Homeschooling vs Public Education

Homeschooling can be a touchy subject — both in the church and out. NBC ran a series of articles on homeschooling and reading the discussion you’ll find it’s a topic with virtually no agreement, heated discussions, and (in some cases) a complete lack of evidence supporting opinions. You’ll hear the following arguments:

  • If a Christian doesn’t homeschool their kids, it’s a sin.
  • Homeschooled kids are socially inept, and unprepared for the future.
  • Parents are unqualified to teach their children.
  • Students must be taught by “certified” and “credentialed” teachers.

If you’re a Christian we’ve heard it said if you don’t homeschool you’re sinning against God, while others claim parents don’t possess the qualifications to teach their own children (and making the attempt borders on child abuse). As usual, those extremes are wrong. Do your own homework; don’t settle for cliche thinking.

Whether to homeschool or not remains an individual choice of families. However, if you don’t at least consider it, you’re doing a disservice to your child (and avoiding the Biblical command to be a good steward). To begin, consider what a classical education involves, and how it differs from what the public education system provides. To begin the comparison read The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education. It’s worth $10 to introduce the topic.

As you begin to investigate, you’ll quickly notice many people make wild statements without any evidence to back it up (our favorite: only 10% of parents are qualified to teach their children. Of course, it’s a fact 78.387% of statistics are made up).

Most people agree the public school system fails miserably, and grows worse each year. The disagreement comes upon asking how to fix it, and if parents should homeschool or send their children to private/charter schools instead of waiting for a solution for the public system which may never arrive.

What is the purpose of education? That should be an obvious question, but it may surprise you education isn’t always the focus of public schools. Thus, we must agree on what education should encompass.

  • The purpose of a K-12 education is to impart the basic knowledge necessary to succeed in society. We will define this as “Reading, Writing, Mathematics, History and Hard Sciences.”
  • K-12 education is not “socialization”, it is not “religious studies”, it is not “babysitting” and it is not “surrogate child-rearing.” Parents perform those functions, for better or worse — it is both their responsibility and the proper exercise of their authority.

Let’s further agree that the best educational outcomes consistent with reasonable amounts of money spent are the goal. That is, School is not a “social experiment”, a means by which we perform what amount to scientific experiments on children — a barbaric practice that, were it to be put this way and understood, virtually everyone would recoil from in horror.

The elephant-in-the room question: are parents qualified to provide that education?

America needs to send its children to school and provide them a rigorous education by qualified educators — not isolate them in the home away from their peers. Common culture and sense of heritage are built on common experiences. Development of social skills depends on interaction with groups of peers (i.e., groups of other children).

Get all the kids thinking the same — group-think at it’s best (or worst). Follow the herd! Moooooo!

Two different methods of logic exist: didactic and dialectic. If you’re older than 40 or so, you likely have been trained didactically (facts, reason, and logic), while if you’re under 35, most likely you only know dialectic (group consensus). Dialectic uses group-think to arrive at a consensus — which obviously may or may not be correct. Worse, people trained in dialectic process have difficult times examining a set of facts to arrive at a conclusion.

Public schools the way we know them are a recent invention. The Department of Education didn’t exist until 1980. 1980! How could Lincoln communicate so effectively without a Department of Education? How did the founders ever write the Declaration without “qualified educators” in public schools? How did Patrick Henry declare “Give me liberty or give me death!” without the assistance of certified teachers? How did Einstein develop the theory of Relativity without the education bureaucracy?

Case closed on “qualified educators” — it’s obviously incorrect as most of our history did not involve public education, producing some of the greatest minds ever. Since the advent of public eduction (and the Department of Education), has the involvement and money improved education?

While some parents are arguably better qualified to teach their children at home than their teachers at school, the solution is not to take scarce resources away from the school. If these parents are so good, and have enough time to home-school their children, perhaps they could be useful as professional teachers.

Wait a minute, instead of saving our kids, we should chain them to the deck of the Titanic so they’ll go down with the public education ship? What parent would do that? Why allow your child to be experimented on when other proven methods exist? My child is not a social experiment.

