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As a 7th grader who has been homeschooled for three years and public schooled for four years, I feel I know the strengths and weaknesses of both. They can learn from learn from each other.
How so? You can’t look at the homeschool as and not see the strength that comes from flexibility. You can’t look at the public school and not see the strength that comes from diversity.
Let’s start with the homeschool. Flexible schedules and the infinite opportunities that come with matching curriculum to interest and ability, lead to excellence. Homeschooling is efficient. One can finish their work earlier and go deeper if they so choose. This is an excellent plus for the motivated learner, but may lead to apathy in the less motivated.
This opportunity to spend the time pursuing an area of interest has led to a number of scholastic champs. Recent examples are Robert Marsland who won $40,000 in the 2007-2008 National Vocabulary Championship; 14- year-old Caitlin Snaring won 1st in the National Geographic Bee on her first try; finally we have Phillip Steinch who won $50,000 in the 2007-2008 Intel International Science an Engineering fair for proving carbon nanotubes are stable using lab equipment he invented and built.
Another strength of home schooling is that it builds strong family ties. Siblings become classmates and are forced to rise above differences. Escaping to school friends is not an option.
There are some things homeschoolers could learn from public schools. The melting of different cultures, religions, economic and social groups creates mutual understanding. Homeschoolers tend to move in homogeneous groups. Another strength of the public school is that it is available to all the state supplies the teachers the books and welcomes everyone. Homeschooling requires discretionary money and a great deal of parental time.
Homeschools and public schools are learning from each other. Committed parents and teachers are developing quality enrichment programs for students interests and abilities. Homeschoolers don’t have a monopoly on scholastic champs, and public schools have almost all the athletic titles. The Monitor regularly prints news about Los Alamos Public School champions. We are very proud of them.
In the efforts to be less isolationist and more engaged in their communities, homeschoolers are participating in homeschool activity days where various parents teach group activities and offer enrichment activities such as chorus, foreign languages, and sports. Homeschoolers are also consciously choosing to be involved in their neighbors lives and many host holiday open houses and fund drives of various sorts.
The homeschool and public school should take pride in their accomplishments – but each should reflect on how the other accomplishes so much.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Again, we ran the wrong letter and we apologize. No explanation or excuse is satisfactory, only that we will try even harder to get things right. We apologize to Ariel for any embarrassment we caused.