Re: Home Schooling

Mbradford1@aol.com
Mon, 20 Oct 1997 08:50:29 -0400 (EDT)

I would like to respond to comments from several different people.

First Dale:

You stated: "My experience with homeschooled children is they are in the
main
particularly bright eyed and aware and simply a pleasure to be around.
They look adults right in the eye and are willing, eager and able to
discuss issues that most schooled children can barely mumble about. And
since they have not been limited by the distractions of too many
attention demanding school mates each day they have developed their own
talents and interests far beyond their years."

This is not necessarily a good thing. I mean, aren't you a little suspicious
if a kid is "simply a pleasure to be around"? (Written somewhat
tongue-in-cheek.) Speaking as a typical first born, I would say that the
above was probably said about me as a child by the adults that knew me. I
felt much more comfortable around adults than kids my own age. I developed
an outstanding reading ability, far above kids my own age. I was around
mostly adults, and they thought I was wonderful. However, my social skills
with kids my own age were terrible. I had no idea how to relate to them.
Not the greatest thing for my self-esteem, BTW! Now that I am an adult, I
would rather have the skills to relate to peers, not just for my own
satisfaction but also for the many times I need to work with others. I am
faced with the task, as an adult, to learn those skills I wish I had learned
as a kid.

Perhaps the homeschooled kids of whom you speak are very skilled at
interacting with kids their age, but I would contend that a Sudbury setting
is more conducive to developing social skills than a homeschool or public
school setting. We have a former SVS student on staff at our school. His
skills of working with other people and understanding the dynamics of a group
are amazing! We had a difficult incident at school recently where I was
bowled over by his skills at handling the situation. It was infinitely clear
that he learned how to handle tough interpersonal situations because he had
observed them and taken part in them all his life at SVS. He is not the only
SVS person I have witnessed do this. I have seen it in many others as well.

My feeling is that if our country and our world is to make it through all the
challenges we face today, it will take people who can overcome their
individual, narrow perspectives and develop such abilities to work with each
other. I'm sure homeschooling is wonderful and I don't believe that
homeschoolers have worse social skills than public school students. I just
think that students in a Sudbury setting develop remarkable social skills,
and this is something for which I see a great need in today's society.

What do teenagers spend most of their time doing at a Sudbury school?
Talking! It is hard for most adults to look at that and think it is a good
use of their time. But in fact is a an incredibly valuable way to spend
their time. That's why I felt concerned when I read the following from
Jennie regarding her daughter that homeschools. "But she was also concerned
that the peer pressure NOT to learn or create something because most kids
hung out out of doors would be as difficult for her in some ways as the
pressure to learn, etc. in school. She also needs a lot of privacy and quiet
to write stories and poems, etc. She reads a great deal and said she might
like to go to such a school when she was a little bit older, but right now it
would be too distracting."

I don't know Jennie or her daughter, so I can't judge their situation, but I
know that former SVS students have remarked on how good for them it was to be
faced with the decision, "Do I hang out and talk all day, or is my project
more important today?" Is Jennie's daughter missing out on the benefit
dealing with these distractions? Is she missing out by not having the daily
conversations and learning from a democratic system? Is this outweighed by
the benefit of being at home to focus on her tasks? Only Jennie and her
daughter can make that determination, but I think it is an important
consideration.

Bob wrote: "The TCS criticism was about the Sudbury process in which the
majority imposes its rules on everyone. This may not be control to the
degree found in most
schools or in some homes, but it is certainly control of the minority by the
majority." This is a criticism??? I find this to be one of the selling
points of the school. And I am speaking as a staff member who has been voted
down by the majority! A Sudbury school places limits on students' freedom as
little as it possibly can. The few rules a Sudbury school has would hardly
constitute control. A student can pretty much spend his or her time any way
s/he chooses except for JC service. The few times the majority imposes its
will on the minority is an incredible learning experience for the minority.
"Why did my motion fail? What can I do differently next time to persuade
the School Meeting that my motion should be passed?" Learning to answer
these questions has immense value and is such a useful skill to learn.
(Again - speaking from experience!)

Certainly homeschooling offers advantages over Sudbury schools, and Sudbury
schools have advantages over homeschooling. This strain was started with the
question (I paraphrase), "Do homeschoolers miss something educationally due
to less interaction with their peers?" I would say that, in general, the
answer could be no (depending on the homeschooling style), but in comparison
to a Sudbury school, yes.

Melissa Bradford
Liberty Valley School