Thursday, September 21, 2006

The school system vs. a learning system

Robert J. Samuelson had a good column a couple weeks ago on the about How We Dummies Succeed. He asks the question how does America support a first class economy with a third class education system? He says part of the answer is recognizing that there is "a distinction between between the U.S. school system and the American learning system." Michael Barone makes a similar point in his Hard America, Soft America: Competition vs. Coddling and the Battle for the Nation's Future.

On many levels the public school system is failing, and continues to perform worse and worse each decade. Robert Samuelson mentions some of the studies which show that our children enter public schools equal or above most of the industrial nations in the world, but by the time they graduate from high school they have fallen behind.

Yet our economy remains a power house. The United States dominates the world economy. And the reason is because the American learning system gives people a second change. Robert Samuelson makes the point that once people are motivated to learn there are many alternatives. There are on the job training, adult classes, training at work, and so on. Many people go back to college after working a few years. Public schools fail; but once people decide they want an education there are enough alternatives that people can finally get a decent education.

As homeschoolers we by pass the public school system and can give our children a head start. They are able to avoid all the weaknesses of learning at a slow rate, being taught bad techniques of fuzzy math or in guessing when reading, and become engaged in subjects they are fascinated with. They can became involved in a true learning system at a young age, and not have to wait until they have escaped from the public school system.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs and Instapundit)

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, , , ,


Karen said...

I saw Samuelson's article, too, and blogged about it here.

Although SAmuelson doesn't mention homeschooling, I thought one comment he made was very interesting because he mentions the uplifting value of having older students around. Hmm, sounds like lots of homeschools I know!

Anonymous said...

I am a student myself and although homeschooling has a lot more educational benefits than public schools, that doesn't mean it is the best overall option. There are many good public schools out there where students can do wellif they really try. The problem with homeschooling is that kids don't get the social benefits. Many home schooled children are socially awkward or only know how to work by themselves. In the real world, in the workplace, you have to know how to work with others, how to cope with people you don't like, and how to work past the distractions of a classroom society. You have to learn how to better manage your time and how to deal with things when you don't like the way your teacher is teaching material to you. Without these social skills, it will be very difficult to get and obtain a normal job in this world. Plus, by being homeschooled, students miss out on important lessons, such as drama, broken up friendships, rumors, etc. All the things I have mentioned are of vital importance to a successful, managable life. Without public school, students are socially awkward and often times do not have very many friends. That is my opinion.

MiaZagora said...

Dear Anonymous,

Please name the social "benefits" of public school over private schooling or homeschooling.

Many public schooled kids are socially awkward and work best by themselves as well - this isn't just a trait of homeschooled kids. So what?

Public school is not a microcosm of the "real world". In the work force, I have worked with people a variety of ages who have many different jobs. In my particular job, as are most jobs, I was responsible for MY job and had a specific role in the company.

I don't know about you, Anonymous, but I have three girls. If you think they're missing out on drama, you've never been around girls.

" will be very difficult to get and obtain a normal job in this world"

Define "normal job" please. There is no normal job in this economy. There are hardly even any abnormal jobs.

"Without public school, students are socially awkward and often times do not have very many friends."

Not true. There are many children in public school (and private school) who, for whatever reason - the way they dress, the way they talk, the way they look, their academic ability - are ostracized by others.

"That is my opinion."

You say this is your opinion, but you stated it as fact. If you make statements as facts, you need to cite some sort of studies or evidence that what you say is true, or most thinking people will dismiss what you say as so much rubbish.

Adam said...

Dear MiaZagora,
In your previous blog you quoted anonymous saying, "This is my opinion" and went on to explain how they stated it as a fact. My question to you is, did you really do any different? I think it is known to all that this is merely a topic of opinion, and the fact that you chose to take it personally and bring up that point is nothing short of immature. Anonymous brings up many good points that you should be looking at with an open mind rather than getting defensive. Many times the public school system does teach social lessons that no child including your "three daughters" would be able to get being homeschooled. As you say many jobs are responsible for one specific role in the company but working together and learning to work with people is what makes a company successful, and homeschooled students may not have as much practice with this. You can say all you want that some public school kids are socially awkward because some of them are, but atleast they will be exposed to other people and pick up the "people skills" that are often necessary to succeed. Before you go ahead and trash on anonymous, I would like to see some of your facts as well. Good luck finding them!

