Responding to an earlier opinion column, Should evolution be taught in school?, Kalamazoo Gazette reader Lawrence Kapture throws out some thoughts on home education.
Homeschooling is essentially a protest movement. Regardless of motivation, homeschoolers believe public schools are unable to prepare their children to live in the world. mlive.com
Perhaps for some. Or perhaps it was at one time. Or perhaps we are falsely perceived by a public who only hears from us when we are protesting a proposed law.
I am full of criticisms of public education, as are many of my fellow homeschoolers. But then that is hardly unique to homeschoolers. We didn’t write “Nation at Risk,” or “Why Johnny Can’t Read.” Our measly 2% of the population hardly influenced President George Bush, Sr. to bill himself as “the education president.” And I know his son wasn’t listening to us when he drafted No Child Left Behind. Education has been a bit of a battle ground for some time, and homeschooling is only one (very small) part of that public conversation.
Being critical is not a protest movement.
Supporting reform is not a protest movement.
Choosing an alternative is not a protest movement.
It is only a protest movement if our decision to homeschool is directed at what is going on in public schools. Like an organized boycott, a sit-in or march of some sort. I can only speak for myself, but I did not choose to home educate because of what is going on in the public schools. I chose to home educate because of the virtues inherent in this form of education.
Some people garden as an act of protest. Most of us, however, just prefer the taste of homegrown produce or enjoy the hobby for its own rewards. It is the same with home education.
Unfortunately, what homeschooling can do is isolate children from the market of ideas, especially when it comes to biological science. There is a large amount of fringe literature published by religious groups that support the claims of creationists while providing no real information about the vast field of evolutionary biology. Ibid.
There is a large amount of fringe literature available on any topic imaginable and you don’t need to be a homeschooler to find it. I do find it interesting that we’re talking about the “market of ideas” in public school, although by and large there is only one idea presented, taught and tested. And that isn’t exclusive to the whole evolution debate. There isn’t enough time to present anything like a marketplace of ideas with testing looming overhead, and all the baggage students bring with them to school.
And again, this isn’t about homeschooling. We only account for approximately 2% of the population. Yet according to a recent Gallup poll, only 39% of Americans say they believe in the theory of evolution, 25% do not and 36% don’t have an opinion. Education was a factor in the beliefs, as was church attendance. Surprisingly, a poll in Britain revealed that only 25% of Briton’s thought the theory of evolution was “definitely true.” This isn’t even an American issue.
If I were concerned about Americans’ lack of knowledge regarding Darwin and his theory, I would look first at why people are graduating high school…public high school…without this knowledge long before I’d jump on the homeschoolers.
Homeschooling allows families to isolate their children from good information by providing them only with information that is comfortable with their own biases. Ibid.
The potential is there. The potential is there anywhere someone has control over the curriculum. Should that control come from the state or the parent? What about when parents disagree? What about when students disagree with the content that is being taught them? One of the more interesting questions in one of my ethics courses dealt with this very debate.
The question was whether it was ethical to pass a student who demonstrated a knowledge of evolutionary theory that surpassed the course requirements, but who didn’t believe it.
There is a fundamental question about control here, but it isn’t about homeschooling. We are just a bit of a catalyst for the discussion.
Like homeschooling is a protest against public schools, creationism is a protest against anything that opposes a literal interpretation of the Bible. When it comes to the origins of life, creationism is not a scientifically educated movement. Ibid.
Kapture never supported his assertion that homeschooling is a protest movement against the schools, and now he’s claiming that creationsim is a protest as well. It isn’t. It is simply a belief. One that existed prior to Darwin and prior to his predecessors who had already begun to look at the world outside a religious worldview.
Back in February, academics and scientists across Europe got together in Germany to discuss difficulties regarding the acceptance of evolution. Some fear these lingering beliefs in creation are a danger to scientific thought in this country and the Western world in general. I don’t exactly buy that, but our schools’ ability to graduate students who can scarcely read just might.