Homeschooling – Putting the FUN back in Ignorance

4 01 2008

I heard NPR say today that one of the reasons Huckabee won the Iowa caucus is that he had help from “home-schooling networks”.  And I thought to myself, “homeschooling?  WTF?”

I guess here is the idea of homeschooling:

It is the ignorant leading the ignorant with the added bonus of no social development in the child.  Wow.  That sounds great.  If you want your child to know nothing about everything than homeschooling might be for you.  Why trust your child’s education to professional teachers?  That doesn’t make any sense.  No, for the family on the go there’s nothing better than stupid, socially inappropriate children.  And let’s face it.  There are dangerous ideas out there that you can’t risk your child being exposed to!  Evolution, Philosophy, and the existence of dodecahedrons are all things your child is better off not knowing about.  Besides, there is no school out there that can as effectively distort history to fit your agenda as you can.  You’ll find that multivariable calculus is a snap to teach as you blunder your way through subjects and ideas that you know nothing about.  And in the privacy of your own home, you can feel free to beat your pupil for any wrong answer!  All this dysfunction and more can be yours – just pull your kid out of school today!

I’ve only known one person who was home-schooled (and yes, his parents were very Catholic).  Let’s just say that I think he would have done better to be exposed to the social atmosphere and hierarchy of an actual school.

Here’s a pro-home-school site that lists 10 common problems of home-schoolers: 

10.Homeschooling MistakesFear of the Internet
Let’s face it—the Internet can be dangerous! There is so much out there that we do not want our children to see and so many people out there we do not want them to meet!

Also, The top fifteen problems with homeschooling.  Including, “Sex education with Mom consists of nothing but gardening metaphors.”

And you know you’re going places when you get one of these:

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29 responses

4 01 2008
Dawn

You might want to do a little research beyond what claims are being made about homeschoolers and Huckabee. He does have the support of many evangelical protestant homeschoolers but secular homeschoolers generally don’t think much of the man. Even many of those evangelical christians are asking questions about Huckabee. You can check out a series of posts by prominent homeschool blogger Spunky for proof of this – http://spunkyhomeschool.blogspot.com/2007/12/huckabee-and-homeschoolers.html

As for the rest of your post, I invite you to check out my blog at daybydayhsing.blogspot.com and the blogs I link to for a better view of what goes on in many homeschooling families. There are the wacky creationists but there are also a lot of normal folk. Your comment about, ” Evolution, Philosophy, and the existence of dodecahedrons are all things your child is better off not knowing about,” actually had me smiling because part of my daughter’s homeschooling today was constructing a paper model of a dodecahedron during which we talked about Platonic solids and a bit about Plato and his ideas. Especially when she got into a spiel about how words are just ideas that represent real things. We were just a smidge away from dualism! Evolution hasn’t gotten a mention lately but that’s mostly because we’re talking about atoms, elements and the formation of the universe. We’ll get to it when there’s an earth for life to evolve on. 🙂

Anyhow, I’m serious about the invitation. Come over and see what the homeschooling thing is like for a lot of us and feel free to leave comments and ask questions!

4 01 2008
Bill

Actually, everything homeschoolers typically perform better academically than public schooled children (see here for data: http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp and http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/rudner1999/Rudner0.asp). I can verify this from my own experience as well, based on a comparison of homeschoolers I know with my public school students. Homeschoolers are harder-working, more academically capable, score higher on standardized tests, and are usually ahead of the age-grade level. Many start college early and finish early. A home school debate team has one many national championships, and their moot court team beat Oxford in 2005 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Henry_College and http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=42498).

As far as “social skills”… as a high school teacher for 7 years, I haven’t seen these social skills that the public school “true believers” always harp on. I have seen the opposite. In fact, the “social skills” learned at typical high schools are one of the best reasons to homeschool, and the social skills learned by many homeschoolers are another one of the best reasons to homeschool.

An interesting side note: public school kids are getting worse and worse. I talk to veteran teachers all the time. We as a nation have a real problem on our hands. Not that I blame the schools: it is a cultural problem. Nor are homeschoolers immune: they are actually affected by the culture, they are affected by the video games and entertainment and apathy narcissism that surrounds us all. Of course, it would be worse if we immersed them in it all day every day, like we do with the vast majority of our children in this country.

