Friday, June 15, 2007

homeschooling and statistics

King Aardvark said...
Off topic, but Zeno has a post about homeschooling right now. It's not really about homeschooling in general and is really attacking a right-wing nut who wants to do away with the public school system, but it was kind of interesting. Just thought you should give it a look.

King Aardvark- I'm not entirely sure that Sousa is hoping to do away with public school.

That being said, I think that public school is seriously flawed and needs radical improvement. No Child Left Behind has crippled educators and made it impossible for them to effectively teach anything but to the lowest-common-denominator and towards those damn yearly tests.

As for Zeno's post he quotes Sousa, then responds, so I've inserted a few of my own comments.

Sousa: Homeschooling may not be for everyone, but there are certainly indicators that it works well for most and extremely well for some.

Zeno: After the peroration, would it surprise you to learn that the rest of Sousa's opinion piece is devoted to explaining how unusual and extraordinary homeschooling students and families are? He must have a very curious notion of “works well for most.”

Me: Sousa wasn't saying that homeschooling works for most of America, it works for most homeschooling families. If it didn't work, they'd stop doing it. I would love to see information from homeschooled students themselves to see if they are happy with the experience, to see if they felt adequately prepared for adulthood.

Sousa: The families of homeschooled children are clearly different from those of traditional schoolchildren. Some 97 percent of homeschooled children live in married couple households; the comparable number for public school students is 72 percent. Nearly 88 percent of homeschooled parents continued their own education beyond high school; less than 50 percent of the general population has attended college.

Zeno: Okay, homeschooling families are something less than typical. Sousa, however, is keen to promote the practice.

Me: Homeschooling usually involves dropping down to single-income status. That's not easy for most people to do and thus tends to determine who is capable of even affording to homeschool. That being said, I belong to several yahoo groups with single moms making a go of homeschooling some with homebased businesses. As for level of education, I would say that most people with just a high school education don't feel like they know enough to teach their children at home. At least that is what I have heard from some of them. Of course Sousa is promoting homeschooling, he sees good results from it.

I don't know King A. I'm not really sure what Zeno's problem with Sousa is. Zeno is a math teacher at the junior college level. Yet he doesn't mention if he has ever had homeschooled kids in his class, if he felt that any or none were ever adequately prepared.

Homeschooling is very individualistic. Everyone does it for slightly different reasons and there is certainly no universal results achieved, methods used, or reasons for homeschooling.

Yes, there are a lot of fundamentalists out there in the homeschooling world. Yet there is a growing number of christian secular homeschoolers. Wrap your mind around that dicotomy! They seperate their christianity from the classroom and even teach evolution.

On the other hand, not all do. My mate works with a guy who was homeschooled and his Mama taught him that dinosaurs were a trick perpetrated by scientists to disprove god. Or some such twaddle like that. Unforunately for her, he was a dinosaur buff and didn't buy into her religious fantasy.

The statistics game is a tricky thing, it doesn't really accomplish much at the end of the day. I would rather see testimonials reported and personal experiences shared than numbers quoted in or out of context.

As for winning the spelling and geography bees of course homeschoolers will brag. How do public schools fare on a world wide level in math, science etc...? It is embarassing when you see how far down on the list the United States always ends up. There is something wrong with public schools. Sending your child there is a crap-shoot at what they will be exposed to and whether or not they will learn anything at all. Homeschooling is an option. Some public school teachers are very VERY threatened by this.

I went back for my 5 class reunion several years ago and talked with one guy had become a highschool science teacher. He was horrified that I was homeschooling and said he absolutely disagreed with my decision to do so. I gently told him we'd have go agree to disagree on that particular subject.


janice said...

FE, again, outstanding post.

I was perplexed at KA assertion. I thought I was reading the wrong post. I didn't see anything there about abolishing the system.
That said, we can agree the public school system is in a shambles, no? You homeschool, I spent tuition. I applaud those (like yourself) who sacrifice for the good of your children.

A lot of parents believe the public system is not working for their child. That's why I'm all for vouchers and school choice.

Don't you think the time you spend teaching your child is valuable? You're performing a service and the school choice voucher is and should be your pay check. Why should your local school system get it? You're teaching your children.

janice said...

