The modern debate about the issues surrounding the validity of both public education and home school programs are as diverse as those students served by both systems. For the most part in the United States more people educate their children within a standard public education environment. Secondary to those people who send their children to public schools are those who send their children to private schools, both parochial and non-parochial, in foundation. Third in number but not necessarily in voice is the thousands upon thousands of families who chose to focus their lives in such a way that they and their children learn together within a home school setting. Though for the purposes of brevity the main debate in this paper will simply be between home schooling and public school education.
This work will focus on both the pros and cons of home schooling and public compulsory education. Both a qualitative and quantitative approach will be taken. (Benz & Newman 1998 pages 109-118) Some of the main points of contention between home school advocates and public school advocates are related to socialization, cultural and moral issues, curricular issues, individualized learning issues, and of coarse focused and class size and school safety concerns. (Brezinka & Stuart 1994 pages 1-102) (Greenspan 1994 pages xvi-xviii) The research hypothesis of this work is that the development of diversity, of curriculum, socio-cultural offerings and individualized learning that can only be found within the school setting is integral to the education of all students. Questions that will be asked include: Does a home school setting offer enough curricular diversity? Does a home school setting offer enough socio-cultural diversity? Also, the paper will address the possible answers to these questions in association with the attempts being made by both home school advocates and public school educators and administrators to address all of the above concerns.
Choosing the type of education your child will utilize is a very personal decision and is often debated on a philosophical, psychological and sadly even on an economic level. (Zellman1998 pp. 370-308). Because the decision is so personal and the perceived risks, sacrifices and rewards are so large many people both before and after the fact build very strong and vocal cases for the decision they have or will make for their child. In some cases this very vocal and powerful case for one or the other system can be seen as a demonstration that the other choices are less valid and/or less beneficial to the child. The collective debate often leaves a reader assessing the situation as if it is simply each party defending its choice from possible criticism. For this reason it will be helpful to take some of the main arguments both for and against both public school education and home schooling curriculums and analyze them with as unbiased a stand as possible.
Chapter 2 Review of Literature
Debate about the proper education and development of children has been raging for nearly as long as "childhood" has been an accepted as a separate stage of life. In the early years of this designated position, at least in literature the debate about children's education often centered around the debated best and worst traits of the respective genders of a child's parents and how each would better serve or not serve a particular aspect of child education. The debate over educational attainment from someone other than a parent took place within families who through economics were afforded the opportunity to provide private, at home usually live in, tutors for the education of their children.
Tutors were engaged in much the same way as a good housekeeper and came recommended by the parent's community. They were often recommended for their personal attainment of academic goals, be it publications and/or special knowledge in the popular curriculum of the day or they were simply recommended based on their ability to mold children into the desired form to satisfy the propriety of the day. There was never a standard set of curricular requirements for each era but mainly they revolved around language, math and science and for young women this education was limited and abridged by the learning of domestic arts as well. (Komanovsky 1953 pages 53-99)
The learning and teaching of the classic languages of Greek and/or more commonly in western civilization Latin was regarded as the basis for a good sound educational standard. (Kelsey 1911 pages 180-183) Teaching in the vernacular really did not come about until much later in the development of education. The new focus on diversity has reintroduced language as an important component in educational diversity but teaching students in the vernacular is still the standard accepted practice.
Though the following example is only one of many associated with the issue of culture, language is a very important factor for education in any setting. (Strickland 1957) Through the development of a much larger curricular model in the public school system the student can be offered opportunities he or she would not be offered at home in regards to the number of languages a student has to choose from and the academic and social skill of the teacher with regards to teaching the language. Though this is not to say that some parents do not offer a vast array of knowledge of many subjects including language it may be said that it is very difficult for one or two people to learn and possess enough knowledge to offer the five or so secondary languages that most public schools offer. Yet, on the part of the parent teacher it is clear that parents are offered the opportunity to teach language at a much younger age as public school curriculum does not allow the teaching of foreign language at the most opportune times in the development of children's biologically driven language models. (Mclaughlin 1984 pages ix-xiv) Language is not taught beyond a remedial ESL system in public schools until well into the middle school phase of the system. (Tarone Cohen & Gass 1994 pages xiii-xxii) (Berent 1994 pages 17-19)
Some home school advocates argue that the teaching of especially foreign languages is so integral to the molding of the young mind that true bilingual education can only be attained in a home setting. In addition to that the historical and current immigration rates in the United States also determine the need for English as a second language learning, often a secondary or economically challenged focus for public school systems. (Johns & Morphet 1952)
Some non-native English speaking parents prefer to have at least some control over the language education of their children, this is occasionally addressed within the home school setting rather than the public school system which is often in turmoil about the funding and program base of such a goal. A public school advocate would argue that the immersion technique for the learning of language is simply the best and fastest way for children to assimilate English into their knowledge base and this is best provided in a school where most of the other students speak English as natives.
There are many other issues other than language that are related to cultural curriculum that are in accordance with issues that arise when parents decide to home-school their children. Some of those include access to a culturally diverse arts program. Many public schools have funding limitations and offer only limited offerings. Yet, it can be said that once again the issue of availability and instruction for fine arts can be much more diverse in a public school setting as most public programs still offered music, fine arts and outreach associated with an arts curriculum, despite fears of future funding cuts and they have the resources mostly regarding staff knowledge to continue to do so.
One attempt that home school advocates are making to answer many of the issues associated with any possible lack of cultural opportunity within the home school setting is what is called shared parent centered teaching or home-school cooperatives. In these systems parents in a given region pool resources and share time to both offer expertise of teaching abilities and cultural and social opportunities they might otherwise be unable to provide their children on their own. Through these systems some very promising results have been shown and the results are often very satisfactory. Shared time and resources often allow children opportunities to both socially interact with other children their age, on at least a limited basis and be provided opportunities for learning that might otherwise have not been offered them, through lack of resources or expertise.
It is also important to note here that the trend for home schooling may have increased and the abilities of home school educators to function more effectively has have improved due to the advent and integration of the Internet. The vast amount of information, society and development possibilities for home school and knowledge in general have yet to be quantified or qualified. (Learning Streams Website 2002) "Home schooling…