The debate on which between traditional education and home schooling is better is one that has been existent for as long as these two systems have been in place, and it does not seem about to end soon. There are a number of advantages to homeschooling and traditional education; however one seems to outweigh the other in some way. The bone of contention is whether the early years of childhood education should be done at home or in a school.
Traditional education can be defined as education of students that is done in a learning institution either in a public or private school. The people entrusted with giving education to the students are called teachers. Learning takes place in a formal environment in which there is an organizational structure in place that has the board of governors at the top, the teachers at the middle level and the subordinate staff at the bottom.
Teaching follows certain laid out procedure in traditional education that dictates what should be taught in which grade and the precise time of the year it should be taught, this is called a curriculum. The students are required in some institutions to wear uniforms. Learning in traditional education starts from ages five to seven. There are rules and regulations by the government known as compulsory school attendance laws that compel parents to have their children receive basic education.
Homeschooling refers to education that is done at home with the help of parents or a tutor. This form of education is legal and was the first practiced form of education. Homeschooling is viewed in many developed countries as an alternative to the other forms of education available. Many parents have reasons as to why they would want their child to be homeschooled rather than have them attend formal school. There are three common reasons why parents prefer homeschooling one of which is to provide religious and moral instruction. Parents are concerned that when their children go to school at such a tender age, they are likely to lose their religious and moral values because of the interaction with people of different kinds who might influence the kids in a negative way.
The second reason is because of the environment in the school. Many parents feel that the environment may not be suitable for their young ones especially in public schools where all kinds of bad behavior are witnessed time and again. The third reason is because many parents are not satisfied with the academic instructions in schools. They also know the needs and strong points of their children and so they feel that they are in a better position to educate their children at home rather than take then through the traditional education system as they can give them ‘individualized attention’ (Roser 3).
A curriculum is deemed necessary and compulsory for homeschooling in some countries. In an instance where a curriculum is not used in homeschooling, this can be called unschooling. Unschooling was a term created by John Holt in 1977, in his magazine, Growing Without Schooling (Green 5). Homeschooling can also be done under the supervision of correspondence schools or umbrella schools that ensure that the education of children at home is done in the proper manner so as not to affect the child’s education in the future. Traditional education strictly follows a curriculum. Emphasis is placed more on covering the syllabus in accordance with the curriculum rather than in ensuring that all the students have understood what the teacher has been teaching. Traditional education is said to be teacher-centered while homeschooling can be said to be student-centered.
Homeschooling, the first form of education, was done by parents as well as family members where education and apprenticeship was passed on from generation to generation. Traditional education came into existence in the late 17th and early 18th century and it advocated for compulsory education for all school going children. There were a few critics of traditional education at the time, one of whom was John Holt who believed that pressure put on children by their parents caused them to fail. This and other arguments were published in his book, How Children Fail, published in 1964. Holt went on to come up with a book in 1967 titled, How children Learn, that went against traditional education in schools and advocated for homeschooling. This follow-up book tried to explain the process of learning for children and how school was interfering with the proper learning process.
Another crusader for homeschooling was Rousas John Rushdoony who was passionately against traditional schooling because of its international secular nature. Dorothy and Raymond Moore, a couple which strongly believed in homeschooling, together with other scholars conducted several researches especially on early childhood education in America. Their conclusion was that the traditional education, especially for children between 8 and 12 years, was not effective in the physical and mental development of children. The adverse effects were documented and presented as evidence which suggested that early childhood education in schools was responsible for children who had behavioral problems, hypomyopia, juvenile delinquency, and children having special needs.
The Moores argument was that early childhood enrollment robbed the children of a good future by disconnecting the bond and emotional as well as mental development made at home that was necessary for intergration into society as time went by and as the children matured. This once taken can never be returned at a future date thereby depriving the children of a solid foundation and a stable future. The Moores were advocating for homeschooling for the first few years of early childhood as well as the exception for homeschooling later on in their book, better Late Than Early, that was published in 1975.
Traditional education is good in that it has trained professionals who dedicate their time and resources to making sure the children are well taught and they learn. The teachers also, more to having the qualifications, have the experience in teaching and dealing with children of different characters and backgrounds so they know what to do and what not to do. Children learning in schools have the opportunity to interact with other children from different cultures and nationalities. This helps them develop their social skills as well as appreciate who they are and other people. They learn to live with other people and be friendly hence they develop socially. In a classroom setting, all children are treated equally and the exams too are standard for all students. This helps to analyze progress and identify areas of weakness in order to correct them. Having standard exams creates a sense of competition which is healthy for all kids as many things in life have the element of competition. However some parents argue that this is ‘too much academic pressure too early’ (Green 20).
On the other hand homeschooling especially for the initial years is very important because the foundations are set at this stage failure to which there might be dire consequences. Issues of religion and morality are emphasized more at home than in school and who better to instill these values than family members? The family members give their children much more attention than teachers do in schools hence working on weaknesses in the child by correcting and encouraging them. Parents have the freedom to choose a curriculum that best suits their children; this is not an option at school. With traditional education, children learn a lot of things some of which are unnecessary. Parents can do away with what they don’t want their children to learn. The teaching method at home is believed to be less coercive when compared to traditional education. The big question is whether to continue with traditional education or re-examine the education system, this time having the children’s best interest at heart?
Rosser, Tomira. “Comparing home schooling and traditional education.” Helium. 3 Jul. 2008.
Web. 4 Oct. 2011. (http://www.helium.com/items/1101151-homeschool-benefits-of-homeschool).
Green, Penelope. “The Anti-Schoolers.” New York Times. 15 Oct. 2008. Web. 4 Oct. 2011.