It worked out really, really well for me. Most immediately, it relieved a bunch of social pressure to "fit in". My curriculum was self-paced so I was able to work through the material I already knew at a fast clip. I did grades 9-12 in 3 years instead of the typical 4, and was able graduate the same year as my then-girlfriend, now-wife (hold the jokes please, she's not my sister).
Beyond my personal experience being home-schooled, I'm now a father of 5, and I think the biggest thing missing from the other comments in this discussion is the concept that the education of children is just one of the many responsibilities of parents.
As a parent, it's your personal job to make sure your children are fed, clothed, bathed, socialized, educated, moralized, understood, and secured. Everyone worries about the "socialization" of home-schooled kids. But the parent who is taking an active interest in the education of their child is almost certainly also taking an active interest in their child's social development.
I think it's rather more likely that parents today are all too happy to abdicate and outsource those responsibilities to whatever institution is willing to take them on.
Don't get me wrong. That we have freely available public education is undoubtedly a great thing. The capacity to read and write effectively and to think critically is an amazing economic mobilizer. There's a reason slave-owners in the deep south wanted to keep their slaves from learning to read. But having that education available is supremely preferable to having it mandated by the state.
s/too happy/required to/
Try to get by with a high-earning single income in the south bay area or a median income in any metro. Housing prices and health costs force families to move to dual income.
Still, in my calculus, the benefits outweigh the risks. Here's another anecdote:
Once a week my kids get together with several other home-schooled families. In one of those families, the father is a math professor at the local community college. He's smart. He could work at any of a number of universities and make better money, but he's chosen to work at a community college because it gives him a more flexible schedule to be around to raise/educate his children.
His family of 7 lives in an 1000 sqft home. His decision to take an active role in educating his children required sacrifices, and he's chosen to trade off the career benefits for home life benefits.
(BTW, when people talk about "diversity", this is the kind I think that matters most. Diversity of viewpoints on how to live your life and raise your children. I'm glad in the US we don't have to all agree on the best way to do these things.)
You might find it to be a better life (I don't) but it's not more sustainable.
Small town with car: go a few blocks, never stopping for traffic, going the direction you like and stopping where you please
Big city with car: go many blocks, constantly stopping in traffic, route around 1-way streets, and then slowly loop around looking for a place to park
Big city with bus: go many blocks, constantly stopping in traffic, route around 1-way streets, often going kind of the wrong direction, spewing diesel soot all the way -- and often the bus runs nearly empty, a big soot-spewing vehicle with almost no people
That's obviously not all city transit but it's a much larger part. Also lots of grocery stores still have parking lots (actually garages) in the city. If you're going somewhere like that you can still park easily. Depends on the location I'm sure.
I'm not sure what your dislike of buses is. They are far more efficient than personal transit from a fuel perspective. A bus can be "nearly empty" and still replace a half dozen cars. And at peak times a bus will replace dozens. There are issues with buses but "soot-spewing" isn't one of them, at least not relative to cars.
Small town is also not really country. If you can drive a few blocks to the grocery store, you don't live in the country. In fact, if your house is near blocks, you don't live in the country. Small towns are of course also less sustainable than cities as small towns are basically built like suburbs.
You're assuming city life and country life are largely the same. In the country you don't pop down to the market 3-4 times a week when you run out of milk or want to grab a sandwich -- you buy a deep freeze and go "big shopping" once every week or two.
What IS nice is that the car time tends to be long like you said, 20 minutes, 40 minutes, which is more efficient energy-wise and for wear and tear than a bunch of little 5 minute trips.
You have to live a place that's right for you. I'm perfectly fine not leaving the house for days on end, there's plenty to do around here. Some of my friends would go crazy if they didn't have someplace to go every night. If you're the latter kind of person, country living is probably not going to agree with you! The same is true vice versa -- how do I go to Costco on my bike!? ;)
You'd do better to gather more information on the topic.
It's possible that when the data refers to two parents in the labor force it means that both parents are employable, as opposed to employed. That doesn't make sense to me, however, as it would indicate that half of non-homeschooled families have only one employable parent. Unfortunately, I don't currently have the time to drill down into the raw data to investigate the definition they used.
https://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/12statab/educ.pdf (Table 240)
Seems like a stretch of the terminology to call it "homeschooling".
Focusing in specifically on "educated": That means more than handing them off to the school system, even if they go there. That means that you have to pay enough attention to know when they're not getting it, when the school's failing to teach them, or whatever. You can't just put them in public school and wash your hands of your responsibility for their education.
Look, I'm no fan of modern schooling (public or private), but this is pretty ridiculous.
Bullying: I was bullied far more by the neighborhood kids than anyone at school. YMMV of course, but that's exactly the point -- kids are kids, and leaving the school building doesn't change that. Blaming school missing the point.
Also, RE: churches, they're one of the few widespread institution where it's not abnormal for adults to gather and condemn people who are different (LGBT, non-sexually-repressed). It's just that churches have a much better grasp on socially appropriate rhetoric (not "faggot!" but "sinful lifestyle", not "slut!" but "you must save yourself for marriage". It's more subtle, but the intended effect is the same: otherizing people who are different from or disagree with the in-group and shaming them into conformance).
If your child is gay, the local church youth group is very likely one of the most intense bullying experiences that child will ever experience.
Sex: Teenagers are going to know and think about sex. Consider e.g. religious events for adolescents, which often explicitly discuss sex in a very moralizing way. In fact, IMO, having attended one, American conservative christian youth groups are one of the least healthy places to learn about sexuality.
Weapons: I've been in a lot of schools, and in every single one of them, anything as much as a pocket knife was a huge deal.
Drugs: Again, far more likely to encounter these hanging out with the neighborhood kids than in the (incredibly risky) setting of a modern school. Even the more die hard pot heads are rarely stupid enough to bring their drugs to school.
So if "bullying, sex, drugs, and weapons" were my greatest fears, I'd probably lock my kids in school 24/7 and never let them play in the neighborhood without adult supervision.
>...I don't think children will lose much socializing without schools.
I don't think children necessarily have to lose much socializing without schools. But the anecdotal evidence I have suggests that providing sufficient socialization is much harder than it sounds.
Not only that, but if your child isn't of the inclination to be religious, it will also be a painful experience. Questioning the why behind and benefits of the religious faith of the group leaders and other youth group participants is a great way to be bullied and not only that, told you're wrong for thinking logically. That, plus the associated moralizing (i.e, "there is only one way, the right way, to be") I think are pretty damaging for kids.
Societally we are accepting of many more ways than the one proscribed by many churches. Being of one sexuality or another, or one morality or another, as long as you respect and help your fellow human beings when they are in need, should not matter. I wouldn't expose my kid to anything saying otherwise if I could help it.
But then we're right back to the socialization problem that started this thread.
If drugs were everywhere in school, the kids aren't leaving them in lockers when they go home, and it's not like there's a big tall wall that separates these alleged weapon-smuggling drug dealers from the "good kids" on the home-schooled side either.
If any other organization had anywhere near the track record for deaths and serious injuries and addictions that government run schools had with our children, it would be shut down in no time.
Nice enough to have a few decent AP classes, bad enough that we walked through metal detectors. But my assessment is even more colored by the dozens of schools I've volunteered in.
What kind of school did you go to?
> Because church groups and extracurricular sports teams and home schools all have a stake in protecting the kids
What about unstructured socializing? Or are you suggesting that children should spend the first 18 years of their life under constant adult supervision?
Basically, my point is this: whenever there are weapons and drugs in the school, there are a lot more of those same weapons and drugs outside of school.
So either you have to keep a constant eye on the kids and and strictly control the social group until they leave for college, or else these problems are more pronounced outside of school than inside of school.
> School shootings, stabbings and drug dealings happen every day, and no one gets fired, no one gets in trouble, no one gets sued
Nothing you're saying here is factually accurate.
School shooters typically kill themselves or are killed.
School officials (teachers, etc.) are often themselves killed during school shootings. Complaining that those officials aren't posthumously fired seems... crazy.
Families effected by school shootings do sue.
And people definitely get in trouble all the time for dealing drugs and bringing weapons to school. Which is why both are far more common outside of school.
I disagree with vivekd on many points, but I don't think that schools offer many more unstructured opportunities for socialization than their examples. They get a few minutes in the hallway, and then maybe lunch, and then extracurricular activities - which he's already suggesting anyway.
I.e., if you rule out all unstructured socializing, then avoiding school might be an effective way to avoid "bullying, sex, drugs, weapons". But if you don't rule out unstructured socializing, then ruling out school isn't going to help much.
Yes giving kids alone time is fine, but leaving a large group of kids together under the supervision of very few adults and repeating this 5 days a week for several years is going to have some effect.
For example this study shows that home schooled children are significantly less likely to drink or do drugs
but I will admit that studies comparing home school children to public school children are too few and far between to draw meaningful scientific conclusions. Also the large numbers of religious homeschoolers throws the numbers off.
I'm just relying on reasoning. A child who spends most of their time being raised by their parents is in a much better position to avoid negative outcomes than those raised by a paid supervisor, no matter how well qualified. Love makes a difference, parents love their children, teachers, while no doubt caring, don't have the same love and definitely lack the resources to provide the same individualized attention.
Further, public school, due to powerful teachers unions and parent counsels are anything but meritocracies. The good teachers are not always the ones that thrive and rise to the top.
2 is particularly important. We tend to think of drugs as "bad" when talking about kids, and then turn around and have a beer, smoke a cigarette, drink way too much coffee/caffeine/sugar, or in some jurisdictions consume cannabis. So our goal shouldn't be adolescent abstinence -- rather, the goal should be setting kids up for a life of healthy interactions with drugs. In a few rare cases that will be actualized in the form of abstinence, but in most cases it will take some other form. For this reason, I tend to ignore data that doesn't distinguish between "healthy" and various forms of "unhealthy" drug use.
Interpreting this data is extremely difficult.
Your interpretation is that schools are causing increased substance abuse.
But an equally reasonable (which is to say, not at all reasonable) interpretation is that home schooled students are more likely to have a flat, legalistic, and ultimately unhelpful understanding of drug use that will come back to bite them in the ass later in life.
* homeschoolers are more strongly disapproving of any alcohol consumption, but there's no difference in opinion about smoking 1+ packs a day. Even though the former can be non-harmful or even healthy, while the latter is pretty uniformly incredibly unhealthy. Perhaps this is because they're more concerned with following laws than healthy drug use patterns?
* Late adolescent home schooled students and early adolescent home schooled students are equally disapproving of peer alcohol consumption. To me it's weird/creepy that a 13 y/o and 18 y/o would have the same attitudes toward peer alcohol consumption, and indicates that maybe the 18 y/o's opinion is more indicative of ignorance or blind rule-following than any sort of healthy attitude about drug use per se. There is absolutely nothing unhealthy about an 18 y/o occasionally consuming alcohol (or anyways, no more unhealthy than a 21 y/o).
