Monday, July 2, 2012

Home-schooling in the modern world: Success of home-schooled children

By Shaunti Feldhahn Syndicated Columnist

Like many critics, I used to feel vaguely sorry for home-schooled kids. What a shame, I thought, that they might be deprived of the well-rounded education and social skills to become integrated, productive members of society. I never thought to question why cafeteria food fights or the predatory pack habits of teenage girls would be better for molding productive members of society.

This uninformed, critical opinion lasted precisely until I met my first home-schooled children several years ago. Within one month I met five home-schooling families, and their 13 children were among the most polite, well-adjusted, socially adept and academically advanced kids I'd ever seen. Being home-educated seemed to have given them a confidence and maturity — and yes, social skill — far beyond their years. They had many friends, but didn't seem dependent on their peers for approval — a far cry from what I remember as a kid.

I've since learned that these kids were not the home-schooling exception but the rule, which makes me wonder how anyone could look at the data and say it deprives kids of anything. In a landmark study by Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, among 7,000 young adults who had been home-schooled, 74 percent had attained some college courses, compared with just 46 percent of other young adults — and 82 percent said they would home-school their own kids. On the social front, almost twice as many home-schooled adults as those in the general population were active in their community (71 percent to 37 percent) and "very happy" with life (59 percent to 28 percent).

In 1998, a Home School Legal Defense Association's study of 20,760 home-school students found that: "In every subject and at every grade level (on standardized tests), home-school students scored significantly higher than their public and private school counterparts." Younger home-schoolers performed one grade level higher than their public and private school counterparts, and by eighth grade, "the average home-school student performs four grade levels above the national average."

Obviously, home education doesn't fit every family. But the evidence makes me think it's the kids who aren't home-schooled who may be missing out, not the other way around.

A recent article in the New York Times "Home Schoolers Do Not Just Stay Home" gives a picture of what modern home schooling looks like in practice, and how museums across the USA have developed programs for home schoolers.
This Infographic on the realties of home schooling can be viewed here:

The Home Advantage Infographic can be viewed here:


Anonymous said...

If you call that scinetific evidens of anything, it only proves too well that homeschoolers are NOT qualified as teachers, and need to be educated themselves!

Just the fact that you start your post with a false dichotomy makes it hard to take you seriosly.

SwedeLife said...

I truly thank you for dialoguing about this, your words illustrate the very typically Swedish response to this...To get kind of mean and attacking and close up to new ideas is the dark side of the lagom, of the sameness of Sweden. This is how Swedes keep people in line, how individualism is squelched. You seem to be certain of your position, based on uninformed opinion, and show a lack of curiosity. You seem to have not gone to the list of links I gave you in response to the first comment you made on my blog.

As far as this post goes, it is interesting you are so strong in your ridicule. The opening text is an opinion piece from the Seattle Times Newspaper (see the by line, the title is a link). She refers to this article:

And as far as evidence goes, the infographics are based on published peer reviewed studies, there are also links to that research in the first response I gave you which you seem to have not followed the links...

Demographics of home schoolers in USA

Standardized Test Results from Home School Students
Performance of Home Schooling Students

Bibliography of More Home School Articles

The evidence is home schooled students perform better than school attending students. So we know home schooling kids are doing well socially and academically across the board, and that it is the right of the family to choose how the children are educated.

The burden of proof should be on those who wish to forbid a human right, not on those who wish to exercise them. If a country wants to take away the right of the family to home school, they should show why it is not good for the child in that circumstance.
Free societies do not prohibit someone from exercising a human right on the grounds they *might* abuse it.

Instead, they deal with people who abuse the right. In the USA where there are over 2 million home schoolers, the education is monitored by having a teacher from the school district who reviews their portfolio of work every year.

Social services deals with issues of isolation or neglect. There are measures in place to protect children in society. Child abuse is child abuse and should be stopped, but home schooling is a separate issue all together and one should not try to stop child abuse by forbidding home schooling- they are two different issues.

There are many reasons to home school, and I suspect you have not taken the time to look at the links I gave you in response to the first comment you left on my blog. The variety of home schoolers and the reasons they home school are best represented by the families themselves, there is no typical home schooling family. People choose this for many reasons, but in the end it is because they are committed to their children's education, have to believe that is the best scenario for their individual circumstance, and because they enjoy it.

If someone wants to stop them, they need to show with solid peer review evidence why they should be forbidden their rights.

You may not want to or need to home school, but some other people in Sweden, for a variety of reasons need to or want to and are being forced to leave the country to do so. About 15 families, a total of about 75 people, have moved from Sweden to Åland this year in response to Sweden outlawing homeschooling.

This should bring shame to Sweden, that it's citizens must flee to be able to excerise a basic human right.

A German family won political asylum in the USA because of Germany's policy on home schooling.

Annika said...

Dear SwedeLife,

I think you misunderstand what the Swedish society/state wants early childhood education to accomplish:
1. to integrate the children into a Swedish normative system (this can´t be measured by annual reviews as culture is an intangible).
2. to make sure that the child is able to negotiate a Swedish collective (i.e. a large group other Swedish peers, however mean and uncontrolled).

This is a (somewhat) benevolent method of social engineering coming out of the 1940s and 1950s Folkhemmet idea. It was carried through with more carrots than sticks, i.e. "this is the best for your children," wellfunded daycare and schools.

I also think there´s a cultural difference in what many Americans consider a successful and welladjusted child and what Swedes consider one. In Sweden that child is not welladjusted and successful unless it learns to negotiate the collective (regardless of whether it is happy, engaged and very academically advanced). Individualism, as I am sure you already know, is not highly praised. If your individualism makes you grate against the collective, then you are the problem...

I am a Swede who´s lived in the United States for the better part of 15 years. I was also very unsuccessful at integrating into the Swedish educational system even though I attended it from age 3 to 18. On the other hand, I do have some hesitations about homeschooling becoming widespread but won´t get into those here. I am just fascinated by the controversy you are creating and wanted to share my observations on the ideological foundation of the Swedish notion of childhood that you are up against (an interesting read in this regards is also Ellen Key´s the Century of the Child).

Anyway, best of luck taking on the norm and in finding the best possible way to raise and educate your children!