|HSLDA News||July 29, 2002|
HSLDA Essay Contest: Category II, Third Place
Why Home Schooling Is Good For America
by Jonathan M. Kanary
Home schooling has a long tradition in the United States. Many of America's greatest leaders were educated at home. Their knowledge and ability helped them lead the colonies to victory over England; their wisdom and love of truth helped them create the governmental framework of a new nation. Their memory is revered by all who love America's heritage.
However, in its infancy the modern home schooling movement was viewed with skepticism by the majority of governmental and educational leaders. They worried that this movement would undermine public schools and weaken the already precarious level of education in America. They battled against home schooling in courts and enforced complex regulations on parents who desired to educate their own children.
Nonetheless, home schooling has grown far beyond what even its most ardent supporters could have imagined. And, despite the worries of some political leaders, this growth has proven beneficial to the United States. Most home schooled students and their parents are conscientious voters. They take an active part in government, and like Abraham Lincoln — who educated himself at home — they are beginning to rise up and once again take their place as national leaders.
Government is not the only area to benefit from the growth of the home schooling movement. Business, arts, science, and even public education are discovering that home- educated students bring a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn. They also tend to be very ingenious in their thinking. They are able to "think outside the lines" and come up with creative solutions to problems. The reason for this is simple. Parents teach their children for a wide variety of reasons, but the end result is producing citizens and workers with a different set of influences, outlooks, and opinions than those of their peers. Their presence adds diversity and variety to a culture dominated by a single mode of education.
Home-educated students demonstrate at least two other positive characteristics not found in most students of the public education system. First, they receive less exposure to the poor influences affecting most of their peers. They are less susceptible to peer pressure, and thus are able to "be themselves".
Second, they are able to relate to a wider variety of people. Public school students spend the majority of their time with others their own age. While this is not necessarily negative in itself, it limits their appreciation of other realms of experience. Home schoolers, on the other hand, have spent more time with younger children, with the elderly, and with their parents. They can more easily appreciate people of different ages and backgrounds.
Home schooling has even had a positive effect on public schooling. While public schools are limited by large classes and a dearth of well-qualified teachers, a parent can work with one or two children at a time. This tutorship allows for better education, especially for physically and mentally handicapped students. It also can be highly beneficial to students with learning styles not easily reached by public school methods. When parents of students requiring special attention remove these children, the public schools are freed to better teach those students who will best benefit from their methods.
Of course, home schooling is viewed as a threat by many public educators. Even this can be positive, however. When home schoolers are viewed as competition, public schools raise their standards and work more efficiently in an attempt to prove their own system superior. Thus public education is made more effective.
The most important aspect of home schooling, however, is its effect on the family. Parents who teach their children are able to pass on the knowledge and beliefs of their ancestors. This strengthens intergenerational links. Families spend more time together, which produces greater bonds of love and friendship between family members. A home educator once said that home schooling is, at its heart, a home restoration movement.
Families are the basic building blocks from which nations are formed. As families come together, the nation is made strong. If home schooling is indeed a movement of home restoration, it may be far more than beneficial; it may be the best thing that could happen to the United States of America.