Love, Adam

Adam said...


cute name!
What's a MiaZagora?

Jack the Ripper said...

MiaZagora or whatever....

There are pros and cons to both public school systems and home schooling systems. My main problem with homeschooling is that kids are not exposed to the outside world. i have been educated through public schools all my life, however my cousins are homeschooled. i am 16 years old, and when i visit my homeschooled cousins, who are 16 and 17, i feel like i am talking to a ten year old child who has never stepped out side their house. i am SO glad i am educated publicly.learning social skills in public schools, in my opinion, is half of the reason public schools exists.

children must interact with other children. if they don't how will they function with their peers in the working environment?

Amber said...

To you MiaZagora:
I am simply going to state MY opinion and that only, just to warn you before you go on to tell me that I am stating facts. I do believe that homeschooling may have few benefits. Although I do strongly agree with anonymous when they say, "In the real world, in the workplace, you have to know how to work with others, how to cope with people you don't like, and how to work past the distractions of a classroom society." Public schools teach kids many lessons that they can't just learn from books. It shows kids a glimpse of what the real world is like, and helps them to grow up faster. While a kid who is homeschooled happens to miss out on these certain lessons. I also do agree that some kids in public schools may be "socially awkward" for whatever reason it may be. But most homeschooled kids that I have met, or heard of all seem to be socially awkward. These kids that are homeschooled most of the time may have trouble making friends as well. They usually lack good communication skills which is very important in life. These kids are used to the same few people everyday, that when they actually leave the house, new people are hard to communicate with. To me, homeshooled kids seem to be more sensitive as well. Kids in public schools have learned to cope with other kids, and even adults that may be rude to them for whatever reason. Homeschooled kids usually aren't used to the harshness of other kids opinions, and when they go out into the real world the tiniest opinion seems to strike them hard. Ultimately, I beleive that public schools can benefit a kid in more ways than a child that is homeschooled.

Anonymous said...

Dear MiaZagora,
First of all, I defy you to name any social benefits of home schooling. There aren't any. The only social benefits are that you and your child become closer and that probably won't last very long because if I were your child, I would get sick of my mom and dad teaching me things real fast.. Anyways, I'm not saying that there aren't kids who are socially awkward in public schools, but like Adam said, at least they get to be around other children and work on their social skills.
Public school makes kids get out of their skin. It forces them to try new things, whether it be a sport in gym, finding a table at lunch, or trying an instrument. It challenges kids to try new things and get out of their bubble. Also, in school, a lot of times, kids have to work in groups, sometimes with kids they don't like or don't work well with. Through that experience, students learn how to effectively work with others, compromise, make things work, and get along. In homeschooling, none of what I just stated happens. Kids work by themselves and do what they want at the pace they feel is comfortable. It is not as challenging, maybe schoolwise it is, but socially, definitely not.
Another point is that in public schools, when a student gets a teacher they don't like, they have to adapt to that teacher, just like in the real world when an employee has to adapt to a new boss. It is the same thing and prepares you for the future. Also, what I meant by "normal" job was just like any common job in America, whether it be working at a clothing store, McDonald's, in an office, or as a doctor.
Also, I am not saying that drama is a good thing. I just think kids need to learn how to deal with the drama, the rumors, whatever else. It'll happen when they get out of high school and college even. They need to learn how to cope with it and how to sometimes just let things slide and ignore them. That is a lifelong skill that you can't get inside the home.
Another reason that public school is better is all the clubs that you can do after school, the sports, the interesting classes, the foreign languages, computer classes, art classes, gym classes, band classes. All these are free and easy to get if your student doesn't want private lessons. These clubs are helpful in finding a good college as well. Anyways...
Thanks to everyone who backed me up on this. I'm sorry if I made you angry, MiaZagora. I just believe that public schooling is the best overall choice, even if the educational aspect of it moves at a slower pace. I believe people who go to public school become well-rounded, more mature, individuals than kids who are homeschooled. And it makes sense.

With love,

Henry Cate said...

While reading the comments on the question of just how socialized are homeschoolers, it occurs to me that Anonmyous and MiaZagora may be talking about different groups of homeschoolers. To make this clear check out Homeschoolers vs. Homeschooled.

