Tuesday, December 21, 2010

School - Public or Home?

I appreciate everyone's responses to my request in the post "Public School vs Home". I have chosen one person out of each of the four categories that were submitted. One young lady was exclusively home schooled; two were exclusively public schooled but graduated with very different views, and one was public schooled for her early education and was home schooled for her high school years.

*EDIT* Technical difficulties are a thing of the past - all of the essays are now available on this post. :-)

Benefits of Homeschool over Public School
By Lieren S.

Hello! My name is Lieren S., I am 16 years old, and have been homeschooled all my life. I do not know very much about public school, but based on what little I do know, I am continually grateful to my parents for their decision to homeschool me! As the oldest of 11 children, I have had the great blessing not only of being homeschooled myself, but also of helping to homeschool my younger siblings. Yes, I have sometimes thought that it would be fun to go to school, and it might be - for about a day. Because I am homeschooled, I have been able to pursue many things that I would not have had time for in public school, such as filmmaking, baking, and helping my father in his self-employed business. Below are several reasons why I believe homeschooling is superior to public school.

1. Homeschooling is consistent with the Bible.
Look up in your concordance, and tell me where you find the word “education.” It is never mentioned in the Bible. Broaden that to “wisdom”, “knowledge” and “understanding”, and you will find a host of verses - even the entire book of Proverbs - dedicated to the impartation of wisdom. Perhaps the most common verse used to support homeschooling is Deuteronomy 6:6-9:
“And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently into thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”
Obviously, it would be very difficult to obey this verse in the public school system!

2. There is little to no negative peer pressure.
The common saying “if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?” seems funny at first, but in reality it is a very important question. Do you care more about what your friends think of you, or what God thinks of you? Proverbs 4:14-15 says:
“Enter not into the path of the wicked and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it and pass away.”
The “path of the wicked” could very well describe public school. Why would you intentionally place yourself in the middle of temptation and evil? Homeschooling allows you to build lasting friendships with like-minded people, who will encourage you rather than tempt you to compromise. And when your only classmates are your siblings, peer pressure is never an issue!

3. The schedule is flexible.
This is one of the more practical benefits of homeschooling - and one of the most fun! If something unexpected occurs, it’s not difficult to simply rearrange the schedule to accommodate it. It also makes you more available to help others. Every other Thursday, for example, my mom takes my grandmother out to lunch, and visits with her. She takes a few kids with her, and they are able to be a blessing to my grandmother in a way they could not be if they were in public school. There are also fun benefits! For example, our family always goes on vacation during the first two weeks of September. During the two most beautiful weeks of the year (we think!), while most kids are headed back to school, we’re headed on vacation! During the heat of summer you can sit in your air conditioned house and do schoolwork, and then take a month or two off to enjoy the beautiful fall weather and rake leaves.:-)

4. You are able to interact comfortably with all ages.
The way the school system lumps all children in with their own age group results in teenagers that don’t know how to communicate with anyone besides other teenagers. They don’t know how to talk intelligently with adults, or interact with younger children. This is not only inadequate preparation for living life as an adult, but it also misses the amazing experience of learning from the older and wiser men and women who have gone before us. Learning outside of the public school system naturally puts us in position to combine the wisdom of age with the energy of youth, while public school goes in the opposite direction, making the Biblical pattern of mentoring much more difficult.

5. It keeps the family intact.
The breakup of the family in America and around the world has been widely caused by the public school system. Although television, ipods, computers and other technology have done their share to create a ‘me-centered‘ world, government schools are one of the biggest offenders. With the kids on the school bus and out of the way every morning, the mothers are ‘free’ to pursue their own interests. This ‘freedom’ for women, has ultimately resulted in more women than men in the work force today. And we wonder where all the men have gone! God created men and women different for a purpose - the family. Men are better able than women to handle the stress and difficulties of work outside the home. Women are better able than men to handle the stress and difficulties of running a household and raising children. This is not random chance! This is how God designed it to be! In the homeschool family, the mother and children are at home together all day long. Although for some this may seem more like a nightmare than a dream, the relationships built with family at home are the cornerstones of rebuilding our fallen country. And the more time you spend with your family, the more time you will want to spend with them. Really! :-)

“Let them alone; they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” Matthew 15:14
Imagine with me for a moment that both of us are blind, and trying to make our way across a busy intersection. If I attempted to lead you, we would both meet with disaster because neither of us could see where we were going. In the same way, most students at public schools are spiritually blind and without direction. If you allow the blind to lead you, disaster will occur. Keep your eyes on the light, for you are not blind! You have the King of the Universe for your father, and He has a perfect and beautiful plan for your life. Do not waste your time on the frivolous and oftentimes harmful pleasures the world has to offer. Live each moment for the glory of your King, and prepare yourself to serve Him until His task for you is complete.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.”
Ecclesiastes 10: 13-14

By Olivia -
Government schools are not fairy tales like movies show them to be (Highschool Musical, A Cinderella story, etc.) – they are dangerous places. More than ever we see young ladies roaming around lost, unprotected, and unloved. Trying to be found, protected and loved, many young women fantasize that a new and better life would be found somewhere else other than their home – like attending a public school where they can be with friends all day or be noticed more than they are now.

