Education is a major concern in our society, and there is good reason for this concern. Many of these problems revolve directly around the public education system and include problems with peer pressure, lack of individual attention from the teachers, problems socializing or fitting in with other students, and various others. Although there is no real solution to all of these problems, there are many different ways of solving them. Private schools as well as tutors are a great way to give kids the individual attention that they need, however these methods can be very costly. Something that has grown in popularity over the last decade is home schooling. This system has been around for generations; children learn at home while helping their parents out around the house. Many great men including Patrick Henry, John Quincy Adams, and Thomas Edison were schooled at home (Talbot, 2). Home schooling definitely does not solve all the problems that are brought about by education, in fact it brings about its own chain of problems, but it does have a great deal of advantages.
Parents are the most important influences in their childs education next to their teacher. research shows conclusively that parents involvement in their childrens education confers great benefits, both intellectual and emotional, on their children (Coleman, 1). This is why it is so important for parents to get involved in their childrens lives at an early age. Home schooling is a wonderful way to be involved. One of the main reasons that so many people are attempting to home school their children is because of the freedoms offered by it. These freedoms include religious freedom and the freedom to choose the curriculum for starters. Compared to 1985 in which there were only about 50,000 children home schooling nationwide, there are now anywhere from 1.5 to 1.9 million. Their population is growing by as much as 15-20 percent a year according to Floridas annual survey of home schoolers (Talbot, 1). This poses an interesting question. Why is home schooling so much better? It can not be just because of the religious freedoms that the students are allowed. The students are also allowed many more freedoms than regular children are. Home schoolers can choose when they want to do their studies, take a few days off when they want to, go on a field trip, etc.This makes it much more appealing for both the parent and the student. Although the parent has to take their childs schooling into their own hands, it turns out that these children become more independent. It is no wonder that more and more people are teaching their children at home.
The freedom of religion is one of the most prevalent reasons that people have been turning to home schooling as an alternative to public schools. A study done by the Department of Education in 1999 showed that as much as 38.4% of all home schooling families home school their children because of religious reasons. There are many curricula available for home use that already come with religious studies that are taught as a part of the lesson plan, one very popular one is A Beka Books which has its roots in the Pensacola Christian College. These lessons come on videos and are now starting to incorporate the internet into them. They also have religious classes that are taught right along with the core classes such as math, history, science, language, and others. At the end of the week, not only is the student quizzed or tested over their core classes, but also over their religious classes. This is a major positive aspect of home schooling because, according to a 1995 study of home educators, sociologist Maralee Mayberry found that 84 percent believed the Bible was literally true, 78 percent said they went to church at least once a week (Talbot, 4). This survey shows that a large majority of home schooling families are religious; making the religion issue a major reason that makes this system such an advantage over public schools.
Another major problem that is hindering the learning abilities of public school students is the group of students that attend classes with them. There are many reasons that this causes difficulty in a learning environment.
Social class and family are perhaps the best predictors of the quality of education and that parents with resources can buy their way out of poor schools and into schools that suit their needs and expectationsNot only are city schools handed some of the nations neediest children, but they are robbed of the resources to make a real difference and compensate for poverty, prejudice, and adverse living conditions (Nistler & Maiers, 1).
This quote illustrates a huge problem that is plaguing schools across the nation. Public schools are stuck with every child that needs an education, regardless of their backgrounds, and are all put into class together. Then to top it off, the schools are not given the resources to give these children the education they deserve. Only the parents that are economically well off have the choice of where to school their children. Holt regarded schools as engines of conformity, too big and impersonal to meet the needs of the individual child (Talbot, 3). This quote shows another very valid point. It is impossible for children in a public school setting to learn as well as those in a private school or home school setting, the reason being that there are too many children per class in public schools. Children in a private school or home school have much more one on one contact with the teacher, allowing a much more productive learning experience. All of these points are very obvious when you look at the public school system in general, and are major issues that are for the most part eliminated by home schooling. This is not the answer to all of our problems in the education system, but it certainly is a start.
It is for these reasons that home schoolers are so much more desirable to many colleges and employers than is the average student. Because of the independence and hard work that is involved in home schooling, later in life these students are generally assured a successful career in both college and the work force. Instead of these children learning from their many different teachers and from their peers, they have only one person that they can learn from directly. This type of teaching allows the student to greatly benefit from the one-on-one relationship with the teacher. Although home schooling parents are not necessarily wealthier than the normal American person, they tend to have more years of education (Talbot, 5). Therefore, most of these adults that are teaching home schoolers have sufficient knowledge of the education process to be able to succeed in teaching their child. These parents are smart people that are very capable of teaching their children the lessons that they need to learn.
Despite all of these benefits there is still much controversy over home schooling. Many public education systems feel threatened by it. It has been that way for a while, although home schooling is starting to become more popular and acceptable in the eyes of society. There are many reasons for this friction, and many times it harms the childs learning environment.
Interaction between parents and schools is often antagonistic or at least unpleasant. Parents contact the school when they feel things are going wrong in their childs schooling. Schools summon parents when the child does not meet the schools demands or expectations. Whether initiated by the parent or the school, such meetings are tension inducing, both for school staff and for parents (Coleman, 12).
