Custom Search

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An answer to Greg Landry's critiques of homeschoolers

The following article had been passed around homeschool blogs and email groups since August:

(reprint is allowed as long as article if copied in entirety)


College Professor Critiques Homeschoolers
copyright 2009 by Greg Landry, M.S.


I teach sophomore through senior level college
students - most of them are "pre-professional"
students. They are preparing to go to medical
school, dental school, physical therapy school,
etc.

As a generalization, I've noticed certain
characteristics common in my students who were
homeschooled. Some of these are desirable,
some not.

Desirable characteristics:

1. They are independent learners and do a great
job of taking initiative and being responsible
for learning. They don't have to be "spoon fed"
as many students do. This gives them an advantage
at two specific points in their education;
early in college and in graduate education.

2. They handle classroom social situations
(interactions with their peers and professors)
very well. In general, my homeschooled students
are a pleasure to have in class. They greet me
when the enter the class, initiate conversations
when appropriate, and they don't hesitate to
ask good questions. Most of my students do
none of these.

3. They are serious about their education and
that's very obvious in their attitude, preparedness,
and grades.

Areas where homeschooled students can improve:

1. They come to college less prepared in the
sciences than their schooled counterparts -
sometimes far less prepared. This can be
especially troublesome for pre-professional
students who need to maintain a high grade
point average from the very beginning.

2. They come to college without sufficient
test-taking experience, particularly with
timed tests. Many homeschooled students have a
high level of anxiety when it comes to taking
timed tests.

3. Many homeschooled students have problems
meeting deadlines and have to adjust to that in
college. That adjustment time in their freshman
year can be costly in terms of the way it affects
their grades.

My advice to homeschooling parents:

1. If your child is even possibly college
bound and interested in the sciences, make
sure that they have a solid foundation of
science in the high school years.

2. Begin giving timed tests by 7th or 8th grade.
I'm referring to all tests that students take, not
just national, standardized tests.

I think it is a disservice to not give students
timed tests. They tend to focus better and score
higher on timed tests, and, they are far better
prepared for college and graduate education if
they've taken timed tests throughout the high
school years.

In the earlier years the timed tests should allow
ample time to complete the test as long as the
student is working steadily. The objective is for
them to know it's timed yet not to feel a time
pressure. This helps students to be comfortable
taking timed tests and develops confidence in
their test-taking abilities.

3. Give your students real deadlines to meet in
the high school years. If it's difficult for students
to meet these deadlines because they're
coming from mom or dad, have them take
"outside" classes; online, co-op, or community
college.
_______________________________

Greg Landry is a 14 year veteran homeschool dad
and college professor. He also teaches one and
two semester online science classes, and offers
free 45 minute online seminars..
http://www.HomeschoolScienceAcademy.com
© 2009 Greg Landry, M.S.

While I  do agree somewhat with the pros AND cons of the article, I am troubled by anyone who creates a sense of security only to offer that solution.  The fact that Mr. Landry is offering online science classes while warning us that homeschoolers are ill-equipped is a bit of a conflict of interest.  For this reason I tend to take the whole article with a grain of salt.

That said, let's explore the issues a little closer: 

"They come to college less prepared in the sciences than their schooled counterparts - sometimes far less prepared. This can be especially troublesome for pre-professional students who need to maintain a high grade
point average from the very beginning."

This is not true across the board.  However, for those of use who only teach  creation science, there can be a bit of a handicap.  It might be better to teach that "while we believe in creation science, this is what the scientific world believes..."  This way students can better understand science they are expected to know for college.


"They come to college without sufficient test-taking experience, particularly with timed tests. Many homeschooled students have a high level of anxiety when it comes to taking timed tests."
This is also not true across the board.  I, myself have a great test taker, and a poor test taker.  The poor test taker is probably a more gifted learner, but testing causes anxiety.  He had the same issue in public school.  I wonder if children who are poor test takers end up homeschooling more often because the school model does not work for them?  Meanwhile, the occasional timed test won't hurt in eliminating anxiety later in life.

"Many homeschooled students have problems meeting deadlines and have to adjust to that in college. That adjustment time in their freshman year can be costly in terms of the way it affects their grades."

Ok... so he hit this one on the nose! Whenever I assign a project to my kids, they take it less seriously than when a "teacher" assigns it.  To eliminate this issue later on, I have them take some classes outside of home so they will learn to deal with the expectations and deadlines of various instructors.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Visit My Education Column at Examiner.com

Check out FREE HOME EDUCATION WEBSITE for free homeschool links and resources


2 comments:

Jay Jackson said...

I agree with you: homeschoolers do not lag in Science as a stereotype. This is a very timely blog on the subject.

Many homeschoolers prepare using online tools like

http://www.crushthattest.com

Here there are e-studyguides and online flashcards for high school students to study biology, physics, chemistry and history, as well as other subjects.

Learning through online flashcards is powerful.
We are adding speech to text technology to the site as well.
http://www.crushthattest.com

Security and Performance with eLearning are hot buttons. We address both with online AP materials at http://www.crushthattest.com

NorthCountryMom said...

I appreciate Prof. Landry's comments because of feedback received in my personal life from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) professionals. This has nothing to do with "creationism". For example, my brother who is an engineer and in charge of hardware and software of a major corporation was appalled at the elimination of critical math and science disciplines in several popular home school curricula we asked him to review. He felt that students prepared with these programs would "not be competitive" (his words not mine) in many areas of STEM in academia and professionally.

I also agree with the profile Prof. Landry paints of potential strength and weakness of students and have seen that they need to be addressed in my own child. In terms of the weaknesses we are also introducing classroom strategies in junior high and timed test experiences.

As any good teacher or school, I appreciate honest feedback that helps me adjust course. I do not take offense. Thank you Professor Landry