Public schooling is a recent phenomenon in the world. There have always been great men and women. There have always been wise and well educated men and women.

In fact, public schooling was designed to “dumb down” children rather than truly educate them. Check our John Gatto’s (NY teacher of the year) book “An Underground History of American Education.”

Our public school does not teach philosophy, and most of its students will never read the classics. Most homeschoolers I know will study both in depth during their high school years.

I just looked at your about page and noticed this:

“This blog is … It recognizes that a truly intelligent person is one who knows only the extent of their own ignorance. ”

Is that from Socrates? Do you really believe it?

4 01 2008
The Truth About Homeschooling « Moral Midnight

[…] Truth About Homeschooling I stumbled on a strange blog today. In it, the author condemned homeschooling as follows: I guess here is the idea of […]

4 01 2008
Doc

Dude, it’s the 21st century. Pigeon-holing homeschoolers is like herding cats. We’re all different, and many many MANY of us not only embrace socialization, evolution, philosophy and higher math, but worship them. The only homeschooling organization that made a public endorsement of Huck was the HSLDA, and that was without the support of a majority of its membership. Most homeschoolers don’t support him. I’m about as far away from an isolated bible banging closed world view homeschooler as you can get, and I have a long blogroll of like minded folk listed on my blog. Enjoy.

5 01 2008
Mitchell

It appears, surprise surprise, that some disagree with me. Here’s a brief response to your response to my admittedly unreasonable rant.

To Bill, the ‘history’ of public education is really beside the point – and I’m assuming you became a teacher because you saw worth in that profession (although your response makes it sound otherwise). Public education in this country has some serious problems, that doesn’t mean it is a bad system.

And yes, I’m aware that not all homeschoolers fit the obvious exaggeration of my rant. I am also aware however that there are many who do. As I’ve said before about religion, some moderates don’t make up for the many extremists.

In the mean time I will check out your suggested reading materials and I thank you for taking the time to read/comment!

5 01 2008
Dawn

I don’t know why moderates would have to make up for extremists. Homeschooling is simply an educational choice some of us make. If their are religious fundamentalists out there who make the same choice I’m not sure how that reflects on homeschoolers anymore then school boards stacked with creationists reflects public school.

Maybe the thinking is that if we didn’t allow homeschooling *though I understand you didn’t make any comment about that) and got those creationist kids into public schools we could get rid on their creationist thinking? Considering most Americans today don’t buy into evolution (I’m in Canada where the number are very different) and almost all of them went to public school, I’m not hopeful.

Thanks for the post though and your open attitude!

5 01 2008
Dawn

[A funny post popped up on my Google homeschooling alert today. It comes from Fear of Ignorance and it’s a post where the author lets loose his frustration with the Huckabee win and homeschoolers.]

Oops. Didn’t give you a linkback.

And you should check out Doc’s blog for sure!

5 01 2008
Sade

I’m glad you’re knowledgeable enough to see that your rant was unreasonable not the least because it was not backed up by any facts or research. Your exposure to a single homeschooler out of millions that exist does not qualify you to give a judgment of the issue. Good luck.

5 01 2008
Summer

For someone with a blog called Fear of Ignorance you sur show no fear in spreading your own ignorance about homeschooling? Guess that must be that wonderful public school education showing through. Afterall, you couldn’t actually go out and get information on your own about homeschooling to have a factual basis. Oh no, that’s too crazy. That’s almost homeschooling yourself. Better to just sit back and be ignorant until a qualified professional comes along and teaches you. I mean, if it’s not on the test it can’t be worth learning right?

5 01 2008
adsoofmelk

Hi, Mitchell —
I read your blog with interest, but like basically everyone else who’s commented so far, I strongly disagree with your statements. I understand you were self-admittedly “ranting” and that you also know that you’re ranting about what essentially amounts to a stereotype, but honestly, I really think it would be better for you to poke around some of those resources mentioned by others and read more about homeschooling in general and then re-evaluate your opinion. Hey, maybe it’ll be the same, sure, but I tend to think it’ll have gained in complexity and understanding in the mean time.

I’d like to respond to some specific comments:

1. “I guess here is the idea of homeschooling:It is the ignorant leading the ignorant with the added bonus of no social development in the child.”

