Education is a basic requirement for inculcating civic, moral and intellectual faculties of a human being. While imparting education in a public setup is the commonest of all methodologies adopted worldwide, learning at home under the guidance of parents and/or professional teachers is also a widespread practice. Popularly referred to as homeschooling, this system of learning has come to the fore replacing formal educational methodologies.
The history of homeschooling dates back to the 1920s, but the real revolution occurred in the 1960s and the 1970s when the liberal alternative school movement was set rolling. Researching into the topic, it is evident that most parents opting for homeschooling fall under radical socialists and naturalists who do not have faith in the bureaucratic setup of the American society. Moreover, the gasping nature of fierce competition has also contributed to the withdrawal from traditional educational means.
There are legal liabilities and the issue of compulsory schooling attendance as far as public schooling is concerned. Albeit the environmental aspects and the mold of teaching are arguably in proximity with what can be termed as ideal in a public education system, many parents in the United States of America deem it an added advantage for their kids that they should gain access to a comprehensive educational repertoire at home. In matters of homeschooling, the legal issues involved with affiliation and certification are taken care of correspondence schools or umbrella schools.
What set homeschooling distinctly apart from the conventional modes of education are facilities of unit studies, child-oriented educational materials and above all, constant parental supervision. This essay is going to discuss elaborately on the efficacy of homeschooling and its relevance in the hustling ways of modern world. All the major school of thoughts propagated by scholars and researchers will be thoroughly reviewed, thus allowing for the development of a set of viewpoints on homeschooling.
The prevalence of homeschooling in the United States of America has been such in the past decade or so that it has been made legal in many states. In fact today it is widely regarded to be a perfect alternative mode of teaching at the K-12 level (Cooper 109). The media too has focused on the issue rigorously and has brought about a remarkable change in the mindset of even the most orthodox of parents and educators. Going by sheer statistics, 300, 000 children were taught at home in 1990.
This number increased almost with a vertical leap by the end of 1998 when there were more than 1. 5 millions of homeschooled children across the country (Saba & Gattis 1). Since the US government’s educational policy allows for autonomy of sorts for each state, the process of imbibing any new measure is relatively easier. The designated council or board of a particular state can decide for themselves which method suits young learners the most. Accordingly, each state is designated with certain number of grants or permissions by virtue of which they can permit homeschooling.
The results just speak for themselves as a vast majority of homeschooled children excel remarkably well in a broad spectrum of academic disciplines, ranging from winning the national spelling bees to earning themselves coveted degrees at the leading universities in the country. Now before delving deep into various argumentative doctrines on homeschooling, let’s just look into the basics of this rapidly evolving trend. The first question we are going to deal with involves the reason behind homeschooling. What are the unique aspects of homeschooling?
Why do people tend to prefer this mode of education over public schooling? Due to the independent, state-specific educational system in America, public schools are accessible to all free of charge. For working parents not belonging to the elite segments of the society, the rationale behind choosing public schools is quite self-explanatory. But the growing trend of homeschooling calls for our attention and makes us inquisitive to investigate into the root of educational philosophies. First and foremost, fostering a child at home demands a persistent level of commitment for both parents.
It not only helps the child learn in a known environment, but also strengthens the family togetherness. Since a child spends most of its time at home, the well cultivated families do not wish to assign the task of imparting education to external teachers (Stevens 30). It is purely a question of family values that a child should learn from its parents and not from those who do not share their personal spaces. Besides, many parents are guided by stern religious beliefs and want their children to follow the same paths.
In public schools, children may confront teachers, instructors or fellow students with different religious faiths. So the parents feel safer with homeschooling. Another extremely valid reason behind homeschooling involves the learning environment of public schools. The quality of education in a public institution is bound to suffer due to large number of students and inadequacy of teaching tools. Albeit the student-teacher ratio is quite healthy in American public schools especially at the primary level, it still is not enough for every child to get the required attention.
Moreover, children studying at public schools are taught a similar curriculum. If a particular child has different fields of interest, it is not encouraged to develop skills and knowledge on those lines. The imaginative faculties of mind slowly become blunt and ineffectual due to the institutionalized methods of teaching. Homeschooling, on the other hand, is helpful for identifying a child’s interests and unique areas of talent. Hence, education does not become a loathsome burden for the children. By relating to what they are taught, they can enjoy while they learn (Rockett 138).
Most families belonging to minority groups regard homeschooling to be the best available option for their kids. This is because those children are hardly paid attention to by their local teachers at public schools (Saba & Gattis 3). It is never wise to send children with physical or mental deformities to public schools. The span and extent of attention they need can never be expected from teachers who have to look after a class of pupils. It is far better to keep those children at home and build up the required infrastructure with teaching aids. Hiring a teacher at home is a plausible solution in such cases.
By resolving to one-on-one teaching modes, a challenged kid’s potential can be maximized. News of massacres, illegal drug trafficking and teen sexuality hit the headlines frequently in the US. Researches show that parents who are aware of these events choose homeschooling to ensure safety of their kids. These parents feel they can control the company of their children if they learn from home. Moreover, in the US public schools, many children hail from troubled families and tend to act violently and in a bullying manner towards other students. Contours of homeschooling decidedly relieve of such headaches.
