Homeschooling has had a pretty consistent reputation over the years. The entertainment world has sold us on a picture of macrame and totalistic ideologies. For example, the opening sequence to the film Mean Girls would have you believe there are few paths that end in homeschooling, and decidedly all lead to the socially awkward.
Alternatively, let’s consider the school system. With serious underfunding issues and skyrocketing class sizes; a system where passionate teachers are practically being muscled out, It’s no wonder homeschooling has increased by a staggering 61% in just a decade. Parents are unlocking a new world of education. Could there be something to this homeschooling thing after all?
The following are three disadvantages and three advantages of homeschooling.
Home truth (the cons)
The ultimate echochamber
According to a government report released this year, only a quarter of parents take any prep before homeschooling their children. The legislation on homeschooling differs so dramatically from state to state, and case to case making it extremely difficult for any sense of community between peers. A homeschooling environment not only deprives a child of a holistic education, but breeds an environment for potential abuse of power. In contrast, a school is a place where a child’s views are challenged by different personalities, points of views and ways of life. They also have access to nurses and counselors. When a child attends a traditional school they are exposed to socialisation. This is as imperative in early childhood as it is in adolescence, and the effects carry through to adulthood.
For many families the question of education is limited to most accessible and most affordable. For homeschooling to work, at least one parent is typically playing an active role in the education process. This means planning and execution. At the very most a tutor can be brought in, meaning adding a salary. Ultimately, Homeschooling means giving up an income. Homeschooling does not come with scholarships or donors. With nearly half the families in the US live 250% below the poverty line, is homeschooling just another privilege keeping the educated, educated, and the working class, struggling?
Homeschooling sets unnecessary hurdles
The GED, or high school equivalency are tests that demonstrate that the level of knowledge obtained by a student is that of a high school graduate. GED is the most common standardized test for a homeschooler. And although it is easily accessible, The GED barely gets you through the first hoop to employment. Jobs requiring a GED alone will keep your child at minimum wage with little room for growth. Colleges and employers, not only value accredited diplomas, but also extracurriculars. Students who have participated in internships have a hiring advantage of 75% and a higher salary on average by 31%. Navigating the job market is a daunting task at the best of times. Isn’t every parent's mission to prepare their children for the great big world?
There’s no place like home (the pros)
Active members of the community
Homeschooling as an education practice builds itself on the values of family, community and involvement. Homeschooling methods, are highly adaptable and grow as their surroundings do. Homeschooled children are rarely in one on one situations, rather participating as active members of their community. Every day is a possible field trip, a lesson to learn, no matter the size of the community. A rural student, and an urban student both have the advantage of seeing the consequences of their actions as the world around them changes.
Fostering academic curiosity through role-modeling
By taking on homeschooling you are role-modeling for your child the ideals of personal responsibility and a strong sense of identity. Children develop a sense of agency about their learning, and its trajectory, when they feel their role in it. Homeschooled kids are hardly limited on options. 74% of homeschoolers go on to tertiary education, with a college graduation rate of 66.7% over traditional schools rate of 57.5%. Education could be about seizing opportunity. The school culture breeds an atmosphere of competitive achievement. Kids become focused on ‘winning’ rather than learning. Knowledge is not something to be memorized, but rather to be discovered.
A sound investment
With homeschooling the output matches the input, no matter the family situation. Your child’s education is in your hands and within your resources. Research shows that family income has little to no influence on their ability to successfully homeschool. Public schools, on the other hand, receive funding according to district. This means students education is staggered depending on their financial situation. Consider the reality of public school: The extracurricular activities after an 8 hour day inside, tutors - to help keep your child’s head above water in a competitive environment, and whatever laptop and accessory the school deems mandatory. With public schools choking under shrinking budget and often misappropriated funds, it’s hard to face copping the hidden costs of public education.
What worked once may not be working any longer. Homeschooling takes a great deal of commitment, personally and legislatively. Are we moving towards a future of educational pioneers or should we leave the educating to the classroom?
This article originally appeared on The Perspective, where you can explore two sides of current events, historic and classic debates. The award-winning site employs design and psychology to make it easier to consider ideas that are different from your own.