Homeschoolers

July 11, 2008 at 01:42 AM · I have never been a homeschooler. But some of my friends are. They are dedicated and don't mind working alone in solitude. What was your experience as homeschooler? Which college or conservatory are you going? Or, will you keep working for competitions and auditions without going to college or conservatory? Do you think your dedication was rewarded?

Replies (73)

July 11, 2008 at 02:14 AM · I homeschooled my son and he thinks it was definitely worthwhile. He was accepted at Cleveland, U of MD and Eastman and ended up going to Eastman to study with Prof. Castleman. He went to Quartet Program in the summers and that gave him plenty of social interaction. Scheduling of orchestra, lessons, sessions with a pianist, and chamber rehearsals was much easier once we started homeschooling. There was a lot more time for practicing. We were able to tailor his academic requirements to his interests and he had no trouble getting in to any school academically. It gave us time to visit a couple of the schools for lessons with the teachers he was interested in studying with.

He had no trouble academically at Eastman and has now been accepted to Northwestern for graduate school.

July 11, 2008 at 02:14 AM · I was homeschooled all through elementary school and most of high school (aside from a spurt of curiosity about public school my sophomore year), and it was incredible. Not only was I able to pursue my interests and passions at my liberty, but I feel that I also got a much better education, and became a more independent, self-motivated person because of it. I was able to avoid the administrative and disciplinary time wasting that is inevitable in public (and private) school systems, and simply go straight to the source - seeking out experts or doing research in my areas of interest. Statistics have borne out my experience as the norm, not the exception. Below are some links you may find interesting, particularly the first three;

http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/comp2001/HomeSchoolAchievement.pdf

http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp

http://www.hslda.org/research/ray2003/default.asp

http://school.familyeducation.com/home-schooling/human-relations/56224.html

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=4705

http://nche.hslda.org/docs/BrightSpots/200807100.asp

I am currently pursuing my B.M. in performance at the Hartt School of Music, and I firmly believe that homeschooling was the best way I could possibly have prepared for the conservatory experience. It helped me to develop my self-motivation, creativity, and many other vital skills that every serious musician needs to have. If you have any questions, I would be delighted to tell you more about my experience. My email is svenson@hartford.edu.

July 11, 2008 at 11:47 AM · Although, I am a great defender of homeschooling, I must warn you: be careful which homeschool program you choose. I won't name names, but my first home school program would just send the curriculum and answers to the curriculum to me. I had no one to speak to if I had questions or concerns, and if I did not know the answer, I felt like I was just cheating by looking at the answers all the time. Discouraged, I went back to public school, which proved to be boring and overall bad in peer pressure and other unpleasant things.

So, I went to an independent study program in Burbank, CA. You meet with an adviser/teacher every twenty days to test and review your curriculum, just to make sure your own track. It was there I was able to go to college simultaneously, in which at 13 I started pre-medical studies. I was able to join a community youth orchestra, when I finally began violin at 14. I practiced all the time. And the great part is, I did not feel like I cheated my way through school. I had to meet with an advisor, and my college courses were in a class room setting, so further reinforced learning. (The college provided free tutoring.)

My point is, get into a program in which you have repeated contact with home school teachers and officials and counselors. Some programs require that you meet with a teacher 3 times a week; I believe that is called charter school.

Do your research....

July 11, 2008 at 01:37 PM · Charter schools are state funded/public schools who have more freedom in self-governance and are run by private corporations, universities or school districts. Some work well and some are horrible. Since they are state funded, so they have the same attendance requirements as a standard public school. If you are interested in working at home, you might also investigate if your state offers a virtual school.

July 11, 2008 at 02:00 PM · My brother and I were home-schooled from sixth grade on and the only warning I would offer is it's not for everybody.

Some students do extremely well in a one-on-one environment and others (like me) didn't flourish as much as I would have liked to.

I'm not talking about the social aspect of school, but more the competitive side. I have always achieved much more musically, academically, etc., when I am trying to have the highest grade than my classmates/competition. I didn't enjoy home school for the simple reason that there was no one to compete with and I got bored often.

That being said, it is much easier to find time for practice, lessons, and the like because the schedule can be so flexible.

Good luck!

July 12, 2008 at 01:04 PM · I just wanted to add that homeschooling programs are not by any means the only option - although there are indeed some excellent programs available (many of which closely resemble a traditional school experience relocated to your own home), you do not have to go through an institution at all. There are plenty of resources available for those who would rather not use traditional curriculum, take tests, and follow institutionally approved guidelines. In fact, I would venture that I got a far superior education - and developed and grew more as a person - by NOT going through any pre-designed curriculum, but rather by designing my own curriculum and seeking out my own course materials and (when needed) teachers. It bears noting that this requires a great deal more of the student (and student's parent), however, particularly in terms of self-motivation and creativity, and is certainly not the route for everyone. This approach is often referred to as Unschooling. Do an internet search on it if you're interested - there are lots of great resources available for Unschoolers, and are probably some support groups, supply stores, and other organizations and resources in your area.

July 12, 2008 at 09:01 PM · I was homeschooled from second grade onward, and overall, enjoyed the experience. It helped me be self-motivated, and I liked the flexibility a lot. However, like people have mentioned above, it isn't for everyone. I prefer a smaller social circle, so that side of it was ok for me (I didn't have a ton of friends in high school). It's good to be involved in a church, youth group, activities, etc. to get out of the house and make friends.

I was enrolled in a homeschooling program where my mom would talk to an advisor several times a year for outside input. We also had to submit work samples, test scores, and report cards each semester. Sometimes I wish I'd stuck to more strict deadlines (one thing I've had to adjust to) but overall I was very well prepared for college.

Musically, homeschooling was great for me. I definitely had more time to devote to practicing, youth orchestra, and competitions than a lot of my peers. I'm at the University of KS right now with a good scholarship, and am going to Aspen this summer.

If you have the time to devote to doing it well, and it fits with your child's personality, then I'd definitely recommend homeschooling.

July 12, 2008 at 10:15 PM · Well for balance.

I went to a public school, where I had good teachers and bad teachers, inspiring classes and boring ones. I worked hard at certain things and avoided other things. The orchestra wasn't that great, but I played in several of my city's youth orchestras and had an overall excellent musical, as well as academic, education. My education had many dimensions, a lot like life does. I went to Northwestern and Indiana Universities.

My kids go to public school, despite extreme middle-class pressure to go to private school or even to home-school. Not only are they getting an excellent education, but they also are becoming extremely well-rounded and part of a very diverse community. They each do one sport and one musical activity outside of school, and they go to church. They both know so many people in town, it's ridiculous! They will not be hot-house flowers; they will be well-equipped academically, and socially, for life.

As a parent, I help out a great deal at my children's school, and those efforts go toward helping a whole community, not just my own kids. The kids sense this community dimension. They see that other kids' parents come to read to their class. Other parents come to their class and do a special art class. They see me teaching other kids in their class, not them. The entire experience of it shows them how inter-connected we all are; how important everyone's participation is. I'm confident they will grow to be active citizens in their communities.

Education is not a commodity. It's a community effort that benefits everyone.

July 13, 2008 at 08:08 PM · And yet another perspective on homeschooling. ;-)

I "homeschool" my three sons. I don't know that *home* school fits because each of my children does something radically different from the other. I am a former public school teacher, fyi.