* A lot of the questions refer to any drug use, as opposed to abuse or modes of unhealthy use. And home schooled kids tend to be equally disapproving, or in some cases more disapproving of healthy use of stigmatized drugs than of unhealthy use of less stigmatized drugs.
* Some of the related work suggests that "homeschooled adolescents engage in less substance use than non-homeschooled adolescents, although religious ties was an important moderator in this relationship". Which makes a lot of sense, given that the overall range of opinions tends to be more indicative of unscientific moralization of drug use than of health-conscious substance use patterns.
(There's also some weird effects in this data, like home schooled kids having a harder time getting alcohol but not having a harder time getting LSD...)
To be clear, I don't think this interpretation is particularly reasonable. But I also think it's about as reasonable an extrapolation from the data as your interpretation that schools are causing the gap in the data.
> public school... are anything but meritocracies
I largely agree with criticism of educational quality provided by our schools.
I don't think it's correct to blame unions and tenure though, because non-elite private schools tend to be pretty crap as well. In both cases, the solution is probably a combination of high social status and (much) higher pay for teachers. This can be paired with eliminating tenure and unions, but doing that without significant improvements to pay will only make the job less attractive and thereby decrease quality.
The equal LSD availability, combined with reduced alcohol availability, suggests that "turn around and have a beer" isn't happening in these homes. LSD use is rare everywhere, but alcohol is only rare in the homeschooling homes.
All of the cancer risks are linked to heavy drinking (usually 3+ drinks a day over a prolonged period of time), and there's absolutely no evidence that occasional moderate alcohol consumption poses a health risk greater than any number of other extremely low risk activities. Certainly not greater than a pack a day of cigarettes. (Furthermore, some studies have indicated that moderate alcohol consumption can even have positive health benefits, including decreased risks for some cancers.)
Similarly, alcohol in moderation causes none of the "indirect" things you mention.
You are free to assert an arbitrary moral superiority for abstention, but don't pretend like you have a rational basis for your opinions on the effect of moderate alcohol consumption. Pretending like all use is unhealthy is just as ignorant as the opposite extreme.
Some people lose control of their consumption. How do you justify any confidence that you won't be one of these people?
It's not as if the typical alcoholic just decided one day to be an alcoholic. For most it just... sort of happened. That could be you. Maybe not, perhaps probably not, but why would you take that risk? For little gain, you risk throwing away your life.
Tons and tons of people manage to drink without going am addiction.
And regarding risks, the same could be said for lots of things that are sometimes psychologically addictive -- internet, video games, shopping, etc.
Mass shooters, yes. Two kids exchanging fire in the parking lot? Not so much.
Note well: When I was in school, we never had a shooting, so my statement is unsupported by firsthand evidence.
Uh, no. Discharging fire arms at or around a school is taken incredibly seriously pretty much universally. Doing something like this would be more than enough for hard jail time.
This happened at my school while I was in high school (late at night, and had nothing to do with school -- it was just a shooting that by pure chance happened to take place right next to the school -- neither of the people involved were from the community or even school aged). There was a huge police investigation and the shooter was caught within days of the shooting.
e: If you think "two kids exchanging fire in the parking lot" is an example of tolerated behavior at schools, you should take it as an indication that you have a wildly inaccurate mental model of what schools are like.
You can see it mentioned in your first article:
>her attorneys cite a state law that gives school districts and their employees immunity from liability if they make a good faith effort to report threats of violence.
so even if a student threatens violence, as long as the teacher reports it, there will no liability to her or the school even if they didn't do anything to stop the violence or supervise the children adequately. This statute is actually more lenient than other areas where it is complete immunity.
Now this immunity is limited to state actors and does not apply to private schools, churches or sports teams. And I believe that without these protections public schools would have been sued out of existence long ago for the horrible things constantly happening to children under their care.
I'm not sure what you expect a teacher to do. Break the student's arms? Search their bag, home, neighborhood for any guns and remove them? Duct-tape them to their desk and set a bucket underneath?
I'm not faulting the teachers, I'm talking more about legal liability in terms of sovereign immunity which limits or negates the liability of states from lawsuits.
The stats show that marijuana use is rampant:
35.1% of 12th graders have smoked pot in the past year
21.3% of 12th graders have smoked pot in the last 30 days
16.6% of 10th graders have smoked pot in the last 30 days
6% of 12th graders say they use marijuana every day
81% of 12th graders say it would be easy to get marijuana
Only 32% of 12th graders feel that regular marijuana use is harmful
Rather, the observation is that these things happen mostly outside of school, so avoiding schools isn't an effective way of avoiding this things.
The link between school and these activities is, IMO, largely specious. Or at the very least completely unsubstantiated by evidence.
Or are you seriously suggesting that kids are binge drinking and lighting up in between history and chemistry?
Basically, vivek's argument is that by not sending your kids to school you avoid all of these behaviors. But these behaviors are far more common outside of school that within school.
Home schooling doesn't replace effective parenting, and sending your kdis to a school doesn't preclude effective parenting.
Finally, I think it's worth asking so what?! to a lot of your statistics. Particularly the "drank some alcohol" and "smoked pot in the last 30 days" statistics. These things aren't a priori bad, and drinking at that age isn't even illegal in a lot of developed countries (and even in some places in the US, under adult supervision).
Kids are smart. Claims that "marijuana and drinking are bad" tend to only have the effect of discrediting the speaker. Those claims are mostly specious, and kids know how to use Google. Citing something like "68% of 12th graders have tried alcohol" in a page decrying substance abuse makes one look like a scare mongering idiot. Seriously, these are 18 year olds -- that number is almost certainly close to 100% in a lot of developed countries.
But kids are also stupid. If you go on to tell them "binge drinking is bad, avoid it" or "prolonged marijuana use really can cause serious harm", they'll extrapolate that you're BSing them about that too.
Basically, scare mongering about any drug use only has the effect of making it far harder to warn kids about actual dangers.
Do people spouting this have any kind of realistic evidence for how schools are so terrible for socializing, instead of spouting off folksy wisdom?
The whole "socialize, more like INSTITUTIONALIZE mirite guys?" just feels so flimsy and patronizing. Some are even comparing public schools to Lord of the Flies? That's just ridiculous.
I have a unique education background at that age - I was homeschooled until 5th grade, then went to a private religious school until 8th, then a private very high-end high school in 9th grade, and then a brand new suburban high school in 10th, and then inner city shitbox schools in 11th until I finally dropped out and took the GED since it was such a waste of my time.
In the good schools? You're pretty much correct. I can definitely see why a parent would not like a lot of what happens in them, but it's a bit much to call those social scenes dysfunctional entirely.
The inner city schools? Oh man, I would do anything to keep my kid out of such hellholes. I think you really need to volunteer in a Chicago south side or similar high school for a week - I haven't met anyone who's spent any time in that system who would ever send their children to them. It's social environment is more like a juvenile hall.
> Some are even comparing public schools to Lord of the Flies? That's just ridiculous.
I'd say it's a pretty apt comparison, murders and all for a significant portion of the US population.
I could comment this with my own perspective fairly extensively, but quite honestly every time I give some kind of personal experience in this thread it's just met with snark, and every time I ask for objective evidence I get some "why trust some jackass's study" type of response. But, in my own experience, schools, even in the "inner city" (which just seems to be kind of key word for an aggregate of poorly functioning schools, or a poorly functioning student population), can still offer a bit of refuge from home life. Even poorly funded schools will have some great teachers/mentors.
So let me just ask this: How is home schooling going to fix such "hellholes"? You're effectively blaming an institution on the failings of the society around it; even when that institution actually provides a constructive outlet that most likely would not have ever been provided at home. And for all it's tasked with doing, this institution by the way, continues to be constrained by people who seem to hate it.
I've volunteered in the south side schools your parent mentioned, and I can think of some cases where this was definitely very true.
Of course, it's also true that all of those kids also would've been much better off in better schools.
> How is home schooling going to fix such "hellholes"?
If a family has an adult in the house hold who can stay home and educate the children, then they're definitely not living in these neighborhoods in the first place.
And in any case, that family would be much better off if the second parent works so that the family can move to a better neighborhood.
Yup, I've volunteered in one of these schools, and totally agree with your assessment.
That said, these really are the worst of the worst. Even most city schools have far more functional social scenes.
OT, but FWIW I've never really known what "inner city" means. Is it just code for "bad"? In most cities, there are definitely vast socio-economic geographic differences within the city, but those geographies aren't layered. So "inner" and "outer" doesn't describe them.
In the US, it's a long-used code for "Black or Latino." Not that Wikipedia is authoritative, but here's a snip from Wikipedia:
"In the United States and United Kingdom, the term "inner city" is often used as a euphemism for lower-income residential districts in the city centre and nearby areas with, in the US, the additional connotation of impoverished black neighborhoods."
Basically, they don't mean the parts of inner cities where white people have displaced Black people. As gentrification expands, we will likely have to find another euphemism. The basic idea is you don't want to send your kid to school with "inner-city" kids if you can help it.
I also fail to see how any of those things listed are some how related specifically to schooling in any kind of institution. Everything that's listed exists in society by it's own "virtues." In fact, its rather silly to claim that homeschooling children will somehow not expose them to possibly more drugs, more weapons, more sexting, etc. It's not like the children and adults who bring forth those "qualities" of society are constrained at the public or private school walls. They're in your local bookstores, theaters, churches, youth groups, and your parks.
Still need some work though ;-)
I went to private schools, and envied the columbine guys, when it hit the news, I wanted to do the same. (happily, I didn't).
Still, friend I had (outside of school) that went to public schools, were real Lord of the Flies material:
* One friend I had, once was assaulted by 3 bullies using their school scissors as a weapon, he reacted by bashing the head of one of them in using his skateboard, hitting his skull with the skateboard wheel supports.
* Another friend of mine broke someone jaw with a fire extinguisher in a school brawl.
And even in my private school:
* Some dude threw my sister into a construction area, after that she started to walk with a non-optical mouse ball in her pocket, she knocked a guy with it once after the guy stole her lunch.
* A kid from first grade made a hole in another kid skull using one of those traditional spinning tops made of wood and nail, this resulted in a spinning top ban.
* After the spinning top ban, the popular toy became yoyo, that also became banned after a kid tried to strangle another with the string.
* Metal rulers were forbidden, it is because some years earlier, before I joined the school, a group of kids figured they could sharpen the rulers until they were sharp, use them as swords, and steal all other kids, including much older ones, money.
And then we have incidents like this:
* Teacher in my high-school had some quirky behaviour regarding emergency staircase, later another teacher told us he witnessed a student jump from it headfirst in a fashion that made brain splatter all over the place.
