Skip to comments.Homeschoolers dominate spelling bees (Some see unfair advantage)
Posted on 03/30/2002 3:56:22 AM PST by Caipirabob
- When Rebecca Sealfon won the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in 1997, she launched a trend.
Since Sealfon glued thousands to their television sets to watch her nervously spell her way to triumph, two other students who have been home-schooled for all or part of their academic careers have followed her to victory.
In 2000, the final three finishers - winner George Thampy of Maryland Heights, Mo., runner-up Sean Conley of Shakopee, Minn., and third-place finisher Alison Miller of Niskayuna, N.Y., were home-schooled. Conley - who attended a Minnesota school the next year - won the bee in 2001.
This year's National Spelling Bee is set for May 29-30 in Washington, D.C. Some areas have yet to determine who they will send to the bee.
But with the trend of home-schooled champs - Thampy was a runner-up in the National Geographic Bee, sponsored by the National Geographic Society- has come muted criticisms from those who say home-schooled students have the advantage because they can spend more time studying spelling during their school days.
Paul Houston, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, said that in some instances, home-schooling parents emphasize memorization more than schools do - another reason home-schoolers have found success in the bee.
Houston said that having a few home-schooled bee champs does not necessarily show the superiority of home-schooling. Saying one child's triumph is evidence of the success of home-schooling, he said, is like saying all North Carolina colleges are good because basketball champion Michael Jordan attended one.
"I think home-schoolers have a lot of things they can point to as successes that are far more important than whether they do well in the spelling bee," he said.
According to Scripps Howard bee rules, students must not eschew normal school activity in favor of preparation for spelling bees. Bee director Paige Kimble admits it's a hard rule to enforce, but "we have never had any single thought or occasion to believe home-schoolers or their parents were being irresponsible about their education."
"You're just talking about the nature of the beast," she said. "Of course that rankles those parents who send their kids off to public and private school. But what's the answer - it's gross, blatant discrimination to say no home-schooled kids at all."
Kimble said that home-schooled kids do have an advantage "in that their time and how it is structured is entirely up to them."
Mona Goldstein knows both sides of the debate. She has four children and three have participated in the National Spelling Bee. The youngest, Amanda, is not old enough to compete.
"I think a lot of it has to do with the kid," she said.
Her oldest child, Amy, who attended a private school, used to refer to studying her spelling as "playing." Her third child, JJ, who will compete at the national bee this year, is more interested in practicing diving. She is home-schooled.
"I don't think she has necessarily studied any more because she's home-schooled," Goldstein said, adding that most parents of bee participants are very involved in their children's education, whether the child attends home school, private school or public school.
About 2 million students across the nation are home-schooled today, and the rate is growing by 15 percent to 20 percent a year, according to Rob Ziegler, a spokesman for the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Va. Home-schoolers have been involved in spelling bees for 20 years.
"Home-schooling works because of the great teacher-student ratio, the personal attention, the flexible schedule - those things can help in any academic area, including spelling," he said, citing triumphs in the geography bee as another example of academic strengths. "It's pretty clear across the board that academically, it works."
Vonnie Crumpton, of the Big Country Home Educators of Abilene, Texas, said the schedule flexibility is one reason home-schooled kids succeed academically. Her son was interested in classical music, and his home-school education allotted him plenty of time to practice.
"Yes, we get math and English and grammar and everything, every day," she said, "but we had more time to dedicate to the talents that God has given him...that's the beauty of home-schooling. You can spend more time where they have interests."
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I did a search on this topic using the keywords I listed, but I don't know if I screwed up the date sorts or something with the new formats. Either way I didn't find this article. If it's a dup have the moderator pull it.
That home schooling is superior should surprise no one. The only reason public schooling ever got started was the idea that it MIGHT be less expensive for a community to pool their resources. It was never intended that public education become the bureaucratic monster it is today.
Home schooling is the norm. Too bad our society has become so structured that we have to be so busy serving our government that we cannot all do it.