My oldest, whom I ask questions about on this list, sounds a lot like Laurie's children. He does not learn in isolation. He is 14 and has been taking college classes since 12. He spent a year taking a physics class on the campus of a local university and loved it. He'll continue with most of his studies at a local community college. The rest of his academics will be online with group classes. He just had a wonderful gathering with 4 friends that he met in his online English class. The friends and their families all came here to Ca. so they could hang out-what a fun reunion!

He is mostly involved in the community; in fact, he's not involved in any homeschool groups currently as his interests have led him elsewhere. He plays in a university symphony since that fit best with our schedule. He plays competitive chess with mostly adults and other nerdy young chess people. He played baseball on a local high school team last year as an 8th grader and had a wonderful time and will do it again this year. (Now that is another discussion since in California, CIF has very tight regulations about who plays high school sports but I'm trying to work on this)

He was with a strings ensemble for many years that was mostly homeschoolers and Christians but not all but he won't be doing that anymore because of time constraints. Yes, he's had more time to practice his violin (but, um, hasn't really taken advantage of that benefit!!) as a homeschooler. He's also had more time to spend with family members who've been in the hospital such as my middle son who's been recently diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, my aunt who's very old, and my mom who has health issues.

He is a very extroverted, very motivated learner and *home* school has allowed us the ability to have him move into groups-whether young or old-of people quite easily. I would call his education "community based education", a term coined by David Albert. I haven't taught him directly since he was 10 or 11; rather, I facilitate his education and work with him to find what works best for him. I am his accountability partner.

My middle son is radically different and homeschooling has allowed him to be able to deal with his diabetes at home (our doctor was glad that we homeschool since his shot schedule is more rigorous and regimented than some children in school). He's also introverted and has learning disabilities and since that is my background, it's been a good match to help him.

It isn't always easy and there are times that my middle son struggles but I believe it would be no different if he were in school. If we thought that would serve him best, we would put him in school, but for now, it would not serve him or our family best.

Both boys are free to practice music more during the day than children at school but they really don't take advantage of that opportunity. I'm not sure either one will go on professional with their music though both seem to have the ability to do so.

Sorry this is so long winded. My main point is that homeschooling isn't the same in any two homes, or any two states, or even with any two children. Some young musicians definitely benefit from homeschooling but you certainly don't need to homeschool to develop into a fine musician.

Homeschooling works for some and not for others. Public school works for some and not for others. Private school works for some and not for others. I value the freedom to be able to decide how to educate my children.

July 13, 2008 at 10:37 PM · It really depends on the home. And of course the kid. The parent(s) must train the child at an early age to study well.

I am actually homeschooled right now. I really love the idea of learning on your own and at your own pace rather than in a room with a lot of different people. However, I do wish that my learning was more rigorous and disciplined---that I had a more consistent and, I guess, supervised education. But I don't think that most public schools (the ones I've taken classes in) will aid in that. I think that social interactions (ie raging hormones)get in the way of a real education, and that schools often teach beliefs (the class I went to at a local public school taught a lot of Humanism in an English class) that I personally do not believe in. This may be different for you.

If you do decide to send your kid to public school though, be sure to be really open and involved in your kid's education. And even if you homeschool him. :)

July 14, 2008 at 05:13 AM · Know thy time (Drucker)!!!!!

Home schooling is great if you are a person who is highly motivated and does not need external structure. I find people who realize the opportunity of home schooling are very goal oriented. It is not for everyone. However, homeschooling provides tremendous flexibility to pursue your music and other interests, but it is easy to waste such an opportunity. Many good music teachers are very happy to teach during the afternoon and are not rushed at that time of day. This schedule opened up a world of possible teachers and I feel we really benefited from the schedule. As the boys become more involved in chamber and orchestra however, they really need a lot of time to practice so flexibility is a requirement. As they get older they are better at using time wisely. They then have more time for other interests or relaxing. For example my older one works on biology, astronomy, and chemistry with his after practice time, so it is not all music, but allows much exploration.

I find the traditional public and private schools monopolize too much discretionary time with all their activities and study halls and social engineering. They also require too much remedial music and other subjects and you can't always opt out.

Be aware I called some charter schools and exlained the situation and said that my son needed flexibility for his lessons and practice and they seemed very open to discuss an schedule to accomodate him. I told them they could not come close to providing the level of instruction he was receiviing and they expressed an openness to entertain dismissing him early to study his music. So be aware there are schools that may accomodate you. If you need structure, try that route before you homeschool.

If you get control of your time you could practice at the time of your choosing, for as long as you want, and fit in a lot of theory, etc. that will help you as you apply to schools. You can also have a life afterward as you won't be wasting time in "study hall" at school but getting things done. If you are mature enough to handle the freedom then it is the way to go.

While you many not end up picking music in the end, it is important not to let schools piddle your time away. To answer your question: Yes, it is worth it but you must be the self governing type.

July 14, 2008 at 05:27 AM ·

July 14, 2008 at 02:06 PM · I am so envious reading the different posts about students who are currently, or recently, home schooled.

When I was home schooled back in the mid eighties I couldn't even co-participate in high-school music programs or any community college classes. Both wouldn't recognize home schooling as a valid form of education. My parents fought like tigers for me to be allowed to play in the schools music program, and only with the adamant support of the conductor, Ian Edlund, was I able to participate. The college never did agree to allow me to take classes. There were very few co-ops even formed at the time and only a few complete curriculum courses available. The home school idea was slowly developing (at least here in W. Washington) and we all kind of learned as went along.

After reading about all of the opportunities now available for home schoolers I would think that the different personalities of students could definitely be accommodated.

July 14, 2008 at 06:51 PM · Adam,

You are at a fork in the road. You are old enough to set some priorities in life and accept the consequences. However, if you need your Mom or Dad to keep on you about doing homework then be warned, homeschooling is terrible plan! Otherwise, talk to your violin teacher, make a plan about lessons(including addtional costs) and then approach your parents for input. Remember, two more lessons a week is 3 times what they are paying now. Can they afford it? As a parent, I would need to be 100% convinced that the academics were being covered without compromise. If you are good student now, this will make their decision easier, but if you are struggling in school, it will feel to them as if you are dropping out. They probably will not agree. Most parents would not support that plan! Put their minds at ease and get your academics planned and show you are serious. Find out what curriculum your home school friends are using and find out the cost. There is a book called,"The Well Trained Mind", A guide to Classical Education at Home." You can probably find a used one on Amazon. It is a good reference for all the things you will need to work on as a homeschool student and offers great advice to get started. Your parents may want to read it as well. It is not perfect, but overall very good as a starting point to understand what you are getting into. Let your parents speak to your friends parents as well to see how the whole thing works (pros and cons). If your parents work, they will no doubt be very concerned about your productivity in their absence during the day. How will you get to places (lessons, library) etc. How will you measure your progress in school? Most importantly, can they trust you to stick with it 100% and are you responsible enough to take this huge responsibility for your future?

I personally would do it if you could arrange quality independent academic study and other interests around your music schedule. You essentially will be working the same as if you were in school, but can prioritize and compress your schedule resulting in more discretionary time to work on your music and related areas of interest. Just don't use your music to avoid academic areas you will need to be a literate adult. Musicans need to be very literate people in the end, all the more so if you want to teach at the college level. Worth the shot in my opinion.

