Balancing the Homeschooling and Traditional Education Debate

Course: College Writing                                                                                                         Written: October 19, 2011
Published: January 1, 2017 

© All Rights Reserved

Eye to Eye: Balancing the Homeschooling and Traditional Education Debate

 

  1. Introducing the Dilemma

            An unbalanced educational environment can cause unpreparedness to thrive in the 21st century. In America, homeschooled and traditionally educated children are affected by the current financial crisis. The current unemployment rate is 9.1%. Nancy Farghalli’s highlights the level of American unemployment. She says, “14 million Americans are looking for work (Farghalli).” Not only are unemployment rates affecting employees and companies, they also are affecting students. Although outsourcing is a benefit for companies to increase their productivity and market share, it also increases unemployment. Since many of the unemployed are teachers, students are forced to learn in high student to teacher ratio environments.

            As a result, unemployed home educators may be faced with the dilemma of placing their children in school, as they seek employment. The primary structure of homeschooled families usually consists of one parent as the primary home educator, while the other is the bread winner. Similarly, unemployed home educators experience lack of funds for schooling supplies, mortgage payments, and living expenses. As a whole, unemployment and outsourcing affects the standard of living for both homeschooled and traditionally educated students.

1 a. Financial Crisis: Rising Costs of Goods and Services

            Inflation of goods and services is another factor that impacts students’ unpreparedness to thrive in the 21st century. When prices increase, traditionally educated and homeschooled families have less disposable income for food, gas, school supplies, health care and college tuition. Traditionally educated and homeschooled families may be forced to downsize or receive loans in order to pay for their living expenses. With limited financial aid, both student groups are seeking alternatives to fund college. According to an Annalynn Censky, a writer at CNN Money, “tuition and fees at public universities have surged almost 130% over the last 20 years -- while middle class incomes have stagnated (Censky).” This demonstrates that the middle class is struggling to stay afloat. Inflation is inevitable. Therefore, it affects the disposable income of both homeschooled and traditionally educated families.

1 b. Financial Crisis: Unethical Leaders in Business

            Companies and business leaders have participated in unethical behavior practices. With billions of dollars down the drain, unethical business leaders have left millions of Americans without jobs and capital. For a prime example, business leaders and companies such as Bernard Madoff, Enron, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, have been accused of fraud amongst stakeholders. These forms of unethical behavior have produced macro economy woes such as unemployment, loss of retirement income for families, and loss of shareholder investments. Consequently, unethical practices amongst large firms have influenced our current financial crisis. Therefore, it creates a vicious circle of troubles for homeschooled and traditionally educated families. Furthermore, this demonstrates the missing link in how business leaders have been educated.

  1. Summary of Opposing Views

            There are opposing views of homeschoolers. Opposition of homeschooling believes that homeschoolers are exposed to an unbalanced educational environment and are unprepared to thrive in the 21st century. For homeschoolers, some primary factors that contribute to an unbalanced educational environment include: red flags being smothered, insufficient educational materials, redundant educational curriculums, demographic segmentation interfering with presentation of information, and inadequate socialization.

2 a. Academic & Developmental Red Flags

            Some homeschooled children have learning delays such as dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, autism, hyperactivity, or Sotos, just to name a few. Kidshealh.org explains the affect that learning disabilities can have on a student. They state: “these problems can make it difficult for a student to learn as quickly as someone who isn't affected by learning disabilities (Kids Health ).” At times, these children benefit from a curriculum that is tailored to their specific emotional and learning capabilities because they retain knowledge differently. However, if their needs are not met, their delays can increase or become more prominent. As a result, red flags can be easily disregarded by homeschooled parents. Students with learning disabilities will not thrive in an environment that is not encompassed by skilled educators, an array of curriculum options, and a positively stimulating atmosphere.

2 b. Inadequate and Redundant Educational Materials

            Improper access to a variety of educational materials aligns with an unbalanced educational environment. As the financial crisis affects homeschooled families, some can’t afford to purchase software, musical instruments, or scientific equipment. As students’ grade levels increase, multiple books and materials must be purchased. If students are unable to receive educational materials that are abreast on new learning information, their quality of education is marred and obsolete. In return, they may be unprepared to succeed in the 21st century. Redundancy of educational curriculums can also discourage homeschoolers’ motivation to learn. Learning is engaging when students receive unique views and applied methods for skill mastery. Therefore, inadequate and redundant education curriculums make it difficult for homeschooled students to succeed academically in the 21st century.

