Monday, January 02, 2006

Thoughts on homeschooling from Joel Turtel

Joel Turtel, author of Public School, Public Menace, submitted the following essay on homeschooling:


Home-schooling removes children from public school. That alone makes home-schooling worthwhile.

Unlike public-school children, home-schooled kids are not prisoners of a system that can wreck their self-esteem, ability to read, and love of learning. Home-schooled kids don’t have to read dumb-downed text-books, study subjects they hate, or endure meaningless classes six to eight hours a day.

Home-schooled kids won’t be subject to drugs, bullies, violence, or peer pressure, as they are in public schools. Home-schooled children who are “different” in any way won’t have to endure cruel jokes and taunts from other children in their classes.

Slow-learning or “special-needs” children won’t be humiliated by their peers if they are put in regular classes, or further humiliated if the teacher puts them in so-called special-education classes.

Faster-learning home-schooled kids won’t have to sit through mind-numbing classes that are geared to the slowest-learning students in a class. They won’t have to “learn” in cooperative groups where other kids in the group do nothing and are not cooperative.

Home-schooled children do not have to waste their time memorizing meaningless facts about subjects that bore them, just so they can pass the next dumbed-down test to obey and please school authorities.

Home-schooled kids don’t have to endure twelve years of a third-rate, public-school education that leaves many students barely able to read their own diplomas. The notion that tests tell teachers and parents what children have learned turns out to false.

John Holt, teacher and author of "How Children Fail," pointed out that most children soon forget what they memorized for a test as soon as the test is over, so the entire test-taking process is usually worthless. Facts or ideas that are not useful or relevant to children pass through them like a sieve and are soon forgotten.

Home-schooled kids don’t have to study an arbitrary, meaningless curriculum of subjects imposed on them by foolish public-school authorities. They don’t have to be treated like little mindless, spiritless robots that have to learn the same subjects at the same time and in the same sequence as their classmates.

Home-schooled children don’t have to sit quietly in a class of twenty-five other students and pretend they like being in this mini-prison called public school, just to avoid being punished by a teacher for “acting-out” or fidgeting in their seats.

Any adult’s mind would wander if they were forced to sit through a boring lecture for just one hour. Yet public schools expect children to sit still for boring lectures on subjects that are meaningless to them, for six to eight hours a day.

Home-schooled children do not have to be fearful of displeasing a teacher because they get the wrong answers on meaningless tests. They therefore do not have to be fearful of learning and have their natural joy in learning crippled as a result of this fear.

Infants and very young children embrace life and learning with a passion, which is why they learn so fast. Yet, as John Holt found out, by the time these same children have progressed to the fifth grade in school, most are listless, bored, apathetic, and often fearful in class.

Home-schooled children won’t be terrorized by test grades and comparisons to their classmates, and associate learning with this terror. They won’t associate learning with always having to get the right answer that schools authorities insist on. They won’t be made to feel that learning means passing an arbitrary test, and that failing a test is a shame or disgrace.

Home-schooling also gives parents control over the values their kids learn. It prevents school authorities from indoctrinating their children with warped values, pagan religions, or politically-correct ideas.

Unlike public-school students, home-schooled children are not forced to sit through explicit or shocking sex-education classes. School authorities can’t pressure home-schooling parents or children to take mind-altering drugs like Ritalin.

So keeping a child out of public school is an enormous benefit in itself. Other positive benefits of home-schooling are:

1. Home-schooling lets parents give children a custom-made curriculum that makes learning a joy. Parents can expose their children to many different subjects and ultimately focus on subjects that their children enjoy and benefit from. Children can also learn about subjects that are not taught in any school, and have time for non-academic subjects like art and music. Parents can choose from a wide range of teaching materials that not only engage and delight their kids, but bring real results.

2. Home-schooled children can learn at their own pace. Slower-learning kids will benefit by their parent’s love and attention. Bright children will progress as fast as they want to. Children will learn to read or learn any other subject when they are ready, not according to a prescribed time-table. Unlike public schools, home-schooling parents treat each child as a unique individual with his or her own special in-terests, talents, strengths and weaknesses. Parents can also tailor-make the instruction to each child’s per-sonality and learning style.

3. Home-schooling parents can give their kids a one-to-one teacher-student ratio. This insures that children get individualized attention from a loving, attentive parent-teacher.

4. Home-schooled kids get instant feedback. Children don’t have to compete with twenty other children in a class for their teacher’s attention. A parent-teacher can instantly answer her child’s questions, or research the answer together with her child.

In my book, Public Schools, Public Menace, I explain a total of 15 unique benefits of homeschooling for children.
by Joel Turtel


Pat Patrick said...

Hi…I just read your blog and understand your problems with schools. My book : The Stress Kitchen (Why KIDS hate school and what we can do to change it) will help you understand why you have trouble. I spent 35 years in the high school classroom and think schools only care about the “good” KIDS. Check out my website or my blog on google stresskitchen and write me at to let me know what you think. I wrote the book to help people like you……..

Thanks Pat Patrick

D.C. Wang said...

"Home-schooled children do not have to waste their time memorizing meaningless facts about subjects that bore them, just so they can pass the next dumbed-down test to obey and please school authorities."

I agree with almost everything you said with a few exceptions. Nearly meaningLESS tests are the bedrock for gaining access to many meaningFUL careers. For example, SAT's for college, MCAT/USMLE Steps 1-3 for doctors, LSAT/bar exam for lawyers, and countless engineering exams just to name a few. If you ask most of these professionals, most of them will tell you that they use very little of what they studied for on these tests. The system stinks but kids need to learn how to take tests and take them well.

christinemm said...

My homeschooled kids have been bullied by other homeschooled kids. The worst offenders are the HSed kids who used to be in school and now are HSed. I know some of these children were bullied themselves as the parent told me that was a main reason for pulling them out.

My HSed kids have also been bullied a couple of times by neighbor kids who go to school (1 private, 1 public). My kids are not isolated, they do interact with other kids so this is bound to happen.

There have been a few incidents of bullying at Cub Scouts, to my HSed children by schooled children. So again they are not immune as they are out in the community even though they are HSed.

My children are also bullied by their cousins who go to school. For what it is worth they are also bullied by adults ranging from relatives to librarians to other parents.

Oh, and they have been bullied by stranger-kids at the public playground.

As to memorization of facts, some HSed parents require this of their children. Math U See curriculum for example, states that memorization of math facts be done before moving up to the next lesson.

Some HSing parents run their homeschools like a regular school with boring school work, use of texts and also regular testing or worksheet usage.