12 July 2009

Is Homeschooling Child Abuse?


It is according to some comments posted at Kevin Levin's Civil War Memory blog, to wit:

"The real tragedy is to see the children who are the product of homeschooling. Yes, there is evidence to suggest that *some homeschooled kids out perform their public school peers, but I’ve taught a number of these kids over the past eight years and it isn’t pretty. Most of the kids I’ve taught with this background find it very difficult to adjust to a school community. Many haven’t spent enough time learning how to interact with their peers, but the biggest disappointment is to watch them in the classroom. The kids I’ve taught are very obedient and well-behaved, but try to get them to question what they read or what the teacher says and you will end up pulling your hair out. They were never taught to formulate their own ideas or to see school as an opportunity to develop their own views about things. It’s very sad. I’ve seen up close what happens to kids who are taught to see US History as “God’s plan”. In a previous comment someone said that it reminds them of child abuse and I couldn’t agree more." ~ Kevin Levin (Emphasis mine). *Try most. See graph below: How Do Homeschool Students Score?

And this baseless comment from a reader . . .

"If you think about it, Kevin, what you saw in these kids is inevitable. Many parents who insist on home-schooling their kids have a set of beliefs which they don’t *want* their kids to question or dispute, and that is what they see school as being for: The simple transmission of information. So the kids get a double-whammy: Not only are they taught ridiculous junk, but they are taught that none of it should be questioned."

And more misinformation:

"The problem is compounded for kids who are homeschooled early on and than [sic] have to adjust to a classroom like mine. Much of what I do is organized around discussion and debate. I want my students to question one another and me as part of a process that will lead them to their own conclusions about what they read. But look at this from the perspective of a homeschooled child. They’ve little exposure to debate and/or the questioning of authority figures. So, they come to my class not having questioned their parents and are not inclined to challenge me and they are surrounded by students who take such a stance for granted even if not all of them exercise it." ~ KL (Emphasis mine).

And more misleading comments from another reader . . .

"I can’t tell which of my students now were homeschooled (though I sometimes have my suspicions) but a few years ago I worked in a museum and we had students on tours from public schools, private schools, and homeschooled. One of our docents described the homeschooled kids as “little robots.” The public school kids were the least well behaved but they tended to ask the best questions. An unscientific survey certainly, but I much preferred the more rambunctious public school kids." (Emphasis mine).

"Little robots", huh? How nice. Well-behaved children are "little robots" while those misbehaving are simply "rambunctious." Uh-huh. Certainly no bias against homeschoolers here.

And yet another reader used the term "religious and regional numbnuts in Dixieland" to characterize certain religious Southerners. Isn't that nice? Nothing like open-mindedness and the embracing of diversity from academia. You'll notice that no one objected to that bigoted characterization. Of course, South-bashing and Christian-bashing is just a figment of our imagination.

I must say that many of the comments in this post contain some of the most non-thinking, cliched, scripted, ill-informed, prejudiced, intolerant, narrow-minded, and intellectually dishonest (Did I miss anything?) ideas and thoughts I've ever seen expressed in regard to homeschooling. What began ostensibly as a critique of John Dwyer's book, The War Between the States: America's Uncivil War, descended quickly into a rather dark homeschooling/Christian parent-bashing free for all. The comments noted above went way beyond any reference to Dwyer's book and it is those comments that are the subject of this post. The broad and baseless generalizations expressed in the comments, and the shallow thought process that went into them, betray a number of things about those who wrote them: fear of what they do not understand, as well as a resistance to embrace positive change in educational trends--specifically homeschooling.

Those making these comments are obviously unaware of recent studies, statistics, the astounding successes, and trends involving homeschooling. All of these ill-informed mischaracterizations were disproven years ago and are outdated. The only thing these comments prove is that those who wrote them are clueless about homeschooling and its broad acceptance and continued explosive growth in the United States. The comments quoted also reveal an underlying current of rigid, elitist thinking regarding the teaching of children i.e. - "Leave it to us experts." The ignorance expressed in the comments about one of the most successful educational options in modern America is jaw-dropping astonishing; even more so when you consider many of these comments came from those who are educators and members of academia.

