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Friday, April 04, 2008

House Arrest: Why Home Schooling Sucks

In the interest of honesty I should mention that I am a public school teacher and I send my child to a relatively inexpensive Catholic school. Sending my child to private schools is one of the few times that I have had to compromise my moral standards. There are several reasons that I have done this but the most compelling is that my wife told me that we were going to do this.

Honestly, the public school that my kid would attend is woefully under performing and has been taken over by the state. Ironically, this the same district that my wife teaches in. So, I guess what I am saying is that I am glad I can blame my wife and not have to make the decision about where to send my child to school.

One thing that we both agree on is that we are not qualified to teach our child though both of us are certified secondary teachers. As teachers we both realize that amount of work that goes into preparing, administering, and assessing lesson plans. With one child this time would be manageable if one of us stayed home. Home schooling is an endeavour best suited for the egotistical, the hopelessly elitist, and the paranoid.

Anyone that thinks that they are qualified to teach all the relevant coursework for a student grades K-12 should drop what they are doing and donate their time to the local public school. These natural born teachers have an obligation to society to share their expertise with less fortunate students and intellectually stunted public school teachers. Seriously, after spending 3-4 hours a day in the teacher's lounge and repeatedly pulling on a door that is clearly labeled push, I don't really have the time or visual acuity to teach students. Having access to an omnipotent aid would be like, I don't know, having the Internet in the classroom or something.

Ironically, it is the Internet which has allowed the proliferation of lesson plans and curriculum that some of the more successful home-schoolers have adopted. It is for this reason that I propose that we strictly enforce copyright over our materials. We live in constant fear of software companies scouring our computers and the music industry vetting student power points for snippets of songs longer than 3 seconds. Let's take this frustration out on home-schoolers. Beat down the doors, demand to see the curriculum, and black out any information that is remotely copied from another source. If the lesson has already been taught, then demand that the student unlearn it.

Perhaps in order for the student to unlearn we could send them to unschools. Unschools: for the parent that feels that learning should be a natural free flowing experience directed by the learner. Unschooling is a specific type of home schooling in which there is no set curriculum. Parents guide the students on the exploration of the world and mind. Just think of the movie Accepted.

As Bartleby (Justin Long)

You know what? You're a criminal. 'Cause you rob these kids of their creativity and their passion. That's the real crime! Well, what about you parents? Did -did the system really work out for you? Did it teach you to follow your heart, or to just play it safe, roll over? What about you guys? Did you always want to be school administrators? Dr. Alexander, was that your dream? Or maybe no, maybe you wanted to be a poet. Maybe you wanted to be a magician or an artist. Maybe you just wanted to travel the world. Life was full of possibilities. A - and isn't that what you ultimately want for us? As parents, I mean, is - is that, is possibilities.

'Cause there are so few truths in this world, that when you see one, you just know it. And I know that it is a truth that real learning took place at South Harmon. Whether you like it or not, it did. 'Cause you don't need teachers or classrooms or - or fancy highbrow traditions or money to really learn. You just need people with a desire to better themselves

Because we'll never stop learning, and we'll never stop growing, and we'll never forget the ideals what were instilled in us at our place.

Admittedly after hearing this speech one is likely to jump out his seat screaming, "YES" and dumping popcorn and Jujubees all over fellow movie goers. However, as an actual real world teaching philosophy is would cause most educators to be ridiculed and eventually let go. Parents that put all of their fish in this basket are thumbing their collective noses at American culture and society. The underlying belief is that we as a culture do not need a common base of knowledge. The cultural touchstones discussed, deconstructed and analyzed in the traditional school setting are base and common. They do not deserve to be studied.

American culture merely deifies violence as is evidenced by the increasing number of violent episodes in our schools. Fears of bullying, both regular and cyber (Have you ever noticed that the prefix cyber immediately makes things seem more frightening?), are heightening tension between home schoolers and normal society. "Predatory teachers" trolling America's schools for a date are spooking parents nationwide. Internet stalkers lurk behind every blog and email. The solution? Keep your kids locked in a closet, both a real one and a cyber one.

Parents have a responsibility to educate their children, but they also have an obligation to create good citizens. Whether they are socially adjusted or some sort of flash-card spelling-bee freak the nations needs to be assured that these home schooled students are invested members of our society not elitist, arrogant, paranoid cyber-closeted racists.


