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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Our Weekend, and Homeschooling + Science

It is approaching almost one week since our last blog post, which is unacceptable in my eyes. We spent the weekend housesitting Harmony's parents' house. This served a few purposes:
1) Making sure the house didn't spontaneously combust in their absence.
2) Feeding their bird, thus saving them aviarium fees.
3) And admittedly the originator of the housesitting idea...Georgia Tech's first football game of the season, where we decidedly beat down "vaunted" (i.e. overrated) Notre Dame, 33-3! I believe it was ND's worst season opener in history, or something like that.

While we were there, we also watched a DVD documentary on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I was in the process of writing a few paragraphs on that, but this post caught my attention in my Google Reader.

I was/am tempted to get angry at the two responses that Rod quotes in the entry, but I tell myself that I need to just shrug these off, because we will probably only hear more of this when we actually do start homeschooling. I am particularly irked that homeschoolers are generalized as being anti-science. I was irked when I read the statistics that homeschoolers, while overall scoring higher as a group on the ACT, scored slightly lower in the science category.

Although we don't have kids yet (soon hopefully), I hope that we can be a homeschooling family that defies that generalization. Consider our children's recent lineage. Their mom and dad received bachelor's degrees in polymer engineering and applied physics, respectively (with various honors, lest you think we're slouches). Their grandfathers have degrees in electrical engineering (bachelor's), economics (master's), physics (bachelor's + master's), oceanography (master's), and mathematics (Ph.D). Their grandmothers have degrees in animal science (mmm raise me some delicious chicken) and computer science (it is immensely strange to think of my mom doing FORTRAN on punch cards). Their maternal great-grandfathers were mechanical and civil engineers who had some pretty big name assignments on their resumes (USS Enterprise and USS Forrestal come to mind). As for their paternal great-grandfathers, I think my mom's dad was an accountant, but is something of a genius when it comes to fixing electronic equipment. I believe my dad's dad was the lone man not to have a science-related degree. Do not be led into thinking he was a slouch though; you would be gravely mistaken. I am always amazed when I see his C.V. (if my sister reads this, will you please e-mail me a scan of it, if you have it?) Anyways, the subject of my dad's dad is too much to discuss here.

Forgive me if that seemed like grandstanding, but it was done to demonstrate the rather high probability of us having scientifically inclined children. We both intend for our children to have a very strong science and math education. I foresee many impromptu lessons on physics (and by necessity, calculus) as we play outside, or chemistry as they help their mother cook or clean. These homeschoolers will be well-trained in science and math, if we have any say in the matter.

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12 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Harmony

    You forgot to mention the fact that our children might, as a consequence of this, be a *bit* less well-educated when it comes to English. ;-)

    There was a 150 point difference between my Math and Verbal SAT scores, and I don't expect that any child of mine will be much different.

  • JunkMale

    Only a 60 point difference here (math was higher, of course). I somehow got a 4 on the AP English Language test and was able to skip English I in college. Upon taking English II, I got a C :P

    Like you already know, English was my weak point. Not grammar, but the literature; I just don't do well when asked to analyze boring, drab, high and lofty books.

    snore

    Anyways, perhaps you will be able to instill in them your love for reading and books, much better than I can.

  • Alan

    Maybe they'll be a "bit" less exceptional in English. But I suspect that will be compensated by all the other languages they will learn from you two.

  • Birdie

    We've homeschooled our brood since birth and they are all great lovers of science from nature guides to Apologia high school curriculum!

  • Ewokgirl

    I read Dreher's article last week in The Dallas Morning News. (I mean the one that he was defending in the link you gave.) I figured there would be a lot of backlash over his choice for his kids' schooling. There are a lot of misconceptions about homeschooling.

    As for homeschoolers having lower science scores, I would postulate that it may have something to with lack of resources. I imagine it would be costly and difficult to outfit a lab at home. But that's just a guess. It could also be that the parents stress the subjects they themselves are strongest in, but I really don't know.

    I'm a former public school teacher who is all for educational choice. Parents need to educate their children in the way that best fits their kids. I've known many homeschoolers who are extraordinarily well-educated and intelligent. So far, I've only encountered one family whom I believe should NOT be homeschooling. The oldest is now in college, but she had to start at community college because no university would accept her. I wasn't surprised at all because I'd been asked to proofread a paper she wrote her senior year of high school. I was appalled at how poorly she wrote. She could barely string together a proper sentence, much less get her point across in her writing. Mom was oblivious to this. The middle child is now in my Sunday school class, and she is academically far behind her peers. I and several of the other school teachers at our church believe she may actually have an undiagnosed learning disability, but again, mom is oblivious. There's really no way to tell a parent that their teaching could use some work! I have no problem with homeschooling, as long as the homeschooling parent is truly able to teach the child!

    The socialization arguments are just silly. Yes, there may be some families out there who keep their children secluded and sequestered, but most are involved in something outside of the home in which they are able to interact with other children. My guess is that when people say homeschooled kids are poorly socialized, they really mean that they stand out from the popular culture that sucks the other kids in. Keeping a child's innocence is not something to be critical of! People should praise that!