Well, I’m not saying our family is typical, but I have an M.A. from a highly selective private university, and my spouse does also. I also am a certified teacher with over a decade of experience teaching in the public schools. We belong to a number of homeschool organizations which meet regularly for that “social development” factor.

2. ” Why trust your child’s education to professional teachers? That doesn’t make any sense. No, for the family on the go there’s nothing better than stupid, socially inappropriate children.”

Some teachers are absolutely dedicated, professional individuals whose experience and expertise is matched only by their love of their students and their job. I wish that that were the norm, but as we all know, it is not. Many teachers are adequate, and after over ten years in public school, I can say that most of the people I’ve worked with have been adequate. A few have been utterly outstanding; a few others have been beyond-belief bad. Regrettably, school is a real crapshoot: you can’t really pick and choose which teacher your child will be placed with. Secondly, for some families, one serious problem with school that even some of the best teachers cannot accomodate is the one-size-fits-all approach. This means that for kids on either far end of the scale, school will basically be a poor fit, no matter how professional the teacher.

3. “And let’s face it. There are dangerous ideas out there that you can’t risk your child being exposed to! Evolution, Philosophy, and the existence of dodecahedrons are all things your child is better off not knowing about. ”

Hey, if you live in Kansas, there’s no guarantee you’ll learn about evolution in the public schools, last I heard. Actually, one of the reasons we homeschool is so that we could teach all of the above.

4. “Besides, there is no school out there that can as effectively distort history to fit your agenda as you can.”

Again, this was a reason TO homeschool. We wanted our child to learn actual history (or as nearly accurate as we could get, given that history is always being “spun,” even by its participants. We didn’t want our child to learn that Columbus discovered the world was round, for example — a common myth still being taught in some public schools around here. I see your point, dude, but distortion of history happens everywhere, and school isn’t exempt!

5. Also, The top fifteen problems with homeschooling. Including, “Sex education with Mom consists of nothing but gardening metaphors.”

This was funny. Not true for us, but very funny nevertheless.

Ultimately, I hope you do check out some more info. and post back. I’ll be eager to see what you have to say.

6 01 2008
Dana

As I’ve said before about religion, some moderates don’t make up for the many extremists.

Some extremists don’t make the institution wrong, any more than a few really bad teachers make public education wrong.

I like your diploma there. So do a growing number of colleges. : )

http://parenting.ivillage.com/teen/teducation/0,,5q39,00.html

It isn’t the best article on the subject, but in a quick search is adequate enough.

7 01 2008
Mitchell

Wow. I’m impressed by the amount of feedback I’ve gotten from this post (especially considering I get significantly less on topics that I actually do know things about and actually do really care about). In this comment, I hope to clear up a few misunderstandings, admit a few wrongs, and probably piss some more people off. Here goes:

I’m a jackass, as any regular reader of my blog knows. And this particular post may seem a bit out of place – but nonetheless, I stand by it. I was reacting to a few situations that I know about of home-schooling. Perhaps I should have been more specific than just referring to them as “home-schoolers”. I am also very aware that there is diversity among those who home-school their children – you are not, all of you, Jesus loving, free speech hating, immoral child abusers. I’ll admit that. And I am sorry if you took my post to mean that homeschooling, without exception, is a bad thing. That is surely not what I meant.

I am also very aware that the public education in this country is not, in fact, as great as sliced bread. That being said, the system (and by system I mean the broader sense of public education) can work, if only the implementation wasn’t ridiculous.

I would say that for a large number of people homeschooling simply is not an option. Parents who both have to work full time for instance, or those who themselves don’t have a proper education. Ideally a public education solves both of those problems – and teachers are able to know a lot about something and not just a little of everything.

Before I get lynched again, yes, I know, that is the ideal, not the actual way public education works. But just because we don’t currently have the ideal doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for it.

Mostly I lament (and rant about) those for whom homeschooling is simply a means by which their parents can control their minds (by limiting, not expanding). While I have no data to back up this claim, I would wager that there are more families out there that home school for the wrong reasons than we would care to admit.

Take that for what it is worth, even if it is nothing.