I am 17 years old and was adopted into a loving, Christian homeschooling family when I was ten years old. Before being homeschooled, I attended public schools. I can tell you from experience they are not always fun and jolly. Yes, any day can bring fun – no matter where you are. But we have to look at the value of the fun being given. My parents, and most homeschooling parents, choose to homeschool their children because of their love for their children and their desire to protect them by showing them the Truth…Jesus Christ. Your parents desire your heart and your mind and are unwilling to hand them over to the government school system, especially for the sake of a different kind of “fun”. They aren’t just keeping you home to help clean the house, keep the younger children together, to have no friends, or whatever reason may be making you discontent. Homeschooling can be very "fun"! It is all in your choice of attitude.

Young ladies, I encourage you to be thankful for the blessing you were given in being homeschooled. I know a young Christian public high school student that has been government schooled all the way through school. She has said to me before that she wishes she had been homeschooled and really values all that she sees in my life. Many people think that being public schooled is a way to share the gospel with the lost, but what happens is that the Christian student often gets “preached” to from the government system and ends up losing their heart to the lies being fed to them.

Please value the gift your parents are giving you and don’t long for some “fairy-tale” called public school. Do not toss aside the gift your parents are giving you – a gift from God!

Public high school is often quite unfairly vilified in my opinion. Public high school is what you make of it. If you take advantage of the resources and put in the effort, you can get a lot out of it. If you hang out with the “good” kids, you most likely won’t get dragged into perilous situations (crazy parties, drugs, etc.) as is often depicted in the movies. My opinion of public school is almost entirely positive. I was in New England public schools from kindergarten until I graduated from high school, and am now a student at a private college. I can’t imagine having experienced the same academic and personal growth from completing high school at a private school or at home.

First, I should probably tell you a bit about who I am. I have always been an introverted person. I was born introverted, and will probably be introverted for the rest of my life. However, when I was younger, I was also quite shy. Now, I am much less shy, although I am not outgoing by any means. I am also self-motivated. In this regard, I think I would have done well with homeschooling. I love to learn. Another important note: I’m quite familiar with homeschooling, since they majority of my cousins are/have been homeschooled.

Academically, I had an amazing high school experience. The public schools in my town are pretty good and my school offered a fair number of honors and AP (advanced placement) courses. I didn’t have as much freedom to choose my classes during the 9th and 10th grades since I had more required classes. However, this was fine since I did not really know what I wanted to study yet anyway. I did have the freedom to choose the levels of the classes I took (AP vs. honors vs. college prep. My school also offered level 2 and 3 classes, which were for students who were either not planning on college or needed extra help). By taking mostly honors classes, most of my classmates were the same (my graduating class was 230, but I really only took classes with about 50 of them). During my junior and senior years, I got to choose most of my classes, as well as some of my teachers. I loved the sciences, so I took mostly science classes. My school offered some science courses on specific topics, such as aquatic ecosystems. During my senior year, I took seven academic classes (and when I say academic, I mean sciences/math/English/foreign language) in addition to an online course. On any given night, I could have 3-7 hours of homework. With my extracurriculars on top of this, I was busy with school from 6:30 in the morning until I went to bed at 10. This may seem like a lot, but my work increased gradually throughout my public school education. In 9th grade, I probably had about 1-4 hours of homework per night and fewer extracurriculars. So, by the time I reached my senior year, I felt well prepared and ready to tackle it. It definitely taught me effective time and stress management.

I hear a lot of unfairly negative critiques of public school teachers. Most high school teachers are there because they enjoy teaching and know a lot about their subject. Of course, there’s always the chance that you’ll get a teacher who is not great. However, you will also have six other teachers who could be amazing. Several years after my high school graduation, I am still in contact with my favorite teachers. I learned a lot from my high school teachers, and most of them truly care about their students. They’re typically kind and helpful people, not the scary out-of-touch adults that movies usually depict.

I also had a good social experience in high school. High school can be rather clique-y, but for me, that was not a bad thing. I had a group of about 10 friends who I had classes with and would hang out with outside of class. My group of friends coexisted with everyone else at school. I never personally experienced any bullying and we certainly never bullied anyone else. That’s not to say that bullying doesn’t exist; it does. However, you should not automatically think “If I go to public school, I’m going to have to worry about bullies.” That simply isn’t true.

