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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.

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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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Should homeschoolers stick with the system?

Amy Platon of Scribble Ink Cafe had an article published in the Orlando Sentinel advsing homeschoolers to stick with the system.

I have much respect for parents who take matters into their own hands in an effort to protect their child. But when it comes to home-schooling, I’m worried about the big picture.

The “big picture” appears to consist of three main points:

  1. I could never homeschool because he’d have to put up with me all day.
  2. I don’t think I’m qualified.  Teachers are paid professionals.
  3. He would never forgive me.

Number three is a decent argument and although I am a passionate homeschool advocate, I’d never tell anyone they had to homeschool.  Still, the basic premise of these first arguments is “because I don’t think homeschooling is for us, it isn’t for anyone.”

Then there are the “fear-based reasons.”

  1. School-budget cuts.
  2. Bad influences.
  3. Insufficient education.

These don’t seem like fear-based reasons to me.  When a child is struggling in school, be it academically or socially, and programs they need to be successful are being cut, it is a parent’s right and duty to look out for the interests of their children.  That certainly does not always mean homeschooling.  There are a number of ways parents can become more involved in their local schools, many of which Amy lists.  But they do not always work.

Perhaps I should defer to someone who has chosen to homeschool for these very reasons.  Our decision was not based on the public schools and frankly I’d continue to homeschool even if the public schools had no problems…or if we could afford private school.  I homeschool because of what I believe about education:  namely that it involves the entire upbringing of a child, not some artificially segmented part of a child’s day.  Life and learning should be integrated and children should have the opportunity to become active members of their communities, not passive observers stuck in a classroom.

This is where some of Amy’s concerns seem based in ignorance. And I do not mean that in a negative way.  I had similar thoughts about homeschooling before I started.  I didn’t have enough contact with homeschoolers to form a valid framework for my thoughts about homeschooling.  Thus comes the question:

How can a home-schooled child have compassion for his community when he isn’t part of it?

That’s the thing–he is part of it.  My children experience community by playing catch in the backyard.  By participating in programs at the Y.  By going along with me to doctor’s appointments and on errands where they get to know our “community helpers” through frequent and informal contact rather than through a lesson delivered in kindergarten.  By stopping on the way home to watch the firemen wash their truck.  By volunteering.  By participating in community programs and events.

In short, the homeschooled child has a unique opportunity to truly be a part of their community rather than passively learn about their community.  Schools have often been viewed as “learning communities.”  But we, too, are part of a learning community.

One that extends beyond age ranges and grade levels.  To me, that is the bigger picture.

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Why I am not impressed with Chuck Baldwin

Sprittibee hates talking about politics, and yet she can’t seem to stop.  I love talking about politics, and yet I just haven’t desired to wade into those waters.  But I’ve been asked so I thought I would answer.

There is a rather popular idiom common to Western nations, but peculiarly prevalent in American politics which summarizes the way many of us on the conservative side feel about our political choices:

I will be voting for the lesser of two evils.

Meaning, of course, that we see two options available to us, neither of which we are particularly keen on.

And in this election, with a strong Christian in the running, many have responded to this frustration with a slight turning of the phrase:

If you are voting for the lesser of two evils, you are still voting for evil.

But there I must beg to differ.  The “lesser of two evils” is merely an idiom.  It does not, in fact, mean that either choice is “evil” in the biblical sense of the word.  It means only that they are both unpleasant.  There are a number of issues I disagree with John McCain on, but I cannot call him “evil” merely because we have a different vision for the direction our country should take.

And honestly?  I have as many concerns about Chuck Baldwin as I do about John McCain.  He is a pastor, not a politician.  That is not a bad thing, but at this point I have no idea how well he can lead a city, let alone a state or a nation.  He has said a lot of things as a pastor which are good and right, but I do not know what that means when I try to apply it to politics.  Perhaps with more familiarity, my discomfort would be alleviated, but I know from experience that not everyone who starts talking about “biblical principles” and “our founders’ vision” means the same thing I do when I bring up these phrases. Some of them mean something very different, and worse than anything John McCain or Barak Obama would bring to the nation.

The Volokh Conspiracy passes Baldwin off as “an enthusiastic purveyor of all manner of far-right conspiracy theories.”  Baldwin has stated that on the day he is elected, “the New World Order will come crashing down.”  Really?  And how does he propose to do that?  Conspiracy talk always pushes me away, but I have not yet been able to decipher what kind of conspiracy theorist he is.  The problem is that in all of my research, most of the theories I have tracked down have their origins in very anti-semitic and often racist ideologies which began to surface in the late 1800s, with the focus shifting from the “Jews” to the “international bankers” in the 1930s.  That is not to say that everyone who holds these views is anti-semitic or racist.  Baldwin certainly isn’t.  I only mention it to provide some context for my own biases in these discussions.  That and the lizard people.  I tend to lump it all together, fairly or unfairly.

But to get back on track with this, to say that the NWO is going to “come crashing down” is a rather odd rallying cry.  And why I would like to know more what he means when he is talking about the NWO.  To me, I cannot separate it from the notion that the Free Masons and the Illuminati control the world…in which case the election has been decided.  But then to focus heavily on our nation’s founding seems odd since most of our founders were Free Masons, a factor which contributed heavily to their ability to meet “in secret” under the noses of the British.