Before I respond to the comments, allow me to give you a little background about my family and our own experience with homeschooling. Most who read this blog with any regularity know that my wife and I homeschooled 4 of our 6 children and that I am an enthusiastic proponent of homeschooling. Our two oldest children's education was comprised of a combination of some public, but primarily private school with our son finishing his last two years of high school at a military school. So, in addition to homeschooling, we've had plenty of experience with the diverse options for education available to most Americans. I know more than a little about that which I'll be commenting. Moreover, my wife would concur that homeschooling our 4 youngest children was one of the most rewarding experiences we've had in our 50+ years. We would most assuredly do it all over again - only we would have started sooner.

Three of our four youngest children were educated through a combination of a private Christian school and homeschooling, with our youngest child being educated solely through homeschooling. One of these 4 children is now a lead teacher at a private Christian school in our area and our youngest child was accepted into Patrick Henry College, a very selective and highly respected school which caters to homeschoolers. She decided not to attend PHC and now, in addition to being a wife, mother, and helping my wife in her business, is pursuing her degree part time. She's written columns for our local paper and elsewhere as well. We began homeschooling our youngest son when he was 12 and he had originally planned on attending Virginia Military Institute. He changed his mind when VMI was forced to go co-ed. He started his own business when he was 17 and today is a very successful farrier, husband, and father of two. Our other daughter whom we homeschooled is a mother of two and married to a pastor who serves a church in Canada. I consider our efforts in teaching our children a success and we are grateful to God for His blessings on our family.

Now, let me address some of the comments noted above. Levin writes that most of the homeschool children he's encountered "find it very difficult to adjust to a school community" as if that's the purpose of their life up to that point - to prepare them to adjust to his classroom or to a "school community". Rather presumptuous, wouldn't you say? Why would one assume everyone is going to accept the premise that herding 20-30 into an institutional classroom setting where a stranger presides over their education is something worth adjusting to? Why would one assume that there is only one definition of "school community?" We could turn it around and say that children coming out of a public school would have difficulty adjusting to a "homeschool setting." What's the point? His comment is a rather weak straw man to shoot down, but let's acknowledge that many children often have trouble adjusting to new settings when changing school environments, moving, etc. So what? The comment proves absolutely nothing and is meaningless. Besides, I could cite numerous cases where homeschooled children who moved to a private or public school were well-advanced of their peers and who had no trouble adjusting, except they felt somewhat stifled by the rigidity of a traditional classroom setting - not always the best atmosphere for learning. So let's move on to the next straw man.

Then Levin trots out the old worn-out concern over "socialization" - "Many haven’t spent enough time learning how to interact with their peers, but the biggest disappointment is to watch them in the classroom." That baseless charge has been disproven so many times that you rarely even see it brought up any more. Recent research totally refutes that old phony concern. Only those who are uninformed about the subject, or pushing an agenda, would still attempt to present it as a concern. The comment conjures up images of poor, lifeless children locked in a spartan basement by cruel parents who forbid their children to interact with anyone other than their parents or siblings, and who never venture outside their "agrarian farmstead." It is utterly ridiculous and baseless. The positive comments we most often received about our homeschooled children were in regards to their level of maturity and behavior. If they had any trouble "interacting with their peers" it was because they sometimes thought the silly, immature conduct of some of them was not something with which they wished to interact. In other words, many other children their age were behind in their emotional and social development due to the fact they spent so much of their time "with their peers" and emulated immature, youthful behavior. I find rejecting silly behavior to be a positive, not a negative. The point of education, in our view, is to prepare young people to serve God, their fellow man, and become productive members of society and not so that they can "interact with their peers" - that's nothing but distracting psycho-babble. All of my children had lots of friends their age while growing up, got along just fine with them, and still do.