Anonymous said...

Hello my name is Nichole and I'm a fifth grade primary school teacher. I do think you came up with a lot of excellent points, but you do have to think that there are a lot of pro's for homeschooling. I have found that one on one interaction with students is incredibly benificial. The children that are homeschooled get to benifit from this. If recieving this benifit you would have to have an incredibly stupid teacher in order for it to be a disadvantage. I have alos learnt that when children are learning topics they are interested in they excel, but one topic covering into every subject is what I am meaning. Learning about robots in english, maths to teach how to administer treatment to a sick animal. As a teacher I can't administer the curriculum to suit every child's needs, but homeschoolers sure can. They can use what ever the child is interested in and use to their advantage. I'm sure you know the statistics of homeschooler's academic success and at least now you know a little as to why.

Dan Holden said...

My recent experiences with my son have led me to believe that while one on one interaction with a student is good, when that interaction is with the parent it doesn't always work out.

My son is much more interested in testing the boundaries of our relationship than performing well. Time after time I have seen him do something for a teacher or coach that he won't do for me.

I will grant you that tailoring instruction for the individual is a good thing, but I also think that humans are communal creatures. A combination of school and home learning is obviously the best solution.

Anonymous said...

I attended public schools my whole life. Then, when I was 16, my parents decided to "home-school" me on the Internet, and while I may be getting A's, I'm not truly learning anything. I'm bored, lonely, and quite honestly, my passion in school came from trying to compete with other students and to impress the teachers I liked. And as a teenager, I get moody, angry, and so much more from CONSTANT contact with my parents. It's terrible, I cannot wait to leave and get to university. Also, applying to universities was an absolute nightmare! Not traditional home schooling, but not a real school - it was a nightmare. Can't wait to leave. A parent cannot teach a child how to interact with other children, and quite frankly, school is a social outlet. You make friends, you communicate. Who want s to stay with their parents forever? And my parents have abused me, yes, abuse, and I do not have a counselor to talk to about this. In fact, the Internet while the object of my imprisonment, is my only weapon. Homeschooling, bottom line, sucks.

Dan Holden said...

I wish I could do something to help you. The only thing that I can say is that even if you are not in school there are still government and religious agencies that can help.

At least know that from this small sample it appears as if you are a good writer and that college should not be a problem for you.

Dan Holden said...

Hopefully you check back here. If you live in the U.S. you can call this number. It is a domestic violence hotline. 1-800-799-7233

Anonymous said...

You really aren't able to realise that some individuals DO need to be homeschooled.

The depiction of homeschooling that that above commenter put forth is not accurate. I am homeschooled and am very social- I have more friends than an average public school kid. Not to mention I'm twice as literate as many adults on the internet; and I'm only twelve.

People need to stop stereotyping homeschoolers. We are not all dumb emo kids that are forced to be cooped up in our house by our parents.

There is a right way to homeschool and a wrong way to homeschool. The way I am homeschooled is definitely the right way.

Joey said...

Not if your parents just want to control your life and don't give a shit about your education, then they get a highly sub par computer education program and do NOTHING at all. My parents won't total control over my education and my religious beliefs. Homeschooling blows cock

Dave Shea said...

In reply to anonymous, no. NO one needs to be homeschooled. There are programs for people with learning disabilities. No there is no reason to stereotype, but the stereotype was pretty close to most homeschooled kids I know. I was homeschooled the whole way through school. I had a very difficult time getting in to college. currently I am a student at Heartland Baptist Bible College, the only school that would accept my second rate education.

Shirley said...

My mom was a teacher and she has helped me a great deal through the beginning stages of homeschooling. My son never had a chance to sit through math class. He would be sent in the hallway to do what he was doing in class, stare. Not all teachers are appropriate for a child. It was me that taught my children to read before preschool Not a certified teacher. It was me that gave my children a love of history because I can do what the school system can't. I can take them to field trips. Now, my children read about the Civil War because I am far more interactive than a school system. You, as a certified teacher, are a paid employee. I am not paid. For a homeschooler we need to keep our documentation of all that we do. We report to a teacher or the school board at the end of the year. I am not worn out at the end of the day and for the first time since preschool my son loves school.