Duh. Mr. Houston, memorization is how humans learn. Folks, this is a pretty clear indication that the educational establishment is clueless.
We have a young woman who was home-schooled until college. She was a straight A student in college and got almost a perfect school in the physician assistant's board exam. She is also a wonderful person to be around.
We home-schooled our son for one year. He became fluent in five languages (not in one year, but later, based on initial tutoring). He is now a highly paid computer programmer.
(Even UNC, I hate to admit.)
Shot down by his own poor analogy.....the sap. Maybe his parents should have considered home schooling?
That is the norm. I think it has something to do with children being formed from increased contact with the people who love them, their parents. Even the best intentioned professional teachers cannot possibly devote the attention and certainly not the love that children need.
Also, a group of children will descend to the lowest common denominator as far as behavior goes. If they spend most of their time with their peers, this becomes their character.
Interesting. I recall doing a heck of a lot of rote memorization when I was in public school in the 60's and 70's. In fact a large part of my education involved learning to read, write, and spell through memorization. How do they do that now?
It's a sacrifice to home-school, but it's an investment that will pay off many times over in educational results, character building, love, happy times, normal marriages, wonderful grandchildren. My best investment was in home-schooling. It has made me a happiness-millionaire.
You watch and see.
That is exactly what the NEA and public schools are doing. Spending less time every year studying those subjects which will help our students achieve success.
I'm stealing that line.
It's interesting. The left is constantly trying to 'deconstruct' every aspect of American society and culture, but they've never touched (to my knowledge) the myth of the 'little red schoolhouse.' In fact, this century-old model for schooling is used as a reason why public schools must be supported today. You would think that different times would call for different methods of educating students, and home-schooling is a highly effective method. Yet the left prefers the myth, most likely because home-schooling is a model that they can't control.
I believe the current method of teaching reading, writing and spelling focuses mostly on getting the message across to kids that they are really good at reading, writing and spelling and then explaining how to put a condom on a banana.
The assignment that I gave that got the most parental complaints (the only reason that my principal ever took any stands) was memorizing pi to as many places as the students could. I was told it was unreasonable to expect them to memorize a number that went on forever. When I reminded him that they only memorized what they could within a week's time, not the entire infinite sequence, he said that there was no reason to memorize pi since it is well-documented in books. When I told him that the point of the lesson was learning mnemonic devices, as well as measuring and improving memory capacity, he said that it was not part of my curriculum. When I reminded him that the ISTEP state standardized tests (our apparent Holy Grail from the state's viewpoint) included a memorization section, and it allowed them only 20 minutes to memorize a list of 25 nonsense words and definitions ("a grelb is a hammer"), he got tired of discussing it, and simply reminded me that I was not allowed to give that lesson. I then surprised myself and asked the consequences if I didn't. He said I would be written up and the record put it my file. I said (as politely as I could, to lessen the confrontational nature that was becoming apparent to the others in attendance) that if that were the case, then the lesson would be worth it to me. He, of course, upped the ante to a possible suspension for insubordination.
I had given that lesson for 3 years before it came up, and every year had at least one child going over 200 decimal places, and only 4 kids (total, out of 400-ish) ever attained less than 100.
The great part was when, a few weeks later, some man won $100,000 on a TV program for memorizing pi to 100 decimal places. All of a sudden, my kids felt cheated for not being allowed to do the lesson. Others thought I was being unfair since I had to substitute much more menial worksheets for a week, rather than the fun lessons I had prepared.
As for my current school (you're surprised I left?!?), there has obviously been some wretched breakdown in communication between the 3rd-5th grade math teachers, because I would be willing to bet that 75% of my kids do not know the 12x12 multiplication tables by heart. I have been including it in as many lessons and quizzes as possible, but they simply use fast addition to fill in the chart (add 4 to every subsequent number in the 4x column, etc), rather than actually memorizing the products. The parents and the administrations simply aren't interested in hearing the kids whine about heavy intellectual labor anymore. It's really sad.
