16 January 2010

Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

While homeschooling is more widespread overseas, it is also beginning to take root in Malaysia. Given the state of our national education, it is not difficult to see why. Parents are just exploring options.

Just today over breakfast, a friend informed us that a mutual friend had decided to homeschool their chidren. I also know of friends who send their kids to homeschool centres (which I think defeats the purpose of homeschooling as it more resembles private schooling).

I have, off and on, given thought to homeschooling. This afternoon, I had a brief talk with my 8-year old and he decided he didn't want to be homeschooled by Mommy and risk being scolded even more fiercely than his teachers at school! A short stint of teaching phonics to my 4-year old was already a test of my patience.

I looked up what some people said about the pros and cons of homeschooling. Some of the comments seemed very naive to me. Perhaps putting down the list might be helpful:

Pro
Children are taught according to their learning styles and interests. Parents have more control over how, what and for how long their children are taught.
Con
Parents must help children improve upon their weaknesses and not just cater or pander to their strengths. Parents take on sole and total responsibility for their children's education.
My take: There is a risk of restricting teaching to certain preferred areas or topics that the parent/child is comfortable with.

Pro
Children can progress slowly or quickly, according to their abilities.
Con
Parents may feel inadequate to address the needs of gifted and special needs students.

Pro
Schedules revolve around family and allow time to bond with parents and siblings. Flexible schedules allow time for breaks, field trips and off-season vacations.
My take: It would take a tremendous amount of discipline on the part of the teaching parent not to give in to the temptation of a day off here, a movie day there, let's bake together instead of study day etc.
Con
Extended time with family can strain relationships or lead to burnout on the part of the teaching parent. Family crises, illness and lax supervision by parents can interfere with learning.
My take: Too much time spent together may not be a good thing. When will the independence and separation for the children come?

Pro
Children spend time in a diverse, real world environment.
My take: I find this reasoning laughable - is a homeshooling parent actually saying that kids who attend public schools in the mainstream system living in an unreal world? I would say the reverse is true!
Con
Parents must search for activities such as sports and music that are easily accessible at public schools.

Pro
Parents can transmit their values to children and shelter them from negative influence.
Con
Parents must give children increasing independence and a chance to learn to stand for their values.
My take: Will homeschooled children be able to function in a real world that is imperfect where not everybody will treat you as well as your family?

Pro
Sadly peer pressure, competition and bullies are all part of a typical school day. Homeschooled kids are free from these kinds of pressure and can act and dress the way they want without fear or a need to "fit in". They live in the real world.
My take: Again, I wonder just how well homeschooled kids face up to real life pressures.

Pro
For families who feel their religious and spiritual beliefs are an important part of their lives, homeshooling provides the opportunity for parents to incorporate their beliefs into their daliy lives.
My take: This can just as easily be achieved even if the child attends regular school. The risk for homeschoolers is that they are exposed only to the religious and cultural practices of their family and close relations, without the chance to mix with and learn from other peoples in the world. How is tolerance to grow and bigotry eliminated? The homeschooling parent must make special effort to expose their children to the existence of other races, religions, cultures, languages and ways of life. Your way is not the only way.

Pro
Homeschooled children can accomplish in a few hours what takes a typical classroom a week or more to cover. In a recent interview, John Taylor Gatto, New York City Teacher of the Year and a 26-year teaching veteran, said that in many classrooms less than one hour out of each school day is spent on "on task" learning. No wonder these kids have so much homework. And that brings us to a major "pro" of homeschooling: No more homework!
My take: Well, if this is true, then I am all for homeschooling!

6 comments:

  1. You should have a chat with Kathy Yew Cosham from our year. She homeschools her children in Melbourne. Don't think it's for me though. Agree with a few of you points.

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  2. Yep I was thinking about that too Charmaine, it's one big task and i really admire Kathy for choosing to do that

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  3. there are actually 3-4 different types of homeschoolers in malaysia. and looking from the outside, sometimes we do not see the whole picture. most of the best, open-minded, mature, upright teens, who are able to realate to all stratas of society and age groups that i have met have been homeschooled. so i suppose some parents do get it right.

    btw, i believe baking is part of schooling. remember sr. enda made us all take domestic science in school?

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  4. i certainly do remember baking and the other terrifying cooking classes at school!

    Agree that homeschooling absolutely depends on the teaching parent to dish our the right values and mix of everything.

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