* One of the highlights of my high-school principal career, is that when he was teacher in another school, one of his students put a bomb in a bathroom that was so strong the toilet he wanted to explode made a hole in the ceiling above.
* Kid got kicked out of school after arriving 6:30 in the morning blind drunk, got in a brawl with other students, and destroyed half of the desks in a classroom.
* Whole city was hit hard by the news that a group of 15 year old kids organized a massive party, then when it was time to leave one of them decided to drive home drunk, despite mininum driving age being 18 anyway, crashed, and killed himself, 2 more students, and left two others paraplegic.
And all that is from a relatively wealthy place, poorer areas we had kids murdering each other and teachers without even hitting the news.
And now some recent news about school incident, in portuguese, so you might need google translate:
On a side note: in 1995 I used the word socialization in a sentence with a government official and immediately had to spend 5 minutes defining my meaning was not whatever she thought it was. Words mutate overtime in government and there are actually hot and cold words for grants. I'm pretty sure I would have got the same reaction even if she hadn't been a racist in the old sense (a shame when that happens to minorities particularly when its directed at other minorities).
That's what society is. What's the point of socializing kids into anything other than the actual society?
I'm ambivalent on homeschooling and it largely depends on motivation. I can absolutely buy homeschooling as an alternative to a poor public school district with no opportunity for quality education. I don't buy homeschooling as a way for parents to hide their children from "the real world" or other more ideological reasons, which from what I see sometimes does happen. This is a bad strategy; after all, in so many career paths who you know is just as important or even more import as what you know.
My guess is that homeschooling will produce both some of the best students and some of the worst, depending on the parent.
School, to me, is like jail: It's the only place where I can meet such unregulated behaviors.
Second, yes, it's true that there are gangs, crime, bullying, popularity-obsessed people, etc., in the real world. But the difference is this: outside public school, those are bad behaviors, which lead to unsuccessful outcomes. If you want to teach children to succeed in society, you need to teach the opposite of what public school "socialization" teaches.
The point is to subtract from all of that rather than add to it.
Of course, in my public school we had dudes who were fully-pubed driving their cars to the 6th grade, so kind of an extreme example.
Many here are repeating uninformed myths about homeschooling.
Specifically in regards to academic performance, "The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests."
But who cares? Though I could talk at length on educational benefits, what is needed for children is not an ideal academic environment. Our children need to be loved and mentored to become adults and, on average, no one can do that job better than their own parents.
Public school was too easy for him. He was bored and not being challenged enough. Plus the last 2 years things kind of started getting a little creepy. I won't go into details here but there was definitely some indoctrination stuff going on that did not sit right with me.
I am not saying homeschooling is right for every child, but if your child excels in Math, is scoring off the charts in most subjects and appears to be bored, I highly encourage looking into it. There are a ton of homeschooling resources available now and there are a lot of good hybrid options too.
Why are you doing that to him?
I have tried encouraging other areas too of course but this stuff really excites him. It is in his blood and he is really, really good at it.
I thought this to myself and then googled it to see if lazyweb had written it for me:
As a Mama here and as someone who has worked in this industry for over 15 years, I would not be bummed if he chose another path. I however won't hold him back from what is pulling him either. I will try my best to be as supportive as I can in whatever path he ends up choosing.
Also speaking as a mom - I am totally okay if he ends up being the nerdy kid ;)
I don't know which is more prevalent but all the homeschoolers seem to think of themselves as being in the first group, and most of the vitriol is aimed at the second group, so there's a lot of people talking past each other.
Example one: Friend of mine has a kid with some strange behaviours, and some problems with aggression control. The other teenagers at the school constantly tease him, bait him, and make his life miserable. The school has given up on trying to stop this.
Example two: Another friend who's thirteen year old daughter was sexually assaulted (not at school), and as a result has virtually become a shut-in. Distance education is the only option at the moment.
Example three: My own daughter has some pretty severe anxiety issues and we ended up with school refusal for two years. She just could not cope. She can do the academics, she could not deal with everything else around interacting with other people, chaotic environments, unexpected change and such. We persevered and with a lot of leaning on mental health services, and a wonderful and accommodating staff at the school, we've managed to get our daughter back into school, which ultimately is best for her in the long run.
All these in Victoria, Australia - same place as the article.
The two groups you mentioned have their motivations rooted in some sort of hubris. I wonder how small their percentage is compared to the group who are just struggling to keep their kids alive and in some semblance of happiness.
They had always been religious, and we were raised with religious practice as a part of everyday routine, but they steadily became more and more a part of the countercultural fundamentalism that was growing up around them in the 1980s. As that happened the practice of home-schooling became both a cultural marker and a means of rejecting and protecting their children from what they saw as a corrupt and unhealthy mainstream society. By the time I graduated, my parents and most of their social circle were fully on board with the whole quiverfull homeschooling right-wing fundamentalist subculture.
Of course I promptly rejected the whole thing, as did most of my cohort. The fundamentalist homeschooling subculture appears to perpetuate itself almost entirely via recruitment and not through reproduction, so far as my observation goes.
I am worried that cop visits, CPS visits etc. etc. might deter parents from doing this especially given that teachers union is a powerful political force.
Problem with America's education is entirely some nonsensical level of "we know what is good for your kids" regulation that is simply taking out freedom from parents.
Most people don't have the option of moving to a better school district or state even, and even so, don't have time to wait for the schools to fix the issues while their kid needs an education now.
It isn't always feasible, due to either a lack of time or a lack of knowledge on the parents' part to provide a full education to your own children. Which, of course, is why many homeschoolers use partnerships with other families and, sometimes, schools.
Being homeschooled I had a completely different childhood than most of my peers, and that alone can make it more difficult to connect with people. At the same time I can also tell if someone my age was homeschooled just by listening to them talk, so finding other people with similar backgrounds usually isn't too hard.
I agree re: different childhood, although that's not unique to homeschooling by any means. I also spent a few years in a "gifted kids" program, and even that by itself has the exact same effect given how unique the social environment of such programs are.
For that matter, I did go to public school for high-school, and again anyone at that school had a similar experience for a totally different reason: the school happened to have an unusually diverse student body, with a very high percentage of recent immigrants, and this lead to an unusually diverse social structure in the school. For example, every year no-one had any clue who the prom king and queens were because the social structure didn't have a school-wide hierarchy. More like multiple smaller groups based roughly on shared backgrounds and interests, with quite a bit of overlap. My brother on the other hand went to a different school which had a social hierarchy straight out of a American movie.
Absolutely. I went to a private school up through 5th grade, then public elementary school for 6th grade, then junior high at a school that wasn't the one that my elementary school sent people to (the one I went to had fewer knife fights). Coming into a school where I knew nobody two years in a row was rather rough...
Just curious, what cues do you notice?
The reason why U.S. taxes are so complicated is because every special interest group wants their one line item deduction. And when they can't get a full deduction, they'll accept convoluted computations for partial deductions with a cap, so now it's a worksheet to do the computation for the actual deduction. Multiply that by every goddamn special interest and you get a 15 form submission every year.
Income tax should be a single form for everyone. Progressive rate. No deductions for anything. No home mortgage deduction - your mortgage interest is not a superior benefit to all of society than someone else's marked up rent. It's a special interest hand out.
The only fair way is if it's the same for everyone.
YOUR_TAX = MARGINAL_RATE * MAX( 0, ( YOUR_INCOME - MEDIAN_INCOME ))
That's a progressive, but not onerous tax scheme. From $9436 billion in total household income, it taxes $1742 billion. Actual receipts from the 1040 tax in 2014 totaled about $1395 billion.
There are only 3 variables: the income that you partially control, the median computed by the easiest statistical analysis you can do, and the fraction between 0.0 and 0.99 set by public policy.
The government letting you keep more of your own money is not a handout.
I agree with you about the single tax rate though.
And yes, getting a deduction or credit on your taxes for homeschooling or private schooling is a handout. It's the same as a person with no children asking for this same benefit. What you're actually advocating for is not public education at all. You're advocating for a direct democracy, everything is al la carte. To do that even remotely properly means:
a. compulsory voting (a number of countries do this including Australia and Brazil)
b. a minimum of 2043 line items to "vote" on by dollar amount where $0 is as valid as $[totaltax] or anywhere in between, meaning people can choose to starve schools, roads, the military, corporate welfare, public welfare; and that 2043 value comes from the number of pages for the federal budget.
I think it becomes a very different world if we're voting for issues with a dollar amount attached than voting for representatives. And I don't necessarily think it'd be better, just that it'd be very different.
I also want to say I really appreciate how HN is still a place we can debate political policy civilly. I don't know any other places online where so many differing viewpoints are represented in robust and civil debate.
People with enough deductions get to file Schedule A and explicitly itemize property taxes. Typically owning a house gets you enough itemized deductions to justifying filing Schedule A so while a renter indirectly pays property taxes too, they don't get an explicit deduction for property taxes and thus also wouldn't get to deduct additional costs of homeschooling incurred.
The top reason why public schools suck in the U.S. is because of politicization of education. That's why there's more bureaucracy in public schools today than 30 years ago. That's why there are more derivations of school boot titles, where school boards are literally line item vetoing history books to emphasize/deemphasize actual historical facts, and with science. Regional schools are not all on the same page with the same standard, or even the same agreement of how the world is or should work. People move to specific neighborhoods to go to specific schools, and that results in far less diversity today with more small schools than fewer big ones.
However, I am also convinced that schools serve two real purposes for kids. 1) To push them further than parents think they should be pushed, and 2) to socialize them. (Which, really, is just part of 1.)
Ignoring all of the advantages that schools have -- mainly, more experience than makes sense -- even "bad" teachers are almost guaranteed to be better than a given parent. Because of their experience. They will have seen more kids than I can comprehend.
But back to my points. Even if I was somehow a better informational teacher than the ones at the school, I can not be a better teacher than their peers. Building healthy peer relationships is tough. As a parent, you think "nobody that will hurt my kid." However, I am not sure that is right. What we really want is "nobody that will unfairly hurt my kid." And even then, we want peers for our kids that will grow with them. So, really, it is "nobody that will convince my kids to repeatedly hurt others."
And this gets to the crux. Building a peer relationship for kids when you deprive them of diverse peers is nigh impossible. And if you have a reasonable set of peers, you are really just in a private school; not a home school.
Privates schools are not bad. At least, not something I want to vilify. However, I want my family to know and be a part of the community. Not a separate bubble within it. Weighing that against them having a "quality" education is tough.
The history of state education, especially in America, is pretty dark. John Taylor Gatto, former teacher of the year in New York several times over, has written extensively on the history of education and it's worth reading his books to understand why state education seems so bad -- basically because it's working as intended. Our current education systems are damaging our children's emotional and intellectual independence, and do not serve the hopes and wishes most parents have for their children's education.