July 15, 2008 at 09:54 AM · I think the key word here is "balance."

Homeschooling is not an all-or-nothing sort of deal these days. There are so many programs that offer a balance of self-study as well as online and semi-weekly-meeting classes (more similar to a junior college than a traditional K-12 school).

I know many parents who, working full-time can't really commit to home-schooling their kids, but given a few hours a day and some external support from an education cooperative can make it a reality. I have a few students in my orchestra that this has worked out for wonderfully, though I will say they are strongly independent and accomplish a lot on their own compared to most of their peers.

I went to public school. Had a horrific middle school experience (drugs, gangs, the whole caboose) and a great high school experience (dedicated teachers, rigorous honors program, strongly supportive music program), and now I teach at a private school which is a whole 'nother thing altogether.

It all depends on the student...if they have a ton of free time are they actually going to practice on their own? ;)

July 15, 2008 at 01:24 PM · I was homeschooled for my entire life before college. My family didn't even do one of those structured homeschool "curriculums," rather we did stuff on our own schedule in exactly the ways that worked for me. Actually looking back on it I realize I'm essentially an autodidact, I read like crazy--most everything I know, with a few exceptions (math...) I taught myself.

With violin, I took a fairly normal route. I started with a local Suzuki teacher at 3 and took the group class, went through several other teachers and one other group program, played in the Youth Symphony.....but here I must admit I did not take full advantage of my free schedule because the simple fact of the matter is that I utterly hated to practice. I got seriously into violin around age 13 or 14 and THEN it was indispensable to have the free schedule.

I must point out, however, that I am no "hot-house flower." In fact, if I may boast, I like to think I am as "well-rounded" if not more so than many of my peers. Also, I daresay I am far from "unsocialized" (that being the most frequent incredulous accusation I encounter by people unfamiliar with or opposed to homeschooling.) I played in the aforementioned violin groups and orchestras, I was on sports teams, there were other kids in the neighborhood. What I wasn't was stuck into an artificial environment where my only peers were exactly my age and there was one adult authority figure--I dealt my whole life with kids and adults alike, always out in the real world.

This was my experience, I don't pretend that it is some ultimate answer suitable for everyone. More later, perhaps, after I get a cup of coffee...

July 15, 2008 at 02:17 PM ·

July 15, 2008 at 03:26 PM · Mara Gerety,

I think you bring up a good point regarding "hothouse flowers." I think many people are under the misconception that home schooling is somehow flawed or lacking when compared to compulsory education (specifically, public education).

I live in a community where home schooling is quite prevalent and many "traditional" families leverage it whenever there is a problem with the local school administration or funding. In small towns this can happen frequently.

My own experience is that the kids that tend to be "sheltered" are the ones whose only experiences in education are strictly relegated to compulsory public education, go through the system in the same school district and have never experienced anything besides homogony--and ESPECIALLY have parents who leave education to the system and never get involved. Talk about "blinders."

As for teaching one's own children how to play violin. I take what I think is a pragmatic approach: We practice when they want to practice (however, I try to provide an atmosphere in the home where there are many opportunities to practice, as well as play football, field hockey, American Football, baseball, swimming and science projects--both my sons are interested in science and math).

I am not a product of the suzuki method and have many reservations about using it, but I must keep an openn mind so I won't detract from its merits here. However, you probably won't see me ever using it.

In my home, we work on the basics in technique, but mostly emphasize rhythm, ear and improvisation.(my youngest imposed himself on my eldest son's lesson one day and simply picked up the violin and bow and held them correctly at the age of two and actually got a good full sound from the onset. I never guessed he had been observing me while I practiced--I was shocked to put it mildly)

I've spent the past couple of years letting them determine if they like playing or not and if it is something they will have the inclination to pursue. The piano seems to be a favorite of theirs at the moment (I venture to guess it is due to the sound output--they can "compose" great thundering storms and the sounds of chaos).

But, whatever we do musically, I try to tie it all together so that my sons have a chance at forming good building blocks for themsevles-- musically.

We usually have a few minutes of instruction (me showing them how something is done with them trying it---and then demonstrating anything they might be interested in the instrument--or something they've heard---TNMNT theme songs anyone? We incorprate "serious" work within this context as well--fingering, hold, bowing & etc.). We always end our sessions with a "jam session," which they love. We put on little concerts on occasion where they provide the backing or incidental music for me. Vivaldi's "Summer" concerto is a favorite--espcially, when they get to help with the "storm" parts.

July 15, 2008 at 05:17 PM · The "too much homogeneity in the public schools" argument is the strangest thing I've heard in a long time.

July 15, 2008 at 06:09 PM · Laurie Niles,

Believe me, you can find it in most. I have yet to see a public school that does not have some form of it embedded in its culture. But, I have not had the opportunity to visit every corner of the US. I'm sure there are exceptions.

Something many Expats can tell you about. Most of my fellow colleagues I've spoken to about this issue agree that they too have had a serious bought of "culture shock" coming back into the US public education system.

Lack of knowledge of the rest of the world is probably the most quantifiable symptom in these students and many of their educators.

July 15, 2008 at 06:25 PM · A bright child with caring parents will probably do OK in any educational system the parent finds acceptable. Stereotypes regarding either public education OR homeschooling are by nature reductive, and great musicians (or athletes or thinkers) can flourish in either.

The thing I worry about is parents who purposefully choose homeschooling as the means of producing the next violin/ice-skating/science/whatever genius--figuring the child can thereby devote 8 hours a day to practice in a single discipline instead of "wasting" precious practice time on less worthy enterprises.

Others have argued that balance is important, and I could not agree more.

July 15, 2008 at 06:16 PM · Maybe in Seattle, or in certain schools. Though that usually isn't the complaint; more often people are avoiding the racial, religious and economic diversity!

My kids are pretty lucky, really, in their public school. I mean, it's right next to Cal Tech, so there are kids from all over the world, kids of every race. Kids of brilliant parents, but also kids from broken families, bad neighborhoods, dire financial straits and all those other problems.

In one class of violin students that I was teaching at my kids' school, with 12 kids, I asked them if they spoke other languages, and there were five languages represented. Five! A girl from Israel, another from India, a hispanic boy, a Korean girl and well, English. At the same time, half the kids at our school are on free or reduced lunch. Their parents work too much (to barely make ends meet) to home school. Once I saw a first-grader's New Year's resolution posted on a bulletin board outside her class: "to teach my mother to speak English."

It's such a community. Many of the parents teach full-time at the school, and it certainly makes them -- us -- care in a deep way about the school. My daughter's teacher last year was Colombian, and they loved getting him to tell all his stories from growing up there.

I wish public schools all over the country were like ours. But we've made it that way through intense parent involvement and commitment, through the ups and the downs. We have to fight for it.

Tocar y luchar :) So true. A public system can do so much for so many.

July 15, 2008 at 07:13 PM · Yes, flowers can grow in rocky ground. But, why choose rocky ground for one's child?

