A classic education for modern kids
June 21st, 2013
06:10 PM ET

Classical schools put Plato over iPad

By Julia Duin, Special to CNN

(CNN) – In Maryland, a group of students ponder which depiction of the Nativity shows true beauty: A 14th-century Giotto, a 16th-century Barocci or a 20th-century William Congdon. The students are in seventh grade.

Outside Houston, second-graders learn Latin amid the Doric columns, Romanesque arches and the golden Renaissance hues of a gracious brick building.

And in West Tennessee, a first-grade classroom lists virtues - reverence, discipline, diligence and loving kindness - along with Aristotle's "four questions," a simplified version of the Greek philosopher's four causes.

The students attend some of several hundred “classical” schools around the country - institutions designed to reflect the scholarship from the past three millennia of Western civilization, rather than the latest classroom trends.

Classical schools are less concerned about whether students can handle iPads than if they grasp Plato. They generally aim to cultivate wisdom and virtue through teaching students Latin, exposing them to great books of Western civilization and focusing on appreciation of "truth, goodness and beauty." Students are typically held to strict behavioral standards in terms of conduct and politeness, and given examples of characters from history to copy, ranging from the Roman nobleman Cincinnatus to St. Augustine of Hippo.

Parents like them, too; the number of classical schools - public and private - is growing. The curriculum has helped to boost enrollment at religious schools and inspired new public schools.

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Tim Tebow homeschool bill approved by Texas Senate
In Texas, the 'Tim Tebow bill' might change rules regarding homeschooled athletes playing sports.
May 10th, 2013
03:30 PM ET

Tim Tebow homeschool bill approved by Texas Senate

By Mike Chiari, Bleacher Report

(Bleacher Report) - There has been plenty of negative publicity surrounding quarterback Tim Tebow since being waived by the New York Jets last week, but his success playing in high school is now being used in an effort to gain expanded rights for homeschooled athletes in Texas.

According to Matt Wixon of the Dallas Morning News, the Tim Tebow Bill has been passed by the Texas Senate. Provided it is passed by the Texas House of Representatives and then signed into law, it will allow homeschooled athletes to compete for local high schools in Texas.

The bill is named after Tebow because the polarizing quarterback was homeschooled in Florida. Despite that, Tebow was allowed to play for Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida, according to Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo! Sports. Tebow led Nease to a state title, was named Mr. Football in Florida and went on to win two national championships with the Florida Gators.

Read the full story from Bleacher Report

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My View: Common myths about home-schooled kids
October 1st, 2012
04:27 AM ET

My View: Common myths about home-schooled kids

Courtesy Gabriela OliveiraBy Alessandra Oliveira, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Alessandra Oliveira is a wife, mother, and blogger who writes about home-schooling her daughter on her blog, Adventures of a Homeschool Mom.

To decide to home-school a child is not something to be taken lightly. Parents have to consider the child's needs first and foremost. Other important considerations are curriculum choice, socialization, financial strain, time commitment, and personal sacrifices. One big question that needs to be answered is "Why do I want to home school my child?"

Among the reasons some parents choose to home-school are: Dissatisfaction with traditional schools, religious beliefs, bullying, ability to custom-design learning for their child, and a desire to spend more time with their children.

I started home-schooling my daughter when she entered first grade. I call myself an "accidental" home-schooler because I didn't really plan to home-school. I fell into it due to circumstances. Looking back, I know I made the absolute right decision for our family. While my husband and I are totally committed to providing a wonderful, supportive learning environment for our daughter, not everyone in our family has been as enthusiastic. I have faced countless questions, odd looks, even criticism about our decision to home-school. Some people try to be polite and offer advice; others will ask the most inappropriate questions. With time, I have learned to deal with all of this scrutiny and misguided input. I am now able to answer questions and explain my reasoning without sounding defensive nor apologetic.

I must admit that a lot of what I hear are things that I actually thought before I started to home-school. I had a lot of misgivings about home-schoolers simply because I did not have enough information. Here, I have compiled some of the most common misconceptions about homes-schooled kids. These are all things that I have faced along my own home-schooling journey. I hope to help dispel some of these misconceptions with a dose of reality from someone who's "been there, done that.”
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Doing the math behind homeschooling
August 28th, 2012
07:51 AM ET

Doing the math behind homeschooling

by Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) – Public, private, parochial, charter schools: There's no shortage of options on where to send your children for their education.

But a growing number of Americans are choosing not to send them anywhere at all, opting instead to educate them at home.

The National Center for Education Statistics says that 1.7 percent of kids were homeschooled in 1999, 2.2 percent in 2003, and 2.9 percent in 2007. Today, that figure is at 4 percent, according to an article published at EducationNews.org.

So it appears that the homeschooling growth rate is more exponential than it is steady.

Most parents aren't certified teachers, so it stands to reason why some question the effectiveness of a homeschool education. But the Home School Legal Defense Association, an advocacy group in favor of homeschooling, reported in 2009 that homeschooled students averaged 37 percentile points higher on standardized tests than their public school counterparts.

EducationNews.org backs that up, saying that while students in traditional schools mark the 50th percentile on standardized tests, students who are “independently educated” score between the 65th and 89th percentile.