Voluntary options to state education should absolutely be celebrated, and parents should have the freedom to choose how to educate their own children.
They really were pioneers of assembly-line indoctrination.
See, at first when you said "voluntary" I misunderstood the word to refer to the kid's participation, but you meant voluntary as in for the parents to decide what their kid does.
All this talk of the ills of public schools, but you know a household is also a top down authoritarian system, one that certainly doesn't have more tolerance for free expression than a school, and one that isn't voluntary in the least. Most of the hostility to public schools seems to be from parents who don't want dictatorial competition.
I have no problem with homeschooling, but I'm no devotee, and I don't really buy a lot of what advocates say. Like, in actual fact, is there any evidence that homeschooling produces kids that are less, "subservient citizens who will do as they're told and not make trouble by thinking for themselves?"
Then again I'm not a great fan of the public school system. But I will say that when people say that public school is better for socialization, what they mean is that kids get the chance to navigate complex social relationships, (peers of all kinds, older near-peers of all kinds, younger ones, authority figures), and do so truly on there own.
Anything you'd recommend?
And he's well worth looking into.
So you want to take the kids out of an environment where they get to see other perspectives and instead leave it up to their parents to not create what is effectively a social, cultural, and intellectual bubble?
That seems incredibly naive.
A student that is placed into a public school has many teachers, with many other student peers from all walks of life that will offer their own perspectives on anything from social issues to academic subjects. Your disingenuous hyperbolic claim that this environment is somehow "walled off" is ridiculous non-sense.
>have been through different experiences, do different kinds of work, have read different books, have different ideas, and so on: exactly what public school can't offer.
That's exactly what it offers.
That strongly depends on your school district. Chicago's shittier schools aren't likely to have too many cultures represented. My high school in Texas had a grand total of four black students throughout all four years, and three immigrants - one of whom was me. The rest was white and hispanic southern kids.
But your point is well made - I don't know if that's the sort of thing most homeschooling parents work on.
Honestly, I would love for this to be a thing. But I feel that it is far, far too optimistic. Most people tend to shy away from others that don't fit within their socioeconomic circle if given a choice.
"Kids would you rather stick around the neighborhood today, go to the zoo, or go into the city to a youth outreach program and meet some new friends!"
I'm being a bit too unfair with your point, but the thought of that conversation happening within a family who home schools is pretty hilarious, and unlikely, in my opinion.
I have a hard time imagining what you mean by "pushing them farther than parents think they should be pushed". Homeschooled students far exceed public schooled students in academics. I guess you are referring to the condom-on-banana stuff and the lectures on white privilege, right? In what other areas are public schools actually considered to be "pushing the boundaries"?
As an aside, before charter schools the only way to legally homeschool in California was through declaring one's home a private school. Beyond that, it's nothing like any institutional private school I ever attended.
Very. My daughters classmates are certainly more diverse than the kids she could meet through me, or the kids she met in karate or other extracarricular activities, (which all were nothing more than acquaintances).
also, after kindergarten, they have experience with the older students.
You're also underestimating just how bad a public school teacher can be. I've talked with LAUSD students and I have heard some crazy stuff. You can usually at least be sure the parents give some kind of shit about the kids...
Others in this thread have mentioned the damage done by public school "socialization", so I'll only point out that my socialization while home schooled was much better than when I was public schooled. It was plenty diverse, if that's what you're worried about. Your point about "you're really in a private school" is a classic no-true-scotsman and you should feel bad.
Usually, yes, but not always. For the most part, you can often expect that the parents who homeschool care about their kids (though you can't even be totally sure of that...)
The amount I've grown socially in the last couple of years of college really makes me annoyed at myself for missed time.
My experience with homeschooling was very different: I escaped a pattern of bullying for a few critical years, spent those years with much saner social experiences among other homeschoolers and adults, and came back a much more confident teenager. Equally, learning learn on my own has worked out very, very well for me.
All in all, I think the main thing about homeschooling is it increases the variance of results. Yes, some kids do worse than they might otherwise have, but other kids do significantly better precisely because it ends up being a very individual experience. What is clear is homeschooling is very different, and different for every kid, and it's good for society to have a diversity of experiences.
Heard some true horror stories in foster care, like a guy who grew up "homeschooled" by meth addict parents who faked tests, forced him to steal to get back in the house (at least at some points), and left him almost illiterate at 18.
The transition from a respectful homeschooled peer group to an institutional Catholic school could best be described as social whiplash. My college peers that were fully educated at home had a much more "pleasant" transition to institutional education as young adults, and were often indistinguishable from other undergrads.
One of the things people worry about with schools is classroom size. That teacher may be very experienced; he/she may also be handling 25 kids. At our homeschool, the maximum classroom size is four. You can be less experienced as a teacher, and still be more effective.
No Child Left Behind means the entire curriculum is slowed down so no child is left behind. If any kid excels or are just average, they're have to wait up because the numbers game keeps teachers from failing students.
>and 2) to socialize them. (Which, really, is just part of 1.)
I have met many homeschooled kids, and many public schooled kids. Guess which ones I see have the worse issues with socialization? Don't know how to interact politely with others, or have baggage that makes them afraid in uncomfortable social situations? Also turns out, kids have issues with socialization, shyness, etc regardless of environment.
>Ignoring all of the advantages that schools have -- mainly, more experience than makes sense -- even "bad" teachers are almost guaranteed to be better than a given parent. Because of their experience. They will have seen more kids than I can comprehend.
Teaching is not usually the career choice of the most gifted and talented, maybe in NYC or SF, but not most places, those that are burn out quickly as they're frustrated with the limits placed upon them by the system, the constantly being told how to do their job by parents, administrators, school board members etc who have no idea what is going on in their classroom. That and with a class load of 30+ students, even the most gifted teacher's attentions are divided to where they have to teach to the lowest common denominator, meaning those on the fringes of being high achieving or struggling are left wanting for attention, or worse the teacher gives those students a greater share of her attention, to the detriment of the rest of the class. The whole thing is screwed up and designed for teaching factory worker's children, not how multiple experiments have proved its better. Not to mention the push/pressure put on younger children, who learn better by playing anyway, see Scandanavia, they don't even put their children in school until they're six, but we're trying to teach math to 3-4 year olds whose brains aren't developed enough to grasp the fundamental concepts of quantity. Furthermore, a parent doesn't have to be an expert in all children, just their own. Even teachers are better with certain types of kids, this idea they know how to deal with all is silly, those kids that are different usually just struggle. I begin to wonder how much time you've spent in an actual school? Ever seen children be put in to a BEH program with kids who've been to juvie because they had a learning disability but were otherwise bright and gifted when put through tests? I have, it happened to me. We had to move to another county to fix the problem. You can teach to the individual needs not the whole class, so you only need to know what that kid needs, not every kid, again, its case by case thing, some kids are better off in public school, not every parent is suited to do home school or even able to. But two college educated parents can give most public school teacher's a run for their money on 1-3 kid(s) vs a teacher having to teach 30.
Peer relationship thing is again, a silly misconception, the peers I built relationships with weren't even in the same classes as me. I had a few friends from school, sure, but I also had friends who were cousins, lived in the neighborhood, friends of other friends, kids I met in Karate class, or kids of my parent's friends, etc. You know, like how adults make friends.
You assume too much isolation, you have little awareness of the secular education options out there for homeschool kids, the "hack your education" talk at Ted is a good example, a home school kid has more opportunities for education because the whole group doesn't have to be included, to say nothing of homeschool groups, where a CS major who does programming courses for his students does special sessions with whole groups of home school kids, etc.
Public school isn't awful, but it's a government program, and many times its not hard to beat the bare minimum that government program's provide. Should this be fixed? Sure, but the solution isn't to take away options from parents and kids who need a good education today, while the government figures out how to fix that.
1 - Homeschooling has been documented as locus of identity abuse by withholding modern identity paperwork required to prove citizenship. This insures the child remains dependent on the family and religious unit into adulthood since they have no documentation to prove they are a citizen. 
2 - Homeschooling allows for abusive parents to be abusive with limited opportunity for a mandated reporter discovering the abuse. 
3 - When I went through high school and college, a homeschooled student was rare like a unicorn. I never met a single person. When I went back into a school setting in the last 5 years I met several. Anecdotal observations: (a) untreated autism spectrum disorders, (b) homeschool teachers unqualified to teach math & science leaving the adult student unable to academically survive college level sciences despite a passion for science subjects, (c) a well adjusted kids who joined 4H programs and had parents with a scientific background, and (d) one student with a deep love for English literature.
On the whole, I'm dubious when I hear of people home schooling. I ask things like "Do your kids have birth certificates?". "Do you immunize?". "What is your math and science background?". "Are your kids being socialized with their peers?"
I'm sure the homeschooling parents really love me. But a number of homeschooled kids are child abuse victims and I feel an obligation to probe these weird situations.
Furthermore, I didn't have an argument. Homeschooling seems dubious to me. As a homeschooled kid, if you win the genetics lottery to have educated non-lunatic non-abusive parents capable of teaching the entire spectrum of knowledge areas, it might work out really well.
God help the kid chained to a bed at home being homeschooled without anybody knowing the child's plight. God help the kid whose parents can barely manage the mathematics required to keep a checking account balanced. God help the kid who has a medical condition like autism that the parent is incapable of addressing.
That's an extraordinarily useless piece of data -- there are at least a couple orders of magnitude more students in schools than home schooled.
> and some abuse in fact is happening inside those schools
This is rare enough that it's not a rational reason to avoid schools.
Well, there's an order of magnitude or two children going to regular schools... One needs a bit more statistics to back or disprove any argument.
Home-schooling may be a right. Fine. But it's a parental right. What about the right of the child to a top-quality education?
Everyone I know who homeschools thinks the same thing at first: "How will I teach my child subjects I don't understand?" There are many surprising answers, actually!
1. You will learn alongside your child. A rewarding part of homeschooling is that you continue your own education. You will learn many subjects more deeply than you would have otherwise.
2. You will provide resources for your child to teach themselves. As your children learn to learn, they will tackle many difficult subjects on their own using textbooks, pre-recorded courses, and other materials.
3. Others will help teach them. Successful homeschoolers don't do it alone. They find peers, form co-ops, and/or utilize tutors or community resources. Many homeschoolers take lots of college courses online or at local universities as they enter their early high school years.
We have such a large support system with the program we are in. Much larger than what we got with public school. It really was a nice surprise as a newcomer to see how supportive the community was.
I have even volunteered to teach a programming elective at my sons hybrid charter 1 day a week that he will help me with.
