Friday, April 26, 2013

Al Jazeera — Home-schooled students gain edge in US

Surveys show university students taught at home perform better than peers from conventional schools.
Al Jazeera
Home-schooled students gain edge in US

Been tellin' ya school sucks. And it's a lot more than an "edge."


Anonymous said...

Yeah, school sucks. But is the effect not largely the result of status and income differences? How many poor families can afford a tutor? How many upper middle class families have highly educated mothers who have both the time and inclination to tutor their kids?

Now, there are families who are not well off who home school because of religious reasons. They do not want their kids to be forced to learn about godless evolution or not to get religious education. But the article made no reference to class or income.

Ralph Musgrave said...

If those attending university are taught by the likes of Kenneth Rogoff, then home taught students can hardly fail to do better.

Dan Kervick said...

There is a strong class bias in these kinds of results. Home schooled students are from single-income families that can afford to allow one spouse to remain home to educate the kids. Such families obviously provide a number of advantages for their children that enhance their economic performance.

It's not "school" that sucks. It's crappy schools run on inadequate budgets determined by the wealth of the municipalities they serve.

If this country continues to fragment into do-it-yourself models of life, and doesn't recover a sense that we are all in it together, we're toast.

Malmo's Ghost said...

Sorry, Dan, but school sucks. Period. And enough of the we aren't in it together nonsense if people homeschool their kids. Homeschoolers are involved every bit as much or more in their communities than their schooled peers. School is not the "community". It is a backward, rigid mechanism that breeds docility and blind conformity. It's a breeding ground for drug abuse (legal and illegal), intimidation, sexual promiscuity, bullying and violence. As my teaching colleague from the English department intones, school is merely a glorified daycare center.

I've homeschooled all three of my children in a progressive suburban community. They have been involved with most of their homeschooled peers doing hundreds of hours of community service. My middle boy is a sports star, who will play college basketball. I've not heard one person who is familiar with homeschoolers ever complain about the myth of social isolation because they missed being chained to a school desk 8 hours a day for 12 odd years.

Tom Hickey said...

Malmo's Ghost has it right in my view. I am an educator by profession and although I have not taught grammar school or high school, I have studied philosophy of education and compared various educational models based on process and outcomes.

The classroom model sucks. Homeschooling is not the solution itself, but it points to a type of solution — letting kids learn at their own speed, personal mentoring and coaching, encouragement of creativity, and freedom from a desk.

This is nothing new. Read John Dewey on progressive education, for instance. He got stuck with a bad rap when attacked by conservatives for "destroying discipline," but he got the basic idea correct. His American pragmatism — he was a philosopher — is based on process and outcome rather than a priori principles that are supposedly self-evident.

Dewey was not against discipline. He just concluded that discipline could not be taught by "disciplining" and had to be learned as self-discipline. Not much different from Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics by the way.

widmerpool said...

Give me a break.

My son attends a public school and it's been excellent. He's not chained to the desk, sitting upright, staring obediently at the teacher.

I have some problems with all the testing but the idea that it's basically the Prussian military education system is silly.


How in the world in homeschooling a solution for the country??? We can't even get adequate maternity or paternity leave.

You complain about students being chained and monitored and then you are worried about sexual promiscuity? So you are controlling your children's sex lives?

Your middle boy will play college basketball? OK, sure.

Malmo's Ghost said...


I agree. Homeschooling isn't for everyone. For many it's financially impossible. Others have little patience with children, even their own. It takes an extremely devoted and conscientious parent to undertake this role. Many who don't homeschool have these qualities too, but decide alternative means of education such as private schools or locating to neighborhoods that house the "best schools".

Both my parents were teachers. I'm a teacher. I know the business well. Schools as they are presently constituted are broken and sorely in need of a radical transformation. Homeschooling is but one avenue to that transformation.

One more thing. The most resistannce to homeschooling can usually be found in rural communities. Urban and suburban area generally have a more open and liberal view of this arraingement. My state, Illinois, is the nation's most liberal homeschool state. Both civil liberty and conservative types have banded together to promote and protect this right. Our suburban community of homeschooler alone accounts for hundreds of homeschoolers, several of which have parents professors at our two local universities. Our public schools and library system also work hand in hand with homeschooling families to facilitate part time schooling if this is desired. The idea of being socially isolated is simply ludicrous. Period.

Malmo's Ghost said...


Who said homeschooling was a solution for everyone? You?

As for you schooling your children in public schools, I'm happy it's working for you. Please, however, spare me the fiction that your kids aren't under constant surveillance at their school, and that they don't sit at desks in their classrooms, only able to leave with the permission of their overseer teacher. .

Tom Hickey said...

My son attends a public school and it's been excellent. He's not chained to the desk, sitting upright, staring obediently at the teacher.

My point is not that the classroom model is a total failure. If it were, it would have been replaced long ago. It is successful enough to pass muster, but there are a whole lot of people that it is not serving very well. It is not serving either exceptional students or those with special needs. It is is a one-shoe-fits-all approach that is designed for the average so it depends on standard deviation of a population.

Tom Hickey said...

The larger issue is what we are educating the next generation for? There is an erroneous presumption that education is just education. That is not true at all in philosophy of education where the fundamental question is about purpose.

One of the problems in public education in the US is that purpose is not discussed because that involves values and norms. There is a lot of disagreement over this, so saver not to ask and apply a one shoe-fits-all solution that doesn't serve anyone all that well in educating them in the liberal sense of the term, upon which liberal democracy is based. Consequently, the purpose is presumed to be success in life by qualifying for employment. The concept of liberal education has gone by the wayside. and when that happens liberal democracy goes with it.

Character is to be learned elsewhere, and creativity is considered a gift that some have and others not so much, so there is little effort spent in culturing it. Even asking fundamental questions is considered politically liberal in many places and is ruled out by conservative parents, who prefer that education stick to the three r's.

Dan Kervick said...

Education is a function that every successful society in the modern world has to carry out in some organized way. It's never a perfect process.

Tom Hickey said...

Education is a function that every successful society in the modern world has to carry out in some organized way. It's never a perfect process.

Those who are successful don't aim at "perfection>" which is an unattainable goal, but at constant optimization based on critical analysis, innovation, and feedback.

BTW, Germany tried the tuition for higher ed for a few years when it was all the rage, and now is going back to free tuition.