Of course, there’s a time commitment involved in homeschooling that many families simply can’t make. If a single parent has a full-time job – or if both parents do – setting aside several hours a day to educate a child simply isn’t feasible.

And the arguments against homeschooling – from varying state requirements to reduced social interaction among peers to a lack of student competition – can be challenging issues to address.

But if the number of kids who are homeschooled continues to rise, it may signal a noteworthy trend.

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May 8th, 2012
11:27 AM ET

Today's Reading List goes to the prom

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today about proms:

MetroWest Daily News: Are these prom dresses too hot to trot?
According to a Harvard sociologist, teen fashion may becoming more provocative due to influences like "The Jersey Shore" and Angelina Jolie. However, prom styles may have more to do with school dress codes than social norms.

AZdailysun.com: Home-schoolers don't miss out on prom
The roughly 300,000 home schooled students in Texas miss out on many of America's traditions. Home schooling groups around the state are trying to make sure prom isn't one of them.

Detroit Free Press: Project prom dress: Teen designers get creative with prom dresses made from newspapers
The Detroit Free Press issued a challenge to area high school students – make a prom dress out of the newspaper. Readers can select from eight finalists, and the winner will be awarded $500.

YNN: Johnstown prom tradition a tradition no more
In years past, Johnstown, New York seniors would arrive at prom in front-end loaders, ATV's and even boats. Officials killed the tradition this year out of concern for the students' safety.

Wave3.com: Tim Tebow goes to prom – sort of
On a bet, an Iowa teen asked New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow to her prom through Twitter. When he didn't reply, she brought Tebow anyway – but not in the flesh, a cardboard cutout.

April 10th, 2012
06:18 AM ET

My View: Why I chose home schooling

Courtesy John GardinerBy Bethany Gardiner, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Bethany M. Gardiner, M.D., is a pediatrician and author of “Highlighting Homeschooling,” which guides parents through the educational options available to them and their children.

As a pediatrician, I was a dedicated career woman and never thought much
about the schooling options of either my children or my patients. I was a product of public schools and assumed the traditional schooling model was fine.

However, as I listened to my patients and their parents, I realized there was a theme being repeated many times over in family after family. They were stressed about their fast-paced lives and the futility of being forced into a box of expectations for a life that they did not fit into. Whether it was fighting against a system that penalized sick children for too many missed days, trying to challenge children that are bored in class, arguments about an ADHD diagnosis, to the hours of homework and busywork that intruded upon family time, parents were feeling overwhelmed and out of control, and these feelings were being transmitted to their children.

The more I considered these facts, I realized that I myself was losing a family-centric lifestyle, struggling against the demands of an outside system while trying to balance a career and my family. I knew that to impact my family and children in the most positive way possible, I needed to take control of my children’s education and tailor it to meet their needs and those of my family. By participating in their education, I could teach a love of learning and a passion for education that I saw missing in most of my patients that went to traditional brick and mortar schools. And while meeting the needs of my children, I could also improve my family life by adding to the time that we spent together rather than taking away from it.
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March 15th, 2012
06:25 AM ET

My View: Homeschooling: Marching to the beat of a different drummer

Courtesy Sue Coates By Joyce Burges, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Joyce Burges is the co-founder of the National Black Home Educators, an organization that empowers parents to educate their children for excellence. She and her husband, Eric, have been married for 35 years and have five children between the ages of 16 to 35.

It was a rainy afternoon. I was rocking my baby girl by the fire and enjoying a cup of hot chamomile tea. To me, life couldn’t get any better than this. Our three older children were in school, “getting a good education.” I received a call from my oldest son’s school. I was told that my husband and I needed to come to a school meeting. Unpleasant thoughts flooded my mind. But I was comforted because we were active in our children’s school. I was PTO president and chairman of the advisory board. So all was well, right?

Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to hear at this meeting. We thought that being involved as parents assured our children of an excellent education. I was mistaken. When we had met with the teachers, they informed us that our son Eric Jr. was doing fine academically. His 3.0 GPA dropped to 2.8 during the first six weeks of school. To me, this was a workable issue because we were still in the first semester. At this latest meeting, we were informed that our son was “failing.” According to his counselor, this was a “blight” on this school’s reputation. The school gave us two choices: We could place our son in a school across town, or he would have to repeat this grade next year. These options left me feeling that there was no hope for our son. I pleaded and said that we would work with him to raise his grade point average. This would not do. The administration’s position was firm. I begin to cry. My confidence was shattered. I thought that we had failed our son, and that we were unfit to be a part of this school system.

We discussed this problem when we got home that evening. Something began to stir my heart - a vision of me keeping my children at home with me. I was tired of raising money for equipment when overburdened teachers were making copies of books for children in overstuffed classrooms, and I was exhausted with rising early in the morning to whisk my children away to school.

I heard that a family at our local church was homeschooling. We met one evening, and the rest is history. I was forced to rethink my children’s educational life. If my children were going to succeed, become excellent learners and have a chance to go college, I had to rally my courage and start right now.
I learned many things during the first years of teaching my children. I didn’t realize the pressure we were under until we were set free of the educational “mess” of which they were part: The prepackaged curriculum, the one-size-fits-all model, the bullying and the negative socialization. Homeschooling allowed us to discover and experience pure, superior learning and a customized learning environment.
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