Two Articles: Bored Kids and Homeschooling

Dear Reader,

I ran across these two articles in my feed today:

The Homeschool Math Gap: the Data from Coalition for Responsible Home Education (2 September, 2014)

Why our children are so bored at school, cannot wait, get easily frustrated and have no real friends? from Your OT (May 16, 2016)

The first article, from CRHE, cites statistics, contrary to those w usually like to cite, showing that perhaps homeschooled students actually do do worse on standardized tests, particularly in math, and that they are less likely to choose majors in math and science. The article suggests that this may be due to teaching styles and , frankly, the inability of homeschooling parents to teach math.

I think it’s good for us to hear honest feedback on homeschooling. I do question a lot of aspects of the numbers and the article itself. Homeschoolers are to some degree a self-selected bunch. We are more likely to be those for whom traditional schools don’t work so perhaps it should not surprise us that homeschoolers have a harder time meeting traditional school’s criteria. Maybe homeschoolers are just worse at testing. I know mine probably are, because we have done very little of it. But testing isn’t life. Which brings us to the next point: this article is good in some ways in how it analyzed the data, but it never asks or answers the question of how success is measured. Maybe homeschoolers do worse in STEM subjects because they are more creative. Maybe they are drawn to the humanities and arts because they don’t have STEM shoved down their throats as the definition of success (pet peeve of mine here; can you tell?). Maybe homeschoolers do in the end have less worldly success. But maybe they are happier. Maybe they know who they are.

I think the CRHE article is important. I think it is good for homeschoolers to read. But I also think we need to start by knowing what success means for us and then ask if we are achieving it. What we don’t need to do is read some statistics in SAT scores and then panic.

The second article, from Your OT, is not about homeschooling., and I think we need to take it with caution as well. We can’t assume that it doesn’t apply to us because we homeschool. We too can give our kids too much technology and overindulge them. But I loved this bit:

“We created an artificial fun world for our children. There are no dull moments. The moment it becomes quiet, we run to entertain them again because otherwise we feel that we are not doing our parenting duty. We live in two separate worlds. They have their “fun “world and we have our “work” world. Why aren’t children helping us in the kitchen or with laundry? Why don’t they tidy up their toys? This is basic monotonous work that trains the brain to be workable and function under “boredom” which is the same “muscle” that is required to be eventually teachable at school.  When they come to school and it is time for printing, their answer is “I can’t. It is too hard. Too boring” Why? Because the workable “muscle” is not getting trained through endless fun. It gets trained through work.”

It’s not that I don’t think school work should be enjoyable, but it is not our job to make it entertaining. In fact, this approach will often, as the article says, backfire. Because then they can’t do anything that isn’t entertaining. (See this recent blog post on more on that.)

That’s what I’ve been reading. How about you?


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