Is formal schooling necessary for children to develop cognitively

The choices parents have today on how and where to educate their children has expanded compared to many years ago. There is your neighborhood school, a private school, a charter school or another option, which is growing in popularity–home schooling. Studies show many advantages to home schooling. One being that it is not necessary for a child to attend a formal schooling to develop cognitively. The popularity of home schooling under goes much criticism.

Some educators say children that are home schooled are receiving gaps in their student learning because parents may not be qualified to provide well-rounded education. Studies show that home schooled children excel in there studies. Developing (cognitively) as good if not better then children in a formal schooling setting. In the 1950’s, there were approximately 15,000 persons home schooling. These figures are a “guesstimate” as many people just kept their children at home without reporting to the state.

Most people home schooled for religious reasons; some were prosecuted, even jailed. Today every state recognizes the right to school your own children. States set their own regulations and conditions, hence different laws for each state. Today because of better record keeping the estimate of home schoolers is nearing 2 million. The reasons given today for home schooling are varied from religious, political, philosophical, and dissatisfaction with public schools. Teaching and cognitive development outside of school does not have to resemble teaching and cognitive development in school.

Cultural experience can be the basis for development at home and in one’s community throughout one’s compulsory school years. People can successfully do things differently than schools. For example, it has been widely publicized in America that adolescent girls’ self-esteem fades in high school, but in a book about home schooled adolescent girls the opposite was found: If one has thought seriously about the structure and assumptions of compulsory schooling, it is hard to read the psychological literature that asks, “How can we get girls to identify with their own goals? or even “How can we help girls to discover their real interests? ” without thinking about the fact that school is in direct opposition to these concerns… … People in school do not say to students, “What can we do for you? How would you like to make use of this institution? ” On the contrary, going to school is about getting an education having something given or done to you. The home schooled girls I have described are outside this framework. They are not waiting to get something; rather, they are getting it or, more aptly, making it for themselves.

When they say, “Everything I do counts now,” or, “I feel so much freer,” or, “I mainly teach myself,” these are not just feelings they happen to have. These statements actually correspond with the external structure of these girls’ lives. Everything they do does count; it’s not as if they will only get credit for some books or activities or learning and not for others. The girls in this book who have left school and are now home schooling are much freer, in that they have greater liberty to choose what to learn and to learn it in ways that work for them.

The girls who say, “I mainly teach myself,” are saying something true; the structure of their home schooling does allow them to be primarily their own teachers. Thus, the relationship between the external factors and these internal feelings is reciprocal and not coincidental. The person who wrote those words is Susannah Sheffer, in her book A Sense of Self. We teach our children one thing about society and they learn quite the opposite from experience. For instance, doing one’s schoolwork and getting good grades are the most important things that will result in a good job for you as an adult.

That all people can be created equal by education, but that some educations are more equal than others. That individuality and original thinking are treasured by educators, but that being part of a peer group and pleasing the teacher are what get you ahead socially. That learning higher math is necessary for learning to use a computer. That learning what someone else demands you to learn is more important than learning what you want to learn. Schools also make mediocre and poor students learn to accept their lives as losers.

The curricula, language, and texts of school are much closer to the lives and experiences of rich kids than poor, thereby favoring the child who looks and sounds most middle-class. This creates alienation between the school and learners who don’t fit into the social profile of what the school expects a good learner to be. A contradiction between technique and reality creates a “disequilibration” in the citizenry, resulting in greater dependency upon human technique to help people adjust to a society made increasingly technological by man. A study conducted by Dr.

Lawrence M. Rudner, Director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation, demonstrates that home schooled students are developing cognitively without formal schooling and provide an informative look at Americas modern home education. This study presents the results of the largest survey and testing program for students in home schools to date. In Spring 1998, 20,760 K-12 home school students in 11,930 families were administered either the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) or the Tests of Achievement and Proficiency (TAP), depending on their current grade.

The parents responded to a questionnaire requesting background and demographic information. Major findings: DemographicsHome school parents have more formal education than parents in the general population; 88% continued their education beyond high school compared to 50% for the nation as a whole. The median income for home school families ($52,000) is significantly higher than that of all families with children ($36,000) in the United States. Almost all home school students (98%) are in married couple families. Most home school mothers (77%) do not participate in the labor force; almost all home school fathers (98%) do work.