As for "socialization," most homeschooling families, including ours and that of my oldest daughter, get as much or more interaction with other children as does any other child in America. While our children were being homeschooled, they were very involved in numerous church activities, ministered to shut-ins at nursing homes, lobbied legislators, attended church camps, participated in 4H clubs and competitions, took music lessons and competed against other children, attended music camps, competed in spelling bees, went with other homeschooling families on joint field trips, etc, etc, etc. The socialization homeschooled kids receive, in most cases, is far more diverse and educational than what many children receive in the rigid, bureaucratic "box" mentality of government schools; or many private schools for that matter.

The church our oldest daughter (who holds a bachelor's degree in education and is state certified to teach) attends sponsors a homeschool "co-op" where families meet every Friday for joint activities and field trips. Scores of children show up, along with their parents, every week. Just more "religious and regional numbnuts in Dixieland" I suppose.

Levin continued with "try to get them to question what they read or what the teacher says and you will end up pulling your hair out. They were never taught to formulate their own ideas or to see school as an opportunity to develop their own views about things. It’s very sad."

Actually, what's sad is that someone would actually try to make their case with such a baseless accusation. Maybe it's the teach
er who can't relate with students from a different background than what he or she is accustomed to. Why should anyone assume the children are the ones with the problem? It's certainly true that homeschooled children are often more courteous and respectful of authority than many of their peers and might be hesitant to challenge a teacher. That is not necessarily a bad thing - to a point. But I've found quite the opposite to be true regarding questioning ideas and authority among homeschooled children. None of my children are afraid to question authority - respectfully - when warranted. Lord knows they've questioned mine more times than I'd like to remember.

Case in point. A couple of years ago, my youngest son and his wife took their first daughter to their pediatrician. My son was in his early twenties. His daughter was experiencing some digestive problems and the Doc, after a very brief examination, prescribed a strong anti-acid medication. My son objected and started asking the Dr. about side affects, how often did he prescribe this drug to infants, why so quick to prescribe medicine without first considering a change in diet, he wanted another opinion, etc. My son told me the Dr. very intently stared at him for a moment and then asked, "You were homeschooled, weren't you?" My son, a little shocked replied, "Well, yes I was, but why do you ask?" The Dr. answered, "Because 99% of young parents I talk with NEVER question my opinions or treatments. Every time someone your age does, I discover they've been homeschooled." Turns out my son was right, by the way. They altered my grandaughter's diet somewhat and that resolved the problem. I could give other similar incidents regarding my other children but, suffice it to say, the notion homeschooled children are "little robots" or were never taught to think for themselves and challenge authority is nothing less than cliched, ill-informed nonsense. It is an offensive, demeaning, and agenda-driven insult.

"Develop their own views?" Is anyone really naive enough to think that education takes place in a vacuum? The views of the teacher and educational philosophy is always part of the environment - to one degree or another. Certainly no one would be silly enough to suggest that whoever is doing the teaching is not "steering" their pupil in a certain directio
n. Yes, we want children to think for themselves and form their own opinions, but every teacher influences their pupil in one direction or another, whether you wish to admit it or not.

"I’ve seen up close what happens to kids who are taught to see US History as “God’s plan”. Mr. Levin calls teaching this view of history "child abuse." Child abuse! Wow. I'll tell you what I've seen. I've seen many of these kids (including my own) who are taught a Christian worldview of history grow up to be productive members of society who are active in their church and who give back to their communities. I've also seen that many of these kids are much less gullible to leftist propaganda and lying politicians who wish to limit and take away their freedom (which is one of the main reasons educational bureaucrats don't like homeschooling).

Whether elitists want to accept it or not, there are millions of Christians in the United States who believe that God's providence directs history and that all nations are a part of His plan. Being intolerant of those views is nothing new, but such beliefs are certainly common among Christians and not outside the mainstream. To suggest that teaching that all of history, including US history, is part of "God's plan" is a form of child abuse is an extreme, radical position to stake out. That position truly is outside the mainstream.

And if you think its only Christians who believe that public schools are involved in propagandazing children, think again. The following comment comes from the Atheist Homeschool Blog:

"I didn’t like the way the kids were taught to be followers instead of leaders. [Uh, does she mean "robots?"] I didn’t like how they downplayed the importance of families. I didn’t like how filled all the curriculum was with governmental propaganda and the social agendas being pushed upon the children."