The legal aspects of homeschooling are still subject to a lot of debate and controversy. Given the parochial setup of homeschools, it is elementary to infer that they must be stripped off many benefits available at public schools, including the system of tests. The existing rights in favor of homeschooling in the United States of America were hard earned. It was by the Supreme Court’s verdict in the 1920s that enabled the states to intervene into educational affairs. Homeschooling, a fringe and distant possibility during those days, has undoubtedly come a long way.
Keeping in mind the thesis question of this paper, it is now time to ponder over certain theoretical conjectures on learning in general. The schools of thought on learning and education are, however, subject to a varied degree of hypothesis. Scholars are yet to arrive at a stable perception as to which methodology of teaching augurs well for most young students. Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory is one of the seminal works of literature throwing a searching light into the complex processes of assimilation and deliverance for young, pliant minds.
But since this theory was formed primarily from heuristic studies, its accuracy is questionable. Nevertheless, many later theories on education and learning are grounded on the assumptions made by this theory. According to Jean Piaget, the three main pillars of learning are organization, equilibrium and progression. The basis of his argument concentrated on the predictability of children’s cognitive formation. To put it differently, he pointed out that a child develops newer thought patterns with age and maturity.
It is inherent in a child that it should search for newer elements in everything it sees. Known as organization, this process is responsible for accumulation of knowledge. What directly relates to this process is a cognitive phenomenon called schemes. This phenomenon is involved with preparing a mental picture of things to do. In other words, when a kid is asked to perform a lengthy multiplication, he/she prepares a mental framework as to how to go about the task in an organized manner. The next phenomenon comes when the child explores a better way to carry out a task.
It is called adaptation. When new information is passed on, the child has to first of all ‘take’ it in before it can be processed and assimilated (Clements 2). Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory has crucial implementations in the context of choosing the best curriculum for homeschooling. His insightful analysis of the role of parents in children’s education helps in decision making as to how children learn. Do they imitate what they see, or do parents need to play a more guiding part in showing their children what and where to look for?
Since this system of education does not involve social interaction which is so typical of classroom teaching, extra care has to be taken in devising learning plans. Diagnosing the intelligence quotient of a child is just as important as judging the level of prior education, should the student be an advanced learner. The final module for course works and other study materials should be prepared after careful scrutiny of the learner’s temperament. As a novel research effort in the field of educational psychology and motivation theory, Piaget’s findings indeed simplified the understanding of children’s cognitive bloc.
The second argument that can be propelled concerns the role of academic materials or learning resources in the curricula of pupils. What is often seen in public schooling environments is that a vast array of course materials covering every subject are available. This is particularly favorable as far as step-by-step learning is concerned. The student can make the required shift from one level to another without having to skip any of the important learning modules. But espousing homeschooling methodologies often throw up a quandary for parents as to the suitability of the course materials at hand (Perry 54).
This occurs mainly because of the lack of awareness about academic resources for a given standard. This usually happens for the first child in a household with more than one child. Due to lack of knowledge and experience, parents feel uncertain about the proper educational grooming techniques. Hence for the beginners, it generally takes a couple of years to gain command over the objectives and modes of teaching, including ‘unschooling’ and ‘phonics’ (Suarez 1). It is followed the most important part of the system, e. . , selecting the right tools and integrating them to create a congenial environment for learning at home. Unit study, for example, is a widely trusted educational methodology for homeschooling. The depth of this methodology and the fun of learning associated with it make for an ideal module for the beginners. Several subjects such as Mathematics, Social Sciences, History, Geography and Theology are combined together under a common natural or topic-specific theme like water, animals, or ancient Egypt.
For instance, if the academic discipline to be discussed in a particular sitting is Mathematics, the child would be introduced to the story of ancient Egypt and how Mathematics flourished over there. No doubt, the commonality of the central topic generates the fun of unit study methods. The young learner can relate just one topic to a variety of academic disciplines. However, it is to be made sure that the thematic topic should have connections with all the subjects. Study of languages occupies an important place in unit study.
Not only does it help in communicating, it also gives the children a broad view of the world and people around them (Field 85). Far from just as an educational ploy to bring out the untapped resources of a child, the societal significance of homeschooling can never be underrated. It is imperative that we understand the significance of homeschooling from a twofold perspective. Firstly, the coziness of the family bondage gets stronger and closer with all the members of it spending time together.
This is precisely the reason why many mainstream parents are falling back on homeschooling as the prospective mode of education for their kids. However, some shortcomings of this educational model are also there, especially the accusation that little kids do not get the chance to interact socially with others. This lack of socializing sometimes tells upon the mental health of even the most meritorious boy in a pool of ordinary geeks who, after all, know how to enjoy the little things life has to offer. But it is a minor glitch in a far greater canvas of a revolutionary and highly individualistic learning framework.
Courtney from Study Moose
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