Thursday, August 23, 2007

"Don't mind him, he's homeschooled"

That's what I said to my friend's girlfriend a few years ago when he was goofing around.

"What's THAT supposed to mean? I was homeschooled", she snarled.

Foot-in-mouth 72347 of 93627.

The reason I bring this up is because for some reason, over the last few days I've heard a couple of people mention homeschooling. I have pretty strong reactions to homeschooling, mainly because I think it's a huge disservice to children. I did a quick little google search on homeschooling and found this written by an advocate of homeschooling. Here are some reasons he thinks it's a good idea, and some of his refutations of commonly held misconceptions.

Let's take a look.

One of the silliest and most annoying comments made to homeschooling parents is, "Aren't you concerned about how your child will be able to socialize with others?". What is being implied here is that the homeschooled child is some kind of introverted misfit who cannot relate to other people, children, and the outside world. In reality, most of the homeschooled children that I have known and met are not only outgoing, but polite and respectful, too. This is a sharp contrast to the public school children that I have known, who can't relate to adults and whose behavior is rude and inconsiderate.

Introverted? No. Misfit? Yes. A child who interacts with mainly children will not interact like an adult, and a child who only interacts with adults will not act like a child and will be, by definition, a mis fit. It's a matter of peer groups.

Who is responsible for creating this "socialization" problem? This myth has been perpetrated by sociologists, psychologists, public school administrators, the NEA (and local teacher's unions), etc., whenever they comment on homeschooling to the news media. These are the same people who give Ritalin (a very strong narcotic) and other drugs to schoolchildren, in place of discipline.

I guess finger pointing and conspiracy theorizing is included in the homeschool curriculum.

Opponents of homeschooling can't complain about average test scores, since homeschooled children consistently outscore public school children, so they instead make a problem that doesn't exist.

Aah the test score. I love it when people cite test scores. While I do agree that there should be a standard, test scores are often more indicative of how well someone studied for a test rather than how much information they actually know or can retain. Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans (and most other people I guess) regularly pwn Americans in the whole test taking thing and like to point to it as some evidence that they are smarter/superior/whatever to us. Suffice it to say that I have yet to see Americans flocking to other countries seeking citizenship and jobs, while the opposite is readily observable. I also like citing test scores because I got a 900 on the SAT and a 21 on the ACT, which has gotten me a lot of laughs. I turned out ok.

In order for children to become assimilated into society properly, it is important to have a variety of experiences and be exposed to differing opinions and views.

Nothing says "differing opinions" than having parents create and teach a curriculum.

Homeschooling allows parents the freedom to associate with other interested parties, visit local businesses, museums, libraries, etc. as part of school, and to interact with people of all ages in the community. For example, my son goes on field trips with other homeschooling families in our community.

Again, I'm sure the range of opinions and outlooks is earth shattering.

My wife and I like to bring our son with us when we are visiting with friends and other adults. How else will he learn to be an adult, if he never has contact with adults?

He's got a point here. When I wasn't associating with children at my public concentrationcampschoolag, I was barred from interacting with adults and locked in a closet. Homeschooling would have been totally awesome because I would have been able to hang out with adults, which is what I really wanted to do when I was a child. Anyway I'll be right back, I made doodie in my pants and need my mom to change it for me, because my public school upbringing never taught me how to be an adult.

Dakota Fanning: Homeschooled

The title of this video clip should be "When Social Maladroits Collide". I can't say that though, because Japan has extremely high test scores compared to the USA.

Some homeschoolers probably find the precociousness of their children charming. Some homeschoolers, like one I met before, wear velcro shoes with suits. I find a lot of this sort of behavior reminiscent of Asberger's syndrome. Being a kid is fun -- Chuck E Cheese rules apply. Let a kid be a kid.

