by Dr. Brian Ray
The societal upheaval surrounding an alleged “new virus” and its effects in the year 2020 AD has brought many issues to bear. For example, the disturbance has raised serious questions about education for many millions of parents and educators who have heretofore ignored such questions.
What is education? What is schooling? What should a parent’s part be in the education of his or her child? How about the state’s (civil government) part? For children to learn and succeed in life, do parents and children need government-licensed teachers, university-professor trained teachers, government-approved curriculum, and $13,000 (National Education Association, 2018) of their neighbors’ property (taxes) per child per year? Do children need to be in groups of twenty-five of same-age peers five days per week, nine months per year?
Millions of parents worldwide were essentially forced into teaching their children at home. Stress, joy, frustration, and freedom were some of the things experienced by these parents and children during their new and not-freely chosen ways of living.
Most of these parents and adolescents under “sudden teaching at home” had to face educational issues that had never entered their minds. These questions are, however, old news to the families who have been volitionally engaged in parent-led home-based private homeschooling education over the past forty years.
In fact, these homeschooling families, the graduates of homeschooling, and scholars studying the homeschool movement have already answered many of the questions that the Covid-19/Coronavirus event brought to bear.
First, homeschool students consistently significantly outperform public school students in terms of academic achievement. In a review of all peer-reviewed studies by many scholars (Ray, 2017), eleven of the fourteen (78%) studies showed a definite positive effect on achievement for the homeschooled students.
Second, many have wondered, will children not taught in age-segregated classrooms in institutional schools be well socialized? To the surprise of critics of homeschooling, thirteen of the fifteen (87%) peer-reviewed studies on social development have shown clearly positive outcomes for the homeschooled compared to those in conventional schools (Ray, 2017).
And, after forty years of the modern homeschool movement, some still wonder whether graduates of homeschooling will lead successful lives in adulthood. Eleven of the sixteen (69%) studies on success into adulthood, including at college and university, have revealed statistically positive outcomes for the homeschooled compared to those in conventional schools in things such as college GPA, political tolerance, and being more agreeable, conscientious, and open.
Now, millions of parents worldwide who found themselves “teaching at home” by force of circumstances during the Covid-19/Coronavirus event have been exposed to something much more valuable than news about viruses. Many of them have had their eyes uncovered, in a sense, regarding what is needed for children to learn and enjoy learning.
Many of them have learned that the mystique around government-run and professional-run schooling is penetrable. They are learning what homeschoolers already knew.
Thirty-five years of homeschool research and millennia of human history demonstrate that state-licensed teachers are not needed for learning to occur. Many finally realized the lack of necessity of state-licensed teachers during the “worldwide health crisis” in the first half of 2020.
Millennia of human history and thirty-five years of homeschool research make it clear that university-professor-trained teachers are not necessary for children to learn to read, write, do math, grasp history and geography, and do science laboratory experiments. Millions more parents and children learned this firsthand during the first half of 2020.
Many citizens and policymakers around the world had accepted the idea that a government-approved curriculum is necessary for children to learn. But experiences by many millions of parents and students during early 2020 and thirty-five years of homeschool research have shown that such a curriculum is not needed.
In the United States, a century of advocacy for government-run schooling and teachers’ unions activities have convinced many people that parents need $13,000 (or more) of their neighbors’ tax dollars to educate each of their children every year. However, the unexpected experiences of early 2020 and thirty-five years of homeschool research show this to be demonstrably false.
Many advocates of state-run or institutional schooling and parents have seen the events of early 2020 and “forced teaching-at-home” as a disruption. However, as Kerry McDonald (2020) put it:
But some parents may discover that learning outside of schooling benefited their children and strengthened their family. They may start to wonder if homeschooling or other schooling alternatives could be a longer-term option. They may realize that education without schooling is not a crisis but an opportunity.
- McDonald, Kerry. (2020). Retrieved April 24, 2020 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kerrymcdonald/2020/03/11/the-worlds- homeschooling-moment/#2fc2a3ad550c.
- National Education Association. (2019).Rankings of the states 2017 & estimates of school statistics 2018. Retrieved April 24, 2020 from http://www.nea.org/home/73145.htm.
- Ray, Brian D. (2017). https://www.nheri.org/a-systematic-review-of-the-empirical- research-on-selected-aspects-of-homeschooling-as-a-school-choice.
Dr. Brian Ray is president of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI.org). He has published numerous articles and books, been repeatedly interviewed by major media, served as an expert witness in court cases, and testified to legislatures regarding educational issues. Dr. Ray is a leading international expert in research on homeschooling. He holds a PhD in science education from Oregon State University. Brian and Betsy have been married 39 years and have eight children, all of whom have been homeschooled, and they have eight grandchildren. You can donate to the nonprofit NHERI (www.NHERI.org/donate) and sign up for free research updates.
Copyright 2020, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.