Oct 11th 2008, 12:52 AM
Recently, my professor posted a blog entry about homeschooling. I know a lot of you here homeschool, and I was wondering what you thought of his evaluation.
Please bear in mind that this man has multiple master's level degrees and professor of educational ministries at a Bible college. While you're welcome to disagree with him, please do so respectfully.
The link to his article is here: http://www.xanga.com/theplymothian/672063950/letter-to-pastor-dean.html
I think it would be cool if you posted here about what you thought.
Oct 11th 2008, 02:56 PM
Hi, Chimon! I'll do my best to address some of the issues that are brought up by your professor.
I see his post as bringing up three different issues: one, the "clique" mentality of homeschooling mothers who are trying to raise godly children; two, the need for our children to be "salt and light" to the world; and three, the academic highs and lows of homeschoolers testing to enter junior high. I'll take each of these points and discuss them individually...
First of all, I agree that there can be an "elitist" attitude among some homeschoolers; I have seen it, and I dislike it! We had a long thread here regarding this issue several months ago. However, I believe the examples he is giving about women discussing how to raise their families and neglecting the single mother/barren woman from their midst, may not be terribly fair or accurate. First of all, women have a mandate from Scripture to encourage each other in loving their children!
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior...so that they may encourage the young women to love their hubands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." Titus 2:3-5
If women are discussing among themselves ways to be better wives or mothers, there is nothing at all wrong with that. If they are neglecting encouraging their sisters who are single mothers or unable to have children, or trying to lord it over them, of course that would be terribly wrong! But for this to happen:
There is a subculture that runs women's meetings at 10:00 a.m. and talks incessantly about family.
is not wrong! And, in most churches I know, all women are invited to women's Bible studies, and many of those churches have evening meetings so all women (working women, non-homeschoolers, single women, single mothers, etc.) can be there.
Do you think there is a "subculture" of professors getting together and discussing classroom situations and how best to manage them, that excludes students, or the uneducated person off the street? Would that be considered "unChristlike"? I don't see this as being any different than women meeting to discuss family issues, or people of any other "profession" meeting to discuss matters of interest or importance to them.
Secondly, I'll address the issue of our children being "salt and light" in the schools and the world. I absolutely agree that Christians are called to be a witness to the world! But I see things very differently with children...we are told as parents to "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord"...and "teach (these words of Mine) to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up". There is a responsibility of protection and training given to parents--not the government--for their children's education. It is not "fear" that causes us to keep our children at home...it is faith, even though the professor doesn't see that. Yes, we have a desire to keep our children from ungodly influences...bad company corrupts good morals, as I'm sure you know...but for most of us, it is not a knee-jerk reaction out of fear. Now, I will also say that is not true of all homeschoolers; I, myself, had a time of fear-motivated homeschooling, and parenting in general. But after 15 years, my primary motivations have changed...and, for vast numbers of homeschoolers, their primary motivations have little or nothing to do with fear. They may be motivated by a desire for academic excellence for their children, with the advantages of a one-on-one (or one-on-a-few :D) teaching relationship; they may be motivated by a desire to base their children's education on the word of God rather than ungodly, humanistic curricula chosen by others (can you imagine the Hebrews sending their children to the Philistines for their education?); they may be motivated by a desire to spend time with their children during the fleeting years they have the privelige of having some oversight in their lives.
Your professor is right that homeschooling can fail to prepare a child to be salt and light as they get older, but it can also be very, very effective in doing just that, by giving a strong foundation of faith. How many Christian kids are lost by the time they graduate high school, or, worse yet, college, because their faith was not grounded? What is the "rate" at which public educated children walk away from God? If the professor were right, and Christian students were doing much better in the public school systems than outside of it (and, because of this, able to lead many souls to Christ) I would find myself agreeing with him. But homeschoolers are no weaklings when it comes to their faith, not if it's "done" correctly. They're used to going against the flow, to engaging in conversations with people of all ages, races, and religions, to studying worldviews with an eye to God's worldview, and being able to defend that to others, and to coherently present the gospel to neighborhood friends, relatives, those they come in contact with at the ice skating rink or the library. If a high schooler who is well grounded in his faith desires to enter the public school system in order to lead others to Christ, then I would have no problem with that. But I wouldn't choose to put my six-year-old or 10-year-old in school simply to allow them to be salt and light...more often than not it works the other way.