It is not right for everyone but your stereotype of homeschoolers not receiving top-quality education doesn't really hold much weight. Recent studies show that homeschoolers are actually outperforming public schools.
Some stats that may be of interest http://www.home-school.com/news/homeschool-vs-public-school....
Also, you fail to take into account that with today's Internet, there's a miriad of resources that any reasonably intelligent parent can leverage to educate their kids in subjects outside of their are of expertise. It really would be easier for your parents to pull it off today, had they been so inclined (and been born 35 years later, of course)
I'm not homeschooling yet, but have been researching it for some time and may start next year. A heck of a lot of the methodologies that I'm learning about have parents acting as "facilitators" more than teachers. Especially at the middle and high school ages, kids should be able to pick their own books to read, carry out projects, learn skills by self-teaching or by seeking out lessons, etc. The parents' job is to teach the children how to think and how to learn (and even in that regard there are resources to help).
I never really suffered from social issues due to having a "home school group" that we regularly met with to play sports, a couple siblings that were close to my age, and being on various high school or public sports teams while being home schooled.
If I could go back and do it again I would make sure to get a better foundation in English and Math. My overall understanding in science and history probably suffered more than it should have as well but those dont have as much impact on my day to day life.
And as a background. The majority of K-12 schools are free, public schools with a smaller but growing group of religious schools. Home schooling is perfectly legal but requires you to register with the government.
Personally I think those who advocate for home schooling often think schooling is purely for education. When for children it is also the time in which they develop socially. Taking them away from that without a suitable alternative is in my opinion somewhat reckless. But provided there is some alternative I don't see why it wouldn't be an option.
When I think back, I don't think school really prepares you socially for anything other than life in an institution. If you plan on doing prison time that might be useful. But after high school I've never been in any kind of situation remotely like that (other than maybe my first retail job).
I've seen this argument many times, but it has never seemed persuasive.
Where else in life are you ever going to encounter an environment where all the other people are within 12 months of your age, except for the authority figure up front? Other than maybe military bootcamp, never. Even prison has a range of ages and backgrounds represented.
The social skills learned in such an artificial environment are highly unlikely to transfer to the real world.
That's an odd argument, do you think there is little socializing benefit from any kind of schooling then?
A 12 month range of age is not unusual for a circle of peers/friends throughout life, especially if you normalise for age.
A narrow age band means that children are likely to be at similar stages of emotional & mental development as their classmates, so they can learn from each other. It's important not to forget that children are children and not adults. School shouldn't necessarily directly model the rest of their lives.
There's a case to be made for homeschooling as a better way to "socialize" kids than public schooling.
The socialising you get from the school is a bit artificial these days anyway. For example, the class leader is often who get the top marks in the exams. Good luck with that when you get out of school...
My socialization as a (partly) home-schooled student involved interaction with a much wider band of ages, adults included. In my opinion, transferring to a private Catholic school stunted my social development more than anything - and brought out a crass personality streak that remains to this day.
This is a sample size of one, of course.
You can't really make global assumptions like that. I know for a fact I would have preferred to play games and code in high school rather than go out to socialize, and hanging out with friends I made at school was the majority of my socialization until I was forced to keep in touch with them in college.
Not every kid is a social butterfly waiting to be let free.
The socialization from school is 100% not artificial. I can look back at many stupid things I did in middle and high school that taught me valuable life lessions and have concretely shaped how I think about things.
Not every kid, but most kids are. May not be a "social butterfly", but most of them like to go out and play with other kids..
It's not some sort of vacuum where kids spend 9 hours a day practicing for the spelling bee and sewing bonnets.
To mitigate that, at least in Melbournes East there is a growing group of homeschoolers who get together for events - organised on facebook sites such as HEN aka http://home-ed.vic.edu.au [membership] and "Melbourne Homeschool Families With Teens" etc.
edit: FWIW this was in Toronto, Canada.
You mean by being bullied so much that "pulling a columbine" looks like a good idea?
Then having almost 30 years old and no friends because for most of your life you only hated everyone and only learned how to hate and distrust?
Yeah, that "developed" really well.
Home schooling as a means of accelerated education for parents with means or extensive time and personal education can do quite well. But there are plenty of parents who aren't capable of teaching their kids and, in fact, shouldn't be allowed to have kids at all. School interactions have been an important lens into the private life of abusive families, and I don't think that parents should be allowed to just check kids out of the public school system for a decade without any oversight. There should be tests and required contact for this - far more than what many states have in place. And I don't know if there's enough budget for that type of infrastructure.
On the other hand, I've seen various school districts increase the cost of schooling significantly while decreasing the value. And I've seen some teachers (retired and current) that probably have or should have restraining orders against them by children, science or both. And classes have always struggled with teaching a curriculum to kids in various levels of comprehension. Hundreds of bright kids slog through boring classes everyday just waiting for others to catch up, while some struggle just to stay afloat.
There's more to both sides than we like to think, but there definitely needs to be more supervision of "alternative" education. Government investment in a recognized, "free" curriculum and online testing resources would be a good start.
People in this thread discrediting homeschooling for being anti-social, when they're probably anti-social 20 something programmers. You may have been social in high school, but as an adult you chose an anti-social career.
Yet the solution for homeschooling socialness is the exact fucking same that people on HN recommend for anti-social 20 something techies. They're called clubs. (Not the nightlife kind)
Homeschool parents get their children in sports clubs, music clubs, dance clubs, etc. 20 something programmers who want to be more social should get into a club also.
Let me ask you this, if with your current anti-social adult brain you were transported back in time to your teenager self and given the chance to be more social at youth -- would you spend time conversing with other high schoolers and their typical teenager talk or would you seek out clubs with more mature individuals and activities that could lead you to success in adult life? Intelligent people would chose the latter, but kids aren't smart enough to make that decision at a young age, so adults should give them that guidance and direction.
Primary schools, at least in the U.S. are designed to make good little worker bees who follow instructions. It's practically designed to make children feel comfortable with being bored.
The practicality of homeschooling is very far from universal. The whole concepts of time devoted to career, wealth projection, real estate cost, all need to be made more practical if homeschooling is also going to be practical. It's not practical to expect one parent to be the stay at home teacher. Not everyone is a good teacher anyway, and most of them are working full time jobs.
We're probably the most career-successful of the peer group of homeschoolers we grew up around; the least successful were a SAHM last I heard. Most were tradespeople in their dad's profession. Well and good, I suppose.
There's a heavy cost to be borne to do it proper-like; it really requires one parent to stay home and be the teacher - most multimedia curricula are total drek, largely because kids just aren't that self-motivated to learn, they'd rather do legos or throw snowballs. Old Tom Sawyer stuff, you know. Human nature works best with a human teacher in meatspace.
For a US public policy perspective, I have a few thoughts - most relatively inflammatory. I don't want to have a flamewar, but I think they merit some level of thought - email me to continue the conversation.
There's a huge social cost to having diverse schooling; it funnels children out of the public schools into private schools and other alternatives, and provides a salt lake effect reducing the quality of children in schools. So I'm not actually a fan of private/charter/religous schools for that reason. It diverts funding and excellence. Homeschooling will never be popular enough (it's hard work) to really consider it a serious competitor. But it's reasonable to require tests periodically - enough parents fart around that it's a real issue.
It's my opinion that control has to pass out of the hands of local school boards upwards into state or federal level. There are far too many stories about local school boards funkifying their children's grades or ruining a teacher's career who gave their child bad grades. Similarly, teachers need not unduly worry about their career because an upset parent is panicing. There are serious issues with the structure of public schools in the US, and teachers need to be privileged much more than they are now. Admins and parents are legendary for causing issues.
It's my opinion that a tiered education approach is proper for the US: one tier for college-bound children, one tier for trade-bound, and one tier for "misc". Tiers should be broken out at 10 y/o or so based on aptitude tests & history, without much regard to parent's opinion. Similarly, children who are disruptive in class need to be shuffled out of class.
Many people think school is about socializing. That is both true and a bad idea. It doesn't have to be: anthropology and history would tell us that modern schools are a very new innovation, and generally you got socialized outside of the school system. Having your age-peers shape you primarily is contra the long standing human experience and is segregationist in concept. It'd be much better to focus on effective use of time in school and let families adapt to having more time to socialize children.
All of the above turn out to be reasons to homeschool; it's a very nice game theory picture - cooperate or defect! - what is best for my local society is that I send my children to the public school, vigorously fight for excellent academics and rigorous training of character, and make a tiny difference. What is best for my children is that I send them to a highly ranked private school or homeschool them, sacrificing either my or my spouse's career to give them 1:1 personal tutoring and drive them to the top of their potential.
As a clarifying note, there are about 4ish groups of homeschoolers in the US, broadly stroked out:
- Academic - v. common. US public schools are often bad.
- Religious (Young Earth Creationists etc)
- Difficult/gifted child has inability to cope with school
- Unschooling & crew "hippie" stuff
I have absolutely zero sympathy for the unschooling world, both philosophically and from an outcomes perspective. It's a deep disservice to the child's potential. Again, Old Tom Sawyer loved playing hooky: don't enable it...
Religious homeschooling is highly variable. A lot of it is video curricula. It can range from straight up traditional latin/greek heavy-duty academic rigor all the way over into some drivel that is a bare pastiche of what might be an education. I would advise not writing it off, but looking a bit closer at the curricula. Most is quite adequate at the basic stuff as I recall.
And, of course, all sympathy to the people struggling with the difficult children.
FWIW my own experience was more on the unschooling side than not, although I also was in high-school full time after grade nine. Particularly when I started working full time I found it strange seeing most of my coworkers and interns just not being willing to take initiatives and learn on their own, something that to me seemed very natural - if I didn't when I was a kid nothing would happen. Meanwhile I advanced very quickly because I did just that. And from talking to others with similar unschooling backgrounds, that's not an unusual experience to have.
Part of why unschooling seemed to work for me is probably the environment. Growing up I didn't have access to computer games or the internet, and TV was strictly an evening thing. So for many hours a day I had nothing to do but learn. Sure, I didn't have all that much direction on how I was supposed to learn, but I seemed to figure that part out well enough on my own; the main structure I was given was to always have math textbooks around to work through, and I was expected to spend time every day studying them and doing problems. Programming on the other hand, was something I spent a lot of time learning on my own in a very self-directed fashion because I wanted too - same for subjects like economics, science, and art.
An exception to all this though was spelling and grammar: when my parents took me out of school in grade five I still wasn't able to read to write very well, so for about the first year I remember my mom spending a lot of time with me on those subjects. But that year was all it took to finally catch up; once I knew how to read sufficiently well learning on my own beyond that was much more practical.
Of course, I have to give a lot of credit to my parents there: the environment I had while "unschooling" was likely no accident... I'm sure they worked quite hard to make that happen.