I just visited with a fellow parent who just enrolled her 3 children in the TRECA Digital Academy.

Again, I don't know how to insert the link so here's the website.

It's accredited and it's free. They will also pay for your internet service.

She said her brother and sister-in-law have their son enrolled and he's doing great. Learning at his own speed and loves the classes.

I really do admire you for the sacrifice you and "the mate" have made for your children.

Tommy said...

I support the freedom to homeschool, as long as it is not used by parents as a means to indoctrinate their children in Biblical creationism or other crackpot ideas.

My son is finishing kindergarten this coming week at our local public school. I would like to take a year out each for my son and my daughter when they are a little older to homeschool them just to have the chance to be involved more closely in their education and to impart my values onto them.

Fiery Ewok said...

Hi Janice, right now, for me as far as making a stink about vouchers, I'd just as soon stay under the radar. Here in MN they can do curriculum inspections etc... and I really don't like the idea of a school superintendent snooping in my house looking for the top 10 reasons why I'm a bad mommy.

On the other hand, I'd love to get paid for what I do. Single income sucks big.

Thank you for the link to TRECA I will look into it. :-)

Tommy- I agree that indoctrination of children is a bad bad thing. On the other hand, a lot of atheists talk about seeing the light after having read the bible. Sometimes the parents really do shoot themselves in the foot when they go overboard.

Crazyman Bob said...

The underlying issue is freedom. Do individuals have freedom... or not.

If we have freedom, we are free to teach our own children who are, after all, our responsibility.

And if we are free to teach our children, we are free to teach them whatever we want. Whether that be an utterly rational curriculum, or the most ridiculous crackpot ideas ever imagined.

Being free to do something does not mean we are qualified to do it or that we will do it well, however qualified.

Free speech. If you want to keep your right to free speech, you have to defend the right of the most disgusting porn and smut because if they are not free then soon you will not be either.

The problem with public schools is that money is being taken by force from individuals to pay for something against their will. This is the fundamental problem. The fact that the public schools are propaganda machines turning out good little robots for society just adds salt to the wound.

johngalt666 said...

Government schools, or public schools as they are often referred to, are one of the worst violations of individual rights in existence.

In one single government program they manage to: steal massive amounts of wealth from us; steal the best years of our childhood and our children's childhood; indoctrinate those very children in socialist propaganda; leave the children uneducated and incapable of logical, rational thought; lock up the children with a group of thugs where they are unable to be protected and so learn to live in fear and resentment, as well as mortal danger; encourage the belief that people belong to the government, instead of government is created and controlled by the people; and much more.

What possible reason could people have for starting such monstrous institutions? And why are they allowed to continue?

Because they are based on a commonly accepted moral premise, the Ethics of Intentions. People care more that the schools are allegedly built to help the children then they do about the consequences. No matter how bad the results, people will defend schools on the premise that they are trying to do good.

BigTex71 said...

Wow, John, would you like a little paranoia to go with your paranoia? :D

King Aardvark said...

Hmm, looking back, it almost seemed like I read the wrong post too. I can't even find what I thought pointed Souza out to be a RW anti-public schooling nutter. I hope I wasn't (but strongly suspect I was) reading two articles at once and got messed up between the two.

Ok, now that that's out of the way, I don't have a problem with homeschooling as long as the parent doing the homeschooling has a good educational background. We've got problems when the parents are doing the homeschooling for anti-information reasons (ie creationists) but if a parent can provide a more indepth, thought-provoking, and hands-on educational experience than the public schools (which isn't all that hard these days), then they can go right ahead.

That said, I would certainly prefer if our governments would improve the existing public school systems instead. Having two strong incomes at home is a nice luxury.

BigTex71 said...

I wish there were a way I could get my child 'homeschooled' in another person's home (since we cannot afford to quit or jobs to school our children.) Of course it would have to be someone that we trusted would provide a proper education and had a proper educational background.

Maybe there will be other homeschooling families that would open to another child or two the same age of their own child (and be paid a reasonable amount for their services.) We would have a bunch of little 'schools' within a community that were teaching the 'right way.' And a way those teaching could earn an income for providing a great service.

