Is Homeschooling Better than School?

Well, it depends who you ask.

I was responding to a blog post today about how homeschoolers are “blind” to how homeschooling can ruin their kids, because, well, they are homeschoolers. And how parents with strong personalities can make their kids basket cases.

Ok. So, let’s turn that around. Public school parents/administrators/teachers are “blind” to how school can ruin their kids, because, well, they are public schoolers. And how parents and teachers and other kids with strong personalities can make their kids basket cases.

I’m not saying that homeschooling is better. What I am saying is that homeschooling is not worse because there are some that “fail” or have a hard time as adults. Homeshcooling is only “worse” because most people haven’t experienced it, and don’t get it. So they see it that way. And because people make the choice to homeschool, instead of choosing their preferred educational choice, it is treated with some kind of higher expectation than anything else. That if a kid doesn’t live up to society’s expectation of what they are supposed to do, it’s an indication that homeschooling is a problem, and should be questioned, monitored and otherwise messed with. That if homeschooling “fails” a kid, then some huge horrible thing has happened. Yet, when kids in school come out of it with many, many adults who have let them get screwed up on the way, it’s just, well, the natural way of things. And, let’s slap on another rule, regulation or test that still doesn’t change the results all that much.

Schools don’t generate 100% returns. Many kids have problems. In fact, a much higher percentage of kids come out of schools with various problems, issues and struggles. Yet, few question the validity of whether the schools are the best place for kids to grow up. Well, except for the people who leave school to homeschool. Every year we pump through a graduating class of children that absolutely know for sure will produce at least a certain percentage of unhappy and unready almost-adults, yet we keep doing it year after year after year. How is that any different, or BETTER, than a few homeschooling students coming through the process with some unreadiness issues? How is it that homeschooling “failures” are worse than public school failures?

Here’s a way to explain this what one person considers to be the “best” place to grow up differs from the next. Yet, in the end, none of them are the best for everyone. No state is the best state, no city is the best city, no religion is the best. Everything is determined by the individual making the assessment. The same is true with education. We’re OK with the idea of different people wanting to live in different states. But we (as a society) are not OK with the idea of different people wanting to live a different educational life.

It’s the current state of thing that in this country, most people believe from their point of view that public school is the best place for all. Doesn’t mean it is actually the best. It means that’s what our culture knows. What we understand.

Where we sit is limited by our experiences. To say that someone else’s position is “wrong” simply because it isn’t the same seat we are in is myopic. It’s the very thing our culture says that public school is supposed to teach us not to do—instead we’re supposed to understand where other people from different backgrounds and places are coming from.

Yet, those who are the most adamantly opposed to homeschooling have very little understanding. And create a concrete opinion based on limited personal experience and media exposure. Hell, even those IN the community do that. Homeschoolers who don’t approve of other homeschoolers. If homeschoolers themselves can’t find common ground, how can we expect non-homeschoolers to even come close to understanding where we are coming from?

This is one reason that my husband and I homeschool our kids. Not because we wanted to shield them from what’s going on in school. But because we wanted them to see the stuff that isn’t taught in schools. The many different viewpoints. The alternate ideas. To question things, and be free to say, “I want to know more about this and really understand it.” And have time to do that. To be able to explore the world – even the stuff that nobody wants anyone to know. To see that their view is not privileged. Nobody’s view is privileged. And that in any society, the majority opinion is not “right”. There is no such thing as “right”. There are only trends in thought. Can you imagine a school that taught that? A school that really allowed its students to see that the school is just a system that everyone has agreed upon, and that’s why it works. It doesn’t work the way it does because it’s right. But because all the participants have tacitly agreed to follow the rules, even if they don’t make sense.

(Don’t worry. Our kids get plenty of exposure to arbitrary rules and systems. They are involved in park and rec classes. Some with some seriously boot-camp teachers. And we go to Disneyland, the kingdom of tacit rule following, on a regular basis.)

The only kinds of things we shield our kids from are things like the idea that in order to be worth something, someone else has to say that you’re good enough. That’s the biggest lie that our students in school are taught. That if they don’t do the right thing, don’t get good grades, don’t live up to everyone’s expectations, they’ve failed. Another is the idea that children have to spend their entire lives performing to get that prize that never arrives. Sure, everyone gets judged in “real life” and we have people who we need to please in order to get what we want. But not everyday. Not every single piece of work we produce. And man, we don’t need to have to “practice” that all the time in order to be able to deal with it. Plus, anyone who has that in everyday life is living a pretty crappy life in my opinion. Adults choosing that kind of crappy job is one thing. That’s their choice. But children who don’t have a choice, that’s just mean.

