Home School Revolution,
by Robert W. Lee


The number of children schooled at home has jumped from a mere 15,000-20,000 in the late 1970s to (according to some estimates) more than one million today. Writing in the July issue of Reason magazine, Britton Manasco predicts that "the trend is likely to continue as new products and institutions develop that make it easier for parents to educate children at home." Manasco, founder of the high-tech consulting firm Quantum Era Enterprises in Mountain View, California, notes that with new technologies, "lectures can be recorded and transmitted to, or videotaped, for anyone, anywhere, any time. Educational software programs allow students to work at their own pace, getting instant feedback on their work. CD-ROMs can make important books compact, inexpensive, and interactive." Also, the continuing development of the Internet "has made it possible to offer a range of courses and learning services online. Despite the limitations of the medium, instructors are able to address the individual learning needs of the child in a way that is not possible in a classroom."

According to Manasco, "home schoolers spend about $1,500 a year on books, software, videos, and other educational materials," a mere fraction of the expense entailed by tax-funded government schools. As to the child's social development, Manasco explains: "No one is arguing that technology be employed to the exclusion of human contact and personal warmth. Individualized learning hardly implies learning in isolation." To the contrary, communications technologies and networks "can enlarge one's set of possible associations and even allow for collaborative learning projects that cannot be replicated in the classroom. In a proper setting, they can help facilitate both individual and interpersonal skills."

Manasco is convinced that as "leaving or supplementing traditional schooling becomes more attractive and less costly, the egalitarian ideology and assembly-line pedagogy that dictate one-size-fits-all education cannot remain unchanged." (P.O. Box 526, Mr. Morris, IL 61054, $26)

 

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