2 c. Demographic Segmentation Interfering with Presentation of Information

            Homeschoolers can be characterized in many different demographic segments. Demographics can determine the way information is presented, analyzed, and obtained in a homeschooled environment. Some variables within these categories include religion, age, education, nationality, household size, and income. Variables like religion and income can limit a homeschooler’s access of knowledge. For an example, a Christian homeschooled family may not research Darwinism if their belief system does not support evolution. In addition, a low-income homeschooled family may be unable to supply a variety of educational materials. Consequently, demographic segmentation plays a vital role in homeschoolers’ educational environment.

2 d. Inadequate Socialization

            A homeschooler is usually taught in their home. If they have siblings, they are around them most of the time. They also may be a part of umbrella groups that share a sense of apprenticeship and community. This narrow group of socialization can result to students feeling shy or out of place when interacting with more people. According to an article in CBN News, “92 percent of superintendents believe that home learners are emotionally unstable, deprived of proper social development and too judgmental of the world around them, according to a California study by researcher Dr. Brian Ray (Haverluck ).” This perspective supports the claim that homeschooled students are unprepared for the real world.

  1. Statement of Understanding

            At the same that I give full consideration to the opposition of homeschooling, I also understand that the above factors can contribute to an unbalanced educational environment for homeschoolers and traditionally educated children.

  1. Summary of Personal Position

            In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, a formerly homeschooled student: "to educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." Some people contend that homeschoolers are unprepared to succeed in the 21st century. My own view is that homeschooling provides students with a well-rounded, educational environment. An effective homeschooling environment involves: low student to teacher ratios, individualized attention, strengthening of parent to child relationships, and proper socialization experiences. The curriculum is not limited to academia. Instead, it is a fusion of education, health, career, morality, family, charity, hobby development, and financial literacy.

            Historically, there have been a broad number of presidents, statesmen, scientists, artists, inventors, writers, and business entrepreneurs who were formerly homeschooled. Some formerly homeschooled Presidents include, and are not limited to: John Adams, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George Washington, and Woodrow Wilson. A few other notable formerly homeschooled students include: Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Booker T. Washington, William Blake, Leonardo Da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Dickens, Robert Frost, C.S. Lewis, L. Ron Hubbard, Louis Armstrong, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and The Jonas Brothers. Some may find it surprising to know that the Founders of McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Wendy’s were also former homeschooled students. Adolph Ochs, Founder of New York Times, Soichiro Honda, creator of the Honda automobile company, and Amadeo Gianni, Founder of Bank of America, are also former homeschooled students. As demonstrated, these names have inspired and empowered endless generations. Their efforts have positively impacted humanity on a macro scale.

4 a. Low Student to Teacher Ratio

            The typical homeschooled student is taught in a low student to teacher ratio environment. Thus, they aren’t subjected to overcrowded learning spaces. So, students are able to immerse themselves in their studies. Their individual needs and questions are priority. MTHEA.org describes some benefits of low student to teacher ratios. They state: Due to this economy of time, the extremely low student-teacher ratio, and an environment that is relatively free from distraction, home schooling is a very efficient and productive form of education” (MTHEA.org). When students aren’t one out of twenty-five students in a classroom, this is a strong indicator that they are in a well-balanced and effective educational environment.

4 b. Individualized Attention

            Students have unique learning styles. While some children are visual learners, others are auditory and tactile learners. In an effective homeschooling environment, students have the flexibility to utilize all three learning styles. Often, home educators can tweak the student’s educational curriculum to their specific learning style. Since the curriculum can be amended at any time, the student can then analyze the pros and the cons of their curriculum. This creates a customized curriculum for students. It is similar to a pair of Birkenstock sandals that one wears repeatedly. Over time, the shoe molds to your foot bed and then becomes a specialized fit just for the wearer. Similarly, a customized curriculum molds to the student’s learning style. This personalized approach spearheads a thirst for knowledge.