7 01 2008
adsoofmelk

You said, “Mostly I lament (and rant about) those for whom homeschooling is simply a means by which their parents can control their minds (by limiting, not expanding). While I have no data to back up this claim, I would wager that there are more families out there that home school for the wrong reasons than we would care to admit.”

Yes, I agree with what you said. I also lament situations in which people homeschool to engage in mind control (or actually, any situation in which people do anything to engage in mind control, if you want to know the truth). Ultimately, I think homeschooling needs to be allowed even with the knowledge that there will be some folks waaaaay out on the fringe because the freedom it allows most people (even the people who *don’t* choose it) is worth the price. Just my .02.

7 01 2008
Mitchell

I’ve never said that homeschooling shouldn’t be allowed – it’s a free country after all (or was, eight years ago).

8 01 2008
Dawn

// But just because we don’t currently have the ideal doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for it.//

I agree. I’d argue though that the ideal is not going to be a universal ideal. If we understand that kids are individuals than there won’t be an ideal public system that will address everyone’s needs. It may be that ideal is the lack of one overarching system where people have room to make their own choices about every aspect of their children’s education.

I also think (and this is a relatively new thought for me) that homeschooling doesn’t mean turning your back on the public system. That may very well be the intent of many of us but the actual results of that are very often beneficial to school parents. From a post of mine on the matter (http://daybydayhsing.blogspot.com/2007/12/reaching-out-radicals-and-teachers.html):
“We build alternate models that educators can look to. We create a demand for alternate curriculum (like Singapore Math) that school parents can use in their home or lobby the school boards to adopt. We demonstrate the need for more flexible approaches to schooling with our demands for online schooling or partial enrollment. We explore elements of education, unschooling, interest-led learning, etc. that schools, by their nature, often can’t. We create a different standard and example for how involved parents should be in their children’s life and education. We push the conversation surrounding education to places it simply couldn’t go otherwise.”

We may be the ones, that by leaving, help push public schools to places they never considered before.

8 01 2008
Lisa

Hey Mitchell. I am glad you posted this. Unfortunately, many people have no clue about homeschooling but think they do. What I like about you is that you’re at least honest about it.

It doesn’t hurt my feelings either. You just happen to be unenlightened, that’s all.

It is the ignorant leading the ignorant with the added bonus of no social development in the child.

I would argue in a heartbeat that I am more qualified to teach my children (K-6) than any of the teachers in my extremely high performing district. I have a Master’s degree, am a certified teacher, and most importantly, I get to adjust the teaching to the level of my children–which means seriously raising the bar.

I prefer for social development to be limited to positive role models (no need for daily overdoses of bullies, wedgies, cursing, disrespect or low expectations, thank you very much.) My children can hold a conversation with just about anyone worth talking to (not just their peers) and contrary to popular belief, they do get out of the house for things like soccer, ballet, martial arts, lacrosse, chess club, baseball and the occassional snow-fight. You get the idea.

For the record, my daughter’s lesson plans include science (complete with the theory of evolution, philosophy, history, grammar, writing, Latin, mathematics (even dodecahedrons, nonagons and the like), music and art history. As for distorting history– we try to avoid that as much as possible as there are certainly enough of that going on in textbooks these days. That’s considering, of course, that you can even find history in the elmentary classroom anymore.

When we get to multivariable calculus, which will sneak up on us considering my 10 year will be taking honors algebra I in tha fall, we’ll hire a tutor. Homeschoolers can do that, you know. They can also enroll in online university classes and participate in distance learning from places like Johns Hopkins, for example.

this dysfunction and more can be yours – just pull your kid out of school today!

That’s what we’ve done. I prefer to have some control over the dysfunction (if that’s what you wanna call what we’re doing), as opposed to letting a group of strangers who care about little else than making “adequate yearly progress” and meeting dismally low expecations do it for me. I’d rather challenge my child than feed her to the wolves that are satisfied teaching to the middle so that everyone is happy and feels good about themselves.

Mitchell, times have changed. It seems you have some catching up to do.

P.S. For the record, I tried my darndest to make the public education system work for my child and those of others. I finally realized by the time I make any difference, if any at all, my children won’t benefit from it. Call me selfish, but as a parent my loyalty is to my children. I just cannot waste anymore of their precious time waiting for the public school system to work.

