What are some of the arguments against homeschool instruction? This article looks at some of the “cons” in the arguments and explains the thinking behind them. Even if you're pro homeschools, it can be useful to see what others are thinking. Read on to learn more...
Just as there are more and less satisfactory public schools and private schools, so there are more and less satisfactory homeschools. And it stands to reason that each type of schooling might be prone to some particular failings, although any of these characteristic problems is by no means found in every individual school. Talking about the possible problems is not accusatory: it merely raises awareness of potential issues. So with that in mind, here are some of the issues that lead people to be against homeschool education.
Possibility of Unqualified Instructors
Concern about unqualified instructors can be against homeschool instruction. By contrast with the public school system, which has certification and licensure requirements, though less so with the private schools, which set their own teacher qualifications criteria, the qualifications for homeschooling are not much more than being a parent. And parents - like all other members of the general population - not specially trained in instruction, may be better or worse teachers, with greater or less knowledge about any particular subject area.
One person intent on homeschooling might be a classroom instructor taking time off to raise his or her own children. Another may have much less to qualify him or her as an instructor. Although parents can bring a wealth of specialized information about and understanding of their child to the teaching situation, teaching is not just about the child: it is also about the subject area and the process of acquiring the knowledge of and mindset for each subject area and ability to perform the processes and tasks associated with it.
The skills of parenting and instructing are not exactly the same. Teachers not only have some subject area expertise, knowledge of child development and the needs of students with various learning styles, but they also have training in assisting children with special needs, such as learning disabilities. Teachers are required to undergo continuing education, that is, professional development in their fields, even after they receive a teaching license.
Insufficient or Outdated Materials and Equipment
Concern about proper supplies can bring people to be against homeschool education. While public school education has sometimes been correctly accused of being faddish, there are legitimate developments in the understanding of the various subject areas taught in school as well as in pedagogy that render old materials and methods out of date. This is one of the reasons (yes, profits of course, too) educational publishing companies update their materials every few years and public and private schools buy the updates.
Homeschools, often on a small budget, often partly due to one parent not working in order to teach, may take advantage of yard sales, library sales, and discards to provide them with instructional materials, a choice which - while inexpensive - may not provide up-to-date subject area information or pedagogies. How important this is likely to be depends on the subject area and the level of education. A copy of a Beatrix Potter story doesn’t change, but our understanding of physics does.
Lack of Socializing Opportunities
A very common topic that people who are against homeschool education bring up is socialization issues. Public and private schools, by definition, have a number of students - they couldn’t afford to stay open otherwise. Homeschools may have as few as one.
With a number of students from different families and of different ages, schools provide an environment with at least some diversity of age and background. Depending on the locale, the diversity could be fairly minimal, as in a small homogenous rural town, or it could be extremely diverse, as one finds in some urban areas.
Lack of Preparation for “Real World”/Workplace
Being with others doesn’t just provide the opportunity for large-group discussions, putting on plays, and other large-scale activities. It provides opportunities to learn firsthand that people develop differently, have different strengths and weaknesses, learn in different ways, and communicate in different ways. None of this is in the curriculum. Yet, it is an essential part of our education as people who live in a world with others and need to get along with them. This may, or may not be addressed in a particular homeschool situation.
People who are against homeschool education point out the diversity of instructors whose personalities and styles children experience in public and private school. While acknowledging that a particular instructor may not be an especially good match for a student, they point out that the breadth of interactions is likely to produce some positive ones and broaden the student’s understanding. In homeschools, the student may have one, and only one instructor for years on end.
Red Flags Get Hidden
A child who attends public or private school is seen every day by teachers, administrators, and classmates. A child who is homeschooled may not be seen by anyone outside the home for a very long time. Although it may be a rare occurrence, it is possible that homeschooling can be used to cover child abuse in the home. Because it takes children off the grid, so to speak, some people raise this as an issue that makes them against homeschool instruction.
Finally, some people are against both private and homeschooling because they believe that in a democracy, it is important for all citizens to receive a similar education - i.e., a public school education. The claim is that our public schooling gives us basic and fundamental experiences in common that build our cohesiveness as a nation.