I pay around 7% of my upper-middle-class income each year in property tax. The vast majority of that money goes to my local public school district. 3 of my 5 children are home schooled. In effect, I pay both for the private education of my own children as well as the public education of others. Sure feels like a penalty to me.
This is what makes the GP comment so off-base. There's no "salt lake" effect from a funding perspective. This is the whole point of the recent political rumblings to institute voucher systems that let parents take their tax dollars and spend them on alternative schooling options.
When "smart" parents remove their kids from the public school, the public school is worse off from having lost the student and parent would could have helped provide a better environment.
Along with the children left behind no longer getting to interact with adults who are in the more successful category, losing an entire set of role models to aspire to. How many children have benefited from their friends' parents providing excellent role models and life advice? Allowing the privileged to separate themselves into private gardens removes part of the ladder to pull yourself up by. And, along with that, it limits the mixing of the SES/racial categories, which further inhibits compassion, as you won't have grown up next to them.
A key example of the effect this category of isolation leads to is Romney's remark in 2012: "... middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less...". Had Romney more experience (or even familiar with the vital statistics), he would never had said such an profoundly ignorant remark.
None of those are mutually exclusive activities.
Perhaps for households that cant provide supervision, just create a minimally supervised and perhaps somewhat interaction-limited computer lab for self paced study during that time.
From an economics/labor force participation/GDP perspective, having few kids per teacher isn't very sensible.
Under "Parents’ Most Important Reasons for Homeschooling Their Children", "A desire to provide religious instruction" comes in fourth, and "A desire to provide moral instruction" comes in fifth.
Also desire to provide religious instruction and concern about the environment in other schools (top reason) are not mutually exclusive. How do you know that the parents who were concerned didn't also list "A desire to provide religious instruction" as their second?
Also, note that this would include any kind of religion, not just the kind of Flat Earth stuff that the OP was suggesting.
If you look at the table immediately above it, it shows 'moral' at #2 and 'religious' at #4, with the vague 'environment' again at #1. 2/3rds to 3/4s of parents gave the religious/moral answer. This doesn't define them as young-earth creationist nutters, though - it just lends support back to the GP...
That being said, while Australia (article location) does have some hard-core christian right folks, they're generally not young-earth creationists. Not a lot of biblical literalism here.
Both my kids have been homeschooled. My oldest, 15, entered a public high school this year, is a solid A/B student, and is taking senior-level classes. My youngest, 13, is still being homeschooled and will likely go the same path in a couple of years.
We don't go to church. We teach evolution. Both kids are passionate about science, especially biology and astronomy.
Amongst other homeschooling families in our area, we are not atypical. Yes, there are outliers... but they generally don't socialize with other homeschooling family groups set up on Facebook or Meetup.
We started homeschooling because our local school district failed our kids. Adults in the classrooms weren't teachers, they were classroom managers. Mentorship? Teaching? These things were replaced with tight schedules, teaching-to-the-test, and checkbox leadership.
Homeschooling isn't for everyone, for both financial and teaching capability reasons. But don't lump everybody in the same pile as the loonies; that ignorance doesn't belong on HN.
Parents also have a responsibility to integrate their children into society, and if they refuse to step up to that responsibility, then it's the government's job to step in and place the children under the care of those who will.
I can agree that making sure children can read, write, and do some amount of math is fundamental to them being able to succeed as adults. But I'm skeptical of any attempts to make sure that children are "integrated" into society.
I have a four year old daughter. There is no way you're going to convince me that putting her in an environment where girls are pressured into sending nude photos to boys is good for her. I'm sure there are things which can be done to mitigate these risks, but I like to play games where the odds are in my (and my daughter's) favor.
Maybe homeschooling is a filter bubble.
So maybe homeschooling is a filter bubble. And maybe that's a good thing.
There are others who Homeschool, in part, to avoid religion or discrimination in public schools.
I have noticed quite a few Homeschool sites promote very pro-Christian materials, whereas we are very secular, pro science/evolution.
There are quite a few reasons for Homeschooling, so its a diverse bunch - some are very pro-education, perhaps focusing on Science/Math or reading the classics. Some are "un-schoolers" who like to have almost no structure.
Some are fundamentalists in the sense you mention, many aren't.
I would expect that from home school families in general, because families in a lower socioeconomic stratum generally have both spouses working full-time jobs rather than staying at home, available to teach children.
The other group that I was familiar with when growing up were friends who essentially dropped out but we're able to use the homeschool thing to stay enrolled a little longer. I'd guess they don't make up a large portion of the homeschooled populous though.
Most schools (even some of the good ones) turn kids into asses through the "Lord of the Flies" effect. Think about it: You have inexperienced little people with underdeveloped judgement spending most of their waking hours for most of the year with other little people who are in the same boat.
And people call this socialization! "I do not think that means what you think it means."
If kids had a little more contact with mature, self-actualized people growing up, they wouldn't have as much baggage to work through in adolescent/adult life.
Have you ever noticed, whenever a group of adults talks about their school days there are always lots of stories about being bullied and general unpleasant experiences. At first it seems statistically improbable - those damn bullies didn't pick on everybody did they?
Maybe the truth is that kids are generally just fucking horrible to each other. That, apart from a few isolated cases, the meme of the Nelson Muntz style "school bully" is a myth. Many (most?) kids are both the bully and the bullied. This brutal experience gives us all the baggage we need to work through in the future.
Maybe we should be honest about what school is really for. I always thought Paul Graham was right when he said it's really just a place to put teenagers until they're useful to society.
> Now adults have no immediate use for teenagers. They would be in the way in an office. So they drop them off at school on their way to work, much as they might drop the dog off at a kennel if they were going away for the weekend. 
I also wanted to mention that there is a place where the Lord of the Flies approach has been taken to its logical extreme, in a long-running experiment which continues to this day.
That place is the British boarding school system. It messes people up so badly that it even has its own psychological condition: Boarding School Syndrome .
The fact that many of our political leaders come from this system should be a cause for concern.
(And yes, being bullied does not stop one from bulling - on other occasion, in another place.)
Of course with schools the ratio of peers to adults is dangerously close to Lord of the Flies.
Good GPA? Wear what you like, except distractions (naked) mean back-of-class seating. Bad GPA? You wear a one-size-fits-all jumpsuit made of faded rose-colored velvet.
Good GPA? Eat what you like. Bad GPA? You get that squishy nutriloaf thing normally reserved for misbehaving prisoners.
Good GPA? You get first choice for slots in sports teams, drama club, choir, cheerleading, and all the rest. It doesn't matter if you suck at the activity. Bad GPA? No participation permitted.
Enforce prom date pairs having a minimum average GPA. Those with the highest GPA can pick anybody. Those at the midpoint can pick the better half of the school. Those at the bottom get only one choice, and will thus need to make nice with the top-performing student.
Good GPA? Wander in and out of school as you please. Bad GPA? You pass through metal detectors, get a pat-down, and are sniffed at by the drug-detecting dog.
Good GPA? Move around and chat with friends during lunch. Bad GPA? You get assigned seating and must eat in total silence.
People will invent new ways to attempt dominance. Brutally crush this for any student who fails to perform academically.
Agreements can be made to extend incentives beyond the school:
Good GPA? You can drive a car at age 14, with reduced-rate insurance and school-provided training. Bad GPA? You must wait until age 25.
Good GPA? The local cops welcome you to go shooting with them. You get any needed state licensing at age 12. Bad GPA? Forget it; no 2nd amendment for you!
Good GPA? The local mall welcomes you by yourself. Bad GPA? You are not permitted entry. (Moderate GPA: only with parents)
Good GPA? Public transportation is free. Bad GPA? You don't ride without a parent. (Moderate GPA: standard fare applies)
Good GPA? Wander the city as you please. Bad GPA? There is a curfew.
It's my opinion that children learn much more from their time with adults. It's likely that there's another aspect to the "Lord of the Flies" effect - Children are being socialized by other savages at school all day, then they come home and are virtually ignored by mommy and daddy.
>I've argued this many times when "socialization" comes up. So, other undisciplined brats should teach my kids how to behave in society?
EVERY child is unique and so there is no one way fits all to raising well-behaved and well-socialized children, so I adapt. I stay engaged with teachers at school and follow up when something goes wrong.
Teachers are often afraid to tell parents "bad things" about their child because so many parents are defensive and think their child can do no wrong. I try to recognize my children's shortcoming so that I can help then to improve.
When I first meet with a teacher I tell them this and that I truly want to hear about issues. I will tell the teacher, "In the past we have seen that X is an issue for him/her and s/he is working on improving on that area. If this or any other issues comes up let me know right away so we can correct it at home before it gets worse." I have found that this is more effective than just saying I want their feedback as teachers often think that is just lip service.
I set strict boundaries and rules and then I consistently enforce them. Often times I explain why a rule is there, but sometimes I just say, "I have my reasons." I find that in general children are more compliant with rules when they understand the reasoning, but the reasons behind some rules are too complicated for children to understand.
Apparently, these things work as my children are all high achievers and very well behaved compared to the majority of children I encounter on a daily basis. Other parents often ask me what is the trick to having such well-behaved kids.
My youngest daughter was a real handful the first couple of years in school and my wife and I had to put in a lot of work to change her behavior. Things that worked for the first two children had zero impact on her. Eventually, we figured it out. One of the most interesting things was that she had the same teacher for 1st grade and 2nd grade due to some re-org that happened at the elementary school. Out of the blue one night I received a phone call from her teacher (while she was in 2nd grade); when I answered the phone I assumed the teacher was calling to tell me there had been some sort of incident. Instead the teacher said how she just wanted to call to say what a pleasure it was having her in class and how she didn't know what we had been doing, but that it was amazing how well behaved she was.
So to sum up; if you are going to have kids then step up and be a parent.
If you look at the tone and language of your comments, there is quite a bit of detectable judgement and condescension. I'm sure your kids have great parent(s) who are involved, but I'm not sure you recognize the privilege your family enjoys. I think this point-of-view is troubling when looking at how we might approach the real problems facing society re: children, education, etc.
Either way, it's hypocritical for you to pass such harsh judgement of other parents while snapping at GP in the same breath.
There you go passing judgement just like I did, assuming that isolated events you may see in interactions between your kid and other kids is indicative of them being raised in an environment lacking discipline or involvement.
Regardless, I enjoy the conversation. I feel like using the word "savage", while it makes sense to me, may have distracted from the point I was trying to make. I have a pretty cynical view of human nature in general.
Maybe these parents always had been and would continue to be in denial; I don't know; but Susan thought the problem was much worse in fourth grade than in first, because the parents weren't staying abreast of their children's expanding capacity for mischief.
I've never had kids, though I think I would have liked to, but hearing things like this does leave me with the impression that a lot of parents are not really very much on the ball.
