Compulsory education vs. Homeschooling

I thought it might be interesting to get some thoughts on which you find preferable, which you would provide to your child, and what the major drawbacks are of either form of education.

I’ll throw out some basic ideas on the benefits and drawbacks I can see of both:

Advantages of compulsory education:


  • Exposes you to subjects you might otherwise never have considered.

  • Enforces discipline and regularity of study.

  • Perhaps more likely to meet more people of different cultures than through homeschooling.

Disadvantages:


  • Students by and large forced to conform to a relatively inflexible curriculum and schedule.

  • There is a presupposition that learning and education can be represented accurately and objectively in all cases by a scale of grading. This works well for mathematics and the hard sciences, but with humanities subjects like foreign languages and history, the lines blur more noticeably.

Advantages of homeschooling:


  • More attention is presumably given to the individual. Functions more as private tutorship?

  • Greater freedom of choice and a schedule that would be tailored more closely to the students individual interests and strengths.

Disadvantages of homeschooling:


  • Possibly less social

Like I said, these are just some basic ideas, so they’re not that well thought out, but hopefully they’re enough to get some kind of a discussion going.

One topic that could additionally be merged with this, is whether you think a Classical Education (an education based on the Trivium) is still worthy and valuable in the modern age.

For many kids compulsory school isn’t even a good social experience.

Any regular activity would do better probably. For example, I was taken to a barn every week to ride horses and help out. I made more friends there than at school because there was a common interest.

Not that I was homeschooled or had a particularly bad school experience. I’m just saying.

If homeschooling is allowed though there need to be stricter standards than exist in the US at the moment.

PS:
This works well for mathematics and the hard sciences

No it doesn’t.
When they tried Khan Academy (self paced learning) with fifth graders, some got to trigonometry and beyond.
I was in advanced math then and we learned like, pre algebra. But who knows where we could have gone if we had been allowed to reach our potential.

Chris,

I find this a very interesting topic as it is something I am becoming aware of more and more through speaking to people. Where are you based, Chris, I see you don’t have a flag so the country you signed up in may not represent the country you feel represents you, hence your manual change of location and the absence of the flag.

One of the reasons I find it so interesting is that the alternatives exist in the USA and Canada, but are virtually unheard of in Europe. It would be nice to know whether there is a choice in the matter in other parts of the world.

SolYViento,

You say: “If homeschooling is allowed though there need to be stricter standards than exist in the US at the moment”, why do you say that?

I have just read the following article about home-schooling.
Home-schooling on the rise By TOMOKO OTAKE http://bit.ly/mcHIvB

I imagine that the fundamental meaning of “compulsory” in compulsory education is related to the concepts such as human capital, universal education, and restrictions on child labour.

Centigua,

I live in New Zealand and have been here my whole life (so far, anyway). My comments were meant very generally, as I’m not even very sure how homeschooling works here. My experience has been with public schools, like most people. I’m just curious to know how many support the one as opposed to the other.

I don’t know why I don’t have a flag displayed. I’ll look into that.

By the way, SolYViento:

Could you elaborate a bit on what you meant in the last part of your message? I’m not quite clear. Subjects like mathematics and physics are in most, if not all, cases objectively gradable; something’s either right or it’s wrong, and to that extent a grading scale works perfectly well. My point was I don’t see how the same applies to humanities subjects, since essay-based coursework isn’t always dead right or dead wrong.

Chris,

It’s there now!
Could have been because you had the letters NZ before and now you have the country name. I was just wondering 'cos I’d met another native English speaker on a different forum who was also competent in German and French and wore hats :wink:

Now it’s only Tora who doesn’t have a flag.

Tora,

Thanks for the link.

From you article it seems as if it really is a phenomenon that is most prevalent in the North of America, albeit not only there of course, but non-existent in Japan.

It is apparent from the article that there is some king of government support for home schooling. Anyone know more about that?

@Centigua
I am a “follower” of 谷川俊太郎’s Twitter site. He says he lives on 太陽系第三惑星(the third planet of the solar system). http://twitter.com/ShuntaroT Neither he nor I am not an anarchist, but I feel closer to the old poet than young Olympic athletes.

—> Neither he nor I am an anarchist,

You say: “If homeschooling is allowed though there need to be stricter standards than exist in the US at the moment”, why do you say that?