Homeschooling is the most positive, cutting edge revolution taking place in education. It has grown from what was once considered a "fringe movement" to being very mainstream, acceptable, and practiced across diverse political and socioeconomic backgrounds. It is, in the truest sense, a "people's movement" - taking place from the bottom up and, quite literally, has turned the failed traditions of conformity in government and private education on their collective heads. To be so ignorant of a stunningly successful educational movement involving hundreds of thousands of Americans, especially when that information is so readily available, reveals a willful blindness to the truth or an overt attempt to suppress it.


Not surprisingly, those who wish to impugn, demean, suppress, and downplay the success of homeschooling are usually those who have a vested interest in doing so - protecting their turf. Teachers and administrators in traditional educational settings are no doubt feeling a little threatened by the competition - with good reason.

Homeschoolers have the means to provide a quality - and often superior - education for their children at a fraction of the cost without exposing their children to drugs, violence, political correctness, and wasted time that is so often the case in both public and private school settings.

The other overriding concern of many statists in big-education is the fact homeschooling prevents "the machine" from indoctrinating the minds of children with liberal and progressive philosophies, leftist ideologies, moral relativism, Darwinism, and other things to which many parents would object. As already noted, it is an elitist mindset that is anti-freedom and anti-liberty. And, according to all the studies, does not include the best interest of the child as its motivation. For every child who is homeschooled, that translates into less money going to the public school locality which means less money for salaries, bigger facilities, sports programs, etc., etc. This has been pointed out over and over and I've had public school teachers and administrators admit this to me - on the condition of anonymity, of course. It's all about money and control.

Below, I've included some information which was in an article written by Dr. Brian D. Ray. It has some excellent information and statistics about homeschooling-- all verifiable. I've also included some links for those who are interested in finding out more about homeschooling.

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Homeschooling – that is, parent-led home-based education – is an age-old traditional educational practice that a decade ago appeared to be cutting-edge and “alternative” but is now bordering on “mainstream” in the United States. It may be the fastest-growing form of education in the United States. Home-based education has also growing around the world in many other nations (e.g., Australia, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Kenya, and the United Kingdom).

There are about 2 million home-educated students in the United States. There were an estimated 1.8 to 2.5 million children (in grades K to 12) home educated during 2007-2008 in the United States. It appears the homeschool population is continuing to grow (at an estimated 5% to 12% per annum over the past few years).

Families engaged in home-based education are not dependent on public, tax-funded resources for their children’s education. The finances associated with their homeschooling likely represent over $16 billion that American taxpayers do not have to spend since these children are not in public schools

Homeschooling is quickly growing in popularity among minorities. About 15% of homeschool families are non-white/nonHispanic (i.e., not white/Anglo).

A demographically wide variety of people homeschool – these are atheists, Christians, and Mormons; conservatives, libertarians, and liberals; low-, middle-, and high-income families; black, Hispanic, and white; parents with Ph.D.s, GEDs, and no high-school diplomas.

Reasons for Home Educating

Most parents and youth decide to homeschool for more than one reason.

The most common reasons given for homeschooling are the following:

· customize or individualize the curriculum and learning environment for each child,

· accomplish more academically than in schools,

· use pedagogical approaches other than those typical in institutional schools,

· enhance family relationships between children and parents and among siblings,

· provide guided and reasoned social interactions with youthful peers and adults,

· provide a safer environment for children and youth, because of physical violence, drugs and alcohol, psychological abuse, and improper and unhealthy sexuality associated with institutional schools, and

· teach and impart a particular set of values, beliefs, and worldview to children and youth.

Academic Performance

* The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (Percentiles range from 1 to 99 on these tests.)

* Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.

* Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement.

* Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement.

* Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.

* Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges. [I found this to be the case with all of my homeschooled children.]

Social, Emotional, and Psychological Development

* The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem. (Emphasis mine.)

* Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work.

