Sunday, January 25, 2009

Homeschooling Essay: Part 2

Part 2 of "Home Schooling Benefits and Stereotyping"

Although an anti-homeschooler might come to light on what the benefits of home schooling are, there is still much stereotyping that people cannot seem to get past in order to accept home schooling as being a successful means for education. Dr. Ray put it wonderfully in his article “Homeschoolers on to College: What Research Shows Us.” He states, “Recognize that you may hold biases and prejudices you do not recognize. After all, about five American generations have been attending age-segregated, institutional places of learning for 12 years of our lives…” Ray concludes that the very persons reading his article probably have spent 16 years in public institutions (Ray 2004). He is right on target because, in general, people do not like things they are unfamiliar with. If it is different, then the people who practice it must be different, leading to negative stereotypes.

One common stereotype is that children who are home schooled are unsocialized. If being socialized means that one must spend seven hours a day with twenty-five other students at his or her same maturity level, then I would say, yes, home schooled children are unsocialized, but that’s not what that “unsocialized” means. In fact, what age group one socializes with is irrelevant in determining if one is socialized or not. Home schooling children tend to spend more time with people of all different ages. Patricia Lines states that most participate in church groups, clubs, and associations. Many volunteer within their communities. Lines also includes that parents who home school their children are very involved in politics, volunteering, and attending public meetings and events (Lines 2001). Linda Montgomery (1989) adds in Ray’s article that home schoolers are also involved in music lessons, sports, jobs, and other activities. She feels that home schooling nurtures leadership just as well, if not better, than the conventional system, that being public schooling (Ray 2004).

Home schoolers not only face the stereotype of being unsocialized, but also face the question “are you really educated?” Many people believe that a student not taught by a college graduate cannot be successful academically. Researches show that children in home school families with low income and with parents with little education, on average score higher than state-school averages (Ray 2000, 2004). Keeping in mind that state-schools are being taught by professionals, and home school students are often not taught by professionals, the results from this study go against the belief that students educated by their low-educated parents are set up for failure.

Not only did these researchers find results defying the stereotype, but ACT and SAT scores also illustrated these same results defying the stereotype. A study done by researchers Galloway (1998), Gray (1998), and Jenkins (1998) found that the average first-year GPAs, credits earned in the first year, ACT Composite test scores, and ACT English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science and Reasoning test scores were all higher than traditional high school graduates (Jones and Gloeckner, 2004). The three studies also found that those educated at home performed as well or better than institutional-school graduates at college level. As it turns out, studies actually prove those who oppose home schooling based on academic concerns are wrong.

Now that we have established that home schooled students perform just as well as traditionally schooled students academically, what about the stereotype that home schoolers are emotionally unsound. Numerous studies show that home schooled students are developing very well emotionally and psychologically. The idea that home schooled students are weird is often wrongly prejudging a home schooled student. If one is said to be weird, who is he or she being compared to that makes them weird? After all, what one person thinks is normal, another thinks is weird and vise versa. In our country, we encourage children to be themselves, yet when it comes to home schooling we automatically want to isolate them and say, “Oh that’s right, you were home schooled.”

Meredith, a 14-year old in Susannah Sheffer’s (1995) study, as reported by Ray (2004) said:

I was worried that I would become a typical teenager if I went to school,” and “I think
that people would have seen school as an opportunity for me to ‘be like everyone else.’
But I didn’t want to be like everybody else. (p. 7)


For the most part, home schooling students do have self-confidence and the desire to strive to develop and grow as a person. J. Gary Knowles found that adults that were home-educated tended to be involved in entrepreneurial and professional businesses. The home schooling students he studied were very independent and strongly emphasized the importance of family life (Ray 2004). There is so much concern with whether or not students who are home schooled can actually take on the real world. Responsibility often comes from being around the home and taking on personal responsibilities that are necessary in keeping a home functioning properly.

To say that all home schoolers will fall short academically, socially, emotionally and psychologically, is quite arbitrary. With the growing number of students being home-educated, it is very important for people to stop prejudging home schooled students and look at the facts. Fighting the stereotypes of home schoolers should constantly be on the minds of parents who home school. Parents need to nurture and grow their children into self-confident individuals with values that are important to them. To home school a child means that one gets to work closely with his or her child and watch them grow, learn, and develop into a wonderful contribution to this world. Home schooling a child also means being set apart and often ridiculed. However, to see the “ah-ha” effect on your child’s face, and to see that they “get” something and they will grow from that, is very rewarding. The benefits are numerous, but to see those benefits, the stereotypes must be eliminated.



Bibliography*
Ensigh, Jacque (April 1998). Defying the Stereotypes of Special Education: Homeschool
Students. Southern Connecticut University: American Educational Research Association, 4-8

Jones, Dr. Paul and Gloeckener, Dr. Gene (Spring 2004). First-Year College Performance: A
Study of Home School Graduates and Traditional School Graduates. The Journal of College
and Admission, 17-19.

Lines, Patricia M. (2001). Homeschooling. Eric Development Team, 1-7. Eugene, OR: Eric
Clearinghouse on Educational Management.

Ray, Dr. Brian D. (Fall 2004). Homeschoolers Onto College: What Research Shows Us. The
Journal of College Admission, 5-10.

Please excuse my Bibliography formatting, it's hard to fix in Blogger :D

3 comments:

Christa said...

We are thinking about homeschooling next year so I am finding this article to be both helpful and encouraging. We have not yet publically announced our decision since we are not sure yet, but I do anticipate some negative reactions from family and friends. Those reactions and the stereotypes are the very things that make me second guess the decision. I think that most parents truly have at the center of their heart a desire to do what is right for our children, we just hold different values and go about achieving those values in different ways. Thanks, for sharing this.

Melissa said...

Christa,

I'm so glad to hear that you are thinking about homeschooling. I can completely understand that you are being careful not to share you thoughts with family and friends because you have to be ready for some negative feedback.

I think a lot of the problem is that people just don't understand anything about it. I think they base their views off of stereotypes. I'm sure they might know of some bad examples of homeschooling too.

You are right, your average parents does have their children's best interest in mind....and that may be homeschooling for a lot of parents.

As Danita commented in Part 1, for her son, it was best for him to be out of a public institution and to be taught at home. I would encourage you to read her comment. She brings about some interesting points because she has been there.

Also, the great thing about blogging is that you've got some great homeschooling parents at your finger tips, who I'm sure would be happy to talk to you about it. It would be helpful to have a group of mothers behind you who have been there...and know what ridicule you might be under. There is also a lot of resources available to you via the web so you can really do research and know just where to start.

Thank you for commenting. I will pray that God would show His will to you.

Melissa :D

Katie said...

Just hopped over from the blog, "Beautifully Imperfect" and glad I did.

As I wait for my first baby to come in the next couple weeks I am already thinking about what direction her schooling will take. I much appreciate your sharing what you have learned on the subject of homeschooling.

Also, I read your bit about being "skinny" and have to say its nice to know I'm not alone in the frustrations. I know that many people who appear skinny can be harboring dangerous fatty tissue around their organs particularly the heart. Women need to be especially careful no matter their outer appearance because our risk of death from a first heart attack is significantly higher than it is for men. I much appreciate your candid sharing on the subject of being skinny.