Do homeschoolers care too much?

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?

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0 Responses

  1. I feel a bit guilty in quite possibly putting the issue of homeschooling on the author’s radar screen a couple weeks ago by commenting on some of his posts. He actually invited me to do a guest post on the issue of whether I felt guilty about removing my high-achieving kids from the public schools and thereby depriving less fortunate kids from benefiting from their presence. I’ve been really busy househunting so I didn’t get around to writing anything.

  2. No need to feel guilty. But I do wonder sometimes. It is such a reward in traffic and comments to annoy us. 🙂 Maybe we do care too much, but what is advocacy?

  3. Doggone it, Elf is missing out on all that socialization he got in the closet at public school!!


    Does that sound like a “least restrictive environment” to you? The fellow never answered that one.

  4. “If it weren’t for the failures of public schools, there wouldn’t be all that many homeschoolers.”

    The fact of the matter is, there aren’t that many homeschoolers, whatever the status of the public schools. Now if public schools were better there may be less, but given the relatively small number a difference of degrees.

    Homeschoolers are notable for that very reason and for the attention that is given by those that disagree. It is actually a lot like Teacher Revised post, he received attention for being against homeschooling when he’s really not against homeschooling but pro-public schooling. Likewise, homeschoolers receive attention not for being anti-public school but being such vocal advocates of homeschooling.

  5. I agree with you, the last (dead) argument against homeschooling is the socialization issue. People just cannot wrap their heads around the fact that socialization begins and is reinforced at home. I would go so far as to say that is even true for publicly or otherwise educated children. The difference is the practice that our children receive.

  6. True, Spunky. But what he supports is an ideal, one which has been experienced by many homeschoolers and seen as far less than ideal.

  7. I think perhaps he was a little overwhelmed by an unexpected response. Perhaps the easiest way to deflect it is to accuse those who responded so quickly and thoroughly as caring “too much.”

  8. re: “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.

    Given that our country is becoming increasingly and dangerously polarized (succession anyone?), the concern is understandable to me. While I may not follow the arguments of hs critics to the same conclusions, raising children to mock “diversity” and “multiculturalism,” as it is in many homeschools – and even “American Indian” California charters, apparently – is not a wise thing to do. Unless you want to start a war. Which some do.

  9. Lynn,
    I just finished a very interesting book by political scientist Andrew Gelman of Columbia entitled Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do. In it, the author devotes an entire chapter to the topic of political polarization. He shows that while politicians have become much more ideologically “pure” (i.e. there are fewer conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans among elected officials), Americans as a whole have not become more polarized.

    The one notable exception to the general trend is among those whose incomes place them in the top 1/3 nationally (>$70k in 2004) AND who live in states with a higher average income. Members of the elite media tend to fall into this category, and therefore it’s unsurprising that they fall into the trap of overgeneralizing what they see around them. If you’re sitting in D.C., NYC, LA, SF, Boston, etc. and you see the right-leaning folks you know getting more conservative and the left-leaning folks you know getting more liberal, and the same thing happening among politicians, you’re likely to buy into the myth of increased polarization in the U.S.

  10. Maybe it’s the Internet too.
    Quote from very smart elites who care too much, on the wonderful now-defunct political tv series, The West Wing:

    CJ [the public relations and media expert]: Let me explain something to you. This is sort of my field. The people on these sites? They’re the cast of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The muu-muu-wearing Parliament smoker [control freak]? That’s Nurse Ratched.

    When Nurse Ratched is unhappy, the patients are unhappy. You? You’re McMurphy. You swoop in with your card games and fishing trips –

    Josh: I didn’t swoop in, I came in the exact same way everyone else did.

    CJ: Well, now I’m telling you to open the ward-room window and climb on out, before they give you a pre-frontal lobotomy and I have to smother you with a pillow.

  11. Suddenly, with a few clicks, we are inundated with a plethora of bizarre opinions and worldviews. And like us, I think sometimes their voice is louder than their numbers.

  12. CW: “Lynn, I just finished a very interesting book … Americans as a whole have not become more polarized.”

    Sounds like an interesting read. Maybe the combination of blogging, living in a red county, and watching cable news programs has given me a skewed view of things. If it’s true, the sense of urgency felt by those who oppose homeschooling for fear of expanding extremism is an overreaction. I’ll have to take a look at the book. Thanks.

  13. It is interesting to read old debates, too. They surprised me a bit in just how cutthroat some of them were…like today. Only they still dueled back then.

    At least we don’t ride horses into Congress and start brawls like they did over in Britain. 🙂

  14. Between 1991 and 2007, according to the Denver Post, there were 12 serious violent incidents in churches. See here for a detailed list. Most of these appear to be domestic violence cases- tragic but they happen all the time in non-church settings.

    I feel much safer sitting in my church on Sunday morning (or Saturday evening as the case may be) than I do walking around the streets of a major city like San Francisco.

  15. Schools and universities used to be much more safe; the trend has been in the wrong direction for those institutions. But it doesn’t matter — my point was that our brawls and duels and debates can (and do) turn deadly anywhere.

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