I want to address the third issue, that of academic excellence, but I need to run for now! I also have a few personal thoughts to share on the issue, but that will have to wait until I have a chance. Thanks, though, for bringing this up, and giving us an opportunity to address your professor's comments!
Oct 11th 2008, 08:18 PM
Hi again...I'll try to finish up on that last point now. I think, though, that this is your professor's weakest argument, as homeschoolers are almost always way above public schoolers in national testing. Here's a quote from the Home School Legal Defense website:
1. In 1997, a study of 5,402 homeschool students from 1,657 families was released. It was entitled, "Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America." The study demonstrated that homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects. A significant finding when analyzing the data for 8th graders was the evidence that homeschoolers who are homeschooled two or more years score substantially higher than students who have been homeschooled one year or less. The new homeschoolers were scoring on the average in the 59th percentile compared to students homeschooled the last two or more years who scored between 86th and 92nd percentile. i (http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp#i)
This was confirmed in another study by Dr. Lawrence Rudner of 20,760 homeschooled students which found the homeschoolers who have homeschooled all their school aged years had the highest academic achievement. This was especially apparent in the higher grades. ii (http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp#ii) This is a good encouragement to families catch the long-range vision and homeschool through high school.
Another important finding of Strengths of Their Own was that the race of the student does not make any difference. There was no significant difference between minority and white homeschooled students. For example, in grades K-12, both white and minority students scored, on the average, in the 87th percentile. In math, whites scored in the 82nd percentile while minorities scored in the 77th percentile. In the public schools, however, there is a sharp contrast. White public school eighth grade students, nationally scored the 58th percentile in math and the 57th percentile in reading. Black eighth grade students, on the other hand, scored on the average at the 24th percentile in math and the 28th percentile in reading. Hispanics scored at the 29th percentile in math and the 28th percentile in reading.
This and many, many more studies are quoted here: http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp
While I do not believe that standardized testing is a fully accurate picture of a child's education, here is a link to a table showing composite and sub-test national scores from the Rudner study; sorry, I tried to paste the table, but couldn't get it to line up properly. This link will show not only the test scoring, but many statistics regarding demographics in their study:
And here is a quote that followed Table 3.3, the one I tried to copy here:
It is readily apparent from Table 3.3 that the median scores for home school students are well above their public/private school counterparts in every subject and in every grade. The corresponding percentiles range from the 62nd to the 91st percentile; most percentiles are between the 75th and the 85th percentile. The lowest percentiles are in Mathematics Total with Computation subtest (labeled Math in the tables); the highest in Reading Total. While the grade-to-grade increase in national medians is 13 DSS points in the lower grades, the annual increase for home school students is about 16 points. These are exceptional scores and exceptional grade-to-grade gains
Unfortunately, I believe your professor is basing much of his opinion regarding the academic effectiveness of homeschooling based on his own observances, which are not really in line with national averages. He stated:
What I have seen in Christian schooling is an influx of homeschooled children who test with peaks and troughs. Their scores peak in reading and social studies, frequently. The scores trough in mathematics, spelling, and science.
While it is true according to the above statistics that homeschoolers test better in reading than math, they are still above the national average in both...and I, for one, don't think that having high reading scores is necessarily a bad thing!
Both of the above quotes are from studies done in the last decade; however, this quote is from a current article in the Academic Leadership Journal:
The home educated in grades K to 12 have scored, on average, at the 65th to 80th percentile on standardized academic achievement tests in the United States and Canada, compared to the public school average of the 50th percentile. In order to lend some control to the aspect of students’ background demographics, researchers have explored and found that children in homeschool families with low income and in which the parents have little education are also scoring, on average, above state-school averages (Ray, 2000a, 2005; Rudner, 1999). In addition, studies have shown that whether the parents have ever been certified teachers has a weak or no relationship to their children’s academic achievement.