July 15, 2008 at 06:03 PM · In any environment, home schooled, private school, etc, you will find students who excell (even from the most horrible places)and students who fail (even given the best opportunities).

but generally, the better the learning environment, the better a child will accomplish

As stated in this thread, home schooling is not for everyone. It depends. quite a few factors are involved in both home schooling and in public schools. what your seeing here in this thread about home schooling are basically the success.

There are times and or places where home schooling is the best choice and maybe the only choice, but to make it successful requires a student who is self motivated, the right home schooling program, and parents who are capable, supportive, and committed.

Stanford University has one of the best distance learning programs available, but it is a little pricy.

http://epgy.stanford.edu/

You can take AP tests without taking the AP classes. This requires motivation and discipline. visit the AP site for the recommended text books. Stanford distance learning also has AP classes.

If your very good at music, want to atttend music school, self motivated, your goal is truly to pursue music, then home schooling is definitly a possible choice. but as previous stated in this thread, 8 hours per day practice, not necessarily a music prodigy makes.

Now if you are possibly interested in pursuing another career field and are interested in attending one of the top 20 schools in the nation (Stanford, Harvard, etc) then look at their admission statistics on how many home schooled kids are admitted vs public vs private. These schools are looking for 3 things in a student: High grades (not only high grades, but pushing the envelope, Honors, APs, University classes, etc), EXCELLING in 1 to 2 extra curicular activities (i.e. violin, chess, dabate, etc), and public service (volunteering)

Where I live, a home schooled student can participate in after school activities and sports in the school district they live in.

Its good to have a goal to be good at violin, go to a music school. But do consider other career paths.

July 15, 2008 at 07:30 PM · Laurie-

But, did the curriculum have all students learning in more than one language?

It is one thing of having a "diverse" student and teacher body, it is compeletly another to go beyond a homogenous learning environment.

I don't want to sound like a blow hard, but your examples are precisely the kinds of things to which many of us that have lived outside the US and later re-engaged the public school system are miffed. The "importation" of diversity into the classroom without a fundamental change in the curriculum and expectations sounds to us as very patronizing to those people being highlighted as being part of the diversity. The "diverse student" has the property of being a polyglot or at the very least bi-lingual---the institution really has nothing to do with that, save in ESL--but how many native english speakers are in ESL classes?

I see no indication that the institutional curriculum itself is improving the lot of the average student. Are there compulsary courses such as Latin, Greek or foriegn language across the board for K-12? Not in most states.

July 15, 2008 at 07:32 PM · michael reed,

Something to add.

I know of a few home schooled children that have gotten into ivy leagues schools--most in their mid-teens. The secret: they all had fairly respected experts as tutor in the fields of mathematics, biology, music or other discipline in which the student took an interest.

Unless a parent is omnipotent--my first suggestion to home schooling is making sure you have enough education and knowledge yourself for the task at hand. If not, make every effort to educate yourself first and/or surround yourself with friends that do. You never know when your child's best friend in T-Ball may also be a Nobel Prize winner.

Statistically, home schooled children that are tracked are for the greater part in the top 10%.

Of course, like many things, they don't track how many never took an entrance exam let alone never applied to a major institution.

I think that probably what happens, anecdotally, is that those children that have done extremely well in home schooling are the ones who actually apply.

July 15, 2008 at 07:41 PM · Andrew, I defintly agree about the tutor bit. Access to a great tutor, no matter if the student is public, private, home schooled can have a tremendous impact.

but great tutors many times are a function of location.

How many violinist would have liked to grow up in Bloomington, Indiana, and had the opportunity to take lessons from Josef Gingold. I grew up in a number of out of the way places and people of that caliber were not available.

July 15, 2008 at 08:02 PM · I think that is where a parent chooses to relocate if they and their child believe that is what they should do.

Private lessons would then be appropriate and pretty much the traditional legend of the great performers.

Now, I've lived in some pretty out of the way places and I always manage to meet people with expertise. Many shun academia--especailly after a life of it-but many still retain their connection and stature within acadameia, even though they live in some remote wilderness. Some are considered the "wise men of the mountain" to which doctoral candidates make pilgrimage (we have a few of those in my neighborhood).

Where I currently live, within 15 miles of my home, you can hit up some old person(s) who turns out to be a highly regarded naval architect, a couple famous mountain climbers, a photogprapher with the stature equal to Ansel Adams as well as a pretty respected researcher in genetics. We have some mathmeticians as well. There are others in other fields as well--writers, movie producers, and quite a few string players from the music "A" list in the chamber relm.

You'd be surprised who you come across walking on the side of the road.

I don't live in a very big town.

Believe it or not, as a child, I had a Pepsi Cola in the bar of a hotel on the border of Chile and Argentina. The only other customer in the place asside from my family and family friend was Joseph Mengele--sitting by himself in a dark corner. Gives me chills thinking about it.

You see, there are rather interesting, important and infamous people all over the place. You just need to listen and observe. Most are friendly and beam at the thought of a young person being interested in what they spent a life time doing and learning--especially, when most of them made their decisions to focus on their pursuits later in life.

You've got to figure even the ivy league schools pump out their masses of "experts." Most end up in retirement communities--others do things like build log homes for a living now.

July 15, 2008 at 08:22 PM · Adam Clifford

As far as friends go. Make new ones... but you won't meet them at home and it will take an effort to extend yourself. Having tons of friends is fun but over rated in some ways in my experience. Most of them are acquaintences in the end that come and go. You end up with the core 4 or 5 friends in the end and your family. People are entertaining though I will agree.

July 15, 2008 at 08:39 PM · Laurie,

Perhaps I misread your above comment--did you actually say that many people choose to homeschool their kids so as to avoid environments of racial, linguistic and economic diversity?

July 15, 2008 at 08:46 PM · Mara Gerety,

Be nice to her!

I don't think there is much anyone can do about that type of view. Heck, many of the local home school parents make those kinds of commments about other homeschoolers!

July 15, 2008 at 08:48 PM · Indeed. Especially religious diversity in many cases. It is a modern phenomenon. That's not to say every case is like that; some people have legit reasons to home school, but fear is high on the list here in the early 21st c in the US.

July 15, 2008 at 08:58 PM · quite a lot is heaped on the public schools as well, and I'm tired of it.

Actually I said racial, religious and economic diversity.

July 15, 2008 at 09:28 PM · Laurie,

Growing up, we had the Baptist Homeschoolers ragging on the Catholic Homeschoolers and both of them complaining about the Mormon Homeschoolers. The Mormons just tried to convert them all. Polite of them.

Granted we were in a foreign country and all the homeschoolers were missionaries--so, of course the locals complained about all of them and happily went on their way making chicken sacrifices with beer and cigars. My dog loved to roll on the dead chickens.

-A

by the way, one big reason I think so much negativity is heaped on public schools is that society expects too much of the institution. It was never meant to be what quite a few Americans expect of it.

There is no way that in our current economic and social climate that such a public institution will ever be able to produce consistent results across the board when compared to private schooling. There is too much in bureaucracy to prevent it.

July 15, 2008 at 09:17 PM · I don't think it's a function of bureaucracy entirely. A lot of it is demographics. The public schools

must serve not just the upper middle

class AP students , but also the poorest students, those with learning and physical disabilities, etc etc. It's a terribly difficult job, made worse by lack of public and community support.

