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    • I'll be upfront and say that I've been a teacher with a public school board for over 12 years now.

      As a highschool student I developed a deep distain of schooling and dropped out of school despite having been an honor student. At 24 years of age I started a university degree and still had some strong objections to the schooling system and read books like Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich. To this day I still find serious problems with the schooling system but have a personal bias that homeschooling is often much worse than public schools. I'm speaking for the Canadian school system and with some knowledge of the American system (I have teacher friends in California and read about it). As a predominantly science and math teacher my main concern is with religion and the teaching of creationism as opposed to the accepted biological science of evolution. Another concern is that kids have less opportunities to overcome their parent's racist and ideological as well as religious views. I like to think I celebrate diversity but when I start seeing people attack science I get concerned. Not that science is infallible but just that our societies aren't bettered by replacing knowledge of science and critical thinking with pseudoscience or religious propaganda.

      The other side of the argument is that there are some parents out there who can meet the needs of their child and enrich their experiences much more than the public school system can. In this case I have no problem with the kids being homeschooled. What should the minimal requirements be for home schooled children?

      What's your strongest argument for why homeschooling leads to the betterment of society? Should we increase funding and support for homeschooling? How do homeschooling and charter schools affect public schooling? How variable is the homeschooling experience?

    • I'll be upfront and say I've homeschooled my four kids since my oldest was 3 years old and I saw her eyes light up when I taught her to read. I love teaching, I love spending time with my kids, and I love learning myself, so homeschool is the perfect lifestyle for our family.

      I am just one homeschooler speaking, though, and as a community we are quite an eclectic bunch! I know plenty of completely secular homeschoolers and others who would list religion as their number one reason to homeschool. To put every homeschooler into one bucket would be a vast oversimplification.

      I believe it's a fundamental right of a parent to raise and educate their children in the way they feel is best. Yes, there are extreme cases of abuse and neglect (independent of educational choices) in which society is obligated to step in and parental rights are justly revoked. But while I think you are spot on that homeschoolers tend to be more influenced by family than by peers, I don't share your concern that parents' increased influence over children is inherently any more dangerous than a 100% standardized government-dictated education. In either case the fear stems from the possibility of the extreme, not of the practice in general. Lived out in thousands of homes and in thousands of schools, you get a pretty wide distribution of "success" in both methods of schooling. It might help to know what you're referring to when you say "the betterment of society?"

      In our home, much of what our kids already (and hopefully will continue to) give back to society stems from what I suspect you might label as religious propaganda: treating others as children of God, allowing others opportunities to change, being honest, being diligent, being chaste, being good stewards of what they've been given in health and resources, visiting the sick and the afflicted, treating life as a gift, etc.

      I also think you're creating a false dichotomy here when you paint a picture that religion precludes critical thinking. I'd consider myself a very religious person yet my background includes a degree in chemistry and the favorite subjects at our house are science and math. Teaching my kids how to think is one of the main aims in our homeschool! Separate your feelings about religion from your feelings about homeschool and where does that leave you? Certainly not all homeschoolers are religious, and certainly not all children who go to public school are without religious education, and certainly religious people as a whole aren't a detriment to society.

      There are plenty of other assumptions in your question that muddy the water. Here's one: That racism comes more from parents than from peers.

      I don't homeschool because I believe it's better for society, though from where I sit it strikes me as probably a net neutral. In the past, the majority of homeschoolers were seeking to get away from something they distrusted, but the surge in popularity in the last decade has been skewed towards those seeking a better educational experience for their kids given the limitations of the public education system. In general, I think we see that where we have engaged parents, strong family ties, and a focus on education children grow up far more likely to be thoughtful, contributing citizens. Homeschoolers certainly don't have a monopoly on this atmosphere or on involved parents, of course, but especially in recent years the choice to homeschool more often than not reflects a willingness to sacrifice on the part of one or both parents in order to improve the education of their child(ren). They may have different views on creation vs. evolution than you (as I do) but I think you'd be hard pressed to rank that high among the ills of society. Hatred? Yes. Indolence? Yes. Entitlement? Yes. Different understanding of the origins of man? Meh.