Anonymous, my experience has been that homeschoolers are socialized just fine. With in almost any large group of people there are extremes. I do know of a few homeschoolers who are a bit weird, but then I also know of a few public school students who are weird.

There are a few studies that find as a group homeschoolers are socialized atleast as well as children in public schools. You might start with Dr. Brian Ray's
Home Educated and Now Adults.

Anonymous said...

Henry Cate,
You may say "homeschoolers are socialized atleast as well as children in public schools," but I think we can agree to disagree. You see, I believe that with socialization comes experience, and with experience comes education. Pardon me, but I cannot wrap my head around a homeschooler having much more human interaction than seeing a few friends and family. I am speaking correctly when I say that these homeschoolers are taught by a parent/guardian all day? Personally, if I had to sit at home, only exposed to my parents day after day, I would go out of my tree. I love them, but seriously--out of my tree! In my school, I interact with or see at least three thousand different faces daily. That is a lot of human interaction. Remind me again how much life experience you gain from only interacting with a parent/guardian daily?

Henry Cate said...

Ah, so in your mind homeschoolers spend their time isolated, at their home. Is that how you view homeschoolers?

It is true there are a few homeschoolers who fit that model, but the truth is most homeschoolers spend tons of time outside the home. One bumper sticker reads "I don't know why they call it homeschooling, I'm always on the road."

My daughters play soccer, go to church, play with their neighbors, talk with my parents, go to homeschool park days, go to a homeschool co-op, babysit, travel, sing at a retirement community, and so on.

The vast majority of homeschoolers don't have the same social interactions that children have in public schools may have, but they are not living in a vacuum. In some ways their social interactions are more varied. For example they interact with people across a greater range of ages.

Anonymous said...

I see what you're saying. Maybe we could see eye to eye, but on the other hand, do these homeschoolers recieve the same degree of learning as publicly schooled kids? Do they learn chemistry and foreign language and early American history? In depth, that is. I honestly do not know the ability of a parent/guardian to teach these subjects. While I have little background information on the area of topic, I continue to believe that adults with a college degree in education are more able and qualified to be a teacher.

Henry Cate said...

The issue of academic progress has a lot more data. As a group homeschoolers do better on standard tests like the SAT & ACT tests than public school students. Colleges are happy to accept homeschoolers.

One of the great benefits of homeschooling is a more effective use of time. If the student is having trouble, you go slow and review the subject again. If the student mastered the material then you don't have to waste another hour going over it again and again.

Most college educated parents can easily handle the first eight or so years of school. Our daughters take a couple online courses, and we're looking our oldest daughter going to a local junior college this fall.

It is fairly easy to do more than the classic core subjects. For example our daughter is in a local adult orchestra. And we have a young woman from Central America who comes by once a week to help our oldest with her Rosette Stone Spanish class.

J.J. Rays said...

I agree with what you say about the matter of time. It does seem that time is better spent with homeschoolers than publicly educated kids. I also have researched and found what you say is true. Homeschooled children do score better on their SAT and ACT tests than public school kids do. However, (sorry there has to be a however :P)I firmly believe and push that when these homeschooled children go to college, it may be an awkward transition. Do they have experience with a large sum of kids there own age? Can they handle being away from their parents for so long after being taught by them for twelve years? Are they able to solve dilemmas on their own after relying on their parents for so long?
Publicly educated kids practice these skills daily.
Do homeschoolers?

Janine Cate said...

>I firmly believe and push that when these homeschooled children go to college, it may be an awkward transition. Do they have experience with a large sum of kids there own age? Can they handle being away from their parents for so long after being taught by them for twelve years? Are they able to solve dilemmas on their own after relying on their parents for so long?
Publicly educated kids practice these skills daily.
Do homeschoolers?

I noticed that you used the word "kids" frequently. We don't send "kids" to college. We send young adults. We don't expect them to act like children.

Homeschool children are raised in a world of adults to be adults. So, the majority transition to adulthood quite easily. Unlike their school conterparts who model their behavior on "kids" of the same age, homeschool "kids" have had years of practice at adult behavior.

Of course, there are those that critisize homeschoolers for interacting too well with adults.