Blade, I think you're making excellent points.
In very particular circumstances, homeschooling makes sense. But I think it is for truly exceptional situations.
Someone earlier mentioned that academic learning isn't the only type of education a child gets at school, and I have to wholeheartedly agree. For financial reasons, my parents both worked full-time jobs, so I was pretty much away from them for at least 9 hours a day from the time I was 5 years old. Because of that, I had to be very independent at a young age. The last time my parents helped me with homework I was probably in about fourth grade. They stopped being able to do most of the work I was being given when I was in around eighth grade, so they were not even an option for help beyond that time. I started taking public transportation home with a neighbor at 8 and alone at 13. Besides going to a religious school rather than a public school, I was very unsheltered, and I think that was the best thing my parents ever did for me. It forced me to become independent, self-directed, and resourceful. When I needed help with homework, I found a way to get that help. When I had a problem, I found a way to fix it. In high school, I became interested in physics and theatre, so I did my own research and got pretty far without the help of a parent or even a teacher. I researched academic papers and watched interviews of experts in those fields. These skills have served me well as an adult and I would consider my independence and problem-solving ability to be my greatest strengths. This isn't to say my parents were neglectful; they were always supportive and there to help me. They simply believed that sheltering me wouldn't serve me well at all, and they were right. They never coddled me, so I felt completely capable on my own in situations where they couldn't help me. Homeschooling is all about sheltering and coddling; the kids don't interact with groups their parents don't approve of, and that is a terrible disservice to them.
I'm grateful that my parents allowed me to be exposed to different types of people. Many people I was around when growing up disagreed sharply with my parents on very major issues- politics, religion, you name it. Even though my parents disagreed with these teachers, they respected them, which showed me to respect them. It also made me question my parents beliefs- I didn't blindly accept them because I was offered an alternative. I came to my opinions as a fully-informed individual educated on both sides of every issue. I never spat out my parents' beliefs, I arrived to my own conclusions. Homeschooling just doesn't enforce that kind of critical thinking and independence, which I think is far more important than learning math or reading faster than peers.
As someone who was homeschooled mostly, but also went to a public elementry school for kindergarten, a catholic elementry school after that untill fourth grade and later a small protestent highschool, I can honestly say homeschooling was my favorite. I made friends with people of all ages, not just those the same age as my self, learned at appreciate my family, and formed lasting friendships with both homeschoolers and public schoolers that have lasted past highschool. In this way I learned social skills that I would not have gotten in public school. I also did not have to deal with much peer pressure so I am more confident being my self than many young women are. Lack of social skills and oppertunitys never was an issue. I had church, 4-H, and homeschool co-ops. I may not be interested in keeping up with the latest fad but that in no way harms me as a person and I still keep up with current events. Many would say I was sheltered but I feel that I learned what I needed to know when I needed to know it, not to young but not to late either. I learned what others believed and I learned to respect those beliefs, while still holding firm to my own. As far as acedemicly my parents taught me all I needed to know to be well prepared when I went to the christian shool for highschool. I was not behind in any way. I was able to graduate in three years instead of four in fact. I'm glad my parents sent me to school instead of homeschooling me for highschool though, because I was able to have teachers who were specialized in what they were teaching and I gained alot from them.
Over all wether to homeschool or not comes down to what is best for the family. There is nothing wrong with kids going to public school or any type of school in my opinion as long as the parents are involved in the childs education and don't just believe that the school system knows best for the child. Every child is different and needs parents to pay attention to them and help them however they need in. The parent must choose what is best for the child. My parents are doing things differently with every one of their four children depending on what that child needs both socially and acedemicly. Some years one may be in public school, one in privet school, and one homeschooled, depending on what each needs as an indevidual, because no two children are alike. By the time my younger siblings graduate highschool they will have each been to public school and privet school as well as being homeschooled and they will all be well prepared for collage and the real world.
I too find the debate interesting. Some very good points are brought up.
I acknowledge that there is no way I can go over any curriculum with a fine-toothed comb to see what is being taught word for word. But I would like to have the assurance that the teacher/material has what I believe to be truth as its foundation. I am not as closed-minded as this makes me sound, but I do want truth taught. Not force-fed, but offered with compelling evidence. I want other views offered as well, but not at the exclusion of my own. I will go into this further in following paragraphs.