      I'd also add here that "accepted science" has changed over and over again as we deepen and broaden our understanding and powers of observation. My children and I are reading a biography of Sir Isaac Newton right now and discussing how little he knew and how little we likely still know of all that can be known. I think a great education (both religious and secular) acknowledges that.

    • > Can anyone make a strong argument for why homeschooling leads to the betterment of society?

      I'm with @amacbean16, my main reason for homeschooling my kids is because I'm optimizing for their lives, not for society in general.

      I do expect that society will benefit from my children receiving the education that I want to provide them, but that's a side benefit, not my main motivation.

    • Thank you for your insights and sharing your story. Food for thought and exactly the sort or response I was hoping for. I'm encouraged by the level of knowledge you have and your ability to write. I'm not so sure that the average homeschooler is as skillfull as yourself. Of course homeschooling 'teachers' would be along a whole continuum and as you said that's not necessarily a bad thing. Recall from my first comments that I have some of my own serious reservations about the current schooling system. I'm also from Canada and there's a lot of support for our schooling system being stronger than that in the US. Thank you again.

    • Do you care to share anything more about your own experiences or that of people within the home schooling community that you've been witness to? Thank you for your comment and don't feel obliged. I'm just trying to learn more is all :)

    • I don't want people to think that home schooling can't be great at times I just wanted to bring up a few concerns and see what other people has experienced or think about it. I'm definitely open about changing my view of this issue but also realize that a few anecdotal cases is not equivalent to the thousands and thousands of cases of homeschooling. Anyone know of the biggest homeschooling research ever done in the United States or Canada?

    • My siblings and I were homeschooled growing up, and many of my friends were homeschooled as well.

      I'm glad my parents took the plunge, it was a much harder decision in the 80s when homeschooling was much less common in the US than it is now.

      It's much easier for me to see that it's what I obviously want for my kids, having seen so many examples while growing up, than it was for my parents looking at the education landscape and trying to reflect on their own experiences in public school growing up.

    • I think the variability of homeschooling is greater than that for public education. So many dependent variables such as parental education, family income, parent IQ, access to enrichment materials... Of course the people reading these posts are a select group (biased group) of primarily successful individuals which is obviously not the norm. That being said it's nice to hear of primarily positive examples of homeschooled people. What are the chances that an unsuccessful homeschooled student would end up posting on here? What does failure even mean for education? Maybe that's a better question to ask. What does success or failure of schooling look like? How close to someone's potential have they gotten? Can they read and write? Are they critical thinkers? Do they understand the main scientific and social ideas of the day? No easy answers here.

    • I don't know about that, I've observed pretty wide variability among the public/private school graduates I've met.

      Among those metrics you mention, I suspect any kind of personal training with more private time with an educator, will beat any classical method of education that involves classroom lecturing.

      Why assume that classical education is the high water mark? Why not aim higher?

      In my observations, I've seen that parent-led education tends to yield better results in both traditional education metrics and interpersonal communication/empathy.

      Here's one of my favorite videos on education: - it sparks your mind with how much better lecturer-led education could be if we challenge our assumptions. I believe that public schools (and universities) are built upon many such poor assumptions.

      I'm not on a personal crusade to convince everyone that public schools are evil. I don't go around asking public school parents to defend their choices. However, it is still culturally acceptable in North America to, as a default, question the motives or abilities of homeschooling parents - I look forward to that changing in the future.