Home school students watch much less television than students nationwide; 65% of home school students watch one hour or less per day compared to 25% nationally. The median amount of money spent annually on educational materials is about $400 per home school student. The distribution of home school students by grade in grades 1-6 is consistent with that of all school children. Proportionally fewer home school students are enrolled at the high school level. Major findings: AchievementAlmost 25% of home school students are enrolled one or more grades above their age-level peers in public and private schools.

Home school student achievement test scores are exceptionally high. The median scores for every subtest at every grade (typically in the 70th to 80th percentile) are well above those of public and Catholic/Private school students. On average, home school students in grades 1 to 4 perform one grade level above their age-level public/private school peers on achievement tests. The achievement test score gap between home school students and public/private school students starts to widen in grade 5.

Students who have been home schooled their entire academic life have higher scholastic achievement test scores than students who have also attended other educational programs. There are no meaningful differences in achievement by gender, whether the student is enrolled in a full-service curriculum, or whether a parent holds a state issued teaching certificate. There are significant achievement differences among home school students when classified by amount of money spent on education, family income, parent education, and television viewing.

Major findings include: the achievement test scores of this group of home school students are exceptionally high–the median scores were typically in the 70th to 80th percentile; 25% of home school students are enrolled one or more grades above their age-level public and private school peers; this group of home school parents has more formal education than parents in the general population; the median income for home school families is significantly higher than that of all families with children in the United States; and almost all home school students are in married couple families.

Because this was not a controlled experiment, the study does not demonstrate that home schooling is superior to public or private schools and the results must be interpreted with caution. The report clearly suggests, however, that home school students do quite well in that educational environment. By current estimates, there are between 700,000 and 1,200,000 students enrolled in home schools in the United States. Further, by all accounts, the movement has been growing steadily over the past few years.

Yet, there is very little scientific literature concerning the population of home school students or even large samples of home school students. This study describes the academic achievement levels and some basic demographic characteristics of a large sample of students and their families. While the academic levels of home school students are described in terms of public and private school norms, this study is not a comparison of home schools with public or private schools. Such comparisons would be fraught with problems.

Home schooling is typically one-on-one. Public schools typically have classes with 25 to 30 students and an extremely wide range of abilities and backgrounds. Home school parents are, by definition, heavily involved in their children’s education; the same, unfortunately, is not true of all public or private school parents. Home schools can easily pace and adapt their curriculum; public and private schools typically have a mandated scope and sequence. This study is a rich source of information concerning their demographics and achievement.

It clearly shows that home school students and their families are a select population. Family income and education levels are well above national averages. The family structure is traditional with married couples as parents, several children, father as bread- winner, and a stay-at-home mother. A large percent of home school students have a parent that has held a state-issued teaching certificate. Home school families do not spend a great deal of money on educational materials and tend not to subscribe to pre-packaged full-service curriculum programs.

While home schools teach the basic skill areas of reading, mathematics, social studies, and science, they do not necessarily follow the same scope, sequence, or emphasis as traditional public and private schools. The primary focus of many home schools is on religious and moral values, but also place a greater emphasis on study skills, critical thinking, working independently, and love of learning. Even with a conservative approach, the achievement levels of the home school students in this study are exceptional.

Within each grade level and each skill area, the median scores for home school students fell between the 70th and 80th percentile of students nationwide and between the 60th and 70th percentile of Catholic/Private school students. By the time home school students are in 8th grade, they are four years ahead of their public/private school counterparts. This study simply shows that those parents choosing to make a commitment to home schooling are able to provide a very successful academic environment. I still agree with my first paper, in that, formal schooling is not necessary for children to develop cognitively.

Children can still receive a well-rounded education through informal schooling and by using cultural experience as part of the basis for learning at home, can further the cognitive development of a child. Furthermore, I feel that Dr. Lawrence M. Rudners study offers impressive results of children developing cognitively without formal schooling. I can only agree stronger now having gained more information through research and lectures, which have enabled me to make a more informed decision on this topic.


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