Friday, March 30, 2007

Faith fuels home education boom

I just read this post BBC NEWS - Faith fuels home education boom and figured this would be a good time to get my opinion out on the matter of Faith based Home Schooling.

First, let me explain my background in education. Kindergarten to 7th grade I was in public schools. When 8th grade rolled around my parents had become engulfed into the religious dogma of Pentecostal Christianity at an Assembly of Free Worship Church. For those unfamiliar, this type of church is simply one that does not want to participate with the Assemblies of God's. They hold the same core beliefs, it's mainly just a matter of politics, etc.. Anyway, since we attended this church and the church decided to open a private school it should come as no surprise that my parents quickly decided this would be a better environment in witch to raise their children. So, from 8th grade - 11th grade was spent attending said private school. Finally, to conclude my christian education my senior year was spent as a home schooled student of Victory Christian Academy. Both in the private school, and in my final year of school I was taught based on the ACE Curriculum. Personally, I liked the curriculum itself, and for self motivating students that can think for themselves I think it's a great curriculum. Of course there are things I think now that would make it more effective like removing all the scripture memorization and removing the bogus Science information about creationism. However, I can identify with this 13yrd student and the comments he made below.

Quoting the post on BBC Jake says the following:

"I like the flexibility. If an opportunity to play tennis or anything else pops up I can do it and just make up the schoolwork later. "
I said the exact same thing, the problem is it's pretty much bullshit that is drilled into the child's head by the parents in order to justify what they are doing. How can I say this, because I said the exact same things. I tried to justify my senior year of being home schooled because I was able to work during the day and still have my nights to hang out with friends or go to church of course. Another issue is what fun is it to be able to go play tennis, the movies, or anything else that "Pops" up if most kids your age are still in school? Let me tell you from personal experience, It's NOT! Sure it's enjoyable, but compared to being able to hang out with a variety of children your own age, with different beliefs and different ideas... It really isn't that much fun.

"And with the one-on-one instruction, it seems you can move ahead quicker and be at a higher level of learning."
Oh this is just dumb. One-on-One instruction? In ACE, because of the way it is done there literally is no need for an instructor. It is pretty much a self-based teaching process. This did allow for me personally to move ahead quicker, but I would not consider it a "Higher Level" of learning. I personally knew many students that left private schools and went back to public schools and found themselves grossly behind other kids their own age. I understand that there are other home school systems like Abeka that do require "Instructor" interaction and are not very similar to ACE, but there are many similarities between many of the Home School Curriculum's.

And yes, says Jack, he does socialise with other children.
"I have friends from church, from sports, and I do know other local home school kids."
Socialising with those from church, from the sports you participate in with those from church, and from other local home school kids that most likely attend the same church does not in my opinion qualify as socialising. In my opinion that is like considering your Tuesday night dinner with the in-laws is also a socializing event. To me true socialization occurs when you are in an unusual or new environment with people you either don't know, or don't know well and you can interact with them. Getting to know NEW people, discussing, and learning other points of views.... That's what socializing is to me.

"Our Christian faith is pretty strong and we thought this might be the best way to be able to pass on those values to our son."
At least with this statement they are being completely honest. This is this sole reason they open private schools, and decide to home school. They think the schools are too secular, and they are afraid their kids will learn something before becoming indoctrinated.

"Character is just as important as academics. And so what we're looking for are character training issues and we would rather do that ourselves."
Oddly enough I totally agree, however character can be taught even with a child attending a public school. All it takes is the parent spending that extra time with their kid often.

"I worry about the lack of accountability in homeschooling,"
I do too, back when I was attending... The "Instructors" at the private school were not required to take ANY training at all. All they had to do was simply volunteer for the position. Sometimes they were compensated, other times it was their "Gift" to god. Very scary!

"I worry about the lack of socialisation for youngsters outside of their families."
As I mentioned above, this is in my opinion most defiantly a problem. When you are always taught about the problems with the "Real" world, but you are always "Sheltered" from it... When you are finally forced to be part of that environment it's usually a culture shock. It was for me. It took me years to overcome the fallacies I was taught when i was younger.

