Sunday, November 26, 2006

Why Home Schooling is Controversial?

I have long been an advocate for parents to have the right to teach their children at home here in HK. In the US, and some other countries, it is legal for parents to teach their kids at home.

I am always curious why such a sensible policy seems so controversial to most people.

The basic rationale in support of homeshooling is this: nobody knows a kid better than his/her parents. QED.

I am not arguing for the banishment of traditional schools, I am arguing for a marginal change in educational system, to let parents have one more choice in seeking out the best education for their kids. And what's wrong with that?

On the supply side, for those with vested interests in the exisiting education system, I can see why they would oppose such a sensible policy. For an example, if you were a teacher at a public school, more kids being taught at home mean less students enrollment. That in turn means less funding and one might have to accept a pay cut someday.

Another reason for opposing home schooling came to my mind after I read this story in the New York Times. I call this the "I know your kid better than you do syndrome". Educational experts simply know, or think they know, how to teach other peoples' kids better than those kids' parents. This is certainly debatable.

From the demand side, the reason why parents may not want to teach their own kids (other factors being held constant, like their income, time availability, their educational level) at home also occured to me while reading the same NYT story. Peoples' innate fear to go about their own way without guidance. People simply want to be told what to do. This seems related to what Hayek has said in Fatal Conceit. That contemporary people still have that lingering longing to be led, part of the legacy we inherit to this day from the time when we live in a small community and individuals' decisions are made according to the directions of the wiseman in the group.

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