Going to public school definitely made me less shy. I’m not saying being shy is necessarily a bad thing, but it is if it interferes with your ability to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. I learned good social skills and how to interact with many different people.

I usually did not have very much time to spend with friends outside of school. Sometimes we would get together on a Friday or Saturday night, but we never partied. Honestly, I never even heard about any high school parties (at least not the “traditional” crazy high school parties. Of course, my friends and I had small birthday parties, but these usually included a movie and a sleepover). Even if we didn’t have a lot of time outside of school, I still got to spend 8 hours a day with my friends since we were typically in the same classes.

I obviously do not think that homeschoolers are in any way inferior or lacking in socialization. However, I do have one problem with homeschooling (especially if you’re homeschooling for religious purposes, but this applies to all homeschooling): I don’t believe that anyone can effectively learn about people who have very different ideas/lifestyles by homeschooling. Learning to interact with very different people is something that I would not get by socializing with friends from church or family friends or even by having a part-time job. This is something that I got from public schooling. I learned to put myself in others’ shoes and really understand their perspectives and why they came to think as they do. Also, I think that learning from someone who is not a member of your family or your church is highly beneficial. No matter what you do in life, these are skills that you need to have in order to truly understand people.

Regarding movies depicting public school: NONE of them are remotely accurate. Neither the good nor the bad parts reflect the true high school experience, at least from my point of view. My two favorite high school movies are The Breakfast Club and Mean Girls (funnily enough, both of these movies depict high school as a horrifying experience). Despite my love for these films, I am so thankful that they are NOT real. The high school social scene is not nearly as scary as shown in either of these films. Films that show a more utopian view of high school, like High School Musical, are just as unrealistic. Watching High School Musical and then wanting to go to public school is like watching The Beauty and the Beast and then wanting to go to a French castle (I’m sorry, but you will be sorely disappointed. Public school and French castles lack both the singing). It is a MOVIE, not real life. Never base real-life decisions on movies. That’s just a good rule in general.

If you’re a homeschooler looking to start public school, chances are you will not fall in love with Zac Efron or be manipulated by Regina George. High school is neither a particularly romantic place, nor a scary one. Public school is, above all else, a school. It’s a place to get an education. If you’re a Christian homeschooler, you can absolutely go to public school. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to party or date (I didn’t) and still have a fulfilling high school experience with great friends. Believe it or not, you have choices as a public school student. I would not take back my public school education for anything. I would recommend considering public high school, but don’t expect it to be anything like the movies. You’re there to learn and to grow. My high school was a second home for me; one full of great people and memories.

A Public Experience
By Jacy

Going to public school for me was about friends and boys. Now, don’t get me wrong. I had great classes and some good teachers, most of the time. But as a growing young lady, my focus was never on what was good for me. There are so many kids from all different walks of life trying to be educated in one place, with only one set of rules for everyone. My hungry brain was not being fed the right kinds of food. Public school allowed me to have some good friends. But on the flip side, public school helped me birth excuses against thriving in education and protecting my heart. Eventually I grew out of that stage, but not without some emotional scars.

I believe the biggest problem in public school today is more than just the constant bullying, the overcrowding of classrooms, lack of teacher assistance and experience. It is kids not having the desire or knowledge as to how to guard their hearts properly and to focus on what God wants in their lives. Some of these children have no solid love in their lives, and we expect them to interact with others with dignity and respect that they never had themselves. I’ve known many kids whose parents were divorced, on drugs or plainly just did not care what their child did as long as the parents were not bothered.

Children need love and attention, and when they don’t get what their hearts need at home, school is the next best stop. Can you really blame the child for being a product of their circumstances? Yes, they need to be disciplined like everyone else, but are we really seeing the potential public school can have, and the ministry it can be? Instead of being positive about preparing our children to be a Christ-like example in school, we see it as a passage way to bad choices. The key is deepening a child’s foundation in God that they can withstand and go through the trials of public school as a better compassionate and loving Christian. Sometimes separating children too much from public school is not equipping a child to learn how to interact with others who need Jesus. The fear of our children falling into temptation in schools moves us to keep them segregated, away from the “problem.” I am not against homeschooling, but the problem really lies in the heart of a child or person. There are many unhealthy and ungodly habits being introduced to children at home all over the world.

I wasn’t homeschooled, but my husband was for some of his education. But by middle school and high school, he attended public school in the same town where he grew up. Using both of our experiences while thinking about this article, I concluded that middle school is by far the most terrifying and life changing part of a child’s life. They are neither a small kid nor a teenager, but in between. How confusing a time for them! Being in between two stages that is when children have harder times of adjustment, discipline, acceptance and discernment. Their hearts are still very innocent, and yet society is pushing them to grow quickly when they may not be ready.