Socialization: There are organizations for this. Boy Scouts/ Girl Scouts, church, co-ops, play dates, etc. My own even go to gym class.

My own kids are still to young to do any real community service so we bake cakes and cupcakes (math and community service) for organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Ronald McDonald House.

I can teach Algebra if need be. For things like Geometry or Calculus I can send my children back to public school or a virtual school.

There are more options as a homeschooler than there would be in a public school. Private school we just can't afford.

I had the same bias against homeschoolers and the parents until I made the decision myself.

Dan Holden said...

I wrote this before my son attended his first year of kindergarden at a private Catholic school (my wife's choice).

Last year I paid $5000 to home school him. This year is much better. He actually comes home having learned things that I did not teach him.

I applaud your patience and well reasoned arguments. I don't know if I could handle my son all day. He often responds better to authority figures other than my wife and myself.

Joey said...

That's just it man! I went on a cruise this week and I had a great time. I'm 14 years old and I haven't hung out with normal kids since I was twelve(And there were plenty of kids cause it was Thanksgiving break). I can admit is one of the good things about homeschooling, I prob wouldn't have been able to miss 5 days of school, I had such a good time hanging out with normal kids all week I'd say its prob the highlight of my life the next couple of years. My stateroom was also with my older brother and I didn't see much of my mother that week (Who is at odds with me about my religion and homeschooling). The less I see of her the more I like it, and with me homeschooling, we fight all the time. I think she's going to permenently ruin a mother-son relationship over her stupid religion, she claims to have "prayed" about this and knows that is is God's will that I'm held captive in my own house. Now, I mostly play World of Warcraft on the upside of 8 hours/day. I like to talk to some of my friends there. In regards to the originally post, you said you all not qualified to teach you kid, never fear! Just give them a pre-set curriculum that teaches him all by himself!

Joey said...

I have a high interest in scientific topics that my parents don't and indeed don't even allow me to be taught about because of there religious beliefs. How can I possibly be accepted into an university other than a community college when I have learned very little about what I want my current career choice to be. Imagine trying to be a mathematician when all you know how to do is long division and nothing past. I'm also like 2 months behind on my work, and have been for like 4 months, my parents haven't even noticed. I'm not saying all home schoolers parents are like this, infact most actaully do teach there students, but not me, I teach myself, with little avail.

"Hey Joe do you homework today?"

I'm in ninth grade almost done with my first semester's work. I think I'm probably in sixth. I know very little (and when i say very little I mean it) algebra, any advanced language past basic nouns, verbs, pronouns, adverbs. I have a very limited knowledge of physical sciences (I.E. levers, mechanical,kinetic energies and forces.

I have 1 friend that I still talk to from when i left public school nearly 3 years ago, we rarely talk any more because he's so busy, girlfriend, band, robotics, you name it.

Every time my mother cannot find me because I'm outside of w/e she thinks I have killed myself as she is keenly aware how depressed and quite frankly, miserable home schooling has made me.

I'm not learning
I can't talk to anybody
I'm depressed and I hate it
I have actually considered killing myself.

Billie said...

It sounds like academics and social opportunities are the least of your concerns. Seek God. Even those who do not believe in Him are psychologically better off associating with believers and that is scientifically proven. Homeschool is typically not about staying home and schooling, it is about seek critical thinking and learning how to learn. It is the reverse of the public school setting which is geared to promote socialism. Public school is not the answer to your problems. Public school is a new concept that is failing terribly. The public school is about the teacher, the policies, and the system in general. Homeschooling is about the student, learning, and expanding. If you are online, and you believe you have not learned in a home school setting, it is YOUR fault. Get off this blog and go to educational sites. There are more than anyone can count. A person does not need a teacher in order to learn. Instead, a person needs initiative, and desire to learn. Socializing issues are dying myths in homeschooling. Stop waiting to be spoon fed what the government wants you to learn, an recognize that the government cannot even handle clunkers muchless education. Step up to the plate and hit a homerun for yourself. As far as college...universities everywhere welcome homeschoolers. Surely there are those who fail to homeschool affectively, but on the flip side, nothing is 100%. There are much larger percentages of failures among public schools. I am a degreed teacher. But that is not why I homeschool. I homeschooled before I was degreed. I chose the degree to have legal coverage when idiots try to take my rights.

