Sunday, July 09, 2006

Small is Beautiful

Hiring private tutors is making a comeback, apparently, as the wealthy re-learn what they once all knew instinctively. The tutoring concept is how Eudoxus and I first got onto the homeschooling track, actually; we were quite aware that individual tutoring has, in nearly every time and place, been understood as the best manner of teaching. Though hiring someone was out of the question, we figured we were suffiiently qualified ourselves to provide this age-old form of education, at least for the early years. It didn't even occur to us to see if it was legal (surely it couldn't be illegal, right?)--and us living at the time in one of the most restrictive states in the nation.

It's funny how what were once considered the obvious advantage of tutoring is being now rediscovered. Years ago, I read an article in a teachers' union journal we used to receive that explained why homeschooling was not, despite the higher test scores, academically superior to a public school education: one main reason is that "home schools" have a much smaller class size, often with only two or three students. So you see, it's not something innate to homeschooling; it's just that the classes are so small, it permits a better education. Kind of like arguing that a Camaro isn't really faster than a Camry; it's just that the engine on a Camry is so small.


Blogger sophia said...

That's a good analogy. It's somewhat amusing when people write off success by saying, "It's just because...", as if it's not a valid approach when it indeed works.

For further proof of the success of the homeschooling approach, I just rec'd my children's scores on their achievement tests. Their results were very gratifying to me, their personal tutor. The thing that amazes me every year with these tests, though, is how my kids do so well on subjects that we don't even officially cover like American History (we were covering the ancients) and Science (Unfortunately, I'm terrible at science, so they read quite a bit on their own and then they teach me.)

I think it comes back to a private tutor being an efficient way of teaching. It takes less time to teach one student, which gives said student more time to explore their interests on their own.

8:11 AM  
Blogger sophia said...

BTW, how was offspring #1's math camp? Has she gone, yet?

10:12 AM  
Blogger The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

Efficiency certainly, and also the ability to closely tailor the pedagogy and curriculum to the individual child. I'm sure we've all noticed how children often learn in suddent bursts, then plateau for a while (even regressing somewhat), then have another sudden acceleration; we can accommodate that on an individual level, moving faster through the material and then treading water for a while, without dragging the child along at a constant pace that's either too fast or too slow. We can also adapt the curriculum immediately to sudden interests, and drop approaches that aren't working.

Math camp went great, though she was startled to learn that there were kids there involuntarily, who actually didn't want *gasp* to spend 2 weeks of their summer doing intensive math. It was also her first exposure to "group learning," which she complained meant being split into teams and then having all the kids on her team wait for her to do all the work. But she loved the challenges, and is very excited about doing it again next year.

5:23 AM  

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