Self-Assured Ignorance? Or Self-interested Disingenuousness?

The Headmistress of The Common Room linked this teacher's attack on homeschooling. If any homeschooling family needed more evidence in defense of their decision to homeschool, Jesse Scaccia unwittingly provides it.

His "top ten reasons why homeschooling parents are doing the wrong thing":...

"10. 'You were totally home schooled' is an insult college kids use when mocking the geeky kid in the dorm (whether or not the offender was home schooled or not). And… say what you will… but it doesn’t feel nice to be considered an outsider, a natural outcropping of being homeschooled."

If true, he's established that some conventionally-schooled kids are pointlessly rude and envious, no more.

"9. Call me old-fashioned, but a students’ classroom shouldn’t also be where they eat Fruit Loops and meat loaf (not at the same time I hope). It also shouldn’t be where the family gathers to watch American Idol or to play Wii. Students–from little ones to teens–deserve a learning-focused place to study. In modern society, we call them schools."

Mr. Scaccia may call the building in which he works a "school", but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If homeschooled kids are so geeky (see point 10, above), as to earn the envy and hostility of his charges (as well as admission to college a year or more ahead of his charges), the memory of yesterday's dinner obviously did not interfere with their education. Mr. Scaccia's "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" are his personal (ill-considered) idiosyncracies. Is not a one-room schoolhouse a "school"? Wouldn't students who attended a one-room school have taken lunch in the same room they occupied for instruction?

"8. Homeschooling is selfish. According to this article in USA Today, students who get homeschooled are increasingly from wealthy and well-educated families. To take these (I’m assuming) high achieving students out of our schools is a disservice to our less fortunate public school kids. Poorer students with less literate parents are more reliant on peer support and motivation, and they greatly benefit from the focus and commitment of their richer and higher achieving classmates."

In general, taking care of one's self is a generous act. It reduces the burden on caregivers and so allows caregivers to devote their attention to more needy cases. Further, Mr. Scaccia does not limit his indictment, "homeschooling is selfish", by time, yet his evidence, "students who are homeschooled are increasingly from wealthy and well-educated families", implies that, previously, homeschoolers were less wealthy and less educated. So, it was not selfish earlier?

The "peer effects" argument is important; too important to depend on say-so. There is some evidence that the "peer effects" argument works against conventional schools. Chubb and Moe found that schools which practiced "tracking" (by which I believe they meant ability-grouping) outperformed schools which did not. If "peers" may successfully exert their effect from across the hall, why not from the house across the street? Also, peer effects may work against overall system performance if negative peer effects (e.g., point 10, above, the hostility which Mr. Scaccia claims his disciples direct at their intellectual betters, or the pressure against "acting white") outweigh positive peer effects.

"7. God hates homeschooling. The study, done by the National Center for Education Statistics, notes that the most common reason parents gave as the most important was a desire to provide religious or moral instruction. To the homeschooling Believers out there, didn’t God say “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”? Didn’t he command, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me”? From my side, to take your faithful children out of schools is to miss an opportunity to spread the grace, power and beauty of the Lord to the common people. (Personally I’m agnostic, but I’m just saying…)".

In "Schools and Simple Justice: Toward the Dignity of Choice", Boalt Hall Professor of Law John Coons argued that school choice protects parents' right of speech, to speak through their children to their community and to succeeding generations. This argument applies with equal force to homeschoolers. Their "witness" consists of their choice to homeschool, and the children they send into the world. Mr. Scaccia's "witness" consists of...see point 10, above. See also...
Roland Meighan
"Home-based Education Effectiveness Research and Some of its Implications", Educational Review, Vol. 47, No.3, 1995.

"The issue of social skills. One edition of Home School Researcher, Volume 8, Number 3, contains two research reports on the issue of social skills. The first finding of the study by Larry Shyers (1992) was that home-schooled students received significantly lower problem behavior scores than schooled children. His next finding was that home-schooled children are socially well adjusted, but schooled children are not so well adjusted. Shyers concludes that we are asking the wrong question when we ask about the social adjustment of home-schooled children. The real question is why is the social; adjustment of schooled children of such poor quality?"

"The second study, by Thomas Smedley (1992), used different test instruments but comes to the same conclusion, that home-educated children are more mature and better socialized than those attending school." ...p. 277
"12. So-called 'school phobia' is actually more likely to be a sign of mental health, whereas school dependancy is a largely unrecognized mental health problem

(Personally, I was raised in no church. I'm a materialist. That is, the only things which require explanation are observations, and the only things which count as explanation are observations.)

"6. Homeschooling parent/teachers are arrogant to the point of lunacy. For real! My qualifications to teach English include a double major in English and education, two master’s degrees (education and journalism), a student teaching semester and multiple internship terms, real world experience as a writer, and years in the classroom dealing with different learning styles. So, first of all, homeschooling parent, you think you can teach English as well as me? Well, maybe you can. I’ll give you that. But there’s no way that you can teach English as well as me, and biology as well as a trained professional, and history… and Spanish… and art… and counsel for college as well as a school’s guidance counselor… and… and…"

Homeschooling parents do not need to know everything; there are these amazing resources known as "books", and programs like Rosetta Stone, and tutors.
btw, I will be seeking work come September. I charge $20/hour (or invite me to lunch and I'll arrive an hour early and provide instruction free--but no teacher or tutor outperforms a loving parent).

