Ron Paul is developing a comprehensive curriculum for use by home school students. In The School Revolution, he provides some of the political and educational foundation for home school. More than that, though, the educational principles he advocates can apply to students at any school. Above all, he writes, students must, as early as possible, become self-educators. The lecture method of instruction was great, when there were no printed books, but in the post-Gutenberg age, there is little call for a teacher to stand in front of a class and lecture. Even more so, in the internet age, there is so much information, so easily accessible, that students can educate themselves on any topic effectively from their computers.
I am over-simplifying his argument, of course, but he makes a great point. I thought about my kids, who are in public school. My oldest is learning Mandarin Chinese from a native speaker. I know I could never teach him that at home, but surely there are endless resources on the internet, and in our large metro area, plenty of native speakers available for tutoring and conversation. He is also in band. By the same token, there are plenty of private lessons available, and home school and community bands in which he could play.
I am confident in my family's decision to enroll our children in public schools, although I do agree with Paul on several points. Public (and private, for that matter) schools are full of terrible peer influences, mediocre teachers, and absurd standardized testing policies. But, at the same time, there are opportunities for great friendships and exposure to families from other ethnic and economic groups, some terrific teachers, and programs that will give my kids a head start in college and/or life after high school.
Paul will challenge the dedicated home schooler as well as the committed public school family. While I won't be pulling my kids out of their great (for now) public schools, he did challenge me to give some thought to how well I am supplementing their education, leading them to be independent thinkers who will be responsible enough to face the challenges of college and adult life.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!