Being knocked out of Internet-land by my ISP sort of hampered my ability to jump in on the conversation a bit surrounding The Case Against Homeschooling, but that is OK. If that is at all a good summary of the faults of homeschooling, I think we as homeschoolers are pretty safe.
His follow-up provides more of an actual argument…or at least bigger words. Not sure how a high school English teacher would think the fact that immature college freshmen using “homeschooler” as synonymous for “geek” would count as an argument for or against anything. When I was in college, it was “you must have ridden the short bus” so maybe we should eliminate special ed programs as well.
One paragraph of the follow-up, under point number two, caught my attention because a simple rewrite seems to point out the main flaw in his reasoning.
The problem with a state run education system is that the state construct the learning environment. By so doing, it hand chooses what elements of society other people’s children are exposed to. If you don’t think this is dangerous, I don’t know what to say to you. A child taught by agents of the state– even a group of agents– is being made privy to a paucity of the viewpoints and perspectives out there. Given that the state is likely to choose like-minded suplementary teachers (morally, ethically), this leaves the child, basically, in a position of being brainwashed.
The state may be perceived as neutral, but it most certainly is not. By all means, if a child is being abused, the state has a responsibility to act in order to preserve the life, liberty and property of even our youngest and weakest. But it does not and should not act because of what might happen. We all know what might happen even in the public schools. It is splashed across the news whenever it is found out and Americans are dutifully shocked, pride themselves it couldn’t happen in their schools and go on about their days.
He concludes with the thoughts of one of his commenters:
Practical education takes sides, perspectives and people. Something incredibly challenging to get in a pedagogical environment with a parent and a child…
Actually, I know more than a few people who object to this purpose of education. They seem to think a little reading and math should be thrown in there as well, but increasingly it appears to be the main purpose of education. “Socialization” is the main criticism left against homeschooling among the general public, seems to be the main focus of these entries and comes up repeatedly in more formal criticisms as well. Thus I find myself asking yet again: Does anyone find it a tad disconcerting that we all so willingly and unquestioningly accept the state as the primary agent of socialization for the child? Even to the extent that we shun those who dare to say it isn’t and shouldn’t be?
“To an earlier point about morality and public schooling, social settings are where the rubber meets the road for morality. It is the test. It’s where thou shall not becomes here’s why I shouldn’t do this because of this set of consequences on this set of people. The formal structure of standardized tests, achievement, college pressures makes it difficult to see this in the short term, but one of the most long tail educational imperatives is given students a framework for handling the complicated decisions you’ll have to make as an adult.”
Except that we cannot forget they are children. Their morality isn’t fully formed. Rather than strengthening a child’s moral compass, the public school environment is shaping and setting that compass based on the experiences the child has at the hands of minimally supervised peers whose sense of morality also is not yet fully formed. As to the “formal structure of standardized tests,” when one of my first graders asked me “Will this be on the test?” (referring to the TAAS, a third grade test) I decided the whole pressure culture was a little overrated.
While college kids may tease each other with the label “homeschooler,” many homeschooling families make their decisions based on their personal experiences with the public education system. The surveys may say that we choose homeschooling for “religious or moral” instruction (35.8%), but believe me I feel like the odd one out in discussions on education because I view my public education in a rather positive light. Sure, there were problems, but I never had the “I’m never putting my children through that” kind of thought I’ve heard expressed by many of my homeschooling peers. And while that reason may make the list at number one, concerns about the environment and academics at other schools, when combined, account for 37.6% of respondents. If it weren’t for the failures of public schools, there wouldn’t be all that many homeschoolers.
And to the title question, “Do homeschoolers care too much?” I guess in the eyes of some, yes. Because it leads us to question the status quo.
For a little more discussion, Spunky at Spunky Homeschool addresses The Case Against Homeschooling point for point.
Tammy of Just Enough and Nothing More responds a bit more to Do Homeschoolers Care Too Much?