8 01 2008
Mitchell

Lisa, I would refer you to my earlier comment in which I mention the fact that the majority (again, my uninformed estimation here) of people who home-school do not have a masters and are not certified teachers. My comments in the post were obviously directed to them. I’m sure that there are a lot of people who do a perfectly fine job educating their children. I can also think of a lot of people who definitely should not be educating their children.

8 01 2008
Lisa

I get that. BUT, there are also a lot of teachers and administrators who should definitely NOT be educating the children of others.

Just sayin’

8 01 2008
Lisa

“We may be the ones, that by leaving, help push public schools to places they never considered before.

Dawn, that was inspiring and I couldn’t agree with you more about the power of homeschooling and alternative education. I know that here in my own little corner of the world our decision to homeschool has raised a number of questions among parents in my district. Questioning the powers that be and keeping them thinking is pretty much always a good thing.

8 01 2008
Dawn

// I mention the fact that the majority (again, my uninformed estimation here) of people who home-school do not have a masters and are not certified teachers.//

That’s me. I have my high school degree and nothing beyond that. Though I’m loathe to quote HSLDA (the conservative christian homeschooling group that endorsed Huckabee) statistics they DID do an interesting study – http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/comp2001/HomeSchoolAchievement.pdf – that seems to show that the level of parent education or teacher certification isn’t a good predicter of student acheivement with homeschoolers (though it is for public schoolers it seems!). Neither, interestingly enough, is the amount of money spent on a child. Homeschooled students seem to do equally well across the spectrum.

Only having my high school degree has certainly not limited me in any way that I can see. It doesn’t mean I can’t access information, buy curriculum or resources or learn what I need to to help my kids learn. As for teacher training, I’ve known many homeschoolers who were former teachers. The consensus amongst them seems to be that if their training and experience wasn’t almost useless, it was a hindrance. Homeschooling is generally very different from schooling and demands different skills, curriculum and approaches. I don’t think that’s something the genera; public understands at all though.

12 01 2008
adsoofmelk

I’d also have to say that one of the strong advantages of HSing — one that tends to override one’s lack of teaching credentials — is the one-on-one teaching (or, in the Melk household, two-on-one teaching) and the ability to customize the curriculum to meet the demands and needs of the child. My child currently is at several different grade levels for the core subjects because she, like basically every other kid on the planet, has areas of strength and weakness, interest and disinterest. Partly, schools find it challenging to accomodate those all-over-the-map strength levels, but mostly, they just don’t try.

17 01 2008
Lisa

Daniel Pink’s article “School’s Out” is over six years old but still worth a read if you’re interested in what he has to say about homeschooling.

You can find it here.

17 01 2008
Edmund

Smart homeschoolers tend to support Ron Paul. He feels no need to campaign on his religion.

17 01 2008
shaun

Dude — bottom line, you don’t like Mike Huckabee and that inspired you to a rant. That right there gives you lots in common with many homeschoolers. This working, PhD-holding, caucusing Democrat, homeschooling mom trusts that you have learned your lesson. (Oh, and I’m Catholic too, but I’ll give you a pass on that one . . . this time.)

18 01 2008
Mitchell

Thanks to everyone for your comments. I’m closing commenting on this post because the comments have gone off-topic and are not adding anything to the discussion that has not already been expressed. If you have something to add that is of value, please email it to me at:

fearofignorance@gmail.com

I’ll post it if it is appropriate.

thanks!

2 09 2008
Michelle

found your thoughts very interesting. The last comment about controlling the minds of children. (Let me first say I have homeschooled and I am not homeschooling now. I also love Jesus, but I am not an extremist.) I have found that trying to come out of thinking we actually think we know something, because we listen to the media, which is controlling, or we listen to polls, or science (psychology) all have a view and they control and shape our thoughts. As you walk out of that it can be scary and it looks weird and then people just make new systems to replace the old and think something new is accomplished. Is it really? The opposite of the fear of ignorance is wisdom. Do you know fear is self fulfilling. What do you really believe and why? That is thinking. Life is not black or white. That’s the age old system. You touched on some interesting issues.
Thanks

2 09 2008
Mitchell

I’ve opened comments for this post.

10 09 2009
sandrar

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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