July 15, 2008 at 09:26 PM · In defense of modern homeschoolers, the trend is away from religeous reasons to what might be termed "informed parents." They tend to use public and private learning institutions as they see fit, but maintain a daily learning/teaching routine (homeschooling) for their family.

But there is another trend that may end up being just a philisophically over zealous as religous fanaticism ---a "hyper-policitally-correct movement." The parents in these movements have some education and tend to read and believe everything on the internet that smacks of "society is bad." Or, as someone put, " have enough education to argue themselves and others into a falsehood." They are technically savy so tend to have far more reaching effect than traditional religeous groups. The vast majority work in the technical fields. So the desimination of educational misinformation tends to be rampant within the community.

I can tell you some very interesting conversations I've had with members of a local group.

Seems that with the run to get away from institutionalized education, they through away common sense, let alone good sound reasoning.

July 15, 2008 at 09:28 PM · Andrew, I was being quite polite, just asking for clarification.

There certainly are a lot of homeschooling families who do so for perhaps rather dubious reasons, but in my experience it has been to keep the kids from learning about modern science and secular approaches to history, not fear of foreign skin colors.

Xenophobia certainly doesn't always factor into it, however. My family is not religious, is of generally liberal politics, and my parents both have advanced degrees. In short, the classic stereotype of the homeschooler doesn't fit us in the slightest. You'd have to ask them if you want the precise reasons they chose to homeschool me, but whatever the reason, I'm glad they did.

July 15, 2008 at 09:59 PM · No problem.

I know that can be a baited question.

Laurie is in a precarious position on this thread, as in many ways she's forced to defend public education, even though, she probably has more intimate knowledge about it than most of us here and probably could mend a litany of criticisms against it on her own.

I myself of experienced all three in my life and have deffinate preferences.

Currently, one of my children is in public school, the other, private. Both of their teachers are gracious enough to allow my children to bring some of their "home schooling" projects to class. Often to share in "show and tell." But, I'm constantly having to guard against having my sons labelled as "odd," due to what most parents at the school seem to think are "advanced interests." The pitty is, that at their age I was learning the things we do together at school NOT at home.

But, I have gotten positive feedback from some parents saying that the fact that one of my sons is an aspiring Ornithologist inspired their children to get interested in science and nature. So, upon their request to the teachers some of the curriculum was changed to allow more time for science in class. Art as well.

July 15, 2008 at 10:04 PM · andrew

I have relocated to place my son in a better school (from AZ to Oregon (job) and back (school)). with the public schools I and my son have attended, I've had my share of the good, the bad, and inbetween.

There are some really amazing people in the far corners of the world, but sometimes the particalar talent needed is not nearby

I find it amazing that people read the internet as if it were the gospel. If it's on the internet it must be true. If it's not on the internet it doesn't exist.

I have met my share of "educated" people with some peculiar ideas.

July 15, 2008 at 10:29 PM · FWIW, peer-reviewed university research has shown that private schools do not produce better results than public schools. If anything, when controlled for demographics, public schools do a slightly better job.

Any illusion of superior private school performance is the result of cherry-picking a more academically advanced student body, something public schools, collectively, do not have the legal authority to do.

Support your public schools. Vote in favor of bond issues. Pay attention to school board races. Give money. Volunteer time. Public schools are doing a pretty darned good job, with too few resources. With your help, they will do better. With everyone's help, they will do spectacular things for our country.

July 15, 2008 at 10:36 PM · I agree that demographics plays a huge role in the public schools. I live in a town that is large enough that it is quite diverse as you go from one side to the other. The schools and the educational success of the students pretty much track as the demographics change.

July 15, 2008 at 10:40 PM · I had a friend of mine tell me once that there are two types of kids at private school, those who are acheivers, and those who have been kicked out of other schools (public and private) but their parents have money. My friend should know, since he was not one of the achievers.

July 15, 2008 at 11:07 PM · Adam, This is in response to your questions about homeschooling programs in VA. If one of your parents has a college degree, you can tailor things any way you want to. You are supposed to have them write a letter to the school superintendent where you live advising of their intent to homeschool. When I homeschooled, I outlined briefly what I expected to cover that year with my son, i.e., I would do the Chicago Math Project Algebra II course, or Write at Home for English composition, or whatever I planned to do. You can find the requirements on the HEAV.org web page. If one of your parents does not have a degree, you are supposed to follow a curriculum, but there are ways around it if they give a detailed explanation of what they plan for you to do. Basically, there are few if any reporting requirements, except a standardized test at the end of each year. We used SAT's one year and the entrance exam for Lord Fairfax Comm. College another year. Or the California Achievement test which was short, pointless and cheap. You might look into Indiana University's homeschool courses. In many instances, you can get dual credit for college and highschool course work. We also took a course from Brigham Young Univ. which was quite good. Then there are the local community colleges. My son took no AP courses, but did some college level course. However, at a conservatory, the only courses which might have counted were humanities type courses. At Eastman, there were no requirements for math/sciences. Just music theory, music history and literature courses. One friend of my son's who was homeschooled, got into a number of places, including Boston Univ. She told me that her parents just had her read constantly, there was little formal structure. My son read a lot, took a course here and there, and we also used Write at Home for writing instruction. They are based down near you, but it is an excellent interactive writing program tailored to individual needs.

In addition, homeschooling gave Bobby time to spend one afternoon with his piano teacher, working on music theory, musicianship (with his violin), and piano lessons. We traveled a distance for violin lessons, and that was only possible with the flexibility homeschooling gave us. Bobby went off on tangents sometimes -- building computers, learning operating systems, learning to use Sibelius, photography, audio recording and editing....

Ruth

July 15, 2008 at 11:30 PM · This is just a general thought, applicable to any way you do your high school education: if you choose a university instead of a conservatory, it's nice to have those credits from AP courses. At Northwestern I was able to test out of my science, math and foreign language requirements, allowing me more freed in choosingy classes.

July 16, 2008 at 02:09 AM · Adam, if you are interested in homeschooling but still want to get a diploma you might consider MU High School http://cdis.missouri.edu/high-school.aspx this is a distance learning program based in missouri, but can be done anywhere and even offers AP courses. this way you can still get a diploma without the wasted time in class and would allow more flexibility for practice/rehearsals. I was not homeschooled but I took several courses through this program to lighten my load at my private high school to allow for some practice time during the school day.

July 16, 2008 at 03:54 AM · When I was in high school, my thoughts were to get a degree in what I was passionate about. I really didn't spend too much time on after. Luckily, my engineering degree was highly marketable. Music majors don't have it as good. Maestronet.com and probably here are threads on what job prospects are really like for music majors, either conservatory trained, university, etc. The danger of home schooling or any schoolin where skipping math, science, history, with the thought of only going to conservatory for 4 to 6 years could, with high probability, result in no job and living with mom and dad after 6 or more years of study. There are few decent paying jobs for the very large number of very talented violinist coming out of all these music schools every year. It is better to have a plan B, take high school math, science, AP classes and also look at other degree options along with music.

July 16, 2008 at 05:31 AM · I'm seriously doubting that many V.com members are homeschooled out of a parent's desire to keep them from the dangerous theories of Charles Darwin; more often here are the highly talented kids who are very, very self-directed. I do think that it takes a high level of sophistication by both parent and student to pull off homeschooling well. Also, I think it's a bit like becoming a vegetarian: you better be getting your protein, and it will take extra effort. In other words, you will have to supplement for the things you miss in school, ie. social interaction, down time, P.E., diversity of curriculum and teachers, etc. Highly educated parents and driven students will do that; others frankly won't.

