School: where parents come and drop their children off to be formally educated in an environment shared with other kids in the hopes that they will grow into wealthy, successful people with upstanding character and staunch principles, marked by a balance of interpersonal skills and independence. This is the traditional conception of education that everyone believes in—because it works!
Well… almost everyone does. While the traditional school does, indeed, have its own merits, it also carries its own drawbacks: cases of bullying, classroom discrimination, judgmentalism, even mass shootings—these are just some of many common negative occurrences that occur within school walls. Some parents pass these off as opportunities for their children to build character. Others see this as a reason why they have to take them off regular schooling and put them into homeschooling.
In a recent report by the US Department of Education, there are currently 2.3 million students who undergo home education, indicating that homeschooling is a growing trend for the US education system that could really use some improvement. Nowadays, however, the mention of “homeschool” spawns some mixed thoughts:
“That kid is being homeschooled? Poor kid, missing out on life!”
“Her parents must be overprotective.”
“Does he have any friends?”
But what really are the things that happen in homeschool? More importantly, is it better than traditional schooling?
The most important factor to consider when it comes to students who do homeschooling: the parents who put them there in the first place.
One of the thoughts above is not really too far off. Some parents seem like they just want to put a full set of iron armor around their children. In a report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) on the school year 2011 to 2012 about homeschooling in the United States, 91% of homeschooled children had parents who put them through that education out of “concern about the environment of other schools.” What do they mean, exactly?
“We do not want our precious angels to be corrupted!”
This is truly an indication of protective parents.
Or, rather, are they overprotective parents? Do they so much want to keep their children protected that they keep a watchful eye on everything about them, including education. Such a behavior would be called “helicopter parenting” which, in the long run, can be detrimental to the children’s holistic growth. However, it would be unfair on the part of some parents to be accused of behaving that way.
While traditional schools follow a standardized curriculum set by the state, each school varies on how it actually performs—and each varies wildly. Many factors come into play:
- Teachers - some are so good, they could do TED talks; others quiz the students on lessons they barely taught.
- Other students - some can make genuinely good friends; others make a living off tormenting their classmates.
- Venue - some classrooms breathe life and motivation to the students; others breathe CO2 and pollution into them.
- The system of the school itself - the zero-tolerance policy helps bully victims by punishing bullies.
- Some number of uncontrollable elements - weather, incidents, traffic, and other occurrences that could hinder the protective capabilities and quality of education of the school.
It is the obligation of schools to ensure the protection of the child, but they cannot guarantee 100% protection—and some parents want that 100% protection. Although such factors can be seen as an avenue for growth for children to adapt to challenges and change, the results vary. Some children turn out to be strong adults in the future, which is the supposed ideal. Others become rebellious, rowdy, and unscrupulous: the fear of many parents.
One thing is sure about traditional schools: they are meritocratic by nature. Students who perform well are given awards and recognition, while students who lag behind are not given the same attention. It is a “the rich get richer, while the poor get poorer” kind of situation: smart kids get smarter while lagging students lag even more.
This is a clear inequality, and its fruits tell much of the tale: some graduate with knowledge that can help find the cure for cancer, while some only remember that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. How could parents rely on schools that would prioritize other children over their own?
Parents want the best for their children, and some of them see traditional schools as an uncontrollable environment that could lead their kids astray. Hence, they take them to homeschool: safe, controlled, and supervised by them. Results may vary in traditional schools? How about guaranteed results? A fairer assessment of parents who put their children into homeschooling would be that they love them.
The ones who experience the full force of homeschooling: the students themselves. Amid their parents’ love for them, are they growing the way they need to?
The primary concern about homeschooled students always seems to be the apparent lack of opportunities for them to socialize and make friends. Traditional schools, though in a somewhat forceful manner, allow multiple students to socialize with each other. They also make their students group together to finish a particular requirements. While many homeschooling institutions offer programs that allow students to interact with each other for a requirement, the main focus is always on the education of individual students.
Definitely, homeschooled students are not literally locked away from society. The only thing in isolation is their education. However, the apparent lack of group requirements is a genuinely disturbing concern. The nature of such requirements allow students to foster teamwork, leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills.
This is especially the case when it comes to homeschooling in the United States, a country where social connections are important. Would homeschooled students suffer from social awkwardness and an undergrown ability to talk to other people?
Surprisingly: no, not at all. Studies show that homeschooled children do not match their traditionally schooled counterparts when it comes to socialization and friendships—they are often better at it than them. As it stands, there does not seem to be any concrete issue when it comes to this area. Homeschooled students are so well-off in sociability. Why is this the case?
While traditional schools allow students to interact with each other seamlessly, once again the factors vary greatly. Bullying, social stigma, and other issues in sociability can greatly influence how a student develops. In some unfavorable cases, he would absorb negative characteristics from socializing in a way that the society of the school accepts. Worst case scenario: the student develops social anxiety. Such a big irony—what fosters socialization also discourages some from socializing.
On the other hand, homeschooled children grow, not having experienced social discrimination. Their sociability is not so much undergrown but unhindered. That is why they do better than traditionally schooled children at socializing: they are honest and feel no fear of being embarrassed.
Traditional schooling versus homeschooling
It all boils down to this: which one is better, traditional schooling or homeschooling? The answer is a resounding shrug and “it depends.”
Both have spawned excellent individuals in the past, but both have spawned erring individuals as well. Homeschool sounds like the perfect education plan when it is really not. Like traditional schooling, it also has its own fair share of flaws. There is no perfect education plan that suits everyone.
There is, however, a perfect education for someone, as in the case of Finland's education system. Traditional schools are perfect for some students; homeschool is perfect for some students. Some students find a perfect education plan in something else. The matter of traditional schooling versus homeschooling in the United States is no different.
The most important factor to consider here is that the students concerned should receive the best education that they could ever have the most growth from. Parents must not base their decision of what kind of education their children should receive on what other parents say. They have to base on what they judge is the best for their children.
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