Maybe I should start s new franchise! :D

Am I just having crazy thoughts?

Fiery Ewok said...

No Bigtex you are not having crazy thoughts. And actually- there are homeschooling families who do just what you are talking about-: Homeschool other people's children.

It's definitely a possibility for you, if you can put in the time to search them out. Depending on your son's school experiences it could very well be worth the effort to find someone who would help with the education of your son.

You never know 'til ya try! :-)

Fiery Ewok said...

King Aardvark if you ever stumble on the article wanting to abolish public schools, post the link! I'd love to take a look at it.

Also- I have no idea on your political views and it is a topic I don't like to get into. That being said- you mentioned that you thought the government should fix public schools. Haven't public schools gotten worse every time the government has tried to improve things? No Child Left Behind?

I'm not convinced government involvement in schools is a good thing.

Fiery Ewok said...

JohnG's comment comes across as quite heated. And it is not easy to hear what he has to say. Everything in me wants to deny that things are the way JohnG says they are.

However, if you look at the points he's made, really, where is he wrong? He may have phrased it provocatively but the facts behind him are sound.

Reg Golb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
johngalt666 said...


To indoctrinate is to instruct in a body of doctrine or principles.

The doctrine I was referring to was socialism. And no, I don't agree with socialism.

In a sense I suppose, every child is indoctrinated until they are old enough to start questioning what they are taught. And that is fine. Part of the process of life, I suppose.

But whose principles should be indoctrinated? The parents, or the governments? I would rather it be the parents then some government agenda calculated to dumb down our kids and make them easier to rule.

Look down the rabbit hole Reg, see if you like what you see.

Reg Golb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BigTex71 said...

What about the children who have parents who are extremist Muslims? Or New Creationists? I would rather have those children going to public schools.

Fiery Ewok said...

I think the point being made is an issue of freedom. Parents with the freedom to raise their children. Can you imagine if the government had the power to determine whether or not you were philosophically capable of raising your own child. by what standards would they judge you. By what right would the government look at your beliefs and say- You are not fit to educate your child.

The other point is against government indoctrination. When schools are used to turn students into mindless robots, unquestioningly obedient, incapable of logical thought, ready for low-income minimum wage jobs. That is the greater evil.

While you can find a good public school teacher, it is a lottery. Will your child get a teacher who hates children? It happens. Will your child get beat up every day by bullies for being different? It happens. Will your child be exposed to drugs, sex, alcohol, gangs before they are old enough to realize the idiocy of those decisions? Yes.

In the lottery that is public school the loser is your child.

BigTex71 said...

How many of you went to public school? I did. I don't think my education suffered. I suppose many of you are insisting that schools have changed since then, and I would agree. But the main issue I looked at when moving into our new home a few years ago was the school system in the area we were moving to. I don't think all public schools are bad. I know there are many out there that are teaching to a test and some other items that were discussed. But to say all public schools are bad is just wrong. If public schools are an option (or the only option), then the parents owe their children to ensure that they will be sending them to a good school system.

Fiery Ewok said...

Big Tex said... the parents owe their children to ensure that they will be sending them to a good school system.

Exactly. What it comes down to is parental responsibility.

I'm quite sure some kids can graduate from public school with an adequate education. Not only can I not guarantee that,though; I want more for my child than just an adequate education.

In public schools parents have little or no control over what goes on in the school.

No ability to choose which teacher the child receives. What happens when your child gets stuck in a class with a teacher who has tenure? Who is marking time until retirement. Who has to teach slowly so the dumb kids will understand. Who will recommend your child be put on drugs because your child is so bored he is going stark raving mad.

With public schools there is no way for a parent to prevent the child's creativity from being stiffled in the name of conformity. Because everyone must color the tree trunk brown, the leaves green, the bird yellow and the sky blue.

I don't want my children to turn into the drones I see on the playground or at Walmart. I don't want to see their spirit crushed in the name of peer pressure. There is a problem with today's youth and I am doing all I can to see that my children have the best possible chance at remaining the delightful individuals that they are.

