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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

home schooling « Previous | |Next »
October 30, 2010

Christopher Pearson in his Great education available outside the mainstream in The Australian advocates homeschooling. It is part of the broad criticism of public education from the right, which has traditionally demanded vouchers for education in the clash of ideas around education. This clash is between those who believe that public education is not only a fundamental right but a vital public service, akin to the public provision of police, fire protection, parks, and public libraries, and those who believe that the private sector is always superior to the public sector

Pearson says that the thriving home-schooling movement in Australia is:

born of a warranted mistrust of the ideological baggage of the state system and, increasingly, of the Catholic parochial and independent systems. Parents tend to rely on unfashionable textbooks that teach you how to parse a sentence, to construct a paragraph and to mount an argument in 500 words. They do not pander to the fads for dumbed-down literary studies but offer English as we once knew it. Similarly, the maths and science books are usually at least 20 years old and quaintly insistent on the difference between a right answer and a wrong one. Because the parents learned from similar texts, they find them relatively easy to teach from.

From Pearson's description homeschooling is the province of religious fundamentalists and educational traditionalists rather than the hippies of yesterday or those on the left.

The general argument, from what I can gather, is that public schools already spend too much. Test scores are low because there are so many bad teachers, whose jobs are protected by powerful unions. Students drop out because the schools fail them, but they could accomplish practically anything if they were saved from bad teachers. They would get higher test scores if schools could fire more bad teachers and pay more to good ones. The hope for the future of our society, is escape from public schools, especially to home schooling and charter schools.

The appeal is to a broad apprehension that the nation is falling behind in global competition. If the economy is a shambles, if poverty persists for significant segments of the population, if Australia kids are not as serious about their studies as their peers in other nations, the schools must be to blame. It is not globalization, poverty or equity, our popular culture or predatory financial practices that bear responsibility: it’s the public schools, their teachers, and their unions. Able teachers are all it takes to overcome the disadvantages of poverty, homelessness, joblessness, poor nutrition, absent parents, etc.

My problem with this argument is that though teachers are the most important factor within schools for determining student achievement, this ignores that that nonschool factors, such as poverty and family background, matter even more than teachers.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:57 PM | | Comments (10)


"... if they could fire bad teachers".
Presumably the ones who try to teach kids the truth about things.
For god sake,we are back to the nineteen seventies; do all these battles for objectivity have to be fought all over again?

If we are serious about improving our schools, then we would take steps to improve our teacher force. That would mean better screening to select the best candidates, higher salaries, better support and mentoring systems, and better working conditions.

Isn't public education one of the cornerstones of Australian democracy? For example, public schools must accept everyone who appears at their doors, no matter their race, language, economic status, or disability.

What demographic do these home schooling families hail from?

Well educated parents, stay at home Mums, lots of organised extra curricular activities where the whole family bundles into the Tarago for weekends away to socialise the kids into appropriate peer groups. And at the end of it all they have to sit the same exams and assessment processes as everyone else.

I have teenagers doing high school. I have noticed that homeschooling is an option parents are using when their kids develop issues that relate more to the socialising aspect of school. Some kids get too involved in all of this and parents are using homeschooling as a way of disconnecting from the school yard while the kids grow past this stage. In all the cases of my kids friends that have switched to home school the education that they are getting at school is not the main reason.

Same here Les. The home schoolers I know all had problems with the social scene in the playground. Bullying or parents not liking their kids growing up too fast or what not.

Yes, it is something that is put on the table by schools now as an option when things arent working out. Once apon a time it wouldn't of been mentioned. I guess it is becoming part of the mainstream of education now that it is gaining credibility. It seems a good option for the reasons you mentioned.

I took my daughter out of high school purely for the sake of her education. I consider this to be as much about the social scene as any particular subject.The lack of respect for any real learning was just as acute as the school's culture of disrespect for one's fellow human beings, both in the classroom, the playground and probably the staff room as well. And this from a school whose own mission statement claims the opposite.
We all can learn to our fullest capacity far more easily in a healthy and safe environment.That's the key to quality education for me.

Did you notice that he also commented a lot of people homeschooling are teachers. If the teachers are pulling their own kids out of school due to dissatisfaction isn't that a warning to everyone else that the school yard is not safe, and the learning in the classroom is not satisfactory?

The portrayal of home educating families in this article and the original one is not accurate. I'm not sure which home educating families were interviewed for the original piece, but as a home educating mother myself I have to say that I don't know anyone who uses "unfashionable 20 year old textbooks"! The home ed community is as varied as the number of families doing it. It's a vibrant collection of people thinking outside the square and willing to take the road less travelled. Home ed is not a new idea! It existed prior to compulsory schooling, and now, with the advent of the internet, it's easier than ever. We don't use any antiquated textbooks. In fact, we use Google and real life more than anything else! It's a wonderful, free life, that we've chosen for reasons bigger than just religion, or bullying, or even the standard of teachers. Children have an innate drive to learn, and school is more likely to squash that than work with it. I wish more people realised that home ed is possible and wonderful for people from all walks of life.