    • I for one sure question our public school system here in Canada and I'm part of it. I've taught grades 4 through 9 (and a bit of university) and don't see much lecture based education though it does occur to some extent. I think it's more popular or common in higher education. Certainly a one on one educator would make a better experience provided the educator has some knowledge worthy of presenting. I guess my experience has been that many of the kids who are homeschooled have parents who are less than...hmm how should I say this...they're often not very informed, educated, skillful and/or knowledgeable. Of course my experience has been limited but then again so has yours. I guess this requires a dive into the statistics.

      I guess one of my concerns (as mentioned before) is having parents teach kids to not accept the underlying and foundational knowledge of biology that is evolution. If kids are taught to reject the most important part of biology, ignore the scientific evidence, reject facts and blindly follow some half baked pseudoscience called creationism them it's serious cause for concern.

      That's of course only one aspect of what makes up an education but I'd say it's an important one. The scientific method is so far the greatest method of knowing that humans have ever created. Of course it's not perfect but at it's heart is a system that requires self questioning, revision and even rejection and change. Religion isn't open to change the way the scientific method is. Now that's also not to say religion can't be part of a good education but it must be kept separate from science and logic. The separation of church and state is a valuable thing when it comes to education.

      If a parent is reasonably educated, has the time, money and desire to teach their child to the level required by society then I would expect that their educational experience would be a good one. I think far too many parents taking on this role are not up to the task.

      I agree with you that there can be a wide variety of results within the public school system especially in the united states. Again my limited experience is with kids who have been homeschooled and struggle with maintaining 'normal' relationships and communication with their peers and/or adults. This doesn't necessarily mean that it's caused by the homeschooling but could rather be a reason for their being homeschooled in the first place. Correlation isn't causation. Again I have to say that I can't speak for any individual and certainly mainy homeschooled children make it to ivy league schools.

      If only all of the homeschool kids could have an educator as skilled and relfective as yourself. If only all public school children could have teachers with your abilities. I'd say that the average parent isn't up to the task of homeschooling kids beyond the elementary level. Now again there's exceptions.

      Yes we should challenge our assumptions and therefore I posted this quiry.

    • "I'd say that the average parent isn't up to the task of homeschooling kids beyond the elementary level. Now again there's exceptions."

      In response to just this snippet, I'll say there are myriad resources available now that allow a parent to facilitate learning as opposed to being the primary or sole source of knowledge for their children. So a parent may never have taken calculus themselves, or they may not remember the details anymore well enough to teach them, but they can certainly connect their child to a mentor and texts such that the student can master calculus and outstrip their parents' knowledge.

      An educator ideally lights a fire, rather than simply imparting knowledge.

      A homeschool parent, then, is not someone who needs to be a master of all knowledge but rather someone committed to inspiring their children and helping them master the foundational skills (incidentally all taught at an elementary level) that enable them to go on to learn anything necessary and/or desirable.

      I have a daughter learning Latin right now, a language I've never learned. A DVD instructor is teaching us both (though my daughter is much faster at learning the vocabulary!), and a book written by a different instructor is helping her parse the complex grammar. Despite a college degree and multiple history AP classes, I never felt like I had a great grasp on history nor a passion for it until I reached adulthood, but I've sought out excellent books and my kids are getting a far better and broader view on history than I ever had. I never studied Shakespeare in school either, but my kids and I are familiar with a dozen of his plays now. I could continue but my point is I think that the idea of a "qualified educator" is a bit irrelevant when we're talking about educating a typical child in this age where information abounds.

      Love the child, love the subject and you're 90% of the way there. Ideally a parent has a head start on a teacher for the former, and there's nothing that prevents them from the latter. Foster creativity and critical thinking, and teach them how to find reliable information and that's an education. I don't see anything there that requires a teaching degree in a home setting. (Classroom management, teaching a child with special needs, being the lead/sole mentor for a particular higher level subject, etc. all benefit from targeted training and education, and I definitely don't want to de-value the role of classroom teachers! So many are amazing and do all of the above for dozens of students at a time. It's a marvel.)

