This month’s Time magazine has a three-page cover article on homeschooling entitled Seceding from School. It makes a passing attempt at “fairness,” with comments and quotations from both sides of the issue, but (IMHO) it leans towards public schooling with a near declaration that parents who homeschool are being elitist and shirking their civic duty by not making their children suffer through the same educational morass that less fortunate families cannot escape.
Thomas Jefferson and the other early American crusaders for public education believed the schools would help sustain democracy by bringing everyone together to share values and learn a common history. In the little red brick schoolhouse, we would pursue both “democracy in education and education in democracy,” as Stanford historian David Tyack gracefully puts it. Home schooling forsakes all that by defining education not as the pursuit of an entire community but as the work of one family and its chosen circle. Which can be great. Despite some drawbacks, there are signs that home-schooling parents are doing a better job than public schools at teaching their kids. But as the number of kids learning at home grows, we should pause to wonder: Better at teaching them what? Home schooling may turn out better students, but does it create better citizens?
That’s the fourth paragraph of the article.
That last sentence left my mouth agape.
I think that if Jefferson saw what passed for “education” in many if not most of today’s public schools, he’d be in favor of burning the existing “system” to the ground and starting over.
My stepdaughter graduated from high school in 1997. Her knowledge of American history, civics, and even geography is essentially nil. When the movie Pearl Harbor came out, I asked her if she knew what Pearl Harbor was. No clue.
She is hardly an exception to the rule.
Perhaps we should look to what the author might mean by “better citizens,” then. Founding Father Thomas Paine (whom my daughter has never studied) said “Reason and Ignorance, the opposites of each other, influence the great bulk of mankind. If either of these can be rendered sufficiently extensive in a country, the machinery of Government goes easily on. Reason obeys itself; and Ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”
Connie du Toit once wrote
The other day our Carpenter’s helper heard me say something along the lines of, “it is difficult to conclude that incompetence is the reason why our public schools have deteriorated. There comes a point where you have to suspect sabotage, or a conspiracy.”
He asked me if I really meant that. I gave him the five minute explanation of John Dewey’s known affiliation with communists, his frequent essays and articles about the wonders of the Soviet education system, and his quote, “You can’t make Socialists out of individualists. Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming where everyone is interdependent.”
I then went on to tell him about how public schools changed at the turn of the last century. That there were others involved in turning Americans from free-thinking individualists to factory drones. I also added that many people probably went along with it because it seemed like a good idea, but there were certainly enough people behind the scenes, who knew that the goal posts had been moved. THAT is a conspiracy.
Yes. There does come that time when you are forced to don the tinfoil hat.
The incompetence excuse only works once. Incompetence this great is impossible to attribute to accident.
Count me in the tinfoil-hat brigade. Especially when I see peices like this Time one suggesting that it’s our civic duty to indoctrinate our children and make them better citizens.
In my opinion, the homeschooled are far more likely to be reasoning, free-thinking individualists, and that means better AMERICAN citizens – the kind willing to make decisions unpopular with the UN.
The Time article continues:
To see how home schooling threatens public schools, look at Maricopa County, Ariz. The county has approximately 7,000 home-schooled students. That’s only 1.4% of school-age kids, but it means $35 million less for the county in per-pupil funding. The state of Florida has 41,128 children (1.7%) learning at home this year, up from 10,039 in the 1991-92 school year; those kids represent a loss of nearly $130 million from school budgets in that state. Of course the schools have fewer children to teach, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t get as much money, but the districts lose much more than cash. “Home schooling is a social threat to public education,” says Chris Lubienski, who teaches at Iowa State University’s college of education. “It is taking some of the most affluent and articulate parents out of the system. These are the parents who know how to get things done with administrators.”
Get things done? Like what? They seem to be completely unable to alter curricula so that the kids get an actual education.
I’ve said before that my sister is a teacher, so I have a little bit of insight into just who has the ability to ‘get things done with administrators.’ It’s the ones who threaten lawsuits for not advancing little Johnny to the next grade, even though he’s illiterate, because not doing so will “hurt his self-esteem.” People are pulling their kids out of public schools because they can’t affect the system – it’s far too ingrained at this point. The Titanic doesn’t take course corrections any longer, even though it’s obvious the iceberg is dead ahead.
Look at this example of supposed balance in the Time story:
Despite its growing acceptance, there are nagging shortcomings to home schooling. If you spend time with home schoolers, you get a sense that some of them have missed out on whole swaths of childhood; the admirable efforts by their parents to ensure their education and safety sometimes seem to have gone too far. In 1992 psychotherapist Larry Shyers did a study while at the University of Florida in which he closely examined the behavior of 35 home schoolers and 35 public schoolers. He found that home schoolers were generally more patient and less competitive. They tended to introduce themselves to one another more; they didn’t fight as much. And the home schoolers were much more prone to exchange addresses and phone numbers. In short, they behaved like miniature adults.
Which is great, unless you believe that kids should be kids before they are adults. John McCallum, 20, of Wheaton, Ill., began learning at home after fourth grade. On the whole, he valued the experience. But if he could change anything about his teen years, he would want more interaction with people his age. “I don’t date, and that’s something I attribute to home schooling,” he says. Or consider Rachel Ahern, 21, of Grand Junction, Colo., who never set foot in a classroom until she went to Harvard at 18. As a child, she socialized with older kids and adults at church and in music classes at a nearby college. “I never once experienced peer pressure,” she says. But is that a good thing? Megan Wallace of Atlanta says if she had gone to high school, “I would have gotten into so much trouble.” One could argue that kids need to get into a certain amount of trouble to learn how to handle temptations and their consequences.”
They’re complaining that homeschooled kids aren’t little hooligans. One “could argue that kids need to get into a certain amount of trouble” but I’m not one of them. I prefer to let them mature and see the errors that they missed. I think that eighteen year-old mature adults are, by definition, good citizens, and something to strive for.
We used to get them out of the public school system, not all that long ago.
(Homework assignment: Read Francis Porretto’s most recent piece, The Assault on Accuracy for more illustration of the collapse of our schools.)
UPDATE, 3/24/04: Chris O’Donnell of O’DonnellWeb points out that this Time piece is actually a couple years old. I don’t know where I first ran across it, but I assumed it was current. All the better, as homeschooling has had a couple more years to irritate the Statists.