Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Education Freedom

An article in USA Today reports on the growth of homschooling in America. It is likely that the government estimate of 1.5 million homeschoolers is significantly low.

A blog post by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, discusses the possible future of free-market education.

In California we're facing a severe budget deficit, and this will demand cuts in education among other things. I can imagine a future economy where everyone is home schooled over the Internet, and the average result is an improvement. With the Internet you could leverage the best teaching methods to the entire country. No one gets the bad teacher or the disruptive class. There are no bullies and no cliques.

Obviously you can see lots of problems with this approach. We assume that kids gain a lot from the social interaction of being in school. And of course personal attention from a teacher is important. But we have enough home schooled kids in the world to test that theory. My guess is that as long as home schooled kids have friends in the neighborhood, and siblings, they socialize just fine. The social skills can be learned on sports teams and at Girl Scouts. And I suspect a parent can give better personal attention than a teacher with 20 students.

Poor kids don't have computers and Internet connections. But subsidizing them would be far cheaper in taxes than sending them to school. And suddenly everyone would get the same quality of education.

1 comment:

beaglescout said...

This question presumes that homeschool students learn directly from the internet instead of from their parents and from course materials. It also presumes that the best way to learn manners and mores is to get thrown in with your identical-age group where you establish a pecking order through pure Lord of the Flies competition. Neither one of these is true. Parents can teach their children a lot more about manners, empathy, kindness, and morality than any school, let alone any gang of kids in an identical-age group. One of the lessons homeschoolers are learning is that home education is far more efficient and effective than government monopoly schooling. Graduates turn out to be better balanced adults, and learn a lot more from school. This is race and ethnicity independent, by the way. Home educated minority students show exactly the same range of achievement as their home educated non-minority counterparts. In addition, the average home schooled kid places in the 85th percentile of public and private schooled kids. Yes, in home schooled homes, as in Lake Wobegone, every child is indeed above average.