Thursday, December 20, 2012

thoughts on schooling

Ever since the tradgedy in Sandy Hook, my facebook newsfeed has been full of people saying they are going to start homeschooling. While keeping children safe is definitely important, I don't think it is neccessarily the best reason to pull kids out of the public school system. Homeschooling is a BIG responsibility and time commitment, and the decision to do so should not be taken lightly. When done right, homeschooling can be a wonderful thing... but when done wrong, it could do more harm than good. It is the somewhat less invested parents who give homeschooling a bit of a bad reputation.

With that said, my husband and I have been considering homeschooling for a few years now, even before we were pregnant. Growing up, I moved a lot. As I experienced one new school after another, in different states all across the country, one thing became painfully clear. The quality of education varies greatly from one school to another. I had some wonderful teachers, and I had some pretty lousy ones, too.  More than once, when I entered a new classroom, I would be far ahead of my classmates, proficient in subjects they had barely even been introduced to. In my fifth grade class in Wyoming, we learned a new language in every quarter- Spanish, German, French, and American Sign Language. To contrast, in my school in Michigan, most kids didn't start a foreign language class until eighth grade, and they only had one option- Spanish.

There is a lot about the public school system that I am unsure about. The quality of education really depends on the teacher and school system. There are some phonomenal teachers who spend countless hours working outside the classroom, however, there are also teachers who have been turned sour after years of being underpaid and taken advantage of. It seems catastrophic to expect one person, no matter how skilled he/she may be, to manage a classroom of over 20 children all on their own. How could every child POSSIBLY get the one on one attention and help that he needs? 

Every child is different. Each has his own strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, and personalities. Yet we expect them all to sit quietly in their seats, learning in the same way? No wonder so many children fall through the cracks are labelled with one learning disability or another. Do you know how many children are misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD just because they don't fit perfectly into the mold of an "ideal student?"

How, exactly, do we determine how well a student is doing in the classroom? Usually, by grades and test scores. Does being a poor testtaker also make you a bad student? I was one of those students who barely ever studied yet managed to ace almost every test. I learned only the information that I knew I would need on the test, and by the time I had turned it in, I had already forgotten most of it. Yet I excelled. I was an honor student, but how much did I really learn? I had friends who studied for hours, who surely knew much more about the subject matter than I did, yet still managed to score poorly, and were therefore labelled as "sub-par" students. It wasn't fair. Looking back, I know now that I was bored, understimulated, and unethused throughout most of my school years. I had lost interest in learning, lost the all-important thirst for knowledge.

Something needs to change. Clearly, the public education system in this country is not working... at least, not for everyone. There has to be a better way to do things!

I don't anticipate any earth-shattering changes to be made to the education system anytime soon. That is one of many reasons why I have decided to homeschool. While it is definitely not the right choice for eveyone, we feel that it is the right choice for us. There will be more blog posts to follow about our decision to homeschool, and just homeschooling in general.

I have so much more to say, but I fear that I may have lost some of you several paragraphs ago. If any of this interests, concerns, or even annoys you, read some of the articles below.

The Failure of American Public Education by John Hood
The Battle Over School Choice {various opinions}

Click below to read some fascinating facts about homeschool vs. public school:
Homeschool Domination: why these kids will take you down

10 comments:

  1. Homeschooling is definitely something I've been thinking about too. I know if we stay where we are currently, there is no way I'm putting Damian (or future children) in the public school system here. It's absolutely horrible. Ideally I would like to put him in Catholic school, but I'm not sure financially that will be a valid option. For some reason though, homeschooling has been calling to me so we may be joining you that decision. There are so many great programs and resources out there that homeschool is really different than most people assume. Good luck down the road with it! I know it's hard work but from other homeschooling mamas I know, it's apparently worth all the effort!

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  2. So crazy that I'm reading this now. I just tweeted about 15 minutes ago that I am looking into the option of homeschooling. Not because of the tragedy last week, but just in general. I am interested, if you have any great resources you'd care to share. I don't know much at all - this is all a new thing I've taken interest in.

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  3. You're so right about education changing from school to school. I moved around a bunch so I saw a lot of that too.

    Education is everything so it's not something we're taking lightly either.

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  4. i thought about homeschooling gage when he was younger. as he got bigger, and more social, i realized that he is the type of child that thrives in school. he needs this social outlet in his life. but i agree with you. every child is different. and if i thought gage would do well in homeschooling i would keep him here.

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  5. We sent our son to public school through fourth grade, and have homeschooled him for the last 2 years. This is by and far the best way for him to learn, and my only regret is in not doing it sooner! Our family is closer, my son is happier, and he is learning more than I ever imagined.

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  6. Well said, you are homeschooling for the RIGHT reasons.

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  7. Very well said. :) I absolutely hate standardized testing. It's a bunch of bull. Fortunately I was a good test taker, but ask me the next day about the information and I couldn't tell you a thing about it. I was excellent at studying the night before and making an A, but I didn't learn any of it! Sure, the test scores were outstanding, but it was a lie. I didn't learn a thing.
    (Also, I just blogged about homeschooling too. :-) )

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  8. Being a boy mom, you are probably doing them a greater service than you know right now. My husband and I recently had a conversation about how the public school system is designed around how girls learn. Sitting quietly for long periods of time, focusing on only one subject also for a long time, it just doesn't cater to the way boys work. We will also be home schooling. My husband was home schooled and he has always loved learning; I, on the other hand, never liked school but went to public school. Good luck with it!

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  9. I loved this post! I don't think I would ever hoemschool but I am very weary of the public school system! Great information :)

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  10. I love this post! The topic of homeschooling has been a constant in my mind for the past few months. My son is almost 2 but when he goes for a developmental appointment in a few weeks, we are expecting them to diagnose him with some form of autism. His primary doctor is convinced that is one of his main issues. Looking at the public school systems, especially in our small town, has given me very few options. While school is still a ways away for him, I need to know that my child will receive the care and attention he needs to learn and in our community the student/teacher ratio is like 30:1. Are you looking into using a curriculum or planning to just figure it out on your own? I've actually found a christian based curriculum that begins homeschooling/playing at the age of 2. I just restarted blogging but I plan to post on this soon and was just wondering what other parents are considering as well.

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