These are some of my personal reasons. This doesn’t mean it’s right or that anyone else should agree with me. I respect those who don’t agree with that and make different life choices for their children based on different values of what’s important in life. But just because I don’t agree with how school should educate children, and I choose not to be a part of it, doesn’t mean that I need some sense slapped into me. I’m free to choose. And so long as we are free to choose in this country, I will choose. Take away choice for people to have their own opinions and do things their way, even if it seems a “disservice” to kids, is not freedom. It’s forcing people to bend to the current social point of view. Which, if we look at history, has *never* been right. Why, is right now, in the time we just happen to live in, the “right” opinion? In 50 years, we’ll look back at today and see just how wrong we were.

And who knows, maybe homeschooling is actually better, but because 99% of the country has never tried it, they’re all missing out.

Or maybe homeschoolers actually are missing out. But, if I have to make a wager, I’ll bet on homeschooling. There’s always time for kids to go to school if they want. Once that window of childhood freedom is over, it’s rare that we get a chance to be this free again. I’m betting that we’ll miss out on less if we homeschool. And, if it does turn out all homeschooelrs have screwed up, we’re only 1% of the population, remember? Why is that even interesting to public schoolers? Even if we were 5%, that’s still far less than the percentage of kids who come through the school system braindead, burned out or lost.

As a conclusion, homeschooling is better than school if you think it is. It’s not better if you don’t. Simple as that. Not worth fighting about. It’s like fighting over which is better – apples or bananas.

(This blog post has been moved. If you would like to make a comment, please go to the new post location and comment there. Thank you!)


13 Responses to “Is Homeschooling Better than School?”

  1. momlovesbeingathome Says:

    Great post!! Very well said!

  2. Anna Says:

    Wow, we had not seen a fired-up post from you in a while! I love it when people piss you off. It makes good reading for the rest of us.

  3. Heather Says:

    What a great post! I homeschool because I want my kids to question things and be able to explore things to their hearts content. It is sad that kids in school actually get stiffled by their teachers when they want to learn about something. The teacher doesn’t have the time or it is not in the scheduled curriculum.

    It is also interesting how homeschoolers can be divided even amongst themselves. Non homeschoolers really don’t get it. So often I am asked if I am worried that I am sheltering my kids and of socialization. It’s hilarious to me because sheltering my kids from bad stuff…well that is my job as their parent…I do want them to have a childhood and be carefree…Socialization? Yea we are really lacking in that…we just got home for the day at 9pm and my kids social lives are actually too full for the time being. My kids have wayyyy more activities and opportunities because we homeschool.

    You are right, it is not worth fighting over. Even though we are the elite 1%! ;0

  4. Sheri Says:

    Excellent post. I don’t think I’ve seen it written better than that.

  5. Tammy Says:

    Thanks momlovesbeingathome, Anna and Sheri

    Heather – I guess it boils down to what people think is “bad”, eh? Believe it or not, there are many that think being bullied at school is “good”, because it’s practice for “real life”. In our current society, having a carefree childhood is not valued. It’s considered being lazy. We’re a culture of the more crap you go through, the better. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If that’s so true, why are there so many psychologists and increase in psychotic drugs? Elite 1% hehehe. Well, certainly, the happy 1%. 🙂

  6. Eden Says:

    Great post & great points.

  7. Getting Feedback From Parents; Developing Your Defense | Homeschool Reporter Says:

    […] Is Homeschooling Better Than School? Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  8. Vicki Says:

    We’ve tried it all: Public, Private, back to Public, Set-scheduled Homeschooling, currently one graduated, one in Virtual School doing better then ever, and one in Funschooling. All are happy having chosen thier individual paths. The youngest will tell you he has NO desire to ever return to any formal style school, lol.
    Great post!
    Vicki ~ Nice to meet you!

  9. Anne Says:

    What a great post! I love that you caught that school is just different preperation for real life, not the only preperation. My SIL homeschools because she went to a fancy university after being an honor student in high school. She was horrified to learn that she hadn’t really learned anything in school but how to get A’s. She had to scramble hard for four years to get a C+ average. She is determined that this wont happen to her kids. They will still have unpleasant surprises, life is full of them, but they won’t have that one.

  10. Gina Says:

    I enjoyed reading this.
    It boils down to:
    People fear what they do not understand.

  11. L. Smith Says:

    Homeschooling has taken on a fairly large following not because it “works” but because the traditional schoolhouse model does NOT work. Further, homeschooling has risen in popularlity simply because parents have no real alternative to schools (whether public or private) but to keep their children at home.

    Unfortunately, homeshooled children basically get the same teaching and learning approach in their own homes that they would be getting in formal schools and unless the homeschool “teacher” (usually a parent) is highly skilled and able to dedicate upwards of 8 hours a day to this task, the children as often as not do not emerge any better off.

