Homeschoolers, not unschoolers, get A+

Gwen Dewar writes in a blog on BabyCenter about a new study comparing Homeschoolers and Unschoolers to Institutional Schoolers. I’m sure this will become fodder for controversy on many homeschooling and unschooling blogs.

The results were quite marked. The structured homeschool kids were at least one grade level ahead in phonics, science, social science, and the humanities. In math, they were about half a grade level ahead.

And remember, their competition wasn’t a cross section of public school students, but a select group of kids who matched them in many ways. Like the structured homeschoolers, these public-schoolers were performing above grade level. But not as much. And even after controlling for family income and mother’s education level, the structured homeschoolers still had the edge.

There’s a wrinkle, however, and it’s this: Unstructured homeschoolers didn’t perform nearly as well. In fact, they were the only students in the study to test a bit below grade level. If structured homeschoolers got an A+, unstructured homeschoolers got a C or C-. Read more…

The comments on that post reflect a lot of good points. Unschoolers correctly point out that they don’t teach their children to do well on tests, but to be individualistic, creative adults. And, some children need less structure than others and actually do better.
Anyway, despite the flaws in this study, it appears more valid that some we have read about. Don’t blame Gwen (or me) for being the messengers. But do discuss this or devise your own studies if you really want to add to the debate. Like, what is the eventual outcome of the lives of homeschoolers, unschoolers, or public-schoolers (aside from a college degree or a good job)?

One Reply to “Homeschoolers, not unschoolers, get A+”

  1. It took me a few days to realize this but I actually participated in this study. We were unschooling at the time. The researchers were careful to point out to us that they understood this was just a moment-in-time snapshot and were very interested in what the results might be if they followed up on our kids in a few years. That never happened unfortunately.

    Regardless, I wasn’t surprised to learn we unschoolers were a bit behind the curve. My daughter for instance was intensely interested in Ancient Greece and Egypt. Not many questions about that on the survey. :)

    We’ve since done a 180 degree turn and are now Classical homeschoolers. I enjoy what I do now but wouldn’t give up those early unschooling years.

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