            If a particular field interests a student, they can explore it in depth. There is not a deadline or test that is based upon memorizing facts for that particular field. With this form of self-direction, homeschoolers can surpass the academic expectations of children within their peer group. Instead of building drones who can only do something for themselves if someone hovers over them, homeschoolers are being groomed to be self-sufficient leaders that will create jobs for humanity-not just pursue one. Unique learning aids such as interactive software, apps, and traveling are educational experiences that allow homeschoolers to immerse themselves in their fields of study. Extracurricular skill sets like professional acting and sports can also be honed because homeschoolers have the flexibility of changing their academic schedules to meet the needs of these activities. This well-rounded environment fosters students who are fervent to learn and research information.

4 c. Strengthening of Parent to Child Relationships

            Conventional wisdom seems to dictate that once students approach adolescent years, they become rebellious towards their parents’ guidance. In an effective homeschooling environment, students’ emotions are nurtured, but not enabled. Additionally, students grasp the concept of cause and effect of their actions early on. So, a parent will give praise when the student demonstrates effective communication, respect, and emotional intelligence. Overall, listening is a strategic skill set. Once the ground work of respect is set in stone, the bond between home educators and their children builds upon a profound level of trust, honesty, and compassion. While some students search for love and validation from dating, premature sex, and consumption of drugs, a homeschooler will typically avoid these relationships.

            An article in CBN News highlights the affects of negative relationships on students. The article reads, “today, parents are not as surprised to see reports of fifth-graders having sex in class; hear about school shootings; find drugs or condoms in backpacks; receive phone calls from the police and principals; or witness defiant, apathetic and unrecognizable tones in their children's voices (Haverluck).” These relationships are based upon superficiality and can steer a student in the wrong direction. Poor relationships can be the nucleus to poor decision making. A strong emotional bond between homeschoolers and their parents is a sign of a well balanced, effective environment.

4 d. Real-World Socialization

                  Homeschoolers are often encompassed by like-minded peers on a regular basis. Therefore, students are not forced to succumb to peer pressure. In addition, their self-esteem and confidence is not crumbled by teasing or bullying. Their views are easily unified, not alienated or disregarded. An education researcher by the name of Dr. Michael Slavinski discusses how poor socialization causes a chain-effect of students following poor behavior. His research concludes that “the mass socialization conducted within schools has brought about a proliferation of delinquent behavior within this nation's youth. Student bodies are increasingly riddled with violence, drugs, promiscuity, emotional disorders, crime, contempt for authority, desperate behavior, illiteracy and peer dependency - just to name a few ( Haverluck).” This quote demonstrates how effortless it is for young people to become products of their environment.

            In the real-world, business leaders and employers communicate with people from different age ranges. It is quite possible for someone’s supervisor to be 20-40 years younger than they are. In a traditionally educational system, students are categorized by age range and grade level. This protocol differs from a homeschooling environment. Homeschoolers are consistently interacting and communicating with not just their peers, but also in a multi-aged group setting. In addition, subjects are not separate, but are interdependent. These means of socialization develops students who are real-life players in the real world and not just spectators. This also creates solution-based mentalities that strengthen emotional intelligence. Therefore, homeschoolers’ business and personal experiences adequately prepare them for the real-world.

  1. Integrated Curriculum Summary

            In relation to Theodore Roosevelt’s previous words: "to educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society,” a homeschooler’s curriculum aligns perfectly with this claim. Social intelligence is not the defining factor of an educated person. They follow an 8-point game plan that fuses with academia. Those 8-points include: education, health, career, morality, family, charity, hobby development, and financial literacy.

5 a. Health

            Nutritious eating and exercising should be more than just a task that needs to be completed on a schedule. In a well balanced and wholesome homeschooling environment, proper health is a part of the homeschooler’s lifestyle. It is not segregated from learning. From early on, students understand that a well-balanced mind is prepared to thrive only if it nourished properly. Therefore, an effective homeschooling environment incorporates the significance of the human body and the affects of intoxicants/drugs on the human body. The significance of the human body is appreciated when students are aware of different forms of exercise, how to prepare nutritious meals, forms of meditation, and how natural vitamins nourish the body.

