Friday, March 16, 2012

My response to "Home-schooled and Illiterate"

An article in Salon titled "Home-Schooled and Illiterate," raises some good, and some bad points on the extreme Christian right's take on homeschooling. By the "extreme Christian right" I mean the folks who follow Bill Gothard, Vision Forum and other "Quiverfull" and dominionist groups. The Duggars of TV's "19 Kids and Counting" and are members of this group. They view public schools as evil (though, in their books and on tv the Duggars say public schools were not their choice for their children but they don't resent paying taxes for them since both attended some public school.) College is viewed by this group as, at the very best, a necessary evil for some careers their sons might be allowed to pursue.

The point here is not to debate Quiverfull or the Duggars, but just to set clearly in people's minds the type homeschooling family being discussed in the article. I will not be writing a point-by-point analysis here, but I do want to set out my general responses:

1. Fix the public schools first--what about the countless kids who graduate illiterate?
2. No, it's not up to the government to educate children, it's up to the parents.
3. The government DOES have a role in making sure true abuse is not happening.
4.RESPONSIBLE homeschoolers have nothing to fear in annual testing or in other forms of progress verification. Those who oppose these things likely DO have reasons to fear it.
5. Family size and income can and does affect homeschool quality.
6. Who decides what "must" be learned?
7. What about kids who just won't learn--there are hundreds in public school, too!
8. A teaching degree does not guarantee the graduate will be an effective teacher.
9. Interacting with people outside the family IS crucial, but spending all day with exact age-mates is not necessarily best for any child.
10. Christians are to be "in the world, but not OF the world" and are to be "set apart" by the way they live--not ISOLATED from the world.
11. Hard to remember, but people lived for centuries without sex ed classes and they still managed to figure it out.
12. All science does not involve evolution, but YES biology certainly does.
13. Christian parents are charged with TRUSTING the LORD to protect their children, not with keeping them cocooned at home unexposed to anyone other than family. This creates perpetual children with no ability to defend their faith.
14. I DO believe this DOES represent a FRINGE movement. Most homeschoolers have families of NORMAL size, are largely middle class and participate in as many activities outside the home as their public school counterparts.
I now many of you will argue with various of my conclusions--that's your right. But I stand by my comments. Yes, there can be a big poor family that does homeschool well, but it doesn't happen very often due to the amount of work it takes to keep such a family going. There can be well educated homeschool parents who don't care if their kids learn.

My strongest disagreement with the author is that YES it IS a freak fringe that is doing the damage. Trying to live in isolation is not healthy. Homeschooling certainly can be a very healthy upbringing when it is not used for religious and political indoctrination or even brainwashing.


shadowspring said...

I especially like your poinst #4 and #5.

Ganeida said...

Point 1. is what aggravated me the most. Having taught in our public schools & seen first hand how many don't read well, or not at all, I think the government has quite enough on its plate fixing that before worrying about anyone else. I thought the article was terribly biased ~ & all the more dangerous for pretending it wasn't.

Hopewell said...

Ganeida--very, very true!

mykidsmom said...

No arguments from me!!