"5. As a teacher, homeschooling kind of pisses me off. (That’s good enough for #5.)"

People hate what they fear. Homeschooling challenges the justification for the entire State-school apparatus, and threatens the revenue stream of system insiders. That's good enough for a rebuttal.

"4. Homeschooling could breed intolerance, and maybe even racism. Unless the student is being homeschooled at the MTV Real World house, there’s probably only one race/sexuality/background in the room. How can a young person learn to appreciate other cultures if he or she doesn’t live among them?"

Homeschooling parents have chosen to homeschool, not to move to Mars.

"3. And don’t give me this 'they still participate in activities with public school kids' garbage. Socialization in our grand multi-cultural experiment we call America is a process that takes more than an hour a day, a few times a week. Homeschooling, undoubtedly, leaves the child unprepared socially."

Conventional schools provide bad socialization. See Meighan, above. See also this Marvin Minsky comment on school, this article on artificially extended adolescence by Ted Kolderie, and these charts which I got from a statistician in the office of the Hawaii Attorney General.

"2. Homeschooling parents are arrogant, Part 2. According to Henry Cate, who runs the Why Homeschool blog, many highly educated, high-income parents are 'probably people who are a little bit more comfortable in taking risks' in choosing a college or line of work. 'The attributes that facilitate that might also facilitate them being more comfortable with home-schooling.'

More comfortable taking risks with their child’s education? Gamble on, I don’t know, the Superbowl, not your child’s future.

Socialists just do not get it: "What works?" is an empirical question, which only a competitive market can answer. Professors of Education treat John Dewey as some sort of diety. It always seemed odd to me that Dewey lauded "inquiry" as a model for dealing with life, yet defended the State's (i.e., government's) role in prescribing curriculum. Every decision is a gamble. Aggregation of authority (for curricular decisions, for example) raises the level of risk.

"1. And finally… have you met someone homeschooled? Not to hate, but they do tend to be pretty geeky***."

Meaning, homeschooling works.


Smile said...

The real question is why is the social; adjustment of schooled children of such poor quality?"
Because of 'people like this' and their top 10 arrogant "reasons."

This type of stance always has a 'two faced' approach: Complaints of over crowded classrooms, their newly interpreted separation of church and state, the need for children to be socialized, and so on. But when children are home schooled and don't contribute to large classrooms, this isn't appreciated. Children who get their version of socialization are so unsociable. To suggest that home schooled children should be in public school to proselytize and example the other students is a request that would be best served given all school staff.

Even his/her groceries are two faced ;) The choice of Fruit Loops and meat loaf is clearly derogatory, well fitting the scope of the rant. This choice in food is meant to sound not very smart (fruit loop) and hickish (meat loaf). Yet, home schoolers are derided for being more wealthy and better educated, while selfishly depriving the public schools of their presence. Further, the statement shows unconscious ignorance. Home schoolers are more likely to have whole grains, protein and salads from home grown veggies. This 1-10 person needs to step away from the sugar!

Did you see her number five? I wouldn't allow an illiterate, stilted, undignified person such as this, with a bad attitude, to train my dog. The "risk" statement was a total misrepresentation of original intent and completely twisted in its lack of logic. If one takes a cursory look at the facts, numbers, environment, and results of public school, the risk is all and only in using the public school. They would be farther ahead to quit the blame game and fix the problems.

This person would have made more sense if the simple truth had been stated. It would have gone something like this: I don't want these home school types to be a part of my world and it frustrates me that I need them. I need them to not make me look bad. I need their head count and tax dollars. It makes me angry that they're taking something from me and undermining what I believe in. I'm angry that they won't do things my way and I'm really mad that they don't believe what I believe!

As to the "geek" thingy... This IS the 21st c and its meaning and usage must have escaped this person. It definitely depicts a more intellectual type and someone who is often more accomplished in an area or several. There remains the lack of social grace and maturity in it's definition, but that wouldn't apply to the home schooled, as we have proved. Regardless of the definition, this person participated in name calling. I'd like to say, the home schooled student is restricted from name calling. More importantly, the home school instructor NEVER partakes of name calling, at home, in public, and especially in print. I see that the 1 - 10 person has done so and handed it out (proudly, no less) for the worlds review into perpetuity.

Mostly, MK, you've done a marvelous job breaking it down into something both intelligent and understandable. You're my hero!

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

(Smile): "Even his/her groceries are two faced ;) The choice of Fruit Loops and meat loaf is clearly derogatory, well fitting the scope of the rant. This choice in food is meant to sound not very smart (fruit loop) and hickish (meat loaf). Yet, home schoolers are derided for being more wealthy and better educated, while selfishly depriving the public schools of their presence."

Nice catch. I did not make that connection. The author manages to combine snobbery and class envy.

Thanks for the kind words. Keep homeschooling.