Monday, December 10, 2007

An "Aha!" Moment

Do you ever come across something when you're reading, watching TV, listening to the radio, etc. that just makes the light bulb go off in your head? I had one of those "Aha!" moments earlier this evening when reading the introduction to The Feel-Good Curriculum: The Dumbing Down of America's Kids in the Name of Self-Esteem by Dr. Maureen Stout, formerly a professor of education at Cal State-Northridge, the University of British Columbia, and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Interestingly, Dr. Stout has left academia for the business world- perhaps she stepped on a few too many educrats' toes or maybe she just got burned out trying to swim against the tide of anti-intellectualism and political correctness so prevalent in ed schools.

Anyways, here's the quote from Dr. Stout's book (emphasis mine):

Although it was probably always understood that a positive side effect of education is having an educated citizenry capable of making rational educational, employment, and personal choices, the public school was never intended to serve the personal whims of each individual. Indeed it cannot do so, since a public school, by definition, must provide the education that the public as a whole- not as individuals - wants."

Dr. Stout has precisely nailed it on the head why homeschooling is inherently superior to traditional schooling. I do take issue with her use of the pejorative word "whims"; a more accurate term IMHO would be "needs". Traditional schools, by design, sacrifice the individual student's needs to the desires of those in power. Worse, government-run schools have, over recent decades, become less and less accountable to the parents of the children in them. Decisions that were previously made on the local level are now being made hundreds of miles away in the state capitol or thousands of miles away in D.C.

With homeschooling, parents are able to provide the education appropriate to the individual child's needs. One size does NOT fit all when it comes to education; homeschooling, unlike traditional schooling, embraces this fact. Good teachers may try to differentiate instruction but the demands of a 20-to-30+ student classroom and mandatory state curriculum standards necessarily limit their ability to do so. Only in the homeschool with its extremely low teacher-pupil ratio and its relative freedom from artificial external mandates can there be true individual tailoring.

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