I lost touch with my buddies in that year's time. And that's exactly what I needed. Is spiritual apathy dangerous? Absolutely! The Lord said he'd rather see cold Christians than lukewarm ones! But again, it's the parents' responsibility to be involved--to know who and what's influencing little Johnny, and to talk to him about the goings-on of each day, and to be sensitive to Johnny's heart and possible changes that might be taking place.

Public schools can be a risky, treacherous place. But they differ so much! For example, a public school in rural Wyoming is a totally different world than a public school in downtown Detroit! (Hey, Detroit is a whole other world anyway!) Some public schools could be considered to be better than some Christian schools! The pros of public schools are few, if you ask me. Public schools generally offer more extracurricular opportunities (most Christian schools don't have a swim team or an equestrian club!). Also, many public schools offer a higher standard of education. That's unfortunate, but probably due mostly to a deficit in Christian school financing. Cons should be obvious--what a place of wickedness and lies! From evolution and 2nd grade sex education, to faulty philosophies and converstion all around, an impressionable kid is daily bombarded with infintely more opportunities for wrong than for right. Yes, the parents is still responsible. But the reality is that a school-age child spends 8 hours a day at school. If Mom and Dad work til 5 and Johnny goes to bed at 9, he spends only half that time with his godly parents, who must furiously try to undo what Johnny's teachers have been trying to do all day. What an opportunity for Satan to confuse and frustrate!

Our first choice would be a Christian school, then homeschooling (until junior high or thereabouts. I'll be the first to admit that I am not qualified to adequately teach all aspects of high school.) . It'd have to be a really special situation for us to place our kids in public school: a really conservative--probably smaller--school, an unusual level of involvement for me IN the school, and an exceptionally godly, strong child.

Anyway! So that's why I didn't comment on your blog, Pam! As usual, I have plenty to say! :)

What do YOU think? (All you who commented on Pam's, I read them already. Don't feel as though you need to repeat yourselves!)




6 comments:

Katie said...

In answer to the question, 'What is the true mark of a quality education?" (Taken from the Assoc. of Classical & Christian Schools' website)

"The true mark of a quality education is not simply a mind full of facts. It is accumulated knowledge with a hunger for more, the faculty to reason soundly, the ability to express what has been learned, and most importantly the acquisition of the proper tools with which to continue the learning process throughout an entire lifetime. It is not enough to merely learn subjects, a student must learn how to think and how to learn."

Karen - great post! I had babbled out a comment that didn't say much original, but have deleted it and want to put in a major plug for the Classical philosophy of education. God-willing, this is the route that Chris and I have decided to go. Check out their website at http://www.accsedu.org/.

Sadly, I haven't really come across a Christian school (or public) that provides this type of education that teaches the tools and skills needed to learn for the rest of life. (How many freshman English students did we know that didn't have a clue how to research and write a paper?) There are many of these type of schools popping up. There are also many options for homeschooling. (See http://www.classical-homeschooling.org/curriculum.html)

One other point: I've been told that homeschool kids may participate in athletics in their local public schools. I really think that the whole "social" con of homeschooling, for the most part, can be negated.

So, there's my two cents. Of course, my son isn't quite two yet, so I can't speak about classical education from experience. :) I'm looking forward to the day, though!

Alicia said...

Karen:
I agree 100% with your reservations about homeschooling. There really are lots of opportunities for social interaction though in homeschooling. My sis-in-law homeschools and does a phenomenal job of integrating her kids in church activities, special classes and sports clubs(her son even goes to a woodworking class once a week). Her kids are the most social kids I know! And they do a great job of talking to adults; they're much better with manners and communication than any kids I've ever seen. I also agree that parents should admit their limitations when it comes to ability to homeschool. Calculus is pretty tough to learn from a bju dvd. Matt & I are humbly qualified to teach our children through highschool and I am excited to learn with our kids. Another pro to homeschooling is the choice of curriculum. Matt is eager to teach Chloe latin and classical philosophy.

Hear, hear Katie! I too am a fan of classical education though I cheer for the quadrivium rather than the trivium. Thanks for the links.

In any event, families must be vitally integrated into education. A strong rooted family can support and give a Biblical framework to a child so the child can (eventually) sort knowledge biblically and convert that knowledge to wisdom.

Hope I didn't repeat anything from my Pam post. :)

pamela s said...

Great thoughts, Karen! I very much agree with you. Thanks for stating it so well.
Pam

Anonymous said...

Hey Niece,

Well-written, but not well-researched. Both your socialization statement and the statement that most homeschool parents do not do a good job of preparing their children for college and beyond are ancient stereotypes that have been disproven over and over. If you are arguing from your experience, then you should say so, but you have made blanket statements that implicate the majority of homeschoolers. As I said, both of these statements have been proven false over and over. Homeschooling is clearly the most Biblical option and, contrary to your beliefs, offers the greatest hope for producing well-rounded young people of character.

Your Loving Uncle Greg

TwoMuths said...

What a great issue to discuss! We can learn so much from each other's unique perspectives. I think there's one thing everyone can agree on--parents who believe God has given them the responsibility to make sure their kids get a good education (and act on that belief) will be heavily involved in the education of those kids.

Here's a note from my experience as a teacher's assistant to my mom, second grade teacher EXTRAORDINAIRE (and I'm not just saying that 'cause she's my mom):

Many parents are seeking an easy way to educate their kids. There were multiple sets of parents that year sent their kids off to school and thought they were automatically going to learn everything they needed to know during the school day. These parents complained about the fact that they had to help their kids with their homework. (oh no! I have to do flash cards every night?!) They complained about academics being too hard for their kids, or whined about how their brilliant child wasn't getting A's every week on their spelling tests, or whatever. This is one Christian school that scores higher and does better than the national and state academic levels, one of the reasons parents choose the school, and yet they complain. Worse yet, they expect them to learn everything about God at school, absolving them from having to talk about God at home!

I feel like shouting from the rooftops!!!! There isn't an "easy" way. No matter what, you have to know what your kids are learning. (Even if they're in their grandma's classroom!)

Karen said...

Hi, Uncle! I'm flattered that you'd take time to view my humble little blog! :) First, let me say I do have experience homeschooling--albeit short-lived--and I was exluded from school-related social settings. (i.e., no choir or music, no sports, etc.) The local Christian school did not allow homeschool integration. And I basically schooled myself, seeing as both parents had to work. That wasn't ideal, for obvious reasons.

The social integration, in my mind, is less important than receiving a quality education. Neither I nor my husband feel qualified, as I said, to do an adequate job in the high school level courses. What would you suggest for a parent who would like to homeschool but just isn't qualified?

I thought I was careful to give credit to those parents who do a good job--you and Aunt C are 2 of them! If anyone is a billboard for successful homeschool education, it's you 2! But as a teacher and just an observer, I have seen SO many backward, inept, and frankly, stupid kids whose parents did not do a good job of homeschooling. I certainly did not intend to toss you into that group! :) Sorry!