It’s because cases come out all the time wherein someone leaks that people have been using a second grade science textbook for their kid all the way through 9th grade, for example or some other show of incompetence.

Chris
Oh, I see what you mean, but I think that’s the least of the school system’s problems. Your grade is not a measure of your ability in that area: It’s a measure of the work you’ve done.
So for example, I have an A in French, but that just means I’ve done all the projects. I am not in any way good at French and the school doesn’t pretend to grade that way.
With subjective grading of essays for example, generally there are loose standards and sometimes two or more teachers will grade it and average the grades for a more fair score.

What I thought you meant was that it’s bad to put people in grades, ex fifth grade, because often they are limited by that and not allowed to reach their full potential.

I have recently watched documentary film about homeschooling in Czech republic. The film convinced me that homeschooling is much better then compulsory education. One young boy in the film said he would learn the same amount of knowledge at home in 2 hours whereas at school it would take 7 hours.

If I were a billionaire, I would buy a private “public” school and live there. I suppose that is the ultimate style of home-schooling.

SolYViento: “It’s because cases come out all the time wherein someone leaks that people have been using a second grade science textbook for their kid all the way through 9th grade, for example or some other show of incompetence.”

Care to elaborate?

There are different types of schools and different types of school systems. Someone going through a Montessori school system would have a very different experience than someone going through a traditional school system.

Part of it may be that teachers, particularly in the USA it seems, are under strict curriculum guidelines about what they are required to teach, and then students are tested on these points through standardized tests. If the students do poorly, then the school and teacher suffer. It’s just teaching to the test.

I think that teachers need to be trusted and given the independence to do what they think is best. School systems should also support schools espousing different educational philosophies - provided that they are not judged to be harmful to the student.

There is undoubtedly a social and community value in having a school that all the kids in a particular area go to. But there are other ways to achieve that sense of community or neighbourhood.

As for science and math, I’m not so sure that they can be tested so completely through right or wrong answers. Students can learn how to jump through the hoop without really understanding what they’re doing. In other words, you can memorize the steps but not understand the dance.

Personally, I’ve got a very low opinion of highly detailed mandatory curricula and standardized testing. I’m still wary of homeschooling though. I may be wrong, but I have the impression that most homeschoolers are religious people who don’t want their children exposed to biological science and secular history. Again, I could be completely off base in that perception.

Bortrun: “Personally, I’ve got a very low opinion of highly detailed mandatory curricula and standardized testing. I’m still wary of homeschooling though. I may be wrong, but I have the impression that most homeschoolers are religious people who don’t want their children exposed to biological science and secular history. Again, I could be completely off base in that perception.”

How is home schooling assessed? How does one know if the child is making great progress or little progress? Does anyone know?

State schools (the only type I can afford for my kids) are fairly poor at teaching things, but they do have the advantage of keeping my kids off the streets and occupied during the day so I can work and earn some money. At the weekends, I make them learn stuff.

It’s working well enough so far. The kids are ahead of their peers in subjects they are interested in (music, science, English) and aren’t allowed to fall behind in the subjects they hate (geography).

The only problem is that their teachers get very annoyed at being regularly corrected by kids who keep forgetting to do any homework. flowersuccess explained to her baffled teacher yesterday about the mini ice-age in nineteenth century Europe. whoaholic springs surprise tests on his French teacher, and then tells her which skills she ought to work on. If they get to year 11 without getting expelled, they should do fine :wink:

“Whoaholic springs surprise tests on his French teacher, and then tells her which skills she ought to work on.”

Assuming that “whoaholic” isn’t a native speaker of French, the above statement shows one of two things:

a) the teacher in question is an incompetent ignoramus who has no right to be teaching French at any level.

b) the headmaster needs to have a little chat with “whoaholic” and his parents…

Wow, I went on a rant about the ineffectiveness of my school system but I feel like it was pretty boring so I’ll spare everyone.

Centigua - From Wikipedia, about the US

“Following the general trend toward easing requirements, fewer than half the states now require any testing or assessment. In some states, homeschoolers are required either to submit the results of a standardized test (sometimes from an established list of tests) or to have a narrative evaluation done by a qualified teacher. Other states give parents wide latitude in the type of assessment to be submitted.”

I know quoting Wikipedia is a bit pointless but the article is rather long so I think that might help you.