Friday, March 20, 2009

What Homeschools Teach

If you believe that a school or teacher can and should be assessed by the educational outcome of the students, then we have a lot to learn from homeschools. There is a long, well documented track record of superior performance, but contrary to popular opinion (propaganda?) homeschool students are socially well adjusted, happier, and more likely to vote and engage in civic activities than regular kids. A further surprise to most is the reason why parents are choosing to homeschool. Less than 40% cite religious reasons, while almost 50% cite a superior education, and one in four cite a poor learning environment in schools.

So now we know a few things that really don't matter, that really don't work:
  • Hyphenated half-and-half made up degrees: english-education, math-education, etc.
  • Teaching in or out of your (made-up) field of study.
  • Self-aggrandising certifications and awards.
  • Pay.
  • Expensive books and the marketing behind them.
  • Constant curriculum churn.
  • Capricious assessments and the companies making a fortune selling them.
  • Expensive buildings.
  • Expensive bureaucracy.
  • Feel-good, make-it-fun paradigms.
  • Osmosis.
We also know what does work, what trumps all else: hard work and commitment. On the part of the parent/teacher and the student. Nothing, absolutely nothing else matters as much as these characteristics and these individuals.

And this is significant to Dunwoody because much of our demographic has the resources to make this commitment and simply choose not to. This would require sacrifice, personal sacrifice, perhaps even significant sacrifice. But if you don't view parenthood as a life-altering event, why should we pick up the tab? There are all too many folks who could be homeschooling, who could be providing their children the best all-around education available, but instead place their desires, their pleasures, their toys above their children's welfare.

The challenge from The Other Dunwoody is simply this: while waiting for your buddy to tee off on the ninth or while daydreaming through your mani/pedicure, ask yourself why you're not doing the best you can by your children.