Sunday, July 19, 2009

Home schooling is child abuse? — a Civil War blogger slanders a whole educational movement

Exploring some Civil War blogs, I came upon a pretty bald statement about homeschooling. It gave me pause, because it runs strongly counter to my observations of homeschooled children in Sisters and elsewhere.

Kevin Levin, on his Civil War Memory blog, said:

The real tragedy is to see the children who are the product of homeschooling. Yes, there is evidence to suggest that some homeschooled kids out perform their public school peers, but I’ve taught a number of these kids over the past eight years and it isn’t pretty.
Most of the kids I’ve taught with this background find it very difficult to adjust to a school community. Many haven’t spent enough time learning how to interact with their peers, but the biggest disappointment is to watch them in the classroom.
The kids I’ve taught are very obedient and well-behaved, but try to get them to question what they read or what the teacher says and you will end up pulling your hair out. They were never taught to formulate their own ideas or to see school as an opportunity to develop their own views about things.
It’s very sad. I’ve seen up close what happens to kids who are taught to see US History as “God’s plan”. In a previous comment someone said that it reminds them of child abuse and I couldn’t agree more.

He later qualified some of his statements in the face of comments to the contrary, but... wow.

My own impression of homeschooled kids has been overwhelmingly positive. They seem mature and comfortable interacting with adults. Well-behaved, indeed, but not automatons.

The homeschooled kids I know, including a couple of family members, have not had problems adjusting to a school environment — in fact, they seem to continue to excel. They seem to be independent thinkers who know how to find information on their own — and are willing to question it.

In my experience, most homeschoolers — not all — are coming from a Christian perspective and there is some inherent ideological bias. But it is ridiculous to think that there is no ideological bias in public education — or in any group of people talking about ideas and issues. The most ideologically rigid people I've ever encountered were at the "free-thinking" University of California, Santa Cruz.

I don't believe homeschooled kids are any less capable of challenging their own perceptions than public school kids.

Personally, I’ve always believed that most education occurs in the home anyway, whether it’s “homeschool” or not. I didn’t get my passion for history — or much of my education in it — from school. I got it from reading and talking about it with my parents. I learned more about the Civil War from sharing books and discussions (sometimes arguments) with my dad than I did from any classroom, up to and including a university degree in history.

I believe in public education and want to see the best we can get in Sisters. But for those for whom it makes sense to opt out in favor of homeschooling, it seems to work.
I’d be interested in hearing other people’s experience with homeschooling — as participants or critics.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. Jim -
    Your comments are right on about home school kids. Even for those of us who have our kids in the public school system, it shouldn't stop us from 'contributing' to their education thru some 'home schooling'. Any child raised without parent involvement in their education will end up with a gap in their education.

  2. Jim,

    I feel compelled to comment on a couple of your points:

    People homeschooling their children from a "Christian Perspective" is not an ideological bias, it is a religious bias. Many on the Christian right would like to label a non-religious public education as some form of ideological bias. In reality they are engaging dishonest political strategy intended to promote a specific version of Christian curriculum in public schools.

    I also dispute that there is an inherent Ideological Bias in our public schools. There is a cultural bias which reflects our history, the diversity of our community and the diversity of our country. That some individuals have a problem with elements of our culture - be those elements political, religious or ethnic - is not evidence of ideological bias on the part of the public education system, but rather evidence that it is succeeding in exposing our children to the incredible variety of thought and knowledge that our world has to offer.

    When people make the choice (which is most certainly their right) to home school their children from a "Christian Perspective", they are doing it because the religious bias they want to teach their children is not part of our public education system.

    Keeping public education as free as possible from religious bias is part of the social contract we have with each other so that we can educate our children as a community.

  3. Non-Religious HomeschoolerSeptember 30, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    "Religious bias they want to teach their children"? How are you Christians TEACHING anything if you're using bias? Why don't you try letting your kids believe what they want to believe instead of forcing belief down their throat?