Home Schooling

Some people do not like what their kids will experience in public schools, so they educate them at home.  Is this good or bad?

First, I must admit that I have some bias here.  I come from a long line of schoolteachers.  Most of my family…my mother, and most of my brothers and sisters and their spouses have been involved in the teaching or administration of public schools.

Can an amateur teach a child all the things that they will learn in public schools?  I suppose it is possible.  Do all home-schoolers meet this requirement?  I cannot see how they could.  Public school teachers are college-trained professionals who have devoted their lives to the education of young people.  How could a parent who has not received this intensive and specialized training perform as well?

How many parents have the skills, knowledge and inclination to devote six hours a day to the education of their child?  How many can competently teach English grammar, world and US history, science, math from grade school arithmetic through algebra, geometry and trigonometry…biology, chemistry, physics…and don’t forget music and art.  I honestly do not know ANYBODY capable of doing all of that.

There are some who think that they can.  John Holt (1923-1985) was the preeminent advocate of home schooling.  He had no professional training in education, but he published a book entitled How Children Fail which criticized traditional schools. The book was based on a theory he had developed as a teacher and an observer of children and education; that the academic failure of schoolchildren was caused by pressure placed on children in schools.

Holt said: “…the human animal is a learning animal; we like to learn; we are good at it; we don’t need to be shown how or made to do it. What kills the processes are the people interfering with it or trying to regulate it or control it.”  Holt later said, in 1980, “I want to make it clear that I don’t see homeschooling as some kind of answer to badness of schools. I think that the home is the proper base for the exploration of the world which we call learning or education. Home would be the best base no matter how good the schools were.”

Public, or even private schools take children from the security of their home environment, and place them in a classroom of their peers, where they are challenged to perform and compete.  They must learn to deal with arrogant, rude, even threatening behavior of their classmates.  This “socialization” is an important part of the learning process that they cannot acquire in their home.  Although it can sometimes be unpleasant or traumatic, it is part of life, and something they will have to deal with as adults.  Is it too early in their lives to begin this part of their education?  I do not think so.

Children in public schools learn to participate in group activities, like band and chorus, group games and team sports.  These interactions with other students are an important experience they miss if they are home-schooled.

The reason most people home-school their children is religious.  Public schools expose children to ideas that conflict with faith-based beliefs, and some devoutly religious people do not want their kids to be “infected” by those ideas.  By keeping them sequestered at home, they insulate them from exposure to ideas that might challenge their faith.

Parents have a right to brainwash their children.  For the first five years of their lives, children are prisoners of their parents’ beliefs.  After that, most go to public school, and are exposed to different ideas.  Their parents are still the major influence in their lives, but once they start school, most kids begin to understand that there are people who don’t agree with their parents on everything, especially religion and politics!  Most will retain their parents’ religious beliefs, but some may not, and that’s where home-schooling comes in.  If parents can retain total control over their children until they are adults, they have a better chance of keeping them “in the fold.”

The question is:  SHOULD parents have this right?  Most of the people who do homeschooling are devoutly religious.  They would be the first to lecture about the “rights” of the fetus, as opposed to the mother, in abortion decisions.  And yet, once the child is born, those same people claim that parents have the right to determine everything for the child…including what they are allowed to think and learn.  The same people who claim that, at conception, a person is created, are comfortable treating their child as a cipher, a nonentity to be browbeaten, brainwashed and intimidated into their religious beliefs once they are born.


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