Government controlled public schools are a travesty of learning.

Reg Golb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
johngalt666 said...

BigTex71 said... "What about the children who have parents who are extremist Muslims? Or New Creationists? I would rather have those children going to public schools. "

So would you take the rights of all parents away just to send those few children you mention to a public school?

There is no perfect "no child left behind" solution. No matter what, some children will not be educated properly. So why choose to punish all individuals for the purpose of saving those few kids you mention?

Big Tex, I am very glad your public school experience worked out for you. And naturally there can be good teachers and, I suppose, good schools out there. But it is the very idea of "public" schools that is wrong. Schools where the choices of what to teach are decided by the government. I am afraid there is too much evidence out there for me to trust the government's choices in this.

Here is a list of articles about education. Though it will take some time to read through all of them, the value gained is worth the effort.
Taxpayer Billions Wasted on Education
Indoctrination of Our Youth
Robbing Parents to Pay Teachers
Multiculturalism's War on Education
Caution: Textbooks Are Hazardous to Your Child's Mind
Modern Education Kills
Educators vs. Students
Why America's Schools Are Failing

johngalt666 said...

Reg Golb said... Even if you don't believe the Bible, you HAVE to admit it is right when it comes to education. It is the parents Responsibility

First of all everyone believes the bible exists. But no one, even you, can possibly admit it is right about anything because it does nothing but contradict itself. The only way to take advice from the bible about anything is to pick and choose only parts. And that you could do from any source. So do yourself a favor, and leave the bible out of all your thinking processes. Your thinking will quickly improve and your input in these discussions will be more welcome and accepted.

The parent knows their child "bent". How can a teacher get to know your child, only by spending many, many days and weeks with them. You already know them, what challenges them, what methods work and which ones don't.

The answer to the question of the proper methods of teaching is answered by a philosophy of education. There have been many such teaching philosophies, so the issue is which one is correct. If there were only free (no government influence) schools to choose from then each parent could decide which school had the proper educational philosophy and choose that one. Or homeschooling would still be an option, of course.

But the first step on the parents part would be their own education into the philosophy of education. Finding out what is out there and which one they want there child to learn from.

Subjects taught by experts in that subjects field guided by a proper educational philosophy would always be better than homeschooling. But alas, that option is not available today. Today, even a meager education by well meaning parents is better than the public school option today. See the above articles for reference.

Reg Golb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
johngalt666 said...

Reg said: "I (possibly) do admit the Bible is right, all the time and it never contradicts itself. "

If you mean that, you are incredibly ignorant about the Bible and there is no use talking you you about it any further.

And based on your further statements you have no knowledge of philosophy either in general or specifically about education.

If you think that experts guided by a proper teaching philosophy (which you know nothing about) would not include personal discovery on the child's part you are showing you ignorance again and I am embarrassed for you.

I have nothing further to gain from a discussion from you. Maybe in the future when you have grown up some we can talk again.

Fiery Ewok said...

Blogger backwards said come on, i was not talking about the existance of the Bible, no one is saying it doesn't exist, Do you think I am stupid?

Well gee whiz Reggie for someone who bills themself as silly you have no concept of humor- whatsoever. John was obviously going for humor on that one.

This is an ignorant comment, I (possibly) do admit the Bible is right, all the time and it never contradicts itself.

The bible never contradicts itself.
BWHAHAHAHA. WTF EVER!!!!! You have never EVER read the bible with a critical mind if you can say that load of bollucks with a straight face.

You are making too much of the "philosophy" of education, education is not as simple as finding your philosophy and then using it.

So determining the best method of teaching i.e. your philosophy of education is not the answer.

So what the fuck do you call this here...
but personal discovery is an invaluable tool. If a kid is always taught by an expert, they won't understand HOW to teach themselves. That is the ultimate goal of education, for someone to be able to teach themselves.

That is a philosophy of education based on how you believe knowledge is acquired- a foundational philosophic principle.

Oh- and you "possibly" admit the bible is right. Get off the damn fence, choose a side and make up your mind.

If you're silly, learn how to see it in others.

Is the bible right or does it (possibly) contradict?

A philosophy of education is useful or it isn't.