When my children were younger, and I was worried that my very very brilliant and special children (they are) would not get a high enough level of education from public school, my husband (brilliant and special himself) had a wonderful insight: they will always be smart and do well. Achievement will not be their issue. Isolation, depression, resistance to too much pushing, all those attendant issues that come with having a big brain and over-educated parents, were more likely.

So whatever you are doing for your education, if you are on that shining star brilliant near-prodigy track, which so many serious young violinists are, keep yourself grounded enough to preserve your sanity and happiness. Pursue some hobbies that make you happy, cultivate your friendships, find mentors in subjects other than the violin, exercise, commune with nature now and then.

And of course study and practice. ;)

July 16, 2008 at 07:40 PM · Bright kids who are intellectually challenged (make them work to get A levels) tend to do very well at university and later. These kids learn time management, study habits, what it takes to succeed.

Bright kids who are not challenged (school is too easy) tend to under achieve at university (even flunk out) and in life. In k-12, these kids never learn how to manage time, to study, to do what it takes to succeed since everything was to easy.

Public schools are federally mandated to help children with learning disabilities (reading, speaking, et). Schools who fail these kids can and have been sued big time for not helping them.

Public schools are not mandated (obligated) to help bright kids. So often the schools don't step in to stimulate these kids through programs or grade advancement, its up to the parents to advocate for their children.

I agree kids also need to have some fun pursuits

July 16, 2008 at 08:54 PM · Robert,

"When controlled for demographics" ????

I would be very suspect of the underlying data and criteria (reread the article's conclusions, also look at the articles and studies that brought the original research conclusions and methods to question--hence this renewed 'attempt' by the study's authors). I am very surprised that you would put that forth as comment.

Also, the sampling is far too narrow to consider any true results as being of value nor the data as meaningful.

If they were researching private colleges, would 134 or so private colleges in a specific domain be sufficient for a sampling in a proper study? There are 34 Jesuit universities alone!

Now, if they did a comprehensivie study and comparison through the entire gamut of K-12, and included a far larger sampling, I'll be more inclined to give it weight.

July 16, 2008 at 10:23 PM · a sampling size much greater than 10 is often accepted in statistical analysis. In this case, 258 private schools probably qualifies as much greater than 10. Also, on the surface, the sample size of students seem to be large enough.

"controlled for demographics" does seem to be questionable.

Summaries are always interesting, but not enough to use as verbatim.

There are a number of areas where a study can go wrong besides sample size. The statistical analysis in a study could be flawless and the conclusions based on the analysis is correct. But the study could still be wrong, because there is an error with the raw data. Bias in the sample often creeps into studies, resulting in wrong conclusions. The prediction that Dewey would would win the election over Truman in 1948 is a classic case of issues with the raw data, not the analysis.

I tend to be cautious about refering to summaries like this.

July 17, 2008 at 05:29 AM · I don't think things are automatically, uh, "to easy" (sic) as you say, for public school students. The standards here in California are extremely high. They earn those A's, and they certainly manage time with all the mandated homework, which starts in kindergarten. Not to mention that they have to keep a schedule every day in order to attend school. There are also plenty of programs and opportunities for gifted students, if you bother to seek them out.

It's a ridiculous and unsupported assumption that a public school "A" is different from a home-school or private-school "A" and that a hard-working public school kid is just not working as hard as a hard-working private school kid or homeschooler. There is a LOT of accountability in a public school setting.

July 17, 2008 at 05:29 AM · The studies referenced were accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Which means... people with a great deal of experience in research methodology found them sound.

And procedures for controlling study results for demographics, such as education level, income and English literacy of parents, are well established in the field and the literature.

It would be grossly unfair to consider two classes that scored the same on a standardized test as coming from equal quality schools if one class consisted of children whose parents could not speak English, had no money for tutoring and no time to assist with homework, while the other was all wealthy children of college graduates, who had paid for extra, outside tutoring. Clearly, the first school would have done a much, much better job, bringing its students from a much farther starting point to the same level of achievement.

That's what demographic control does. It tests schools not just on where students end up, but looks at where they started and how far they've come.

July 17, 2008 at 09:10 AM · A lot of years ago I did some work on a project an education professor had - some pioneering aphasia patient with 15 lb computer strapped to his back stuff :D

I was astounded to learn what a complicated field of science education is. I'm inclined to doubt people should try it at home. Mara - too bad you never went to school! j/k

July 17, 2008 at 03:17 PM · Actually Jim, I tried school once, and totally hated it.

July 17, 2008 at 03:32 PM · Laurie, the statement "to easy" can apply to any student; public, private, homeschooled. I am using it when the the course material is below the students capability and they cruise through the class.

an example of "to easy". lets say we have two boys, same age, in the same grade. One is gifted, the other close to the median. Both get top grades. What I see is the kid who worked harder actually doing much better later.

I know it is anecdotal, but what I have seen with home schooled kids of people I know, is the home school program is less challenging. Less challenging in the sense that their is no time pressure to have assignment due at a specific time, that some subjects are skimed or not studied.

Your fortunate in living in a state that has more options for gifted kids and has high standards.

States vary widely in their support of gifted programs. In one state, where my son attended school, the districts are required to document and publish their gifted program policies, etc. Unfortunately, they get little or no funding, hence the policies are vague, limited, and a real gifted program is basicaly not implemented. And this was the best school district in that state.

when it comes to studies, it is good to see 2 or more independent, peer review studis come out on a specific topic and compare the results. Thats good science. Unfortunantly, its difficult to get funding for whats been done.

July 17, 2008 at 06:09 PM · Mara, you're doing pretty good. Don't let nothing here confern ya none.

July 17, 2008 at 06:03 PM · Okay, mea culpa. It's all too easy for me to get my underwear in a knot over this one! ;)

But I have to add that my daughter's fifth-grade teacher was unrelenting when it came to grading her, and her peers. No easy A's. And that man had everything from ESL kids who still struggled with reading, to my daughter who reads at a 12th grade level. He somehow managed to challenge her and the other high-achieving kids while also urging the kids who were behind to keep at it and improve. He didn't give her a pass for being smart, he kicked her tush when it came to subjects where she was "coasting." He made them watch the news every day on a "smart board" that he'd obtained by applying for a grant, and she now is in the habit of reading not just the comics, but the news.

And then, beyond academics, the class would have these big soccer games with other classes, and they'd sing songs that their teacher wrote while he played guitar.

Pretty over the top, eh? It was an exceptionally good year, I'll admit.

But these things can and do happen in public schools, and in any schools, especially when parents stop standing at the sidelines judging and complaining, and instead throw all the support they can behind their children's education. And that means supporting their institutions, their teachers, their coaches, their community.

Okay I'll stop now!

July 18, 2008 at 01:06 AM · Laurie,

I was a bright kid too and I achieved in public school without much effort. I don't quite relate to your husband's thoughts about "too much pushing." If anything, I felt jaded and bored. I went through high school with the nagging feeling that I could be elsewhere, doing something that mattered.