Dan Holden said...

The reason public education is a recent invention is because up until recently we denied it to the poor, women, and people of color. I won't deny anyone the right to home school, but we have become the most powerful nation in the world because of our public education system. If you want proof of our influence just take a look at the dominant language on the internet.

I applaud all of the parents that can afford to stay at home and educate their brood. Take advantage of the internet and its vast resources, but know that those resources are made available by products and employees of the public education system.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I'm Kandace, I went to public school until I was in 5th grade. I made straight A's in everything. Then after repeated bomb treaths, stabbings, shootings and general gang activities in my horrifically poor school, my parents asked me if I would like to try homeschooling. Not knowing what homeschooling was, but figuring it would be a hell of a lot more fun than my current school I and my tow younger sisters readily agreed. When the day came that my mother had to tell our teachers whom she'd worked closely with all year she made a startling discovery. ALL OF MY TEACHERS IN 5th GRADE WERE HOMESCHOOLING THEIR OWN CHILDREN. If teachers cannot trust their own schools, then why should anyone else.
Once I got into the first year, I realized why I had been makign straight A's. The school I was going to was performing 2 YEARS behind all the other schools in the area. In reality, I couldn't spell at all! But by the second year of homeschooling I was making straight A's in my actual grade level. I was branching out into new areas I had never imagined or been able to do in school. I got to learn and do complete unit studies on ANYTHING I chose. We started a very large homeschool group with over 150 chilren of all ages. I learned to make friends with all races and religions and ages. Somethign I never did in public school. And you know what. We had proms and sports and clubs. We had an elaborate graduation. And even before I graduated, I had already finished much of my associates degree with straight A's in college. my younger friends were 16 years old. They had already become seniors for their bachelor's degree. And you know what our parents were?
A cop and a lawn mower operator.
And my friend's? She worked at Krogers.

All the homeschoolers I know excel in everything they do. But homeschooling is the reason we are so dedicated to everything we do. We had to teach ourselves. By the thrid year of my home education, I was learning completely on my own, guided by whatever school books I had. It was the saem method colleges use. They give you the book and you teach youself or fail.

Also, out of all the homeschoolers I've known only 2 who used internet based "umbrella schools." These are not pure homeschoolers. Others are still telling them what to learn. We had books jsut liek public schools. Though a few were religious, most were the same as anyone else used. So what does that say for public school?

My mother didn't spend hours and thousands of dollars at college to get a degree like public school teachers did. And yet her students (yes all three of us) scored nearly perfect on our entrace exams for the state univeristies. And now that we are almost ready to get out of college, we do so knowing our children will benefit from the same tailored education we had.

While it isn't for everyone. Most of us, do incredibly well.

Dan Holden said...

I still maintain that if the parents of those 150 students donated their time to public schools then we would all be better off.

Furthermore, most of the issues I have with homeschooling were alleviated by the community you parents joined.

No student should have to go to school in an unsafe environment, but the school you vaguely describe sounds like a stereotype from almost every movie I have ever seen about inspirational teachers.

Anonymous said...

Home schooling sucks and that's all. I never leave home, the last time I saw my friends was like 5 months ago, I usually do my homework in two days(two weeks worth of homework), I feel like I haven't learned anything, and that special "bond" between teachers and students? That's a big fat lie. My teacher comes and I sit for an hour while he grades my homework. I see my parents so much I am just sick of them.

Anonymous said...

My sister home schools her three children. They have experienced everything, piano lessons, ballet lessons, bird study, scouts travel, debating, bible study, bible study, bible study, television shared by five, but only on weekends, $5.00 Christmas in order to save for a geography laden trip, religious injections all day long, chores galore, few friends, a father with two jobs so as to provide for a couple of horses and chore requiring itemsfor chore work, YOU NAME IT.

My nieces and nephew have had enough cultural inbreeding in that I fear when they reach an out of house and 24/7 egotistical mama presence, they will go APE. Nothing physical, but failure to tow the lines brings on more chores and psychological in home and internet analysis.

Dustin said...