Originally Posted by blade
Touché on that point. Upon rereading what I said earlier about not introducing differing viewpoints to younger children, I now disagree with myself. (I don't have kids yet and am in the process of thinking through all of this, so bear with me!) I suppose I was thinking in terms of what a child is interested in and capable of processing in elementary school, and I wasn't giving them enough credit. I only desire my kids to have a solid foundation before they are presented with other questionable views taught as fact. I can teach my children MY perspective through homeschooling and ensure that they are also introduced to many opposing views and perspectives, but if I send them to public school, will they even be offered my perspective there as a valid viewpoint?
Originally Posted by blade
First of all I will say that if Protestant private schools are an option for us in the future, they will be seriously considered, though I don't know if I trust them to be well-rounded either.
Originally Posted by blade
Secondly, of course I fear that my children might not believe the same things as me because I believe that what I believe is true for many reasons, BUT...if they cannot come by it honestly and independently, through their own questioning and thinking and searching, then it will be meaningless to them anyway. One of my greatest fears is that my children will blindly believe what I believe and never ask a single question or consider an opposing view. I want to give my children freedom, not shackle them to one faith or viewpoint, and I'm concerned that they would not be presented with information fairly at a secular school. Brainwashing can happen both ways, but at least I KNOW that I would offer differing views with fair evidence, while I have reason to believe that a public school would not, based on my experience in secular college classrooms. I considered myself an agnostic in college and I highly encourage searching, but I'm afraid that public schools--if they are anything like the university I went to--will only present one perspective, or will leave out the perspective that I believe to be true, and I don't want to subject my children to that every single day at such an impressionable age.
Thirdly, you say that I fear the consequences of my children mixing with others, and to this I also plead guilty. Peer relationships are a necessity for children, and I don't fear them universally, but yes, I do fear the influence that some children could have on my own. We live in a society that rejects morality and laughs at people who aren't willing to be sexually promiscuous or get drunk or participate in other unhealthy activities that have become the norm. I have met many children who have no concept of values such as compassion, patience, self-control, fair play, justice, forgiveness, generosity, respect for authority.... These are values that I want to instill in my children from birth, and I absolutely do fear their peers who will have the power to undermine everything I will have taught and unravel my children's character during their most impressionable years. Bad company corrupts good character, and I will guard my children's character by having some standards for who their companions can be. I want my children to be exposed to all types of people and to be loving to all types of people, but the daily, constant companionship with some kids does concern me. Only a few decades ago this would not have been a concern, but our society has changed, childhood has changed, values that matter to me have gone out the window, and I do feel that it's necessary to be more selective of who children spend time with at this point. You become like the people you spend time with. It would be futile for me to try to erase six hours of bad influence at the end of each day.
Saying that exposing children to peers who have bad morals will make them amoral is like saying that if a child meets someone who is illiterate they'll never learn to read. It just makes no sense.
Honestly, I think it's good for kids to be exposed to "bad" kids. In my experience, a lot of "those" kids just had a lot of other problems to deal with. I had friends in high school who might've fallen into that category, but I got straight As all four years, the highest SAT score in my class, and was generally a "good" kid. Interacting with the "bad crowd" taught me not to fear or judge them, but rather to try to understand and accept them. It taught me to be more compassionate, not less. And I am interested in what "truth" you're talking about. If it's a religious truth, I'm afraid sheltering your children will do them more harm than good. My parents are religious so they educated me at a religious school, and when I became atheist in high school (of my own accord- there was only 1 other atheist in my high school and religion was taught daily all four years) I found it very painful to go to school and feel judged for my beliefs and I was terrified of telling my parents.
But, your kids, your choices. To each his own.
One of my best friends was homeschooled and sheltered (her mom didn't want her hanging out with bad kids either) until it was time to enter high school, when she finally begged enough to get enrolled in public school. She hated homeschooling, hated being sheltered, hated only being able to hang out with friends at church. So when she entered high school she rebelled. Hard. She had drug and alcohol problems at the tender age of 15, and was pregnant by her 16th birthday after a guy slipped a pill into her drink.
Obviously this is an extreme case, but it can happen. And I know that her mother also said "well that could never happen to the daughter that I raised."