If a parent can wonderfully instruct their child, does that mean they should become a teacher? Perhaps not. You see, the parent can choose the methods and tools to best instruct their child, while in the public school system those choices are removed from local control and placed with either the state or the federal government. Thus it’s possible to take a wonderful parent who teaches effectively and turn them into just another cog in the system — by forcing the rigid ideology of the public school system.

Also notice the we-need-more-money argument rears it’s ugly head. Of course, the more money poured into schools and unions, the worse results have become. What did Einstein say? Insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. We’ve dumped truckload after truckload of money, and failed. Will the 41st truckload suddenly create fantastic results? Doubtful.

Does any sane person claim public schools have been anything but a staggering failure? The reasons and solutions may be (hotly) debated, but it’s virtually unarguable the current situation remains a stunning failure — even more so after the founding of the Department of Education.

The skills required are how to think for yourself, using research and logic to arrive at conclusions, by yourself. Unfortunately, schools may not teach logic and deductive reasoning, instead relying on group-think and consensus to arrive at a conclusion. Of course, if the group thinks 2+2=5, it really doesn’t matter what the group thinks, does it? It’s still wrong (but at least they feel good about being wrong). The absurd idea if you answer 2+2=5 you’re okay if you feel good about it is laughable — and tragic. Do you want your doctor to think that way? Even fake TV characters understand right and wrong do exist.

Right and wrong do exist. Just because you don’t know what the right answer is — maybe there’s even no way you could know what the right answer is — doesn’t make your answer right or even okay. It’s much simpler than that. It’s just plain wrong. (“House” #121 “Three Stories”)

That’s quite a shock if you’ve been educated in a group-think environment where the facts didn’t matter much and value relativism reigns, along with self-esteem (“Johnny feels good about 2+2=5, let’s not hurt his self-esteem by telling him he’s wrong”).

Should you homeschool? That’s a decision made by each individual family. For some, it fits, others not. Before you make a decision, one book you should read is “The Core”, by Leigh A. Bortins. For those thinking the public education system is the best education, consider how it’s changed in the last years.

In a comparison of a 1973 algebra textbook and a 1998 “contemporary mathematics” textbook, Williamson Evers and Paul Clopton found a dramatic change in topics. In the 1973 book, for example, the index for the letter “F” included “factors, factoring, fallacies, finite decimal, formulas, fractions, and functions”. In the 1998 book, the index listed “families (in poverty data), fast food nutrition data, fat in fast food, feasibility study, feeding tours, Ferris wheel, fish, fishing, flags, flight, floor plan, flower beds, food, football Ford Mustang, franchises, and fund-raising carnival”. “The Core”, page 136

If you’re interested in your child’s future, you must investigate public school alternatives. You may or may not choose to use the alternatives, but at least make an informed decision on the issue. Investigate the public school curriculum and see what they’re teaching. Do they teach logic and reason, or group-think? Do they teach the basic knowledge or include other social issues which don’t belong in basic education? Examine for yourself, and come to your own conclusion.

Stewardship demands it, and common sense requires it.

As educrats continue to scream “more money” while results worsen, why do educators continue to use what has been proven not to work? Do they care about the kids, or just beefing up their status by using the latest cool buzzword acronyms? Think that’s a bit harsh? Consider the longest running study of educational styles from 1965 until 1998; it proved a single method (called “direct instruction” or “nuns in the classroom”) worked best.

The question remains — as results continue to tumble, why won’t public schools teach using the method that works? Are they executing the Cloward-Piven strategy applied to education?

Public education moves from one jumbled acronym to another — this year it’s “outcome (performance) based education” next it’s “Reform mathematics”, next it’s “Project-based learning”, mixed in with self-esteem, and so on.

We know what works best (direct instruction and the three R’s). Schools need to return to proven methods, instead of trying to win a contest of buzzword bingo. If your school refuses to use proven effective methods, homeschool allows you to avoid the disaster, at least until the system decides to correct itself. Study the issue for yourself, and come to your own solution.

Why won’t public schools use what works? After all, it’s for the kids.

Until they do, do you want your child chained to the deck of the Titanic as it sinks?

My child is not a social experiment.

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