Good luck, homeschoolers. You truly are doing the right thing for your children. Never let the talking heads guilt you into doubting it. As your ranks grow, I will get more hopeful for the public school system. The ONLY way the NEA and the educrats will start making meaninful changes will be after they start realizing that they are losing numbers, money, and power. Trust me, I've been to board meetings, faculty meetings, and national conventions where dissenters like myself are given a fair chance to be heard... just before they forge ahead with their own incredibly stupid plans anyway. You home-schoolers are the only hope, not only for your own kids, but for those who would actually like to see the public systems wake up and start focusing on fixing what they've broken in education.
On the other hand, when it comes to winning "condom bees", government school students do very well.
It's my first morning of Spring Break. Please forgive my grogginess. =^)
Does anybody see the liberal bias in the title?
Homeschoolers dominate spelling bees (Some see fair disadvantage)
Those who have children in the public system get what they pay for.
Guvmint skool kids may not be aybul to spel to gud, but they no all abowt condoms, self esteem, erth day and other importent stuf.
One day I would like to wake up and read a news account of the largest association of homeschoolers offering to help educate the teachers of America.
You can bet that public school kids will be much better at team athletics. It's pretty hard for one Mom to churn out a basketball team, much less a football team where all are eligible for the same level of play at the same time. Basketball, I think, would require 3 sets of twins in 3 years. Triplets or quads would help. (Three pointer with a foul = 4.....lol.)
Homeschoolers are smokin' on the spelling and geography sections. I'll bet also that they're better in basic subjects for those parents who actually home school as opposed to those using "homeschooling" as a dodge.
I'll also guess that "institutional" high schools (large facilities whether public, religious, or private) will churn out better prospects in higher math, higher science, and higher arts. Why do I say this?
I don't think most home school parents have the background in calculus, advanced science and art, nor do they have the facilities (labs) to make these things readily available to home schooled kids. Maybe computers will change that, but every "long distance" or "computer" class I've seen doesn't compare to a knowledgeable teacher who is PRESENT for questions and guidance.
Doing the best thing for your children has never been tough, and has always involved time, sacrifice, hard work, and some great rewards at the end. If you are considering home-schooling, do the research, learn the rules for your state, rearrange your financial situation (it may even include a different state or home to school in), and do it ASAP. The most common drawback I hear is the 'socializing' factor. Trust me, a moderate percentage of the students I have would not be in your top 1000 choices for people to be socializing with your child. Take them out into public pretty often, and make sure that they appropriately engage others in conversation from time to time. Socialization mission accomplished.
Be shure to pre dril befor nailing.
That is so sad I can't even qualify it as funny.
1. For homeschooled children all words must be 10 letters or more. Example: chrysanthemum.
2. For privately schooled children, words of 8 letters or more.
3. For public school children, words of 6 letters or less.
4. For public school children from an economically disadvanted area, words of 3 letters or less. Example: cat.
They have unwaveringly supported their union, the National Education Association, and liberal democrat politicians which have wrought much of the problems facing schools today. They've made their bed - now they can lie in it.
Hmmm. If public school kids were winning spelling bees over the home schooled kids, do you think the NEA would be saying, "Having public school bee champs does not show the superiority of public schooling."
As for higher science and math, it's important to point out that parents who aren't proficient can supplement such subjects with tutors or co-ops, entrance into the ps high schools, or community college classes.
You just haven't been creative enough or done enough research if you think homeschoolers are limited by being home even in athletics or higher math and science. This just isn't the case and the beauty of homeschooling is once high school years hit and a child shows an obvious talent or proficiency for something, they can devote more time and attention to it, actually making them the superior candidates in the long run. Just a few random thoughts;-)
I suppose if I remembered my calculus, I could remember how to construct an infinite series that would allow me to calculate pi to any desired degree of exactitude. But I don't remember enough to do that.