In reading the following article about unschooling, I wonder what the point is.Â Is it to describe unschooling?Â Is it to compare unschooling to homeschooling?Â Is it to compare homeschooling to public schooling?Â Is it to compare the opinions of experts to those of ordinary moms?Â What, exactly, is the point?
- AZCentral.com, The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, (reprinted from the Chicago Tribune), 10 March 2006, ‘Unschooling’ lets children pursue their own interests
That headline gives the impression that the article will be about unschooling andÂ how families pursue theirÂ children’s education in this fashion.Â I hoped forÂ more of anÂ HEM article.Â Â Â But, in theÂ common style of ‘mainstream’Â articles about homeschooling,Â more than that is brought into play in the usual ‘tennis match’ style of reporting:Â pro, con, pro, con, pro, con.Â This article has neutralityÂ in it, but that leads only to my feeling ofÂ ’what’s the point?’Â
Other school articles at the same site have more focus, such as the one on school lunches. No comparisonsÂ are made to lunchbox lunches, or going home for lunch, yet those topics are in the realm of ‘lunch.’Â
An article on test scores of public school students doesn’t include the test scores of private school students or homeschoolers.Â
An article on ‘queen bees,’ girlsÂ who bully, doesn’t include homeschooling as one of the “How parents can help” tips.
So why are the following inclusions part of an article about unschooling?
- According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 1.1 million children were being home-schooled in 2003, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That is up from 850,000 in 1999 and represents a 29 percent increase.Â
- (lunch article equivalent: what’s the percentage of children bringing lunches from home?)
- Education experts estimate that about 10 percent of the home-schooled population is “unschooled,” meaning that there may be as many as 110,000 young people being educated in this way.Â
- (test score article equivalent:Â what’s the percentage breakdown of how many children in the test score gap’s article target population read for pleasure compared to homeschooled kids in the same area?)
- Not everyone is convinced that unschooling is a great idea.Â
- (bullying article equivalent:Â and how many are convinced that a system that produces ‘queen bees’ is a great idea?)
It’s nice that newspapers think unschooling is a topic worthy of consideration, and I’m glad to see familar names as counterweights to all those “education experts,”Â but it would be nice if reporters didn’t try to muster a defense of public schooling in most of the articles.