I was home educated. My mom wrote all the english and history curricula, making selections from literature she felt important. She purchased science and math curricula from publishers like Apologia, and Math-U-See. I was on a home schooled BEST robotics team that took first place at the hub competition 3 years in a row. I scored in the 93rd percentile on the Iowa standard test. And am now attending college and I am receiving straight A's. Any other questions?

Dustin said...

Oh yeah, I'm autistic.

Dan Holden said...

You are obviously an exceptional student, and one that I would love to have in my class.

However, since Apologia is a "Creation-Based Science Curriculum" I have a hard time believing that your education is complete. While I will defend your right to learn and teach creationism, I must argue that it is not science since there is no way to test the theory.

You also mention that you have a diagnosis of autism which means you most likely have difficulty with social interaction. It seems to me that if that is the case the more chances you have to interact the better.

Congratulations with the robotics team and good luck in the rest of your education.

Joey said...

Creationists are among the least informed people when it comes to science education.

Jun said...

I was homeschooled for a number of years, but after 8th grade my parents felt that homeschooling was just getting to be too much. They also thought that we might be getting a better education if we attended private school.

Turns out that all that homeschooling paid off. I earn straight A's in all my classes, and I do exceptionally better than most other students who have gone to school all of their lives.

As for what Joey said about creationists, that's bull.
I know a few creationists (mostly teachers), and they are among the most intelligent and informed people I know when it comes to science.

Anonymous said...

You are crazy if you really believe all homeschoolers are scouring the internet for uncopyrighted public school curriculums. The system has trained you to believe in order to teach you must use textbooks, curriculum, standards, and force the students to analyze everything. The regurgitate the same information in an assessment test. Our home is living proof you don't even need to pre-plan a lesson. For years I believed literature was reading a snippet of information then choicing a, b, or c after each question. That is not education. Public schools have retarded true learning. They have brainwashed teacher's minds into believing all the garbage they are taught in college and ongoing training. I am hear to tell you that my child who would be a third grader is reading and comprehending books that are up to a 9th grade reading level. He is doing high school level work because of his reading level and understanding every single bit of it. You burned out teachers in the public schools need to tell the union to buck off, burn the textbooks, teach real literature, and stop giving two cents about assessment text.

Anonymous said...

Curricula, sorry.

Dan Holden said...

I will try to address this on a point by point basis. I hope homeschoolers are scouring the interenet look for the best information out there some of which is created by public school teachers.

Now as for the brainwashing, I must have missed that particular course in college. I have never been a fan of canned curricula. I pieced together my classes from various sources including bits of textbooks, magazine articles, youtube videos, etc.

National standards are a good thing. We should demand that our students have a certain basic knowledge. Home schoolers should be held to those same standards. I agree that testing is a sham that encourages schools to cheat mainly because of the stakes involved. It is important to assess students in order to evaluate their abilities and the effectiveness of our teaching strategies.

My son is also in third grade and reading books well above his level. I just think that it is important form him to have a group of peers in which to learn and test this new learning. We do not live at home. We should not learn at home.

Anonymous said...

Home education doesn't mean we stay home all day long. While you are locked up in a room all day, with the artificial education environment; we are at museums, parks, zoos, ballet, piano lessons, the YMCA, boy scouts, and ECT. Guess what? There are other kids in these environments too! A few years ago I found an archeologist, and my child spent a few hours with her. He looked at real artifacts, she even let him handle them. Her learned the ancient history of our state. While children in school looked at a textbook with pictures of native American artifacts. See the point?

Next year my kid will be learning about the national parks and westward expansion by experiencing it. Does that sound like house arrest to you? The public system is obsolete for some families. I get why that would upset you. However you might want to embrace it a little.

By the way, my child is now 10 doing advanced science, advanced math, he is reading adult level books, and he is beginning advanced writing lessons.

You should go watch the 2013 Ted winner, Sugata Mitra

Dan Holden said...

One of my other blogs details our National Park Adventures, so I understand what you are saying. Just last week we took our son out of school for a few days to go to Alcatraz, Muir Woods, Point Reyes, Rosie the Riveter, and Yosemite. We also hit a couple of art museums and stopped by to see a Diego Rivera mural.

