Homeschooling: National Tragedy or Individual Triumph?
Aldous Huxley envisioned a future when parents and children would be totally disconnected. In A Brave New World, children were conceived in test tubes and reared solely by state employees, guardians who took care of their physical as well as their educational needs, shaped them into ideal little citizens, and socialized them just so.
Many feel that society has moved toward that place where anything goes, moral relativity reigns, and the State reaches its long arms into the homes, seeking to undo the damage it perceives parents are doing to their children. As a result, there is a movement that has grown over the years, designed in part, to return the responsibility for education to the parents. More and more parents are removing their children from the public school systems for a variety of reasons, and bringing them home for their education.
Homeschooling is home based education in which the parents generally assume responsibility for teaching their children. It is not a new phenomenon. Many argue that public schools are the new phenomenon, when viewed through the lens of history. (Dobson, 2000) Many prominent figures in history received their education at home: Alexander the Great, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, Andrew Carnegie, and Mark Twain, to name a few. (Jones, 2004) It was not until the onset of the twentieth century and as America moved more toward an industrial society, that many states instituted compulsory attendance laws, beginning with Massachusetts, which significantly reduced the number of children being schooled at home. (Jones, 2004) The late 1950s, however, marked the onset of an age of social change, reform, and revisiting old ideas about family, education, and traditional social norms. On the heels of the work of John Holt, an educational reformer and advocate for “unschooling”, the practice of allowing children to self direct their learning, relying on their inherent sense of curiosity to dictate what they study and how (Yurako, 2008) , many left-leaning, progressive parents brought their children home for their education. As more people became supporters of homeschooling, the laws requiring attendance at a recognized school began to be changed as well. Today, homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, with different states having differing oversight requirements. Some states, such as Idaho, allow homeschooling without even requiring that the parents notify the school district of their intent. Others call for standardized tests to be administered, certified teacher oversight, or curriculum approval. (Yurako, 2008) The number of homeschooled students has increased 20% just since 1999 (Princiotta, 2004) and stood at 1.5 million students homeschooled in the US in 2007 (Bielick, 2008), continuing to grow at a rate of 7-14% annually. (Feinberg, 2008) Behind this movement is an organization called Home...