  • Thehotrod5

    I am a homeschool mom to my 3 kiddos (since birth). Not only are we a homeschool family, but we are a transracial family so that adds worth to societies "weird-o-meter." I read that article and had to laugh at quite a bit. Many of what they were trying to point out as "negatives" of homeschooling...we see as positive! One comment had said that we are fearful and that we wanted to control our child's thoughts. I say Yes, and no. Fearful? not so much. We deal with the secular world everyday whether it be trips to the grocery store, the gas station, purchasing clothing etc. Control our child's thoughts? ALMOST....Control our childs environment is more like it. I want to encourage my children to think for themselves which is something that public schools are not able to do (in case someone feels the need to jump I am a former public school teacher). Remember the song "remember little ears what you hear?" It is so true. Our children's purity is nothing to be scoffed at! Congrats on making that decision to homeschool. It is a wonderful journey that leads to a bond with your kids you could never imagine!

    Angela

  • VeiledGlory

    I pity the child who might have dyscalculia in your family!

    ~Anna
    Whose father is an Electrical Engineer and tried to teach her Algebra.

  • Harmony

    Anna,

    I have a sneaking suspicion that I have a mild case of dyscalculia. I have an extremely annoying habit of mixing up my 9's and 6's. It's especially bad when it means that I can't remember whether JunkMale's birthday is on the 16th or the 19th. :P I can't help it, though... 6's and 9's just flip randomly in my brain.

    Luckily for me, I was good at chemistry, which uses quite a bit fewer numbers. Although I must admit to not being quite sure right now if the atomic number for Carbon is 6 or 9! ;D

  • Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks

    Hmmmm...where to start.

    First, some of the commenters to that article seemed to be saying that homeschooling would be acceptable if we could only eliminate all those wacko fundamentalist Christian types. Ummmmmm, not sure why wacko fundamentalist Christian types have any less of a right to teach their own children than anyone else.

    Secondly, Ewokgirl, how do you know that those homeschooled students would be doing any better in public school? Have public schools never produced students who were poor writers? Or who had to enroll in community college? What about students from public schools who can't even get into community college? Why is it anyone's business who "should" be homeschooling? Maybe those parents are filling emotional or spiritual needs that would never be filled in the public school setting. Even if they are not, I would hate to think that someone could decide whether or not I "should" be homeschooling. Thank God, parents are still free to decide what is best for their own children, even if no one else agrees.

    Lastly, I have found, in my short time as a parent, that if you give a child a love of learning and the ability to find out information on their own, the sky is the limit for their education. Just because the parent may not be an overachiever in a particular subject does not necessarily limit what the child can learn. Again, a love of learning is what will give the child the keys to be able to fill in any gaps that the parents may leave. (The same can be said for gaps left in public school education. And there are MANY gaps.)

    ::End of lecture::

  • Ewokgirl

    I did go on a bit of a rant there, I'll admit. But I'm pretty passionate when it comes to education. As I said initially, I support educational choice. But I also am allowed to have an opinion about whether or not a kid is being well educated. The kids themselves have told me what their schooling consists of, which is little more than working their way through workbooks. A love of learning has not been cultivated as they've told me they hate school. And seeing how far behind they've been academically, I've drawn the conclusion that they are being poorly educated. While not all students are equally intelligent, there is no real reason that those kids should be so academically crippled (except perhaps for the possible learning disability).

    Their parents have the right to homeschool them; I certainly don't argue with that. I just think they're doing a lousy job of it. As I said earlier, also, this is the ONLY family I've ever met that I believed should not be homeschooling. Most have produced very well-educated kids.

  • Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks

    Ewokgirl, I'm glad you stated that you recognize the parents have a right to homeschool their children, but again, you came to the conclusion that they "should" not be doing it. According to who's standards? Yours, which don't really matter. You see, I think parents "should" provide fresh fruits and vegetables for their children, read the Bible to them daily, and never, EVER let them know about the goings on of Brittney Spears. However, I can pretty much bet that there are children living on my very block who are not meeting these standards. Do I peer into their windows or question them as to their daily habits? No. Why? Because it is none of my business. Their own parents set the standards for their families. Which is the way it should be. It is a scary business to try to determine or suggest, as some do, that a governing body should determine what standards all families should follow.

    We have been told that we "should" stop having children, let our children have their own rooms, make sure they are all enrolled in sports, buy them a car when they turn 16, pay for their college education, and a myriad of other "shoulds". Those standards are fine and dandy for parents to set for their own families. My husband and I, however, do not agree and would like to set the standards for our own family.

    I, too, am passionate about education, by the way. My husband and I both have college degrees, have tested above average and genius levels on I.Q. tests, and have taught school for a total of 10 years before having children. I do NOT expect other homeschoolers to measure up to my standards, though.

    I guess you would say I am most passionate about freedom and privacy. Without those, there can be no excellence, only mediocrity. I am willing to risk that some won't do as much as I do if it will ensure that I will not be hindered from doing all that I think is best.

  • Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks

    An additional thought: If I think it is more important (which I do) that my 5 yr. old knows all the books of the Bible, has memorized entire Psalms, and knows all the verses to "He Could Have Called 10,000 Angels" than to recognize all of the numbers 1 -30, then why would I bend my standards to match those of a random person who thinks it is important to, say, expose their children to R rated movies and be tolerant and accepting of "alternative lifestyles"?

    As soon as I determine what is best for another's child or allow others to determine what is best for my children, someone's standards are going to be disregarded. Again, it comes down to the point that each parent sets the standards for their own child.

    (I am not talking about abuse or neglect in any of this.)