I'm not trying to talk you out of your decisions, or to paint too dark a picture, because it wasn't all bad. That's just how I felt...and still there is residual bitterness. I often wonder if it was the right course.

Adam, remember, any class -- no matter what subject or level -- is only as good as the person teaching it. In my AP classes, we were left to our own devices much more than my friends in basic. It succeeded because of the quality instruction, when it could have been a disaster. And while I did enjoy 24 credits entering college, I'm not sure that a strong appeal to the dean of a program couldn't accomplish the same thing.

July 18, 2008 at 11:55 AM · I've seen that public schools vary hugely from state to state and town to town. My kids are in public school as well, and I'm very impressed with their teachers. They do a lot with a little. The PTO is also very active (one of the reasons I don't spend as much time practicing my instrument as I could--PTO commitments).

I went to a good public school 30 years ago and I have no complaints about the academic education I received, which was mostly excellent, especially in science. When I got to Princeton as a freshman I had enough AP credit to graduate in 3 years (but took 4 because there was so much I wanted to take and wasn't in a hurry). I also felt that my public school education had prepared me as well or better for the Ivy League as my peers were prepared, and some of them had gone to the best and most expensive private schools the country has to offer.

The two areas where I felt something might have been lacking were summer programs and socialization. I didn't do anything exciting or academically enriching during my high school summer vacations. I delivered newspapers--I was a paper carrier. I made burritos at Taco Bell. I played in summer orchestras that the school district had, but that was it as far as music.

Looking back, I don't really know why, I think the reasons were mostly financial. We didn't know about, and couldn't afford, music camp, science camp, drama camp, talented youth camp, etc. When I went to college, I was amazed to learn how others had spent their summer vacations. It was like a whole new world.

This is just my personal opinion, but I often feel that the social issues come out in favor of homeschooling. While I thought the academic education I got in public school was actually quite good, the social environment in public school was often awful. There was so much cliqueishness, ill-will, and disrespect. The competition was not healthy, and there was endless verbal bullying and even sexual harrassment. The student bathrooms were virtually unusable--smoke-filled and bereft of toilet paper.

I was younger than my peers due to having been an early reader and skipping first grade. It wasn't a problem in elementary school, but by high school the age and maturity difference was an issue, and I think it was magnified by the school environment, which does expect and reward a certain degree of social conformity.

There's something that doesn't quite feel right to me socially and developmentally about having young people spend so much of their time in large, age-matched groups. It doesn't bring out the best in them and I think it exacerbates the generational divide between kids and adults. Whereas homeschooling, if done well, allows for more individuality in social development and a better understanding of the different phases of life.

July 18, 2008 at 02:15 PM · Publics schools can very tremendously even in the same town.

some schools do a much better job with the bullying, smoking, other issues.

How good a school is, is often related to parent involvment.

Child development is so variable. Each child gets such a grab bag of genes from their parents. Each child is different. On top of that, development can be so asynchronous. Each part of the brain develops at its own rate. In some children, their brain develops pretty evenly, while in others, some areas are way ahead, and other areas are way behind. but generally, but not always, if a child is much further ahead than their age peers, they are better off to be grade advanced and be with their mental peers.

July 18, 2008 at 05:24 PM · Karen, I really appreciated your post. Both my husband and I went to public schools, but we've decided to homeschool our two girls at least in the beginning. I think you're absolutely right about the social aspects. Everyone thinks socialization is the major argument against homeschooling (one of our books says you should just prepare a canned response and be prepared to repeat it a zillion times) but I agree that homeschooling allows children to be in a larger variety of environments which is ultimately more relevant to "real life". The major obstacle to homeschooling is financial; it requires in most cases a stay-at-home parent, plus related costs.

Having said all that, those of us in the 30-plus age group probably have a very different view of homeschooling than these younger folks. When we were kids, at least in my experience, homeschooling was quite unusual and viewed as the domain of "weird families" who were avoiding something. Now it's almost mainstream; there are homeschooling groups all over the place, businesses devoted to providing homeschool curricula, and opportunities to cooperate with public schools. My daughter is actually registered at the nearby public school and will have access to field trips, sports and music programs, etc. even though she'll receive most of her instruction at home. It's a win-win situation for the school, too, since they receive funding based on enrollment but the class sizes remain small.

July 18, 2008 at 06:05 PM · Homeschooling has many positives, as pointed out in these responses.

Public schooling has benefits, too, not least of which is a breadth and diversity of perspective, not merely a result of non-controlled, non-selective peer contacts but also from variety of teachers and teaching styles.

I teach freshman English at a community college and see a diverse population of students, some very bright and some quite dull. The only occasional distinction I see (and I emphasize *occasional*--by no means characteristic) is a tendency toward dogmatism in home-schooled students--and I am not simply speaking of religious dogmatism.

(Of course, my home-schooling atheist friend would accuse the public schools of an almost conspiratorial attempt to shape the political and social attitudes of our youths.)

I also wonder how many musician parents here would consider home-schooling the instrument itself. It seems that most of us quickly entrust the musical education to the best-qualified teacher we can find.

July 18, 2008 at 06:04 PM · Karin, I've had the same experience with seeing homeschooling go mainstream. When I was growing up I literally had never heard of homeschooling and knew no one who was homeschooled. Now I have several friends who homeschool or have done so with their own kids, including a few at my church and my college roommate.

It appeals to me, but both my husband and I work full-time and so isn't currently practical for us. And, I've been pleasantly surprised by how well my daughter is doing generally in public school and how much she likes it. I think that at least some schools have, over the last 30 years, really improved their approach to a number of the things I mentioned in my previous post. Plus, there is the type of parental involvement that Laurie writes about in this district.

One issue in particular that I've noticed has changed in public school is the approach to teaching reading. I was an early reader, reading chapter books to myself before I even went to kindergarten, and the only thing the public school was willing to do for me was have me skip a grade. As I mentioned, this wasn't all bad, especially in elementary school it worked pretty well. I never felt bored or insufficiently challenged by the academic curriculum as a result. But middle school was pretty much a complete write-off, socially and high school wasn't much better. I was on the swim team in high school, and one of the other parents pointed at me during one of the meets and said "who's that little girl swimming? What's she doing there?"

But now, my son who just turned 5 and will be starting kindergarten in the fall, is already reading the Magic Tree House books. I didn't teach him to read, he seems to have essentially taught himself, which is close to my own experience. I've discussed this with the school and they said that they are able to handle kids like this; that every year they get 1-2 advanced readers in kindergarten and the approach is much more individualized for every student. So, rather than having the kids sitting around in reading groups where everybody knows which is the smart group and which is the dumb group, even though they have cute names like "bluebirds" and "blackbirds" (an experience I was glad to have missed), the kids read books that their teacher chooses for them individually, at an appropriate developmental level. That's something that I think you'd get as a matter of course in homeschooling, but can also get in public schools, which I think is all to the good.

Also, there does seem to be a lot more attention paid nowadays to preventing bullying, harassment, and disrespect among the students, at least in my daughter's school, but I don't really know whether or how that's paying off.

July 20, 2008 at 02:26 AM · Jane,

Pardon my cynicism, but you can put a bunch of kids in a room together and they will not necessarily associate with one another. Also, which teaching style is it when an old man on a power trip screams at you in an enclosed space, over a trivial matter?