I'm sure homeschooling has its benefits, but it's easy to overlook the "socializing" factor because it's difficult to measure. I've met a lot of mal-socialized products of public school systems. Hell, most would say that I'm malsocialized myself. But the homeschooled people I've met (and their parents) are off the charts and ill equipped to deal with the hardships and cruelty of many social situations. Social interaction is nasty business, and some people have a tough time dealing with it. I did. But having it thrust upon me made me a stronger person, and I'm didn't have to deal with it for the first time at age 18, 20, or 25. I hated school, but what I learned there was more valuable than anything that can be found on a standardized test. Apathetic parents make apathetic students -- if a parent is unconcerned about their kid's progress at school, the kid will be unconcerned, and vice-versa. Denying a child years worth of a shared cultural foundation is, as I said, a disservice, which will be obvious to everyone around them for a very long time.

Disclaimer: I don't have any psychological or sociological data to back any of this up, but this might help my case because according to the author of the page I cited, psychologists and sociologists are responsible for the myth that homeschooled kids are poorly socialized. All opinions are formed based on the personal experiences of me, a social misfit in many ways, having my socks knocked off by the misfit behavior of homeschooled kids I've met.

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Blogger A Unique Alias said...

Ass burger syndrome?

No debating that home-schooled kids are socially retarded.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

asberger syndrome and high functining autism is awesome to read about because you'll immediately realize that a lot of people you know and work with are autistic on some level.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems that autism has caught on as the new "label". ADHD had a good run, but now everybody's autistic. Hell, I'm fairly handy when it comes to moving numbers around so even I've been accused of having asberger's. Et tu, Paule?

O. And I have to agree with you about the home school/wacko theory. People tout the few shiny examples of this horrible subculture, but I have to refer back to the "You can spray paint a turd gold, but..." bit.

I saw an interview with a guy a few years ago who actually has a severe form of the rainman style autism, but he retained his ability to interact and speak. It was amazing to listen to him describe how he didn't count in the same way that we do. He saw the numbers as colors and just looked for the color he wanted when he was working out ginormous math problems. Pretty cool stuff.


11:46 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

my favorite autist (besides you) is stephen wiltshire. check out his stuff on youtube -- he flew over london once and drew a perfect picture of it. with ridonkulus details. being an idiot savant would rule if you could interact normally. i guess ill hafta be satisfied with just being an idiot.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Hammer said...

Working for universities as I do, I get to see what happens when these home schooled kids hit the higher education system. Generally speaking, it ain't pretty. Because on top of the fact that they're not adequately socialized and can't interact with their classmates worth a damn, they also don't know how to take care of themselves within a bureaucratic administrative structure. Something as simple as signing up for their own classes completely paralyzes them.

2:55 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

woe hammers alive!!

its funny what you take for granted.. simple stuff like "getting up on time by yourself" or "registering for classes" that a lot of these folks simply dont have the tools to accomplish...

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, according to you and the unnamed sociological and psychological "experts", "socialization" includes sending kids to spend eight hours in class with kids their same age, being taught the same thing at the same time from the same curriculum by the same teacher. They are told when they can go to the bathroom, eat lunch, get a drink and talk - even when they are in their 'teens.

If they don't learn something at the same rate as the other 15 or 20 kids or don't understand something, either they fall through the cracks or get sent to a smaller, remedial group. Class time is spent on roll call, passing papers, a small amount of lecture time and the giving of homework assignments. When they do have time for asking questions, many are afraid to for fear of what their classmates will think - this is especially true in Jr. High.

Hammer said: "Working for universities as I do"....exactly what do you do for universities? As I recall, most Freshmen on university campuses walk around with a bewildered expression when they first arrive. That's totally normal. Hammer needs to look at the world with a more open mind and stop letting his personal bias (and maybe his tendency to exaggerate) color his opinions of people. In other words, he needs to be more tolerant.

I know a lot of homeschoolers, because I am a homeschooling parent myself and we belong to a homeschooling group. We have also taken classes at the local zoo, the local museum of modern art, and the local children's museum. Not to mention swimming/P.E. class at the YMCA. Most homeschoolers we know start taking college classes in their Junior year of high school - just like some of their counterparts in a regular school setting.

They also work jobs at the local fast food joint. They do volunteer work. They go to the mall. They hang out with friends. They have alarm clocks. They have schedules - some adhere more strictly to a schedule than others, but everyone has a schedule. The only difference between homeschoolers and others is the way they are schooled.