I question his biblical interpretation when he reaches to Ezekial 22:25 as proof that there is a “conspiracy.” There was a “conspiracy” or “treason” of Israel’s prophets, but that is not proof of what most conspiracists are talking about, and fully irrelevant to what he is talking about.  And he completely lost me somewhere between the moneychangers in the temple in John chapter 2 and the international bankers setting up shop in the “temple.” What temple?  Then there is his reading of the Declaration of Independence:

In the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” If that isn’t a clear reference to conspiracy, I don’t know what is.

I’m sorry, I don’t see it.  I see no reference to conspiracy, only to the right and duty of people to throw off despotic governments.  Ironically, the Declaration of Indpendence was a “globalist” document as our founders attempted to make their case for independence before the court of the world.

I am a devout Christian.  And I do have concerns with what we often call the “secularization” of America.  But words like this concern me in a world leader, regardless of his religious leanings:

After all, the United States of America was a nation established in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and for His glory. The founders of this country were emphatic about that! Therefore, the imprint and influence of the Savior are seen and felt throughout the length and breadth of this nation. And it is that same imprint and influence that the secularists are feverishly attempting to expunge . . . Therefore, if America wishes to remain a free and independent republic, if this nation truly desires future peace and prosperity, and if we genuinely aspire to remain a blessed and protected land, we must quickly throw off this foolish infatuation with multiculturalism, which is nothing more than an attempt to de- Christianize our country, and humbly return to the God of our fathers!

This is what I’m talking about when I say I don’t know how to take his positions as a pastor and apply them to politics.  Is he going to “expunge” America of secular influence?  Does that mean doing away with freedom of religion and liberty of conscience?  Does it mean a theocracy?  I may agree that we’d be better off returning to Christ, but bringing that about is not the role of government.

Then there is this, written right after 9/11, which I have read five times and I’m still not entirely sure I know what he is saying.

Second, the architects of an internationalist, New World Order must not be allowed to expunge the fundamental freedoms guaranteed in our Bill of Rights. We cannot allow our own government to do by fiat what foreign terrorists want to do by force. Americans must not surrender their liberties to any government. It is more important to be free than it is to be secure! In truth, liberty by its very nature is a risk. We must never give in to the temptation to acquiesce our God-given freedoms.

America doesn’t need the approbation of NATO or China or anyone else. We certainly don’t need the blessing of Pakistan! The United States of America is a free and independent nation and must never accept any attempt by internationalist influences to diminish our freedoms or abridge our rights.

I think he is saying we don’t need to work together with other nations or ask their permission to invade Afghanistan and go after Al Qaeda.  If so, I disagree and wonder what kind of foreign policy we would have if this were followed.  As noted above, we sought the approval of the world in our own fight for independence.  How much more do we need to work with other nations in order to go to war abroad?  And we must remember that the attack on the World Trade Center was not just an attack on the US.  It was an attack on all nations, and other nations have suffered terrorist activity within their own borders as well.

Perhaps I am left voting for the lesser of three evils, but I am seeing it less that way every day.  None of the candidates embody all I would have in a president, but what does that say?  We are not raising up leaders to the task.  Even we, who talk about limited government, are looking to central government to secure that.  Something has gone awry, but it happened long before this election season.

And for your reading pleasure, a couple of things from others on the election:

Dr. Del Tackett on Choosing the Lesser of Two Evils.

And Reverend Peter Marshall on One of the Most Important Elections in American History.  I don’t like this one as much, but I do appreciate his point about an incremental approach.  And it is similar to the point I was trying to get to in the homeschool deregulation plan in ND.  We tend to look at things as black and white, all or nothing, rights respected or rejected.  But we drink milk before we eat meat, and I think that is an apt analogy for how we need to correct our government.

And please feel free to discuss the candidate you prefer, your frustrations with this election or your enthusiasm for your candidate.  And out of curiosity, do you know the issues in your local races as well as you know the issues facing these gentlemen?

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How do you teach Columbus Day?

I’m just curious.  Do you teach Columbus as the evil conqueror who brought disease, death and cultural annihilation to the New World?  Or as the hero and great explorer who discovered the New World and brought civilization to it?  Or something in between?

We studied Columbus a few years ago using predominantly his own journal which was rather interesting.  We looked at him as a man with great ambition, great opportunity and great faith who unfortunately became a wee bit obsessed with gold, corrupting all the potential of his mission.

We are actually studying how horses have affected world history at the moment, and this week we are supposed to be finishing up the Huns.  It would be a good time to begin our look at how horses affected the colonization of the Americas, but that is a bit too much jumping around on the time line for me.  For those interested however, he are some Columbus Day resources for the horse lover.

The Native Americans Columbus encountered feared the horse, making it possible for very few men to intimidate large numbers of natives.  This proved very important to colonization for obvious reasons.  Cortez was later quotes as saying, “Next to God, we owe our victory to our horses.”  Once the Native Americans got hold of horses, however, their cultures were changed profoundly, unsettling some of the “balance of power” between the tribes.  White Americans would later find some of these groups, such as the Sioux and the Apache, mighty warriors who could strike swiftly and fiercely upon their mounts although a few centuries previously their power would have been severely limited.

Some good information about the descendants of some of these first horses:

The Wild Horses of Shackleford Banks

An outline of some of this history (word document)

And the book we will be using when we get there:  After Columbus:  The horse’s return to America

Happy Columbus Day!

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Home School Talk will be canceled today due to the fact that the host has no voice.