5 b. Career

            Since a homeschooling environment combines both academic and extracurricular interest, students can become entrepreneurs at early ages instead of waiting after college to pursue their career goals. Often times students find what truly provides them will fulfillment and they are able to pursue it. So, students may be self-employed before they reach adolescent years. It is common for student to become inventors, stock investors, ministers, bloggers, professional actors, musicians, authors, and directors in a homeschooling environment. Additionally, students aren’t limited to one particular occupation. They can have multiple occupations. As the real-world is a melting pot of career paths, homeschoolers can adjust perfectly to the climate of the 21st century.

5 c. Morality

            Moral principles, integrity, and compassion are not overlooked in a well-rounded homeschooling environment. Instead there are key indicators of a student’s academic success. In a homeschooled environment, some students have access to text book answer keys. They are either placed in the back of a student’ book or in the teacher’s manuel. Every day, the student’s level of integrity is tested. If a student does decide to peek at the answer key, most likely their home educators will catch on to this. The act of discussing the cause and effects of cheating can act as a learning experience and also an opportunity to build character. With this moral compass integrated in to a well rounded curriculum, there is a high level of accountability placed upon students.

5 d. Family

            Sibling rivalry may seem common to the majority of students. However, close family bonds with siblings and relatives is valued in a homeschooling environment. In addition to parents, siblings work collectively to complete chores, assignments, and communicate effectively. They understand the priceless benefit of unity and teamwork. Of course quarrels are normal amongst siblings. But, the method implemented to solving those quarrels is vital to sibling communication. This multi-aged group environment creates empathy and leadership skill sets amongst siblings. As a whole, homeschooled students’ family relationships are valued with respect and compassion for each other’s feelings.

5 e. Charity

            In a well rounded homeschooling environment, students are expected to spend their time productively and wisely. Although social media outlets and video games can be remedies for short term happiness, they are not the basis of how homeschooler’s distribute their time. Charity is another aspect that is often integrated into a homeschoolers academia curriculum. It is not just a task to do over summer break. It’s a valued part of their lifestyle. Not to mention, this too builds character and reaffirms the benefits of moral behavior. It is also a positive socialization that enables students to interact in the real-world and empower humanity. In the long-term, this will create ethical business leaders. In this way, individualized social responsibility is a part of a homeschooler’s well rounded and effective environment.

5 g. Hobby development

            Hobbies are a vital part of self-development for students. In addition to homeschoolers careers, they also take pride in the variety of hobbies that they can explore. Since some self-direction and independence is valued in a homeschooling environment, the process of searching for the next fun hobby can be quite intriguing. It also redirects ample time into pursuing an activity that is engaging to the student’s preferences. Whether the hobby is cooking, knitting, sewing, playing sports, analyzing stocks, or skateboarding, the options are endless.

5 h. Financial Literacy

            There have been stories that some traditionally educated children attend college, but are incapable of writing a check. My mother was one of these students. Many families are smothered in debt and have never experienced the quality of life that a debt-free lifestyle would foster. According to the Federal Reserve’s 2011 consumer debt report, the total U.S. consumer debt is $2.43 trillion. That number is colossally astounding! However, finance literacy is often considered to be a subject for homeschooled families. Through entrepreneurship, students benefit from applying their financial literacy teachings to real-life situations. For an example, it is normal for some homeschooled families to have frugality discussions over dinner or for students to begin planning budgets as early as 10 years old. Homeschoolers are enlightened on the pitfalls of poor financial habits and often thrive from business exposure through family businesses. Thus, homeschoolers have a competitive advantage in the work force and in real-life.

  1. Statement of Common Ground

            While some people like to segregate homeschool learning from traditional learning, I believe that students would benefit if both models were incorporated into educational curriculums. Each school environment has opportunities that can be improved. In comparison to school children, homeschoolers are unable to join their sports team, choir, or attend the proms of local schools. On the other hand, traditionally educated students are unable to study various religions, and hone their financial literacy skills. School systems would benefit from low student to teacher ratios, encouragement of entrepreneurship, and introducing concepts that will improve parent to child relationship building. Similarly, traditionally educational and homeschooling environments can both improve the medians where students can socialize. To conclude, by broadening the normal educational models of both environments, I believe that students would sufficiently thrive in the real-world as they will be exposed to the best of both worlds.

 

Works Cited

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