Just as a sidebar, most of the time it's not the parents who make up the curriculum as they go. Some do. Some enjoy doing this. Some homeschooling parents I know taught in the public school system and actually enjoy writing their own lesson plans. I wasn't a teacher pre-homeschooling, and I buy my curriculum.

You can find curricula for every teaching/learning style, both religious and totally secular. Your child can take their classes online (K-12, for example) or via DVD or strictly pencil/paper. Some people have a room dedicated to homeschooling, complete with desks, a chalkboard and everything. Some just use the kitchen table.

I'm not sure why you brought up "test scores". Some people put a lot of emphasis on this and some don't. I am one of those who do not. Under NCLB, schools are either rewarded or penalized for their performance, which is based on test scores. It's not about the students, but about the schools.

"Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans (and most other people I guess) regularly pwn Americans in the whole test taking thing and like to point to it as some evidence that they are smarter/superior/whatever to us."

Actually, that's manipulation of statistics. When a child goes from grade school to middle school in China, they have to take a test. If they don't pass, they are not allowed to continue to middle school and are sent to a trade school. The same thing when they go from middle school to high school. By the time they get to high school and take "the math exam", only the top students are left. Entrance to university- level education is also much more stringent than the U.S. By contrast, all of the children - special education to gifted - are tested in the U.S. and are included in our statistics. If we took the test scores of just our top students, we'd probably be somewhere at the top.

I believe there are good public schools out there....somewhere... just not here. I live near our local schools and our neighbors' public-schooled kids regularly throw trash in our yard on the way home, put cans in our shrubs, and shout profanities to each other across the lawns. (We live in the suburbs, not the inner city, BTW.)

They are disrespectful to their parents and neighbors. I regularly hear of children at the elementary and middle schools being taken out by police officers for drugs or weapons. They have police officers stationed at the schools, when they can afford it. (Yeah...real socialized behavior.) I'm sure not all of the students act this way, but I'm sure we don't live near the ONLY ones out of the whole school that act that way.

Do I blame the public schools? No. It's because these kids have no discipline. They seemingly have no direction or goals. They are mostly left to themselves to do as they please after school and in the summer - which is usually not "pleasing" to those who live in the neighborhood. Usually, both parents work to keep up the payments on the house, at least two vehicles and maybe a boat (we live near the water).

When my oldest child was going to enter 1st, I thought about sending her to the local p.s., but I did my homework. I found out our local ELEMENTARY school had had two incidences of sexual crimes (student on student) and five incidences of violence the past year. This isn't the "real world". I have daughters. As a responsible parent, I'm not going to throw them into this type of environment for the sake of someone's opinion (not facts) about "socialization".

Sexual crime isn't "socialization", and I believe most psychologists would agree that - at least at the elementary level - children are not psychologically ready for high stress situations such as this. It isn't very conducive to a good learning environment, either, no matter what age the student is.

"I hated school, but what I learned there was more valuable than anything that can be found on a standardized test."

You never said what exactly you learned in school that you couldn't have learned in the library, on the internet or elsewhere.

"Apathetic parents make apathetic students -- if a parent is unconcerned about their kid's progress at school, the kid will be unconcerned, and vice-versa."

Most homeschooling parents take on the daunting task of schooling their children because they are very concerned about their child's progress in school.

"Denying a child years worth of a shared cultural foundation is, as I said, a disservice, which will be obvious to everyone around them for a very long time."

What "shared cultural foundation"? Playing on the playground for fifteen minutes a day? Eating lunch with same-age peers most likely from your own neighborhood? Sitting in class, mostly (with a few exceptions) not talking to each other but listening to the same teacher(s)? Hmmmmmm. Not my idea of an enriching social environment, but to each his/her own.

Isn't freedom great?!

8:30 AM  
Blogger Sparkles Anon! said...

Yeah, having had cousins who were homeschooled and also living in an area where lots of kids were homeschooled up until high school, I can say - affirmatively, authoritatively - that homeschooled kids are just total social freaks.

So was I, mind you, but they were just off the charts altogether.

11:18 PM  

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