As you know, I sometimes share comments I feel are particularly interesting or insightful. Today I want to share a comment reader ako left on my post yesterday about my academic experience being homeschooled:
One thing that sticks out for me about academics and homeschooling is how much any success is treated as a credit to the whole system, which is not true of public schools.
I had an excellent public school education, which encouraged my creative writing talent, exposed me to a wide variety of foreign language-learning opportunities, inspired a deep love of literature, provided a surprisingly broad knowledge of history and world affairs, and taught me how to learn. Almost no one looks at my story and goes “That proves public schools are excellent!” and relatively few people will even go with the much more accurate “Okay, some public schools in the US are excellent!” There’s a tendency to give most of the credit to a combination of my natural intelligence level and my parents (who did provide a lot of support and early teaching, but stopped being primarily responsible for my education when I was four, and couldn’t have taught me as much as the schools did). Homeschooling gets credit when homeschoolers succeed, but public school students are more often held to have succeeded in spite of the public school system.
I think this is a great point. There has been a lot of discussion on the recent posts I’ve written on homeschooling, and many readers have argued that individual homeschooling failures should not be allowed to reflect badly on homeschooling as a whole while at the same time focusing on those who fail in public schools and using those failures to tar the entire public school system. There seems to me to be a double standard here. As Heatherjanes explained recently on her blog, both homeschooling and public schooling have their successes and their failures. As I see it, it’s wrong to ignore and erase either the failures or the successes of either system.