Smartest Two Percent Use It to Conclude Home Education is Smart

19 10 2009

Spunky is blogging a Mensa study done by that organization’s foundation to research the nature of intelligence:

First-year college performance:
A study of home school graduates and traditional school graduates

The academic performance analyses indicate that home school graduates are as ready for college as traditional high school graduates and that they perform as well on national college assessment tests as traditional high school graduates.

The results of this study are also consistent with other studies on the academic performance of home school students compared to traditional high school graduates (Galloway 1995, Gray 1998, Jenkins 1998, Mexcur 1993). These results also suggest that a parent-guided K-12 education does not have a negative effect on a student’s college success.

For those of you needing traditional research to show an uneasy spouse, mother-in-law or the FSM forbid, a custody judge, keep this handy. I don’t need it though. I am my own case study, from a unique perspective as a school professional who unschools, also Mensa mom of Mensa kids including one proving the conclusion as we speak, on campus.

The conversation among Spunky readers is from a different angle than what I tend to see, so I thought I’d open it up here too. I’m not sure what any of this means (the study or the reactions to it) or what to think is smart or stupid or self-validating, except that being really intelligent is understanding that “what we know” — at any age — isn’t as important as “how we think.”

And that, as some of you already know, in 2000 when Favorite Daughter was nine-turning-ten, Mensa referred us to a mainstream but stupid “reality” show to find “the smartest kid in America.” (Since reality shows and kids are in the news this week, y’all might find it particularly interesting.)

Here’s the correspondence we had with the tv producer. I wrote what I thought it meant and how even smart people are pretty stupid about it, here:

How my unschooling guinea pig was wooed for TV and learned a life lesson we all could use

I am reluctant to put her forward as an example of “America’s Brightest,” especially if the structure of the showcase (or rules of engagement, if you will) does violence to the very concept of intelligence by emphasizing rapid recall of simple facts rather than the higher orders of knowledge such as analysis, synthesis, original thinking — or my own favorite marker of intelligence, a well-developed sense of humor! This of course is the same problem most standardized testing inflicts upon the national psyche.

Far from being trick ponies or nerdy automatons, America’s True Brightest are delightful and complex individuals; what they have or have not memorized to date, is simply irrelevant to their intelligence or future contributions.

Adult Mensans as a population, for example, tend not to have excelled at traditional trivia-type contests or linear career paths. They are interested in too many different areas to spend all their time mastering one or two. Could it be that the choice to eschew competition is more indicative of true intelligence than speed and rote memorization?

Maybe then, if you need stuff to show that spouse or MIL or judge, take the Mensa study and the reality show letters, too. (After the balloon boy debacle, it is intellectual discourse based on real science and real philosophy and real education, not bogus hoax for profit as I believe standardized testing and too much education research has become.)

And your home education might look smarter than ever!

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22 responses

19 10 2009
Crimson Wife

Dr. Willard S. Boyle, who shared this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics, was homeschooled until 9th grade, after which he enrolled in a local college en route to a PhD. from McGill (the “Harvard of Canada”).

19 10 2009
COD

Canada doesn’t count. They are all liberal socialist commie gay loving freaks up there. They aren’t real homeschoolers 😉

19 10 2009
Crimson Wife

COD, the guy was born in 1924 & grew up in logging camp in rural Quebec. He also served as a fighter pilot in WWII. So I think he’s probably exempt from right-wing dismissal of mamby-pamby Candadians…

19 10 2009
Crimson Wife

Oops, too many d’s in the above. Guess I need to brush up on my typing skills…

19 10 2009
Meg

Crimson Wife,

Lower Canada College is actually a private high school.

“In grade 9 he went to Lower Canada College, a private school in Montreal. The contrast of coming from the backwoods to join the children of the upper class was jarring, but Boyle did very well, partly because of the many books he had read under his mother’s guidance.

After high school Boyle joined the Royal Canadian Navy to fight in World War II,…”

From here: http://www.science.ca/scientists/scientistprofile.php?pID=129

19 10 2009
Crimson Wife

Meg, I read that profile but didn’t realize that “private school” referred to a high school. I guess I just assumed based upon the name that it was a post-secondary institution.