A few studies have addressed the performance of homeschool students on measures of academic aptitude (e.g., for success in college) or those that mix aptitude and achievement. For example, Belfield (2005) found the homeschooled to have SAT college-admission scores higher than private-religious school and public-school students but lower than private-independent school students. After controlling for certain background variables, however, he found that “… the predicted SAT-total scores for home-schoolers and private-independent school students converge toward the mean: the home-school premium over private-religious school students falls almost to zero” (p. 174). Belfield concluded the following: “So far at least, the results do not indicate home-schoolers are at a disadvantage” (p. 174).
This full article can be found here: http://www.academicleadership.org/emprical_research/State_Regulation_of_Homeschooling_and_Homeschooler s_SAT_Scores.shtml
Regarding this statement:
A teacher who can encourage thinking beyond a text is more in line with the Rabbi Himself. Christ not only lectured his disciples, he sent them on 'field trips' without him, he quizzed them, he gave them hands on learning experiences.
This is one of homeschooling's strong points! Can a class studying American History take a vacation to Colonial Williamsburg when it may be several hundred miles away? How about hands-on practice making a four course meal for 20 people? Or deciding, without weeks of planning, to take a trip to the mountains to hear the elk bugle, with an impromptu lesson on elk? If anyone can help a child learn "outside the box", it's a homeschooling parent...we are the first to see our child take an interest in a topic we're studying, and the best to encourage them to dig deeper, maybe becoming an expert on the subject at hand. That's called "delight-directed learning", a common phrase among homeschoolers. In addition, homeschoolers try to teach their children how to learn independently, how to look up information for themselves, rather than always getting it from a textbook or a lecture. We like to think of ourselves as facilitators of our children's learning...if they want (or need) to tackle a subject that we cannot teach, then we find a resource where they can learn for themselves. For example, my 14yo daughter is gifted in piano playing...I have absolutely no musical ability. She is excelling in private piano lessons, and I hope to enroll her next year in the local community college's dual enrollment program for music, which allows high schoolers to pursue college credits while completing their high school diploma. If I could not afford private lessons, there are still ways, such as homeschool co-ops, or even friends who are willing to tutor in a subject. There are so many resources for today's homeschooler! This quote by your professor seems to imply that we are not well-educated enough to teach our children...I guess I would have to disagree, and also point out that I may not want my children to model themselves after their teachers!
The pupil frequently models themselves after the teacher and if the teacher is lacking the pupil will lack in those areas of weakness all the more.
Well, I'll get off my soapbox; I hope you have found this to be respectful enough. As I'm sure you can tell, I am an enthusiastic homeschooler! But I do not mean to imply, by any of my responses here, that I am a better parent, or that my children are better than anyone else's. Please don't misunderstand...while I homeschool for all of the reasons I listed in the last post, plus a few more, I still do not consider homeschooling a moral choice. It works for our family...we have made some big mistakes, and have learned a lot about ourselves and our children through the last 15 years (with several years to go!), but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am very thankful that I have the legal right to homeschool in Colorado, and I am also very thankful to have the time and ability to homeschool. I don't take it for granted! But I am also thankful that my girls have the chance to be homeschooled...to spend time as a family...to have that hour a day for piano practice... to sit down and have a Bible study in the middle of the day when a question comes up that needs to be addressed with Scripture...to have time to train horses and dogs...to volunteer for community service...to spend a couple of hours ice skating at the local rink...to learn at their own pace...to sit and play chess or backgammon with their father...to read their history books curled up by the wood stove...to take a day off and go to the mountains...to study the purpose and design of the various aspects of the human body rather than only the mechanics, with no Designer credited or implied...to jump on the tractor with Dad, or help him throw hay bales in the truck...to be able to run outside when the first snow of the season begins to fall, so they can catch snowflakes on their tongues...in short, to grow up learning and discovering life around them, to pursue their interests, and to have family memories that will last a lifetime.
Homeschooling is a personal choice, in our country. Not all homeschoolers do it "well", and not all homeschooled students are academically advanced, or perfectly socialized, or strong in their faith. But that holds true for every segment of society, homeschooled or not...we all are imperfect parents, our children are imperfect, and we live in a fallen world. But as a personal choice, I find so many advantages to homeschooling, and I love it!
Again, thanks for bringing up the topic, Chimon, and blessings to you today!