I honestly think a majority of education dysfunction comes with dual-income scenarios with "extended daycare" - If the children spent more time with their parents, it would help them really "socialize".
And some states, IIRC, don't even have equal funding mandates to start with.
Of course, infrastructure quality effects operating costs, so there is a source of inequality right there.
At least I had martial arts training.
It was a source of discipline, and the dojo was one of my main social groups growing up through every sort of school.
But there are some positive peer-induced socializations. Both my boys had some quite annoying habits of speech and mannerisms that are gone now. I think part of the reason is that their peers are less understanding and forgiving of such behavior than their parents. Similarly, they are more receptive to peer criticism, as it packs more of a threat. Other kids will ostracize you; parents, not so much.
I wish there was a way to mix the educational quality of public school (which I do believe is better than I could provide--im not a world history or literature expert) with the socialization of homeschool.
Against School - John Taylor Gatto
(Previously on Hacker News)
I don't see how promoting homeschooling as the alternative to schools is a good solution here.
Also, a turn toward homeschooling can be a total wildcard based on the values and intent of the individual parents. The movie Dogtooth is somewhat relevant here.
But I don't think the values and intents of parents keeping their kids at home for schooling are always acceptable, which is emphasized in an exaggerated way in the Dogtooth film.
I'm sure in some cases homeschooling could be beneficial and "better" for an individual child than the existing school system. I just think mistaking homeschooling as an "alternative" to trying to solve problems of the school system is its own dangerous path.
She always worried that her inability to teach was ruining us. My dad said her teaching was not that important; her main job was just to be someone with a pulse who cared about us to the exclusion of all else. And it worked, I entered honors engineering at age 16.
Someone has to decide what the kid learns. It might as well be someone who has a better chance of actually caring about them.
This is a salient point. But I don't think the answer is "parents homeschooling" which can only ever address privileged individuals.
Might there be some way we can get more people involved in the the lives of all children that fit the description of "someone who has a better chance of actually caring about them"? That's the problem I believe homeschool ignores.
My father became disabled when I was 8 or 9 and could no longer work. There were years when our christmas tree was a potted plant and our presents were cereal boxtop prizes. Yet I was able to be educated at home.
If you are interested in allowing more people to have the privilege of home schooling, then perhaps we should examine the inequity of home schooling parents being taxed for public educations there children are not using?
I point this out because the premise of your argument assumes that state run public education is the default solution, and that home, or 'alternative' schooling is in the position of needing to prove why it is superior, when in fact, the situation is exactly reversed. It is public education which needs to prove empirically, why it is intrinsically better than the traditional forms of education.
And what was required to be functional in historic societies (say prior to the last 50-200 years[EDIT: 0]) was no literacy, no history, no mathematics, no basic economics, no civics (in the sense of understanding the theory, not the practice).
For the vast majority of human history we lived much, much simpler lives in many ways. Now, you need basic literacy and numeracy to be able to contribute to any non-manual-labor jobs. And even then, you need numeracy to manage your own finances or risk being taken advantage of.
What's required of the modern adult in the West is not a level of education that can be provided solely by two parents to more than two to three children (and that'd be pushing it). Instead, they rely on external resources (texts, videos, tutors, like minded parents) along with their own capabilities of education and instruction.
[EDIT: 0] Because the future isn't distributed evenly. But I should've specified further back than I did.
Even in a situation where the world requires a new solution to education, the burden of proof in terms of a particular solution's efficacy lies not with the old approach but the new.
That is to say, public education needs to demonstrate how it is objectively better suited than historic methods of education.
We had poor literacy, we introduced public education, literacy improved.
One major advantage of public education is breaking a particular cycle that would occur without it for many people. If you're uneducated or undereducated you are not in a position to educate your own children. You need a school or a tutor to help. Without that, your children are likely going to end up similarly undereducated.
Public schools are a democratizing factor that can significantly reduce inequality in education, and consequently inequality in life outcomes (as measured by financial and other success).
>Public schools are a democratizing factor
That's true, everyone get's an equally poor education.
You can argue all you want about current school systems, but I think we can all agree that it's far, far, far better that everyone receive a baseline level of education, regardless of family background, than the way things were before.
This view of education, however, is not reflected either socially or in legislative reality when it comes to America education in general.
The reason why public education became wide spread starting in the middle of the 19th century was the industrial revolution and the need for a more educated work force. Prior to that, an economy primarily devoted to subsistence farming, can can get by with an uneducated work force as it had for thousands of years. Suddenly with mechanization, you actually needed people that could do math.
Today, in the first part of the 21st century, with automation, and wealth inequality, the efficacy of education as the great leveler is clear by pretty much every economic study. In light of this, it doesn't make sense to go back to a hodgepodge curricula at best.
Second, and perhaps most important, in the 19th century and before you had women whose jobs were to stay home and raise children to the ripe age of 12, at which point if they were a boy, they'd start working with their father in the fields until the they reached 17 at which point they'd marry the 15 year old girl from down the road and start a new farm.
Today, 60% of the households in the United States are dual income, and it's been about this high since the 1990s. the reason for that are many, including the growth of secondary education among women who don't want to stay home all day, to the harsh reality that it's hard for most people to make do with a single income.
Let's not pussy foot around this. One of the modern roles of public education is child care, albeit crappy child care because it starts at 8am and ends at 3pm, thus leaving late afternoons a problem for dual income families.
So let's be honest here. If you abolished public education for homeschooling, you're cutting household income in half, and getting a lower quality educational product, because most people can't adequately educate their children both from a curricula and by a methodological viewpoint.
And while you haven't brought it up, going to a completely private educational system won't work either because quite frankly, most people can't afford to pay the equivalent of buying a car every year per child. Again, we tried this as society in the 18th and 19th centuries. It didn't work.
We don't need to repeal the 20th Century. We already had the 18th and the 19th. They sucked.
You don't even believe this.
Your point is accurate re: historical perspective, but don't you think you have to take that in context? From a historical perspective, children have been brutally exploited, especially from the poor and middle-class.
It does get quite amazing, doesn't it. And, thank you. :-S
Rational arguments require comparisons, and if we narrow the scope of comparison to the repetitively new era and scope (american public education) then we ignore the preponderance of evidence from human history.
I don't see how promoting organizational improvements as an alternative to educational freedoms is a good solution here.
In the industrial era when the system started, there was a somewhat defensible position that a conformist generation of young people indoctrinated with the same beliefs and an inclination to defer to authority was exactly what the factories needed. That era has passed. Education is priceless, but schooling and its associated credentialism is arguably the worst market distortion of the past century.
The former New York Teacher of the Year wrote a book on this topic: https://www.amazon.com/Dumbing-Down-Curriculum-Compulsory-An...
Toddlers have atrocious fine and gross motor skills but we don't tell them to just sit still and do nothing until they're older: We let them play, explore, and yep... hurt themselves. We let them do things the hard way, so they can think to do it an easier way in the future. And I think the same philosophy can be applied to socializing.
I do understand there are school districts that serve large bodies of "latchkey kids." I was fortunate enough to avoid that in my public education, but I have less fortunate friends who came out fine-- several of whom had a much better experience in school that I did, weirdly enough.
And although I didn't exactly enjoy my time in school, I would never trade it for homeschooling. I had the foundation necessary to pursue my interests. And during my time in public schools, I've met several people in school I'm still friends with almost 20 years later.
This is not a view shared by developmental psychologists. Playing with children their own age is fertile ground to learn how to share, how to take turns, etc. As far s the child is concerned, they are on even footing in the social hierarchy with their peers and must resolve conflicts with their peers without falling back on defaults. Moving into adolescence things become more complicated and nuanced-- coping with peer pressure, dating, developing a sense of self etc. But that's all very critical.
Do groups of closely-aged children (or people in general) act as peers, or do they cue on other factors to form a hierarchy from? This is what the LotF effect is. In the absence of an established social hierarchy children will create their own based on arbitrary things such as body size, clothing, manner of speaking, etc. In schools we see this manifested as bullying.
Having a child interact outside their peer group gives them a template of maturity that they can emulate within other children their same age. The established hierarchy of age may make it less likely that they will resort to arbitrary hierarchies and could be measured by a decrease in bullying between children of the same age. (There may be age related bullying as older children abuse their seniority.) They will still have to learn the things you mention, but instead of stumbling across the rules on their own, or having them dictated by the fiat of an authority figure, they learn by the example of those who came before.
Then as those children mature they are encouraged to work with younger children and act as role models. When seeing they can correct the mistakes of the children following them, it provides positive reinforcement of the good behavior.
I was curious about this, so I searched for developmental psychology on the difference between mixed-age and same-age socialization. But what I found (from a very brief search) didn't match what you said. An example study is this - Children’s Social Behavior in Relation to Participation in Mixed-Age or Same-Age Classrooms:
"Findings suggested a significant positive effect on children’s prosocial behavior as a result of participation in a mixed-age classroom context. In addition, fewer children appeared to experience social isolation in mixed-age classrooms than in same-age classrooms. Aggressive behaviors were significantly less likely to be noted by teachers in mixed-age than in same-age classrooms." - http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v1n1/mcclellan.html
But that's just one study. Is it an area of ongoing debate in development psychology? What sources would you recommend for the other side?
What you're looking for is a study that shows something like the following: The difference in social development between at least 2 groups of children: Where one group did not socialize at all, and another that socialized with similar-aged peers.
Also, while the study you link is interesting, it's really just looking at pro and anti-social behavior over what seems to be one school year. It's not doing a formal assessment of social development over a long period of time. There's certainly evidence it could be beneficial long-term, but long term effects aren't studied in that paper.
I think your mistake is that this does not describe homeschooled children at all. They just socialize in locations other than prison-style government run daycare centers.
If RMS were a homeschooling advocate, this is the kind of statement I'd expect from him.
If you are on the "right" side, there's no need to exaggerate.
In what way is that statement an exaggeration?
Do I need to spell out how public schools are run like prisons? Or do you not believe in their critical function as daycare facilities?
I stole that from somewhere, but it makes the point. Much "socialization" in public schools is not a net win.
Of course a fun aspect of human behavior is that a kid might be mature and self actualized around their parents and then be a bully at school because they are friends with bullies.
There's also the issue, at least in the U.S., where homeschooling is really kind of a code word for "religious, non-secular" schooling. Anything from evolution to certain history is skimped over and treated in a "just learn this for the test, but don't believe it" kind of fashion, which is extremely unfair and unfortunate for the child in those situations.