For the most part, I went to school with unbelievers. I myself was not much of a follower of Christ until my early 20s, but I still knew there was a God and wanted to know more about Him. I just had no guidance as to how to do that, never mind even a Bible.

Rebellion became my antidote. Children subconsciously know that their lives are meant for more, but what they don’t understand is that God has promised them a role so much higher than where they are right now. Without the proper guidelines from His Word and without good Christian examples in their lives, public school can be a pit of hot rebellion racing through their veins. They lash out just to prove to themselves that they are worth something. Kids try and gain some respect and identity through their harsh words and actions because they have not been taught that they need to be like the Lord Jesus Christ. They have not been told to guard their hearts and keep their emotional purity set on God.

I remember my journal pages filled up daily with juicy details about how a boy I liked smiled at me that day. Or how when he spoke, my heart would flutter and I couldn’t breathe. These are all natural reactions, but I can see now how that was dangerous. Instead of focusing on my schoolwork, I was focusing on another human being to satisfy my hearts desires. As a young girl, this is meant to happen. However I know I could have saved so much time and heartbreak if I was equipped with the proper scriptures concerning my heart and how I needed to have it flutter for God.

Guarding your heart is a daily practice. Going to public school is not just about guarding yourselves physically, but even more so is being pure emotionally. I had spent the majority of my energy swooning over young men and living in my fantasy world that did not exist. I was a creative child and loved art. I credit my imagination for saving my soul against the pressures of drugs and alcohol. Because of my God given gifts, I was able to occupy myself most of the time with something positive and have an outlet for my feelings. But most kids don’t have that, and they don’t know what to turn to in order to satisfy that emptiness inside.

I don’t think public school allows children to keep that innocence within their hearts. I believe the school system has good intentions, but not for the kids. We seem too consumed with the best state test scores and all these fancy numbers that don’t mean anything if a child is still lost and lonely. Yes, we scored the highest grades in our math division! And yet a child is being bullied every day without anyone, teachers included, stepping in to make a real difference. Our main focus in education needs to be on growing and building up these children to be leaders in the world that is in dire need of true compassion and love.

I have been fortunate to have some good teachers who actually care more about the test scores, and focus on touching a child’s heart. But they are few and far between, and this world is not slowing down at a pace that children can cope properly with the many transitions that occur after they done with school.

Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

True education needs to start at home. Whether they’re homeschooled or attend public school, children need to be reminded of a higher purpose in their lives so that they will be less likely to try and grasp at the unfulfilling strings in the world. Talk to them but more important, listen. We need to listen to our children because they are calling out for help. When a child rebels against authority, they really are speaking out. Who will hear them? If not you, God will always listen but do they know that? Do our children really know that God is with them always?

Public school for me had many great memories. I had some good and solid friends that I still have today, and am able to minister to thanks to God’s divine intervention. I grew in my talents and Godly gifts thanks to the teachers He placed in my life. But my experience is an exception to many children who did not make it all the way to graduation. The ones who did not have education start at home and the ones who never felt what real love truly was. The power in our hands lets us decide whether we will help our children grow and prosper, or wallow as the product of their circumstances.

Will you be the one that will listen?

I would like to thank everyone who submitted an essay! :-) It was very interesting and helpful to read your different viewpoints and experiences.

If anyone is interested in studying this further, I recommend John Taylor Gatto's book "The Underground History of American Education" - available for online reading at http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm. Mr Gatto is an interesting man and was named New York State Teacher of the Year three times - it is fascinating to read his perspective of the system that he taught in for so long.

Another book I recommend is "Safely Home" by Tom Eldredge - this book was written by a Christian author and is an amazing study of the history of education among other things. Though not available online, it is for sale for a reasonable price (new or used).

I do hope that this was helpful to you, and I will do my utmost to ensure that the other two essays are included as soon as possible. :-)


CNK said...

Great essays! I'm glad to be homeschooled :-) -C

Nate said...

I was home schooled and went to public school as well. I see flaws in both, although the way the world is going it seems that homeschooling is becoming a better choice.

modest swimwear said...

It is never mentioned in the Bible. The extension of his wisdom, knowledge and understanding and you'll find lots of worms, even the entire book of Proverbs dedicated to the impartation of wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joy! My name is Lauren. I recently read your blog post about crushes and "that annoying feeling", all the way from back in 2008. I wanted to ask a question about that post. I have always struggled with having crushes because it was hard for me to figure out if the crush was just another cute guy or someone that God sent into my life for a reason. I've been doing better with this until recently when yet another possible crush came into my life. Im older now and i dont know whether i should take this seriously or not.Your reply and advice will be greatly appreciated.