Home School? Public School? Which Is Best?

For some reason there is a great deal of animosity between home schoolers and public schoolers, and between private schoolers and public schoolers (though to a lesser degree).  Actually I should clarify that, it is not the kids being schooled who worry about such things, but the adults in their lives.  When you really step back and consider the feelings these groups harbor for one another it all seems extremely, well, junior high-ish.

I completely understand the feelings, having had some of them myself, as no doubt you have.  Most of us have strong opinions about education, because we sincerely care about education and we understand how fundamentally important a child’s education is to her future and the future of our society.  In general both home schoolers and public schoolers feel superior to the other, and private schoolers feel superior to both.  That is certainly not true of everyone however.

So which is best?  Home school?  Public school?  We have to admit that there are certain things that public schools do better than home schools, things like stellar sports programs and opportunities for art, band, math, drafting classes and so forth from experts.  There are also things that home schools provide that public schools (or private schools) can not, like one-on-one customized tutoring, a perfect melding of the moral values of the parents with the things the kids are taught, and a complete freedom of curriculum choices.

We also have to admit that there are certain weaknesses inherent in either system.  Public schools must teach to the average student for the most part, demanding that kids fit into the mold.  Public schools must also teach with the myth that they are teaching moral neutrality while actually teaching the morals of academia.  Home schools on the other hand are limited by the ability and expertise of usually one parent.  Home schools also are generally much more limited in their resources.

But both methods of schooling involve adults who honestly care and are doing their best to teach the kids under their stewardship.  Both are working with the best tools they have, but without all the tools they would like.  Both feel perpetually underfunded and under-appreciated.  And both certainly feel underpaid.

Is one method superior to another?  Absolutely and unequivocally.  But the one which is superior depends on the circumstances of the student, the family, and the local school.

There are families that remove their kids from school only to completely neglect their education.  For them the ideal place is the public school.  There are kids who flourish with regimentation, competition, and a social environment.  For them the ideal place is in the public school.  There are families who are strapped for time and cash and are just trying to hold things together and for them the ideal place is the local school.  There are teachers and school districts so outstanding that parents are anxious to get their kids in, for these families the public school is ideal.

But there are kids who are left behind, neglected, humiliated and dropped through the cracks in a school environment, for them the ideal is the home school.  There are parents who are naturally engaged and excited by the daily guiding of their children, for them the ideal is the home school.  There are kids who need quiet and freedom from comparison to flourish, for them the ideal is the home school.  There are kids who are slower or faster or require a different teaching method and for them the one-on-one tutoring of a home school is the best solution.  There are struggling school districts, bad teachers, and unsafe environments and for families who deal with this the home school is the answer.

Instead of condemning and worrying and obsessing about the choices of the family next door we should rejoice that we have choices, that we all care so much about educating kids, and that we all have so much in common.  In any case and all cases (except extreme neglect or abuse, we’ll let the courts define that one) freedom of parental choice should be our standard and we should be cheering each other on and supporting each other and feeling positively toward one another.  Hooray for the parents and teachers in every environment who are doing their best for the kids under their care, and if you’re here on this education site we’re sure that’s you.  Props to you all!!!

4 Comments

  1. "Is one method superior to another? Absolutely and unequivocally. But the one which is superior depends on the circumstances of the student, the family, and the local school."

    That's awesome! It really struck a chord with me. Thanks so much for such a thoughtful and well written article.

  2. Nicely written. There is no reason to judge one another as long as a child's best interest is at heart. It is nice we have a choice.

    Your blog is great! I share your most recent post in my blog list to share with readers of my blog.

    Happy New Year!

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