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."
On the Net:
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.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.