Social Education

My bloggy buddy Shell has started "Pour Your Heart Out" Wednesdays and I thought I'd give it a shot this week. If you want to know more about it follow the button:

I've been thinking about education a lot these days. As most of you are aware I was homeschooled and it was a very positive experience for me. Because of this I've always dreamed of homeschooling my own kids. Matt on the other hand attended public school (and private school briefly) and is of the school of thought (pun intended) that public school is the norm and our kids should have a normal upbringing. After some back and forth we decided to homeschool Mallory this year since we didn't want her to have to change school districts in the middle of her first year of school. When we made this decision we didn't know where we'd end up moving but decided that we would make the public/homeschool decision based on whether or not the school district was a good one. Now that we know where we will be come September I've started doing some research on the school district and the reviews are not just mixed; they are downright polarizing.

While this is going on at my house my mother is struggling with an inner conflict at hers. She is currently homeschooling my three youngest siblings. I've talked before about my sister Hello Kitty's learning disabilities. I'm not going to recap all of that here so I encourage you to follow the link to see what she and my mom deal with on a day to day basis. At this point in Hello Kitty's education my mom feels that she would be better educated by someone else. The public school in my mom's district has programs catered to kids with HK's learning disabilities and also more experience then my mother in this area. So where does the conflict come from? If she would receive a better education from someone else it seems like a no-brainer, right?

Here's the rub. When choosing a school for your kids you aren't just deciding on their academic education, you are choosing what kind of social education they will receive too. The school that can offer HK education is the same school that my sister Diva attended when she first came to live with our family. Diva was only in the fifth grade and she was asked by a classmate to meet him in the bathroom for sex. During the same school year she had a first grader point out to her that there were two sixth graders having sex in the back of the bus. When the girl in question finished with the first boy, she moved on to the next. Now Diva was smart enough to walk away from those situations (and keep that first grader at the front of the bus), but HK is a sweet, sheltered, low-IQ girl who wouldn't understand that the kids inviting her to the bathroom aren't her friends and she could very easily be convinced to follow them. You could argue here that it's every parents responsibility to teach their children right from wrong and I would agree with you. You might also say that all kids are going to have to learn about sex sometime and I would agree with you about this also. Thing is I don't want my kids to learn about it at six or have the choice to become sexually active at ten. I would prefer that I have the opportunity to talk to them about sex first and also have the option of only exposing them to as much information as I feel is age appropriate.

The school district we are moving to isn't the same one as my mom's so the experiences could be completely different. However, my mom's school district is widely considered the best in the region. Which makes me wonder what kind of scale we are using to judge how good a school is? Is it based solely on the test scores of students? All parents would be pleased to know that their children are receiving a solid academic education. But since the pro-public school argument relies heavily on promoting socialization of our kids, I can't help but think that it's not too much to ask to know what kind of social education they are getting and to expect that kind of information to be a public record just like the academics are. It is my desire to raise my children to be well-rounded adults and I feel that requires a well-rounded education; academic and social.

I could go on about this issue and further expound on some of the things I've touched on here (like I said I've been thinking about this a lot), but I'd really love to hear some other opinions on this besides the ones rolling around in my own head.


Ry said...

Honestly i have always been against homeschooling because previously i had no experience with seeing its advantages at all. However after seeing Mallory (and even Anthony) and how much smarter they become every day (and how eager they are to learn) I can't say that homeschooling is a terrible thing. That said, i also knew a bunch of complete flakes that were home schooled when i was in middle school and high school. Now that i look back at it though....i probably knew just as many flaky kids that i went to school with...i just didn't hang with them lol. I also think that Mallory and Anthony would be smart enough to know whats right and whats wrong if a situation ever occurred.

Uncle Ryan's Verdict: Do what you will with these kids. You two parents know whats best for them, not me, and not anyone else. I do know that i hang out with the same 4 clowns (1-4 of them) i met in elementary school every weekend still (20 years now) which is cool but maybe not the norm anyway. One way or another, just make sure Anthony is crushing humans on the gridiron and Mallory is scoring goals on the soccer field. The friends...will figure itself out lol.

"Good things, good things"

Sarah and the Gentlemen said...

I would run from that school.

My brother sends his daughter to public school and she does well. Her school so far has honored their requests and beliefs.

My son goes to a private school and he does well there. A school should closely with the parents. I guess what it boils down to for me is knowing who spends how much time with my child because then I can get a good picture of who and what has the most influence over them.

It seems that there are a lot of homeschool associations that provide extracuricular activities too. Balance is important and, I think, completely achievable.

I've got a lot more thoughts on the matter but won't bore everyone with it. :0)

Shell said...

Sadly, it's just test scores that are looked at, usually. And the test scores mean so little.

As a former pubic school teacher, I do have some faith in the public school system, but I also believe in doing research and finding one that you feel comfortable with.

Good luck on your decision.

Thanks for linking up.

Amanda said...

I was educated in a public school and hated it. My hubby did public school and he loved it. But there were some pretty awful people in my high school and his too. We had a strong enough background to resist those things. I think it has a lot to do with how you raise your kids, too.

have you thought about private school? Hubby teaches at a private school and those kids are substantially better than public school kids. The school is half homeschooled and half classroom, so they get the socialization of it, but still have the benefit of homeschool.

I was in public school and was a pretty lame person -- very unsocial -- so if it's a concern about socializing your kids, public school isn't going to guarantee that.

tbsomeday said...

are the hk kids mixed in with the rest?

that would be a tough decision

i went to a small public school and it was a wonderful experience...we still had a "naughty" kid here and there...but since class sizes were under 40 usually and all the teachers knew you, your parents and your siblings...they were pretty on top of keeping everything on the up and up
so if a kid asked you to have sex in the bathroom...word would get around real fast and everyone would know and that kid would get straightened out and put on the watch list...

i'm a big fan of small schools and we moved to an area where my kids will be attending the same size of school i did
no one gets lost in the shuffle that way

course...small schools might not have the program you want...but isn't every school funded for such things?

i'm a big fan of homeschooling if you do it right
kids can still be very socially involved with school sports and other activities

and for a special needs case it seems like for everyone's sanity it might be best to send her to school?

Dione said...

I would look into different options with Hello Kitty - she's too vulnerable to be in the "norm". Can she qualify for a grant/scholarship to a private school? What are the charter schools like out there?

I've heard of homeschooling where you can trade with other parents for certain classes. Just a thought.

As for your kids homeschooling, I have home-schooled relatives who aren't really educated or given social opportunities. As a result, these kids are messed up!

You don't strike me as someone who would be oblivious... You've got the education part down! Just make sure your kids are involved...

Church/Sunday School
Singing groups
Play Dates

Just some ideas. I wouldn't enroll them in all of those ;) Good luck!

Kathy English said...

OMG. Has the student population changed since the experience Diva encountered? Is administration aware of the student/social issues? Are they DOING anything about it? Does your area have "school of choice" where you can attend any area school (though you may have to apply, and pay tuition, and provide transporation)? Very tough choice. Is there a college nearby where there might be education students willing to work with Hello Kitty and spot mom for some time off/instructional help? Good luck with the decision. please, keep us posted?