As for cloud schools, they are probably essential for certain places in the world, but here in the U.S. it should be supplemental.

Schools provide an opportunity for conflicting ideas. It teaches students to deal with less than ideal working and learning environments so that they can develop coping mechanisms for the work environment. They can learn to be leaders and followers.

Obviously, schools can't be the sole educator which is why I am also a strong opponent of homework. Home should be a place where parents can teach their own curriculum to supplement the public's. School were originally designed to create an educated electorate, but without interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and differing opinions students won't be able to develop the empathy to make informed decisions.

Jake said...

Im 18 and just about to finish being homeschooled. I've been homeschooled since kindergarden and although I feel as though I've received a decent education(I scored 25 on the ACT, not bad not great), and also decent socialization(I have a good amount of friends and played high school soccer), I wish and I could go back and go to an actual school for high school at least. This is because I feel I would've have met more people, had more extra-curricular options, and had a sense of community with my school and fellow students. I feel as though I have missed out on things that most teens get to do in their lives. Most importantly, I believe that while my parents did a decent job, some parents should definitely not homeschool their kids because they are not well enough equipped in any way. If they realized they were socially and educationally handicapping their kids, I hope they would change their minds despite losing a little bit of their vice-grip control over their kids. Needless to say, Im very excited to be moving out and attending a university this fall.

Dan Holden said...

Jake - Have fun in college you'll a lot of fun and learn a ton of new things.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan. I like your thought. Realistic. Well balanced. Parents please do "your job" as "parents". You do much better as a super supplement and let school be our child's formal academic AND social outlet. Not to mention kids learn from kids. Find a house in the right neighborhood and school district. Do it for your kid then it will be a prize for yourself. Still never stop learning together, take your kid outdoor adventures, see? doesn't mean you have to be home educator. You are parents. Make good judgement.

Dan Holden said...

It has been a while since I have written this, but I would like to add that schools also need to do their job. Parents should not have to find tutoring so that students can keep up with homework. The same homework that often interrupts our attempts to supplement.

Anonymous said...

This is just a silly rant. First do your research about the quality of education in your (1st) country, (2nd) state/region/province/prefecture,... (3rd) city, (4th) township. You'll come to the quick realization that American schools are pretty much close to the bottom of the competitive world. After that, go back and revisit this rant and see if you believe most of the complaints here. Seriously, do the demographic analysis and cross compile the information you gather from government Census data and you will see this argument holds little merit. Other countries throughout the world, in equally prosperous countries (and some not so affluent), usually have their children compete to stay in the better classes (through a quota program - where children are limited from advancing if they produce low scores). They treat primary and secondary schools with the same competitive spirit as college and graduate school. Once that's instilled into the children - the children value school much more. Once you have your data, go back and revisit the success rate of home school vs public school vs private school and you will realize how much time, money, and effort you can afford to determine where you are willing to place your children and personal resources. You will be very surprised with the information you will discover. For myself, it has sure not been from the need to put my children into public school. Charter schools that have a mixed program for partial school integration and partial home school focus has been the best fit for my situation. Yours might be different. However, if you have no choice but public school, then augment your child's education with the desire to compete within the endeavors of post secondary education programs that will allow them to reach goals of Post Graduate studies. Remember a simple rule: how much effort you put in will result in what you can expect. If you put all expectations onto the teacher AND none from yourself, you can't expect much from the outcome of your children. Teachers have to be more of a diplomatic babysitter than an actual educator with limited technical resources - and in today's era technological acuity is key.

Dan Holden said...

Hopefully, I hope I never led anyone to believe that this was a well researched article. It is a rant-like reaction to some silly item I heard in the news. After six years I am still getting anonymous responses to this relatively obscure blog most of which are lacking the research you are asking for. You claim there is research, yet cite none. Even if you cite research, it will not dissuade me from my belief that most home-schoolers are doing it out of fear and not a desire to educate their children in the best possible manner. I also am not a big fan of the "competition" model. I struggle each day with my child to not just have him be better than his peers. I want him to be the best he can be regardless of what other are doing around him. My wife and I work hard to supplement his education and would never rely on his teachers to provide all of his education. I also don't rely on the doctor to provide all of his nutrition and health, but there are just some things they are better able to handle.

End of rant.