People have argued for years about whether home schooling makes smarter kids than public schooling. Smartness is not the point. The important thing is how young minds form and social patterns develop. It is a question of organic vs. synthetic.
Public schools exist to socialize the children of the populous. Home schools exist to disciple the hearts of the family. A paradox exists between what public schools attempt to be vs. what they accomplish and what home schools are labeled by others vs. their true nature. To contrast the two, think of public school like a block building and home school as a tree.
Cold, gray, and clinical
Like a cement block building, public schools lay out life in a symmetrical, calculated grid. At specific ages, children fit into specific learning slots. They learn colors, division, infinitive verbs, and algebra all at certain times. If someone lags behind, the teachers place him in a slow class. If someone jumps ahead of the pack, they bog these overachievers down with extra work to keep them in the grid.
This grid creates social silos. Students learn to communicate only within their age and academic group. The age silos break down further into interest groups such as athletic cliques (the jocks) or the computer whizzes (the “geeks”). This much we can learn by observation. We can commend the intentions of public education, however.
Public school creates a scheduled and systematic process of attaining knowledge. Aside from whether or not the curriculum used promotes or demotes God, we must admit that discipline and order fulfill a pillar of wisdom. Our Creator formed the world in an organized, progressive pattern. We honor Him by expanding our education in the same way.
Public education systems operate on the hopes of creating a perfect society. If we can get everyone informed, the experts hope, we will eliminate poverty, prejudice, and disease. Their research appears to have overlooked the importance of morals. Even the most educated and wealthy populations have committed the most horrid crimes against fellow humans.
Rough bark, green leaves, and fruit
The tree of home school life casts a tall shadow over the gray bricks of government education. When God created humanity, He did not start with a school. He brought people into the marvelous invention of family. Families do not align to a grid; they branch like a tree. Even among twins, you do not have anything identical among a home’s inhabitants. Trees have order and design, but lack calculated symmetry. Every tree is different. Where public education assumes your child will learn just like every other, a home leaves room for uniqueness. While every branch in a tree grows upward and bears fruit, all we ask of a child in the home is the same. We do not force our round pegs through the same square hole as the other students.
A tree includes new growth, older branches, and deep roots for stability. A home includes multiple ages, a variety of learning styles, and as many unique life purposes as persons. The twigs socialize with and learn from the older branches. Not only do they have the upward call of their future, they also draw strength from their family roots. They know who they are, who they were, and who they want to be.
Where a public school child often lives in a daze of now, a home schooler has better depth perception in life. Where public schools attempt to crank out clones of commonality, home schools give a child room to branch out. Where socialism and peer mentoring rules the day in public education, teamwork and parental role models shape the home learner’s destiny. Where public schools turn out students confused about what career to follow, home schools turn out trend setters who pursue a life purpose, not just a job.
Choose you this day
The irony of public schools is that such social institutions create isolation. On the other hand, home schools often take a lot of flak for being anti-social. However, most home-schoolers distinguish themselves from public schoolers by being able to carry a conversation with people from any age group. Public schoolers often can only talk to their own age group about a certain set of socially acceptable topics, such as portable gaming systems, sports, or celebrities.
The most important element of the home school is not the report cards or the promise for society. Home schools begin to fulfill the mandate to teach Gods ways to the children at home (Deuteronomy 6:4-7) and provide a setting for fathers to instruct their families (Ephesians 6:4). Take off the label “home school” and find we are really just talking about families.
The conflict is how we value the institution over the organism. Do we believe a man-made social mechanism can do better than a God-ordained family? Do we prefer synthetic children to organically grown? In the final analysis of public school vs. home school, do we want our children to live God-given dreams or just be clones who follow the population?