20 10 2009
Lynn

It’s so funny. In responses to Spunky’s post, I thought I picked up a hint of anti-intellectual “we don’t need Mensans telling us what we already know,” which is that homeschoolers are very intellectual. Huh? Are we for or against being intellectual? I’m just SSSO confused.

I also found it funny that, just days earlier, many (including Spunky herself) were anxiously expecting the dreaded news that the “Balloon Family” homeschools. Fortunately, they school, so we dodged that bullet! Phew!

21 10 2009
JJ

Anti-intellectualism — what shut down the NHEN forums and what continues to be my big problem with anyone with whom I have problems (inartfully phrased, but you know what I mean.)

21 10 2009
Lynn

And, it’s odd to hear people who talk down “drill-and-kill schooling” (as illegitimate education) cite the accomplishments of (drill-and-kill) school-at-homers. Oy. Drillers can represent us with their test scores, but Balloon Boy-types are anomalies.

21 10 2009
Lynn

me: “represent us”

oops. I keep forgetting I’m not a homeschooler anymore :O

21 10 2009
JJ

You are too. I don’t think you can put on and take off education philosophy by a child’s program enrollment, no matter what the legalistic Word Police are demanding.

21 10 2009
JJ

I think it’s more like still being a La Leche member and being a mentor (a “crone” or doula in the most positive sense of that concept) even after you’ve nursed your last. Still being a woman after a hysterectomy, a mom after your own spawn all have flown the coop for families of their own?

21 10 2009
JJ

And Lynn, you’re so right about claiming the accomplishments of our tribe as our own on the one hand yet rejecting their asshatted behaviors as having anything to do with us! 😀

21 10 2009
Lynn

During the recent Borders’ Education Week, I was buying a book. The cashier asked if I was an educator. I said, “Well, I homeschooled last year.” She piped back, “That’s fine! Past, present or future!” – and gave me the discount! LOL. An educator’s discount for life?? What a deal! 🙂

By the way, though the talking points sometimes drive me bonkers, I still love homeschooling. 🙂

21 10 2009
JJ

HSLDA drives me bonkers but I liked the slogan they had a while back, to the effect of: “we’re all home educators — some of us just do it fulltime.”

21 10 2009
Lynn

Regarding claiming and rejecting other homeschoolers:

I think that some forget how important it is for any group to be intellectually honest. Onlookers resent getting glib one-line answers to their sincere questions – on any matter.

21 10 2009
Lynn

re: “We’re all home educators — some of us just do it fulltime.”

I haven’t heard that one before, but it sure reminds me of what my evenings are like now with Girl in school. 🙂

21 10 2009
JJ

Well, I’m glad you gave that a smiley instead of a frownie! 😀

21 10 2009
Nance Confer

No, some of us are crappy parents — whether legally hsing or not — and therefore not hsing in any positive sense.

And what is the cutoff date for claiming a star as a hser? I hate it when hsers claim every literate person before public school existed was a hser — if they were good guys, of course. 🙂 So what was going on in 1924? Did this guy’s parents make an affirmative choice or were they in the woods with a bright boy?

Nance

21 10 2009
JJ

Gotta admit, Nance has a point about claiming other people as fellow homeschoolers because we want the reflected glory. But — doesn’t that negate the first point then, meaning we also can’t disclaim crappy parents and say they aren’t really homeschooling just because they are crappy?

21 10 2009
Lynn

I vaguely remember that, recently, we were kicking around the idea that “while most homeschoolers aren’t necessarily religious extremists, most religious extremists necessarily homeschool.” Well, with that general idea in mind, I’m wondering why we (myself included) suspected that the Balloon Family were homeschoolers. Why? What was it about them that looked familiar? Seriously 😀 I can’t figure it out.

21 10 2009
JJ

It mightn’t have much to do with homeschooling pro or con but but we need a category called Toxic Parent:

“. . .having a toxic parent may be harmful to a child’s brain, let alone his feelings.”

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