The biggest issue I really have with homeschooling, tied into the previous paragraph, is that you end up getting absurdly unqualified people teaching their kids (and sometimes other people kids!) subjects they have absolutely no clue about! For a group of people that tends to be extremely vocal about teaching "organically" and not by the book I've never seen any other population so reliant on textbooks when it comes to a variety of subjects. The kids basically lose out on what would be a "pseudo-professional" in what ever subject they're studying, who would able to guide them through certain areas of the subject the text book may not gracefully cover or maybe even not cover at all! Instead you get a stay at home mom, dad, or some kind of combination thereof that didn't bother to study the subject they're trying to teach _and_ went to a public school themselves on top of it all.
All these posts seem to be far fetched rationalizations when it comes to homeschooling. There's nothing stopping you from teaching your kids things you want them to learn, beyond what schooling will give them. But it's been plainly obvious to me personally that homeschooling doesn't really give you anything extra, or circumvent problems with the education system, it just takes away from what you would have gotten while claiming it's doing the exact opposite.
High school teaches "just for the test" and includes a lot of baloney like "evolution" for purposes of checking checkboxes.
High schools are packed with "absurdly unqualified" teachers and even more unqualified "administrators".
All your rationalizations seem pretty thin gruel when you face the undisputable fact that homeschooled kids far exceed public-school peers in academics.
See? beat for beat.
I didn't say high school aged graduates are "off." I am talking about fully fleshed adults, and in my circle of friends ones that exceed 25 years old.
It's not that I necessarily have a problem with "just for the test", which I view as a cheap criticism of people who can't demonstrate what they know when asked to do so, it's that the people who claim such things and then homeschool teach directly for the test with no other insights into the subject because it happens to be that's all they're literally capable of doing due to their own personal studies -- or rather lack thereof.
>High schools are packed with "absurdly unqualified" teachers
That's another very lofty claim that you're going to have to back up in some substantive form without resorting to folksy wisdom.
>that homeschooled kids far exceed public-school peers in academics.
And yet there are hardly any notable contributions in any field brought forth by homeschoolers in a manner that is consistent with such a claim. I personally don't _work_ with people who have been home schooled, I don't know anyone in my field as a programmer who grew up homeschooled, and I don't know any homeschoolers who have actively achieved a high value professional career or have demonstrated their exceedingly good academic performance in another way. I'm also not aware of any metric that would lend any reasonable amount of credence to such a claim that homeschoolers will out perform students who attend a public or private school, controlling for everything from family environments and socio-economic status.
I clearly labeled what was my personal perspective, and then asked for any kind of credible, objective information.
You called what is far from a fact "indisputable", and then proceeded to label a subject like evolution as baloney.
>I'm also not aware of any metric that would lend any reasonable amount of credence to such a claim that homeschoolers will out perform students who attend a public or private school, controlling for everything from family environments and socio-economic status.
Most everyone, given enough time away from homogenizing environments like public schools, becomes increasingly differentiated from the norm. They find their tribe and grow into that niche instead. Then, when tribe members cross paths outside their tribe, people sense something "off" about the other.
Do you think schools are any different? I kid you not, do you know who teaches in Engineering Colleges in my place. People just out of college. Yea right. Professional courses taught by people just out of college...
There is lot more to teaching than a bunch of "qualifications". I don't know about the educational system of your country. But in my country, people learn to pass exams. And often lessons memorized line by line (In my enginnering college we had students who learn computer programs by heart to pass lab exams). This means, one the exam is over, they are as good as new. Blank state.
And when these people come to teach, they often do little more then orating what is written in the "text book".
This is about professional colleges that I am talking about. But it is a little bit better in schools. Simply because the subject is simple, and any grownup with enough education can teach themselves enough of any subject to teach in a class. The same goes for a parent.
Add to this the fact that a parent can spend a lot more resources to teach their kids than any school teacher, and can follow any method that work well for their kids, and more importantly, they know their kids better then any school teacher (I mean, they should)...
In some cases, yes.
Anecdotally, in my homeschool co-op group growing up, we had classes from a PHD biochemist, an ex highschool english teacher (got fed up with highschool and turned to homeschooling), a professional music teacher who catered to the local homeschoolers, and a successful local businessman who ran a catering company, among others.
There are a lot of highly qualified people who are also parents, and interested in teaching their own (and their neighbors) children.
Homeschooling certainly isn't appropriate for everyone, but don't discount the existence of people who are able and willing to outperform the local public school system.
He seems to have studied web development and maybe some teaching. I'm not sure, since it's not like we get to read their resumes. But are you saying you're not more qualified than him to teach those topics to students in gifted programs that chose to be in that class?
Point: I KNOW he was incompetent. That's cause I already KNEW that subject. I avoided the class (took business classes) to avoid the inevitable fight. How about everything else students don't know or haven't learned yet. You don't think there are more incompetent teachers out there? Ones in lit/math/science/arts?
Just because they're an authority and in charge of students means nothing beyond their actions and results, which from experience in this case was incompetence and poor respectively. And people have plenty of students to back up similar situations in other students, other schools, other years for decades. You don't think some healthy distrust is needed and maybe in a free society some can have the choice to do it themselves?
Evolution is another reason he is homeschooled, but for the opposite reason that you imagine. Most public school teachers brush past evolution as fast as possible or totally skip it. Some teachers even dare to deny evolution. Both liberal and conservative teachers get uncomfortable with the implications of human evolution, for different reasons, and hardly any teacher wants to bother with a fight over a subject they can just ignore.
Book quality varies. You can get Campbell Biology as I did, or you can go to a homeschool supply place and get some creationist nonsense. Both extremes are available.
I could do without teachers pushing their personal political views. I have my own, thank you very much.
On the one hand, I realise that I'm being a bit pedantic, but on the other hand, there were a lot of these errors, in a call to action to allow the author to teach people. Clarity of expression is one thing that is taught in high school, and it's important. I'd want to proofread my article if I was trying to put forward that my ability to teach was decent. The occasional error should be overlooked, but this was pretty sloppy.
If I saw these errors in someone wanting to teach more practical skills rather than abstract ones, I guess they wouldn't stand out so much.
 I've lived in that state all my life, and am familiar with the localised terms (lite? yuck)
 which I frequently abuse myself, to be honest
Im happy to correct spelling grammar errors - I by no means represent myself as a professional author.
Be aware that 'Math' or 'Maths' can be correct according to where you are [ Ive heard Maths used in Australia, Math used in US, ymmv ]
ps. I really _am_ trying to teach practical skills - for example my videos on multiplication - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAucwKdByrU&t=385s
Now you may say they aren't very good .. but thats okay if they help even one student learn math, or open to the idea it might be interesting or understandable by them.
Re: Math/Maths, 'math' is American English, 'maths' is British English. Maybe it's bled through from American textbooks - perhaps go by whatever is on the cover of your son's textbook? Australian English can supposedly use either form, but generally it's considered to be British English, and you should stick to one or the other when you write (ie: don't mix and match).
I perhaps came across more hostile than I intended. It just struck me as notable the difference between the intent of the article and the way it was presented.
EDIT: I've hit my comment limit, but wanted to respond to your comment with:
On the mixed audience - just remember that your primary audience is Victorian education administrators - they're the ones whose opinions you want to change. Write for your audience in the way that has least friction.
When you mix'n'match British/American English (like realise/realize), you will annoy someone in each camp. If you pick one style and stick to it, it's more coherent and the message content flows more easily. It doesn't make what you say more convincing, but it does reduce potential sticking points that might distract a reader's attention.
Good luck with your efforts. :)
I did proofread it thru[through] a couple [of] times myself, but should have had a few friends proofread it and give feedback and fix typos before releasing.
ps. I've given up the local textbooks in favor of the AoPS.com ones, they are vastly superior imo - they just go much more deeply into things like completing the square etc.
Your comments most welcome - I think its an issue worth discussing, even if my writing skills not quite up to the job.
Thanks for specifics.
K-3 three to four kids per class
4-5 seven to eight kids per class / gender seperated
6 ten kids per class / gender seperated
7-12 anysize / mix it up
I think the course presented illustrates well why democratic and republican societies should always prohibit private and home schooling.
Instead of opting out parents such as the writer would be forced to engage and reform and participate in change and help bettering things for society and not just themselves, because the differences in educational equity they'd otherwise beget are seeds sown on the path to social schisms, vast class divides, and the destruction of a system dependent on educated voters.
I think the universal availability of public schooling is, in general, a great good. But the idea of the government telling me that I can't home school my children makes my skin crawl. The US constitution correctly defines strictly limited roles for the government, and carves out huge spaces for individual liberty - liberty which is meaningless if I'm forced to allow the government to indoctrinate my children in ways that I may strongly disagree with.
Turn it around. Imagine that schools taught a sort of religious fundamentalism that you found abhorrent. Would you want the government to be able to force you to send your children there?
Making home schooling illegal turns the government into a master precisely when it should be a servant, and a jailer when it should be a helper.
Ironically, home schooling seems to be used for this purpose.
Home schooling permits parents to teach their children their values, which is their right as parents.
Public schooling forces all taxpayers to subsidise the teaching of values with which they may or may not agree; in some places, it also forces all parents to have their children taught values with which they may or may not agree.
The public school system does not stop them from doing this, in any way shape or form.
>Public schooling forces all taxpayers to subsidize the teaching of values with which they may or may not agree
The public school system is built to be incredibly neutral, and in my opinion sometimes too neutral. So I'm not sure what "values" are being forced through the public school system.
"I think the course presented illustrates well why democratic and republican societies should always prohibit private and home schooling."
Any society that does such things is neither "democratic" nor "republican". It is totalitarian, pretty much by definition.
They're not your children, dude.
It's only natural for the government to step in and determine exactly what this means. Allowing the government to do this without limits is problematic, so you balance that out with rights assigned to parents.
It's not an easy question to determine where the line should be drawn but I don't think it's really all that totalitarian to prohibit home schooling. It ensures that children are educated, that they socialize with other children, get confronted with different points of view and gives them the freedom and ability to safely explore the world and themselves in an environment where there parents have much less influence over their lives. It should not be forgotten that not all parents are included to provide that without force.
The data shows that homeschoolers perform better than public school students not only academically, but also on measures of social, emotional and psychological development.
What defense do free citizens have against the ambitions of a government, when they don't have the right to pull their children out of its clutches?
I'm very conscious of what you're saying here and mostly agree with the negative effect of affluent people opting out of the education system. So I'll commit myself to improving the systems that my own kids would be in if I didn't have the time and money for alternatives. But I'm still unsure whether I'll actually send my own children to public schools. The cost to them will be real.
Many school teachers and administrators get into the field specifically with the ambition to better the system. They spend their full-time attention on these issues, yet truly are at the mercy of government policies.
Do I agree that this is the appropriate way to go? No more than I agree with private schools (which I don't), but we're not all political activists, and even if we were, everyone's got their own issue and their own viewpoints. Where the author opts out of the system, another opts in and digs in; such is a fairly concept in free society.
Its never the first option to take children out of school.