    What is needed is a better way to enable children to learn and provide for them to do so outside of their homes and without needing for one or more parents to make a life commitment to it. Take a look at the definitive treatment of this problem developed by Trigon-International in its recently released commission report, “Education in America — What’s to Be Done?”

  12. Alison P. Honey Says:

    This was a very well written article and I agree that homeschooling can be successful. However, I think it leaves out some important information regarding children who are educated in public schools. My comments are not well thought out and were written just before midnight when I was tired and just “blurting.”
    My children are in the public school system however quite a few of my friends “unschool” or “homeschool” their children. I asked one of the kids the other day if they liked going to the family partnership homeschool group and if they were learing a lot and they flat out told me “no, all we do is play all day.” That is great if you can leave your child a sizeable inheritance so they can grow up and play all day. That would be wonderful. But my husband, an immigrant from another country, was taught from an early age (when they arrived in this country as political refugees with only a few sets of clothes each) that education and hard work was the way to succeed. His parents wound up being homeowner’s and English speakers. My husband successfully made it through the public schools and went on to get his Master’s Degree as did his sister. His sister did well enough to retire in her early 40’s and NOW she plays all day, goes on frequent trips, etc. (no children) Her husband does the same. My husband and our kids live nicely and manage to “play” alot also including a month long vacation every summer. Had he not gotten a good education, which is very possible for everyone in the public school with the right family support, then we would be struggling.
    My point is that the pro-homeschooling post points to the public school failures but it fails to address why there are so many failures. The majority of pulbic school failures come from either families with a low socio-economic family structure, a single parent family, a family where one or both parents have not achieved a higher education successfully, or where one or both parents have major “issues” such as substance abuse, being unemployed, suffering from mental illness or severe depression, or they mentally and or physically abuse their children. I would bet that most children who have a loving supportive family will succeed whether they are homeschooled OR schooled in a traditional school. However, I am wondering if maybe there may even be a higher percentage of the successfully homeschooled children (vs the successfully traditional schooled children), who have trouble in the “real world” when they have to buckle down in college and/ or a career because they just want to play and not be told what to do. My husband and I “supplement” our children’s education by taking them to educational places such as museums. Our children are involved in ballet productions, music lessons, and sports. We have discussions at the dinner table. We talk about our days and how problems or obstacles can be dealt with, including bullies at school. We help them with their science fair projects, help them create costumes for their “walk through California HIstory/the American Revolution/the Ancient World plays that they do in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade respectfully. We help chaperone them on class field trips, go see them at awards assemblies, and help volunteer in the classroom or at the school. We are involved parents who help not just OUR children, but other people’s children as well. And those other children that we help may not have involved parents, may not have it all together, may not provide good support for their children. I feel that I participate in the thinking that “It takes a village to raise a child.” I do not volunteer at the school and say: “I only want to help MY child.” I help many of the kids in the class or raise money for special assemblies that ALL the children will benefit from. My homeschooling friends ONLY help and teach THEIR child and perhaps a select few others in their homeschooling group (if they belong to one.) They would never think about helping to teach the children of people less fortunate than them. THOSE kids are in the public schools and since they never set foot in the public schools, the kids there will never benefit from having them volunteer in the classroom.
    My philosophy is that if all the homeschoolers had their kids in public school and dedicated the same amount of time and energy to helping out ALL the children in their kid’s classrooms, that the success rate of students in public school would be in the high 90 percent range. If the people who have the luxury of being able to stay at home to homeschool instead helped out an entire community of students by volunteering in public schools, then our entire society would beneift which would benefit their children much more in the long run because there would be that much more happy and successful kids turning into happy successful adults in our society. Unfortunately the “me generation” lives on and I guess the children of people who don’t have it together will not beneift from the sort of mentorship that would be available to them if the homeschooler parents with all their loving energy and knowledge would share it with more than just THEIR kids. Public school does not fail kids-the lack of cooperation and volunteerism in the public schools does. Those potential perfect school volunteers (homeschooling parents) are ONLY focusing on their children and probably are thinking “tough luck” to the kids of the bad parents. Unfortunately, your homeschooled kids will still have to live in the same screwed up society where all those less fortunate kids never had someone care enough about them growing up. Those kids of bad parents, who may not even get a high school diploma, will not be able to get or hold a job and will probably turn to public assistance, durgs, or crime to just survive. Either way, your kids and mine will pay for it in the long run. It truly takes a village to raise a child. Please consider helping many kids and not just YOURS. Help our help all our children, help our public schools, and help society as a whole. We need SOCIAL CHANGE.

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