I'm a sarcastic sunnavabeech and I understand if you take my responses with a grain of salt, but I'm hoping you'll take the grain of truth with it.

July 20, 2008 at 03:56 AM · I am sorry that you are so cynical.

I was raised by a scientist and a mathematician. No matter *who else* taught me, my parents' interests were ever-present, and that combined with my natural aptitude in math seemed to predict a career in something science or math based.

However, today I am an English teacher because in 9th grade I was lucky enough to have had a remarkable public school teacher--a PhD from Berkeley, in fact. He was not sexy, youthful, or hip. He probably yelled at students once in a while. He was weird in an unfashionable way. But I learned a tremendous amount from him. And he took me someplace new.

That's all I am trying to say.

July 21, 2008 at 05:23 PM · Opportunity is an interesting subject. First you must identify it, then act on it. For some student opportunity is found in a school with a particular teacher or approach. Who could argue! In the end, I think homeschooling hands down allows students with the right instruction and motivation to use discretionary time more wisely than public or private school where schedules and logistics and accomodating the group takes vast resources. Great violinists play a ton of violin, great writers write and explore many aspects of words and language, same for science, math, sports....There is no substitute for time spent in a specific craft or discipline to become competent and eventually master the discipline. Accomodating everyone takes time for discussions and meetings and all the other teaching methods that are necessary for working with groups. This resembles the old saying "herding cats". Can it be done. Of course. Does it take more time than other activities...no doubt. If a student, most notably an older student (junior/senior) in high school has the focus and motivation to explore a subject(s) in depth then above all they need time to identify and then take advantage of opportunities that come along. For students with less direction (the cats) they may need to get little tastes. I know I did not choose a career until I was much older and would have wasted a home schooling opportunity. I was one of the cats I mention above, running around to this club and that club, this friend and that friend, this elective or that other one... and that was A OK for the type of person I was in high school.

Some children however find their life goals at a young age and there isn't anything wrong with that. It just is not typical. I think if a child who wants to practice 8 hours to achieve a goal should be allowed to explore that idea. With homeschooling they could do that and still have time to play outside versus riding a bus for 45 minutes or some other logistitical requirement. While that is an unusual scenario (8 hours of practice), I think it is the quality of time with few interruptions and a systematic approach that is more benefitial to serious students in music or any other subject. Hopping from class to class and subject to subject all day does not benefit all student. The public school experience is not necessary for all students to understand and learn the skills required to suceed in a pluralistic society. I would argue that travel or activities could serve the same function and give the student experience with diversity.

July 21, 2008 at 05:19 PM · Dedication, with comparable improvement, is usually rewarded. It does not matter home, public, or private schooled.

Highly motivated students with the right opportunities will excell no matter what. It is not so much how many hours of practice, it is how you practice that counts the most. Second is the quality of your violin teacher.

the risks of only studying music at this time is neglecting other opporturnities at university. Yes, it sounds great to skip some subject, go to conservatory, study for 4, 6, or more years. But then what? Jobs for violinists can be scarce considering how many violinists are churned out each year from all the univerisites just in the US.

additionaly, wages sometimes are slim. The local symphony orchestra where I live don't advertise for violin openings very often, but they do currently have a salaried position for assistant principal second violin at $16,000. A starting salary for a certified teacher in this area is $32,000 with better benifits and pretty much guaranteed pay raises.

Its good to have a plan B.

July 22, 2008 at 02:10 PM · Michael,

I'd rather be good at one thing than mediocre in several, and in a low-paying job I enjoy...but perhaps that is (and already has been) a topic for another thread.

Jane,

I've had some really excellent teachers too. But I'd prefer to have ALL excellent teachers instead of a few awful ones. If my parents had direct control, the man I spoke of would be out in the dust on his derriere. As it was, I felt it was futile talking to anyone. He's probably still there if he didn't retire or die.

I suppose you could say the whole situation built character (like the dad in Calvin & Hobbes) but at what cost?

I don't think it was anyone's fault, per se. I just think that is the nature of bureaucratic sprawl.

July 24, 2008 at 08:43 PM · I didn't have time to read all of the responses to this post, so forgive me if this has already been said, but I would like to note that one doesn't necessarily have to take an AP class to achieve an advanced knowledge and proficiency in a subject - I took no 'AP classes' as an Unschooler, but still tested out of a number of my basic requirements at university. You simply have to be willing to seek out experts or authoritative materials on your own.

I also want to be clear that my ardent advocacy of homeschooling does not lessen my respect for other options, such as public or private school. My father, who is extremely well educated, went to public school - though he was fortunate enough to go to one of the best ranked public schools in the nation. I simply feel that homeschooling offers a broader range of options, pandering to a greater diversity of learning styles and interests, and that public school is right for a very specific personality type and learning style: Though my father is very well educated, he hated his public school experience. My sister, on the other hand, who, like myself, experienced a bout of curiosity about public school in her teens, found that she preferred it. She went on to thrive in our local public school - the same school I attended for a year and hated, finding it depressingly easy, and the environment and coursework entirely unsuited to my personality, learning style, and interests.

That said, the best way to find out if homeschooling is for you is to try it. You're obviously intrigued, and seem to think it might be a good option for you. The worst thing that can happen is that you try it for a semester, hate it, and decide to return to public or private school the next semester. Follow your instincts, and remember that YOU are the only person who can really know if homeschooling is right for you.

August 14, 2008 at 01:53 AM · I think the most important thing public school taught me was an individual's place in society. Sometimes you have to do things, forgive my ambiguity, that you absolutely detest and don't want to do. Doing things that grind against your personal desires or will builds character, I guess. Oh and I also learned how to type without looking at my fingers in 9th grade, which is also VERY useful in life.

August 14, 2008 at 11:40 AM · hmm...learning to hate something for character building?? Makes a lot of sense.

How about learning to "like" something for character building. A much more positive approach!

August 14, 2008 at 01:26 PM · As a parent who is currently homeschooling one of her children, I felt the need to respond.

I was brought up in the public school system with teachers who were in their final year of teaching that didn't give a rip about what they taught their final year; before state testing.

I am homeschooling my son right now because it is what is best for now. Will he go back to school? Yes most likely next year. I pulled him out because he needed help in certain areas that the school wouldn't work on... basically he was going to fall through the cracks and because he was painfully shy.. too shy to ask any questions, I decided to pull him out and work with him more one on one. He has really come out of his shell.

Bottom line is do what is best for your situation. I don't know what grade you are in now, but I think you should look into your options. Home study may work out great for you. There are also some programs that will help you if you need tutoring in certain subjects.

Explore all your options before landing into a program and do what is best for you... each person is different.

Good luck

Jodi

August 16, 2008 at 05:02 PM · I was homeschooled from fifth grade on, and, even though it was a little hard at first to adjust to not being around my friends all day every day, it was well worth it. I still had plenty of friends and saw them often enough, but homeschooling gave me a lot of flexibility with my schedule, helping with scheduling extra lessons and rehearsals, and increasing practice times. Before music juries etc. I would practice 6-7 hrs a day, something most highschool students can't pull off if they are attending a private/public school. Some of my friends thought I didn't really do school, but I did much more than the minimum and carried a full course load most of the time. I'll be attending Oberlin this fall...actually I leave in a week!

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