Monday, May 10, 2010

the (historical) return of American homeschooling, its recent growth, and the difficulty in measuring it and its effectiveness

From Robert Kunzman in Books & Culture...

Despite homeschooling's growing popularity, almost everything we think we know about it is anecdotal or based on a non-representative sample. This is due in large part to widely varying regulations among states...

The National Center for Education Statistics...2003 results estimated 1.1 million homeschool students nationwide, a 29% increase since 1999...many predicted that homeschool numbers were ready to level off. The 2007 NCES data, however, suggested quite the opposite—homeschooling's growth is actually accelerating...And even these figures are probably underestimates. The 2007 survey pegged the total number at 1.5 million, but homeschoolers typically aren't fond of answering questions from outsiders about their activity, particularly if it's the government...

As a result of this rapid growth, thousands of books and related resources on homeschooling have appeared in recent years, but almost all of these are "how to" products aimed at parents...By contrast, relatively little in the way of disinterested academic scholarship is available, and misinformation about homeschool research is widespread.

The most recent example of misleading data involves a study publicized this fall by the Home School Legal Defense Association, which compared the test scores of 11,739 homeschoolers to those of public school students....The bottom line is that we still simply don't know how the "average homeschooler" performs, academically or otherwise.

While compelling quantitative research on homeschooling remains rare, quality scholarship in this area does exist. The finest example of such work is Milton Gaither's Homeschool: An American History. Besides being the best historical analysis available, Gaither's text deserves recognition as the most thoroughly researched, comprehensive look at the topic altogether.

Gaither reminds us that homeschooling is certainly not new in American history....At the same time, Gaither observes, the social meaning of homeschooling has changed dramatically....

Gaither suggests four central reasons for modern homeschooling's emergence and growth over the past several decades: countercultural sensibilities, suburbanization, romantic ideals of child-centered education, and discontent with public schooling....

2 Comments:

At May 11, 2010 at 10:21 AM , Blogger John Desaulniers, Jr. said...

Eric -

For additional homeschool information, I commend to you Dr. Brian Ray and the National Home Education Research Institute (www.nheri.org). Dr. Ray has provided a wealth of statistical (not anecdotal) information on home education, its affect on students academically and socially, and its greater impact on society.

 
At May 23, 2010 at 1:32 AM , Blogger Henry Cate said...

Public schools as large government run institutions only really took off nationwide in the 1870s. They got started in Mass. in the 1850s under Horace Mann.

For some historical context you might enjoy Diane Ravitch's book "Left Back."

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home