While working with a group of kids a week or so ago, gathering their thoughts about homeschool, I asked the group what their beliefs are about public school. Here is a small amount of what these teenage homeschoolers they had to say.
ME: What do you think of public school?
LOTS of silence.
"I hate to even name anything because I know it won't be really true, just my own opinion," said one girl right away. Another girl stated that she doesn't think "that way" much, meaning that she didn't judge others.
One knowledgeable girl said, "I think it must take a long time to get through a lesson. The kids talk all of the time. They have to stay with the lesson for a long time, until everyone in the class gets it. When I get the idea of the lesson we just move one. They can't do that.
BUSES - A boy who had attended school up to the age of 9 said, "The buses are nasty! I remember vomit on the floor sliding around. OH! And the time a smoke bomb went off on the bus. It was gross." "Really?" Asked a girl with a smile, "I always thought buses would be fun."
My own lovely and well-spoken daughter, having attended a few scattered months of school, stated emphatically, "The food is CRAP." Everyone was sitting around eating lunch they had brought or food I had provided for the group.
An older girl, wrapped up in her coolest 80s outfit said, "I'm trying to think of how to say this. Teachers teach to the kids who have a harder time understanding. The smarter kids have to deal with the wasted time. I hate to sound mean."
"It's true, though," stated one of the boys who had been in school, "it happens all of the time."
From across the room, a girl working on the computer interjects, "Bullies!" Several kids agree that they have heard many stories of bullies. "I have lots of friends who are in school," she continued, "and they are always talking about bullies. You know, mean kids."
"Are there really that many bullies?" asked a girl in a beret. My daughter assured her that she hadn't observed a singe bully in her experience while in school.
"On the internet I see my school friends having to deal with it..."
"Teachers aren't good," stated a boy. He relayed a personal story of some teacher that did, in fact, seem below par. He also told a story of a teacher who bullied the students and created a pretty horrific learning environment. He assures us he witnessed this himself.
"I think teachers are good," offered the smiling girl. "I'm sure that depends on teachers. But I think most teachers are good!" My daughter insists that her aunt is a teacher and she is AWESOME!
One girl who was loathe to mention anything negative at all, said "kids get less individualized attention from the teacher. There just isn't time." She explained, when she is doing something wrong she is able find it out right away. "The teaching lacks depth, " she said. (That is an actual quote, btw.) "When we were learning about something, if anyone had more interest, there was not time to learn more in class." She went on to talk about how her family enjoys following their interests while reading and often delve deeply into a subject.
The group also mentioned cliques. Everyone had the notion that schools are "ruled" by the popular cliques and that most kids are simply left out of or miss the fun. One of the girls mused, "The cliques are always in the movie...I wonder if they are real?" My daughter assured the group that, "Yes", indeed, cliques are real. Everyone assumed that cliques probably vary from school to school and, further, assumed that most kids probably aren't actually in a clique or group of any kind.
"We have groups of friends in our homeschool group; are those cliques?" mused one of the girls. "I just think of them as groups of friends."
And, finally, the kids all thought that grades were not an accurate gauge of determining what a student has truly learned, only what information could be recalled during the test. "Grades are everything," stated one of the older girls. She remembered people in school talking about their grades very openly and feeling either superior or inferior to others as a result of those grades. "They are so dependent on grades. They can really crush a person's dreams." "Grades don't tell you everything."
Honestly, if you have access to groups of homeschool kids, it's a blast to find out their thoughts on many subject like this! I learned something from this exchange. These kids were not very willing to criticize or condemn or characterize anything at all without adding a caveat. I take that as a real sign of maturity to not offer or accept stereotyped thoughts. I am not saying that public school kids would do that. I only spoke to one public school kid about this (that interview to come!) and she was very mature and thoughtful about all of her responses and thoughts. I'm only saying how impressed I was with this group of kids!
What do you think?~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As Shelli mentions over at Mama of Letters blog:
Personally, I would rather deal with the possible ill effects of homeschooling
than the possible ill effects of public education.
That is what I think.