"I worry about the access to other kinds of non-academic resources that youngsters have in public schools that you might not have in a homeschooling situation."
I do too! Public schools systems have the infrastructure in place and have more resources. There are simply more people that do attend public schools.

In conclusion let me state that there are situations when Home schooling is appropriate, but when you have the option of letting you child attend a public school please don't deprive you child simply based on your beliefs. Teach you child your values and beliefs at home. Your child will appreciate it when they are older. I sure wish I would have been allowed to graduate with the 100's of others that where in my class. I might seem a bit bitter towards my education in my younger years, and that would be because I AM! It took me till I was in my late 20's to learn about things that many knew back in high school it was very frustrating.


Sandy Westermann said...

Thank you for your post on Christian homeschooling. I am a Christian homeschooler and I see you have stereotyped me already. Nevertheless, you and I agree on many points. I have often told people that "shelter" their kids from this or that and "pretend" it doesn't exist in the name of their beliefs IS JUST AS DANGEROUS as living next to a lake with children who cannot swim and pretending water does not exist. Anyway, I thank you for your post as it was a refreshing reminder that rules and academics are to be prioritized LOWER than relationships. I am truly sorry that your teen years were so unpleasant.

Robert said...

While I'm not sure how I have stereotyped you? I attempted to present the subject matter from my perspective, and from my personal experience. In Addition, I did not say my teen years were unpleasant. Simply sheltered too much. At the time I didn’t know any better, it wasn’t until later when I began to truly learn and realized the amount of information I was not exposed to. I'm glad you enjoyed the post Thanks for commenting.

Tammy Takahashi said...

Interesting perspective. Faith based education, in any form, carries with it a lot of baggage. There are even school districts where parents homeschool specifically get away from the faith that is in the public schools.

It seems to me, that there is no perfect childhood. I look back at my public school, non-indoctrinated teen life, and I think of so many things I wish were different. And that was back when the schools were "better" than they are now.

Coming out of teen-hood into adulthood is an eye opener, no matter what. I was in a school with many faiths, and I was certainly not indoctrinated by my parents. But I had very specific ideas of what was "right".

My cousin, on the other hand, who was the daughter of born-again Christian parents - her childhood was waaaaay easier than mine, and she broke away just as I did. We went through the same teenage crap, and as adults, came to pretty much the same conclusions.

I guess what I'm saying is that there is no perfect way to grow up. Parents do the very best they can, and I give Christian families who try really hard to give their children the best childhood (including yours) kudos. It sounds like, for the most part, your childhood was pretty dang good. If all you had to deal with was the realization that there's other religions out there and your parents weren't necessarily right, I'd say you got to a pretty good start :)

I don't think homeschooling is any kind of panacea, nor is private school. But I don't think that the trade-off of what public school provides that the other two options don't, is worth it. At least, not for us. Sure, it might solve some of the problems you mentioned - if we can't make up for them ourselves in a different way. But then there's a whole 'nother set of problems that it does bring.

So, we asked ourselves - which set of problems are we capable and willing to deal with? And which set of "pros" help us out better in the long run? And that's how we came to our decision. It sounds like, to me, that your parents made their own decision based on that too.

That said, articles about "We're homeschooling for religious reasons" drive me nuts. They speak as though these questions are irrelevant. They aren't. The questions you ask and the doubts you pose are important, and demand real answers, not just "well, everything is dandy, leave us alone." But, it's so easy to just point at religion and say, "don't question" - and that's what bothers me about it all - don't question.

Too damn bad that people ask questions about homeschooling - answer them. Take them seriously. I don't agree with your perspective on education, but I think your questions are good, and worth talking about.

Robert said...

Thanks for your comment and your viewpoint, it is very much appreciated. You hit the nail on the head with that statement "But, it's so easy to just point at religion and say, "don't question" - and that's what bothers me about it all - don't question." This was one of my biggest issues in during my private/home schooling years... Of course this is what has brought me to where I am today... because I Do question, and continue to do so.. I've never been exposed to or noticed any other form of home schooling other than ones in the form of a religious organization... I'm making a note to research into that more.. Thanks again for the comment :)