Homeschooling has been on the rise in the US and all over the West for several decades now, but the years 2020-2021 brought with them a leap in the number of homeschooled children. As of March 2021, nearly 5 million K-12 children were learning at home, twice as many as in 2019, and almost 9 percent of school-age children in the US. In light of the dismal state of the education system, it is not surprising. If we want children to be happy when they go to school, we must revamp the entire paradigm of education.
An essay titled “Homeschooling: The Research,” published on July 01, 2021, proves that the phenomenon is not exclusive to a particular faith, race, ethnicity, income level, or even level of schooling. According to the essay, “A demographically wide variety of people homeschool – these are atheists, Christians, and Mormons; conservatives, libertarians, and liberals; low-, middle-, and high-income families; black, Hispanic, and white; parents with Ph.D.s, GEDs, and no high-school diplomas.”
Homeschooling has been gaining popularity not because people are so keen on teaching their children by themselves. Its expansion is first and foremost a testimony to the collapse of the existing paradigm. It is not surprising. If you force an education system that was designed during the Industrial Revolution, and whose initial goal was to teach basic literacy and how to operate a lathe, it is a recipe for disaster.
What’s more, the education system does not really educate. It provides some knowledge, but it does nothing in terms of cultivating children’s social skills and human relations. School children of all ages are easy targets to bullying, drug and substance abuse, violence and sexual predation at a place where they should be protected and cared for—at school. In such an atmosphere, they are unable to learn properly, and develop survival skills rather than educational skills. Many of their emotional problems stem not from the domestic environments or from their own personalities, but from the stressful and intimidating atmosphere they are subjected to at school.
For many parents, such stress on their children is unacceptable, and they are opting to relinquish part of their income and take their children’s education into their own hands. As the research shows, despite their lack of teaching experience, the results of their efforts exceed those of the system that was meant to be professional and superior to parents teaching their children.
When children feel imprisoned at school, they cannot flourish. At home, where they feel free, they can do much better even with less professional assistance.
Nevertheless, I do not believe that homeschooling is the ideal educational method. Children need to be among peers of their age group. Also, not all parents are suitable teachers, just as not all people are suitable for any expertise. People who excel in educating, and who are naturally disposed to it, should engage in it. However, the system must be one that caters to the needs of the children and not one that forces them into templates created centuries ago, and which do not fit how they think, feel, perceive the world, or match their aspirations.
In the absence of a system that provides minimal educational requisites and human relation skills, homeschooling is the lesser of two evils. However, as I said, it is not the right way to bring up children in the future.
Rearing children should be done in small groups, with boys and girls apart, as coed settings are certainly the cause of many problems. Additionally, there should be more connection between schools and parents, more discussions about what the children want, need, and where they are learning. Subsequently, children should learn according to their preferred course of learning, the one that suits them.
There is a saying in Hebrew: “Teach the child according to the child’s way.” It means that because each child has unique attributes and qualities, each child should learn according to those characteristics. In this way, children grow up feeling satisfied and fulfilled.
Last, but certainly not least, is the issue of social learning. Since we spend much of our time communicating with others, and since we learn from one another all the time, schools should dedicate much of the time and educational programs to teaching human relation skills. In order to become productive and confident adults, children must learn how to communicate positively and productively with one another. This will help them at work, at home, with their own children when they become parents, and wherever they communicate with people.
Georgina Coase home schools her daughter Emily (7 yrs) and son Samuel (9 yrs) in Stanwell Park, Wollongong, Friday, July 16, 2021. Parents enduring homeschooling duties while trying to work during Sydney’s virus lockdown say they’re coping but worry how much longer it will go on. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)