    • "Classical education" was mentioned previously in this thread but that isn't actually what occurs in schools today. A classical model for education, in my understanding, was much more based on mentoring and individual study of texts than it was in group lecturing. The education we see today in most classrooms is a relatively recent things (less than two hundred years at best).

    • I absolutely agree with you about a good 'teacher' being a facilitator more than a dispenser of facts. That is how teachers are taught - though of course that ability varies widely among teachers. Everything you've said about a parent not having to know the subject matter is of course correct and so too is it true that teachers don't know everything and need not know everything either. The problem is that many parents can't teach critical thinking skills. Many parents don't have the educational ability, reading or writing skills and so on to do the job at a higher level. I can note from your writing and what you've said that YOU are clearly up to the task but you (and other responding people here) are a self selected sample and not the normal parent who teaches their child. I'd like to add that I always thought I'd prefer to homeschool my child rather than send them to school but so far I have no kids of my own. When a parent can instill or rather nurture their child with a love of learning, help them learn how to learn, and help them become a critical thinker (by teaching them how to explore both sides of arguments and carefully examine the evidence provided by each side)a child will have lost nothing important by being homeschooled. Unfortunately I still feel that this is not generally the case. Again I could have 20 people respond her with reasoned arguments why their own experience as a home schooled student was a good one or why they do a great job as a home schooled parent but it's the statistics that will need to answer the yea or ney of this debate.

      I am happy to hear from numerous parents and 'students' who have all done wonderfully within this homeschooled environment and have made the most of the opportunities. I'm glad to hear that resources for helping kids has become more readily available. My inclination is that in the future education will be totally revisited and look very different from the institutions of learning we have today. So far the research suggests that the students will need some person working with them individually but beyond that it's uncertain.

      Keep up the great work parents!

    • I'm starting to look into the changes in homeschooling in Canada in the last while and it seems that the reason people are choosing to homeschool their children is changing. Historically religion was a big reason for homeschooling but this is changing and I'd say that helps to reduce some of my concerns. As someone who is passionate about science and critical thinking I have often find myself at odds with people who are anti-science or who ignore scientific evidence because their religious beliefs require them to do so. If fewer people are turning to homeschooling because of religious beliefs then there will be an increased chance that they will at least be exposed to important ideas such as evolution. Unfortunately parents here in Alberta can opt their child out of science classes for religious reasons. That's a concern for me and even though I defend freedom of religion, I find this to be troubling.

      1) We need people who like to learn and become lifelong learners
      2) We need critical thinkers

      I see no reason why homeschooling can't do that and I'm also happy to hear some anecdotal stories from people who are doing positive things within the homeschooling environment. It seems my personal experience has biased my take on homeschooling and although the concerns are still valid, they appear to be less of a concern than they once were. I also have to admit that our current educational institutions in Canada and especially in the United States have lots of room for improvement.

    • I guess the next question is this: If homeschooling is so successful and costs the taxpayer less money - why aren't we spending more to support it?

    • I think homeschooling can be a fine thing, as can both public and private schooling. My kids went to public schools, and while they were not perfect, we were pleased with the education the kids got and they have turned out very well so far.

      I tend to disagree with your statement here, though: "They may have different views on creation vs. evolution than you (as I do) but I think you'd be hard pressed to rank that high among the ills of society. Hatred? Yes. Indolence? Yes. Entitlement? Yes. Different understanding of the origins of man? Meh."

      I don't really think a different "understanding" of the origins of man is such a small thing. In and of itself, you can make the argument that this does not impact society in general; but to me, that implies a decision that one does not accept modern scientific knowledge at all. (And of course, as you say, scientists do not understand everything yet; but they certainly know a lot more than the authors of the Bible did thousands of years ago.) Unwillingness to accept modern science's view on evolution, to me, also indicates a likelihood of science denial when it comes to vaccines, or to climate science, effects of air and water pollution on people's health, etc. And the science denial in these areas most definitely affects all of society in many ways.