21 February 2011

Crazy Comment Monday: Homeschoolers Falling Behind.

It's a new feature I just made up. I'm going to start with some not-so-crazy comments because some of the *crazy* comments I've seen this week make my head spin too fast. I'll start out with something small until the vertigo ceases. Here goes:

"In my 10 years of teaching, I have worked with 6 students that were formerly homeschooled and then enrolled in public schools for various reasons. All of them were significantly behind academically. Though they were all wonderfully behaved and morally sound, their academic deficiencies were so profound that it grieved my heart. I know their parents believed they had their child's best interests at heart when they choose to homeschool, and I know that the time they had at home with them was very precious. But in all 6 circumstances, these average ability students will continue to struggle to compete in the 'real world' because of such significant foundational gaps."

"I stand behind a parent's right to choose to homeschool, and have no doubt that many successful students come out of these settings. However, I beg parents to weigh this choice carefully and pause to truly count the costs. Only take on homeschooling if you and your children truly have the self-discipline to be able to follow through with it each and every day."

That was an excerpt from a much longer quote by "Julia Davis" on an amazon.com discussion link on homeschooling (not sure how to link to it). I'd like to hear what you think about her idea after you listen to me drone on for a minute with my opinion:

1. I don't doubt the comment. It doesn't seem to be written with any sort of anger or outright stupidity. But the comment is based on six homeschoolers. And what does this teacher do for a living? Not a cut, but if she teaches special ed, it stands to reason that all six homeschoolers she encounters would be a bit "behind," right??

2. It can be a sign of success to enroll your child in public school when you know that things are becoming out of hand for you as a teacher. I could probably buy a boxed curriculum calculus set for Emperor later on, but likely I will seek out an actual person (public school or private tutor) to teach my son these things when we get that far along. Certainly it stands to reason that some of these parents recognized that they were beginning to put off assignments or were otherwise unable to teach well just then. Or perhaps some of these children of "average ability" were actually learning disabled in some way. Some brilliant people are, you know.

3. Do I have to say it? There are some woeful examples of public education dropout factories and the like. Even in our suburban district, one of my older sons tests "average" intelligence-wise and is functionally illiterate. Yet I never, NEVER see people be "supportive" of public education and simultaneously give the caveat that one ought to seriously, seriously think before they "take on" public schooling for their children. If you're going to send your child to school -especially at the elementary level- you must be prepared for all kinds of extra work, extra meetings, incidental expenses and a supply list that would enable a school in a Third World country to operate for about a decade.

4. No argument, based on six homeschoolers, my cousin's best friend up the street, or statistics put forth by some dude in the comment section should mean anything to you when you're thinking of what's best for your own child. It might be a terrible choice for you, but I'd hate for people to get dissuaded just because my second cousin's ex-wife is doing a bad job with it. :)

6 comments:

  1. I think it's a two way conversation. Yes, she has some validity to her statement....hoemschooling takes focus and dedication to making sure you are *doing* the work.

    But, as you said- she's basing this on 6 children. Were they 6 children from the same family??? Was it 6 children with a different learning curve as you suggested? That would be the equivalent of me judging all plumbers as crack bearing, overweight, wallet robbing workers since the three I've hired have all fit that description.

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  2. No validity. Behind on whose critea? Chances are her 6 homeschoolers covered work her class hadn't looked at but had not looked at the sort of things she was teaching. Therefore there is no way to evaluate them fairly within her system. Star was state tested on work she hadn't done about grade 5. Failed the test miserably but it was no indication of either her abilities or her work done.

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  3. No validity, but I bet there is some truth in her argument. As you probably know, I was a reluctant homeschooler. I started teaching my daughter at home because she was failing in the public school.
    During her Senior year (and only because her behavior at home got so outrageous), I sent her back to school (actually a psychiatric day treatment program that offered a high school education to kids who couldn't be in a regular classroom). Despite one-on-one mentoring for 4-years, she was still doing poorly academically. You can't fix brain deficits with education. I can't and the public schools can't. And, as homeschooling is becoming more and more mainstream, there will be more and more examples like mine.

    But, if this teacher wants to extrapolate data from 6 students and apply it to millions, she can do that. I will just wonder about her ability to think critically and use logic. I will wonder why someone whose brain doesn't function well is teaching other people's children. I will question the validity of her advanced degree and wonder, "What in the world did she learn in college?"

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  4. For every homeschooler woefully behind, how many public school kids are there in the same position?

    My poor son had such a struggle when he chose public school for his last two years of school . . . honor roll, ranked 8 out of 200, no problems passing the high school exit exam--his first standardized test ever, etc. It's a wonder he was admitted to the college of his choice (The Citadel). ;-P

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  5. In 10 years she's interacted with 6 homeschool "drop outs" who aren't quite up to snuff but are wonderful kids? Fair enough. As you say, I would love to know how many similar students of "average ability" she has encountered in her 10 years which came out of her system.

    But, let's go back over the last 10 years and see how homeschooling has worked for kids on the other side of things, shall we? Let's start this year: http://www.sonlight.com/scholarship-winners-2011.html

    Not proof enough? Okay: http://www.sonlight.com/scholarship-winners-2010.html

    Still not sure? Okay, okay, take the time to look at all winners listed at the bottom of this page.

    Is homeschooling for everyone? No. Does it automatically make your kids brilliant? No. But if you put in the effort is homeschooling a fantastic option for your educational needs? Absolutely!

    ~Luke

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  6. As a teacher of 20 years experience, I taught two different children who had been home schooled. If asked, I found each child with a deficiency.

    One child's deficiency was that they never learned cursive writing and came in after the class had already finished studying it, and never learned all the way through the subsequent years. However, academic subjects were OK.

    The second child had a very serious deficiency in not being able to write one word on a piece of paper. It was not a language deficiency (he could read and speak with a good vocabulary) but he was both excessively shy (which I don't believe was caused by homeschooling) and lacked confidence in himself--his parents didn't know how to help him with his problem. I helped him with his problem successfully by having him sit with me privately, and talking about his thoughts. I wrote them down, and then I asked him to copy what I had written. By the end of the year he was able to write about two sentences of his own thoughts without help (and subsequently went on to completely get over this problem in the next two years). However, I don't believe his problem was CAUSED by homeschooling. He would have had the same problems if he had come into public school.

    One issue which is seldom addressed is that teachers often find SCHOOL educated children with large gaps in their knowledge. This can happen when there is a large turnover of teachers (our local school had six teachers go through the fourth-grade class last year--they all had a lot of personal problems and had to leave for various reasons). The kids seem to have missed about half of the math curriculum. They got a teacher new to the school in the next grade who couldn't figure out why the kids were so far behind.....this is an extreme case, but there are many times, when for various reasons, even SCHOOL educated children seem to be missing entire chunks of knowledge.

    When this happens, the whole school can be blamed, "What' wrong with that school?" When a child is homeschooled, there appears to be ONE person to blame, and that's why we hear about all the blame on the homeschoolers.

    Instead of focusing on BLAME, people should be focusing on FILLING IN THE GAPS as they are found, whether they are in school, or schooled at home

    Eileen,
    Dedicated Elementary Teacher of 20 years

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)