This quote shows the relationship that parents have seemed to have developed with the school system, and it is not a healthy learning environment for the child. Often times the parent will also try to take the school curriculum into their own hands and if they dont agree with something in it they will fight until it is taken out. For this very reason such books as Huckleberry Finn and Of Mice and Men are no longer allowed for school readings. Talbot states, in 1983 only four states had laws explicitly permitting home education. By 1993 home education was legal in all fifty states, subject to varying degrees of regulation (Talbot, 4). In the last 2 decades home schooling has taken some great strides forward to reach the place that it is at today. These advances were greatly dependent on the work and dedication of a few influential people, John Holt, and Raymond and Dorothy Moore to name a few. Although there have been great advances there is still somewhat of a standstill between parents and the public school system. Reviewing the mismatch between rhetoric, ideology and practice reveals evidence from both primary and secondary phases which indicates that even parents who have excellent contact with school still know little of what their children learn or how to help them (Beresford, 2). This quote explains that the education system does not want interference in their teachings, even from the parents of the students. Teachers, however, are primarily employed to work with children, and the school day, its routines and the way teachers work is defined certainly reflects this. Despite considerable emphasis on parent-teacher collaboration (from both educationists and politicians), little prime time is actually available to do it (Hancock, 2). While it may appear that there is good communication between the teachers and the parent, there is really not much time available for it.
In home schooling the parent has much more control over the material that the student learns as opposed to no control at all in the public school system. For example, children are taught about evolution in public schools and while the parent of a certain child may not agree with this teaching, there is really nothing that he or she can do about it as long as their child is in school. There is also much more freedom within the curriculum. If a student was interested in a certain course that was not offered at the high school level, then he or she would much more of an opportunity to take a class at a local community college to learn the desired material. Something like this would be very difficult for a student attending a public school to do. Usually students in public schools are more involved in school activities, and often times have to stay after for sports, clubs or organizations, meetings with teachers, and various other things; this makes it very difficult for them if they wanted to attend a college class.
This brings up another interesting question. Just because a person is home schooled, does it mean that they are not as involved or socially active as the average child? This is not the case at all. While they may not interact as much with children of the same age group, or participate in the same activities as them, they are still very socially healthy and stable. It is actually shown in a study conducted by sociologists Christian Smith and David Sikkink that these families are more involved in their community than the average public school family (Talbot, 6). Because of the differences in the typical environment of a public school student and a home school student, they have different ways of socializing with other people. The home schooled child is raised in a somewhat sheltered environment, not really knowing the lingo or having the same thought patterns as the average public school student, and this may be something that the average student sees as abnormal, or something to make fun of. On the other hand, public school students are raised among many of their peers and learn at a young age how to interact with them and be accepted. This causes public school students to often see home schoolers as strange when they are introduced into the public school environment, while the home school students are really just as socially developed as they are, just in different ways. This actually turns out to be more of a problem for the public school students in the long run because they are not particularly comfortable around people other than their peers, whereas home schooled children are used to interacting with adults and are much more at ease in their presence.
Parents that home school their children usually do not have the equipment or technology that public schools have. For instance someone would not have chemicals or Bunsen burners or labs in their house, while you can find any of these items at any local school. It is for this very reason that home schoolers are generally more old-fashioned in their approach to education than the average student in the public school system. In public schools keyboarding is now a required class in most high schools, and the use of the internet is very common for any type of research. People who home school really have no need for any of these tools, unless they plan on a career in one of these fields or if they just use them for fun, i.e. surfing the web, internet games, e-mailing, and many other uses. Home schoolers also dont watch as much television as public school students. Studies have shown that the excess of television can cause people to become lethargic in their thoughts and activities. With all of these new technologies developing, changing the way that people think and learn, students start to lose the basics of what they are being taught. Instead of going to look up an article or a book in the library, students just go online and do a search for the required text. For math problems, students can just plug numbers into the calculator or even use computer programs to get results without even knowing the process followed to get the answer. An advantage of home schoolers is that they are not subject to this form of learning. Instead of becoming so dependent on visual learning, like so many of the public school students, home schoolers are presented with the basics and are always pushed to excel in those. Umberto Eco says, The new generation is trained to read at an incredible speed. An old-fashioned university professor today cannot read a computer screen at the same speed as a teenager (150). This shows that students in the public school system are learning a totally different way. They are becoming more dependent on technology to guide them through the thought process, which is drawing them away from the basics. While they can follow the computer screen or the internet with ease it is harder for them to go back to the fundamentals and just learn from a book like so many of our ancestors.
Another major positive aspect of home schooling is that it has the ability to bring family members closer together. This is a huge reason in itself that many parents choose to take their children out of school and teach them at home. Public schools do not give the student a lot of time during the day to see their family, especially if their parents work during the week. Then the student usually has homework at night or chooses to hang out with their friends or watch television. This is how the average student spends his week, and then the weekends are usually spent with friends or at school functions. Home schooling gives the family more time to spend together. This is very important, especially in a society where family is growing further and further apart.
One scary aspect about home schooling is that in the state of Missouri it is available to any parent, whether or not they have any teaching background, have a criminal background, or have even graduated from high school. There are only a few requirements for the parent and for the student.
If a parent decides to home school, he or she shall offer 1,000 hours of instruction during the school year, with at least 600 hours in the basics, which will be in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. At least 400 of the 600 hours shall occur in the home location.
A parent who is home schooling a child must maintain the following records:a. A plan book, diary, daily log, or other written record indicating the subjects taught and the activities engaged in with the student.
b. A portfolio containing samples of the student’s academic work.
c. A record of evaluation of the student’s academic progress.
d. Other written, or credible evidence equivalent to a, b, and c (MDESE).
This is a very frightening fact about home schooling. A parent has unlimited control over their childs schooling. Obviously some parents are not qualified to teach their children on their and need some form of help, but if they have the desire, nobody can stop them. Home schooling can be a great alternative to public schools, provided that the parent has enough time to spend with the child to help them excel in their studies. It is not an easy task having the education of a person depend on what you teach them. The parent has to be willing to give a large portion of their time and energy to helping the student develop the skills that they will need throughout their entire life. If the parent is willing to do this and succeeds in teaching the students the basics that they need to know the outcome will most likely be very good. Home schooling opens many doors for both the parent and the student and will be a great experience if they are willing to put their time and effort into it.
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