I've been to private school, public school, and homeschool. I never thought much of it but now being older, I realize that it's a bit unique to have experienced it "all." I figure I would make a pros and cons list based on my experiences. My experiences - that is a big flaw itself, right? Private schools are very different from one another. Public schools can be totally different worlds from each other. And obviously homeschools can be DRASTICALLY different. So take these lists with a grain of salt. It is highly unique to me and I am mostly doing this for entertainment purposes. 😉
We will start with Private School and I will do other blog posts later about Public School and Homeschool.
Pros of the Private School I attended:
- I felt I genuinely got a really good education here.
- Huge emphasis on volunteerism and being part/taking of your local community starting at a young age.
- I believe being forced to read and comprehend large chunks of the Bible every morning at a young age helped with reading comprehension skills and an early expansion of vocabulary.
- We hardly ever had assignments to take home because most of our "homework" could be done in class before the day ended.
- Because our class sizes were so small, we had a lot of interaction with the teacher. Every question was answered, no one was left behind. If even one person struggled, we paused and took care of it. Somehow we could do this without ever getting behind in the curriculum (to my knowledge as a kid).
- The teachers knew every single one of us and our families. We usually knew quite a bit about our teachers too, like where they last worked, who their families were, where they lived, what they liked/disliked etc. Not only was this a generally nice aspect, but it also helped if the teachers knew you were going through a tough time at home and automatically knew to give you a bit of room and some slack without having to interrogate or hassle you about "what's wrong"" or "what's going on at home?".
- There were years with so few students, I literally knew every single other kid in my entire school
- Your needs were taken care of because the teachers/staff are reliant on your parents' money for their paycheck
- There was a foundational level of trust. There were no hall monitors. There were no lockers. There were no bathroom passes. If you needed to pee, or get something from your backpack, you just....got up and got it. You didn't need to ask and you didn't need to wait until the teacher stopped talking. It was understood that if you were leaving, it was for a specific reason, and you'd be back promptly. The only times I ever recall someone getting up from class and not coming back were if the kid ended up being sick. To my knowledge, no one in my classes ever abused this system.
- Everyone generally adhered to an expected level of obedience. Even minor infractions of the rules were "shocking" and highly gossiped about.
- To my knowledge, all homework was done by everyone. I only remember a handful of times that someone did not hand in an assignment, the reaction was that of shock because that type of stuff just didn't happen.
- Lots of recess, even in middle school.
- Some years we had combined classes (for instance, both 5th grade and 6th grade in the same classroom for all classes). Everyone seemed to like this. Again, we never seemed to get behind on curriculum and we all had even more time to get our "homework" done before the day ended.
- Class and/or skills that - from what I understand - aren't typically taught in public schools. Like everyone in school had to take handwriting & diction classes, cursive, memorization, logic class, etc
- School started late morning, and with hardly any work to take home, I got a full rest every night.
- There was a lot of flexibility with what a teacher could do in their class. This meant many of our classes were filled with fun games, or our teachers bringing instruments to play and sing for us, or taking class outside because it happened to be a nice day out. This also resulted in one of my teachers moving grades a few times, to make sure she was with our class. I had that same teacher for 3 different years. Everyone in class liked having her for so many years, our teacher liked it (it happened at her request). And now looking back, I consider that as something so special in my childhood. She was a great teacher we all liked and respected, and I'm so lucky to have that unique circumstance happen during my school years. I believe this really reinforced the previously mentioned aspect of trust, but also gave us a level of mutual respect. Kids can academically soar when given all these levels of trust, respect, resources, FUN, and opportunities.
Cons of the Private School I attended:
- The vast majority of the kids at the school were white. As a mixed person, this could be hard. Eventually there would be one other mixed kid, and there was consistently one other person of color (and their sibling) at the school. There were two occasions when 2 other different kids of color attended the school but for some reason, they left about halfway through the year. Everyone else who ever attended the school while I was there, to my knowledge, were white.
- Building from the fact above, a lot of the kids could say nasty things. Things like, "Well I don't like your people, but you aren't like them. I like you. You're special," or they would point to a picture in a history book of a person in a jungle and say, "Oh hey, is that you? You're from there, right?" and laugh. Parents or school staff would often say, "Oh, you are so articulate for being a [insert my ethnicity here]!" Just overall being oblivious. It hurt my feelings but I didn't know why at the time.
- Most of the kids were from rich families. Their parents had occupations like judges, doctors, lawyers, dentists, politicians, CEOs of companies, etc. I was one of the few "scholarship kids." Not only did I get a discount for being "underprivileged" but there were other ways to build on that discount which our family did, like being members of the attached church and being a staff member (my mom's 2nd job). There was a definite lack of understanding between our "worlds" with the other kids. The first day of school was always especially hard. When I got to about 4th grade, I came home crying saying I hated the first day of school because everyone talked about their fancy European vacations over the summer and how they went shopping for a completely new wardrobe. So my mom let me skip the first day of school from then on.
- There was a lot of coddling and not wanting to hurt feelings or "poke the bear" because the teacher's/staff's checks were reliant on parents being happy and wanting to keep their kid in the school. Punishments were unheard of. I attended this school starting from 1st grade and the first ever detention was dolled out in 6th grade. There was never another detention after that that I was aware of.
- Again building on the above fact, there was a rampant bullying problem. Teachers enforced a strict "no tattling" policy so even in circumstances when the bullying was severe and/or physical, the teacher's didn't want to hear it and told us to figure things out for ourselves. I believe this is because they never wanted to report any trouble to the parents.
- If you didn't like a teacher, you unfortunately were stuck with them for nearly every single class, all day, every day for the rest of the year because there wasn't changing of classrooms except for a weekly music class and our weekly all-school worship service.
- Asinine rules, like being scolded for saying "oh my god!" instead of "oh my gosh!" or saying "what the hell!" instead of "what the heck!". Harry Potter books forbidden because of evil magic.
- There were no uniforms here and I'm putting this in the cons list because I feel like it could have drastically reduced our bullying problem between the "rich kids" and the "poor kids" if everyone had worn the same thing.
- Sometimes knowing so much about the staff and other kids could get awkward.
- Our school was small, so we didn't have as many resources as you'd expect a private school to have. Our computers were old. Our library was a little room in the basement that didn't even exist until I reached 4th grade.
- Sex ed did not exist.
- Being taught the Earth is only 5,000 years old and zero mention of evolution.
- Discussing presidential elections in class and being encouraged by our teachers to vocally endorse the republican candidate. At the time I thought nothing of it, but looking back seems inappropriate.