Gender Differences in Children and Youth Respected?

* One researcher finds that homeschooling gives young people an unusual chance to ask questions such as, “Who am I?” and “What do I really want?,” and through the process of such asking and gradually answering the questions home-educated girls develop the strengths and the resistance abilities that give them an unusually strong sense of self.

* Some think that boys’ energetic natures and tendency to physical expression can more easily be accommodated in home-based education. Many are concerned that a highly disproportionate number of public school special-education students are boys and that boys are 2.5 times as likely as girls in public schools to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Success in the “Real World” of Adulthood

The research based on adults who were home educated is growing; thus far it indicates that they:

* participate in local community service more frequently than does the general population,

* vote and attend public meetings more frequently than the general population, and

* go to and succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than the general population.

* internalize the values and beliefs of their parents at a very high rate.


Sources:

The above findings are extensively documented in one or more of the following sources, all (except one) of which are available from www.nheri.org:

· A Homeschool Research Story, Brian. D. Ray, 2005, in Homeschooling in Full View: A Reader.

· A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls. Susannah Sheffer, 1995.

· Home Educated and Now Adults: Their Community and Civic Involvement, Views About Homeschooling, and Other Traits, Brian D. Ray, 2004.

· Home schooling: The Ameliorator of Negative Influences on Learning, Brian D. Ray, Peabody Journal of Education, 2000, v. 75 no. 1 & 2, pp. 71-106.

· Homeschoolers on to College: What Research Shows Us, by Brian D. Ray, Journal of College Admission, 2004, No. 185, 5-11.

· National Education Association. (2005). Rankings and estimates: A Report of School Statistics Update. Retrieved 7/10/06 online http://www.nea.org/edstats/images/05rankings-update.pdf.

· The Truth About Boys and Girls. Sara Mead, 2006.

· Worldwide Guide to Homeschooling, Brian D. Ray, 2005.

Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. is an internationally known researcher, educator, speaker, and expert witness, and serves as president of the nonprofit National Home Education Research Institute. He has taught as a certified teacher in public and private schools and served as a professor in the fields of science, research methods, and education at the graduate and undergraduate levels. His Ph.D. is in science education from Oregon State University and his M.S. is in zoology from Ohio University. Dr. Ray has been studying the homeschool movement for about 24 years.
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Recommended Links:

State regulation of homeschooling doesn't help test scores
Home School Legal Defense
National Black Home Educators
Jewish Home Educators Network
American Homeschooling Association
Homeschool.com
Homeschool World
Secular Homeschooling
Virginia Homeschool Groups - (Over 150 of them)

Even elitists will have trouble with the overwhelming tsunami of research and evidence that proves homeschooling is working extremely well for thousands of Christian and non-Christian families and, in many ways, producing superior results for the children involved. Not exactly what I'd call child abuse.
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Note: Anyone wanting to comment on this particular post must stay on topic. I won't post any comments, pro or con, that I deem intended to distract, obfuscate, or stray from the topic; including any comments, pro or con, about Dwyer's book. This post is not about Dwyer's book, it is specifically about the negative comments regarding homeschooling. If you wish to comment about Dwyer's book, do so on Kevin's blog. Other than that, I'll take all comers. Come prepared.

I understand that there are many good, dedicated teachers and administrators working in the government school systems. I know several of them personally. My comments are not meant to be a criticism of their work or their efforts. They work hard, love their jobs, sacrifice for their students and are doing the very best they can in a system that is, in many instances, working against them. I hope they make a positive difference and pray God's very best for them.

36 comments:

Kevin said...

Richard,

Interesting post. Let me emphasize that my observations are based on my limited experience teaching home-schooled children. I should also point out that I approach all of my students as individuals and I respect their strengths as well as their weaknesses. As a point of comparison, we have a large contingent of foreign students, the largest being from Korea. Their culture also makes it very difficult to adjust to a rigorous private school setting that emphasizes open debate and interaction between students. It is my job to prepare all of my students for college and I take that responsibility very seriously.

You are quite defensive about this issue and I understand. I acknowledged the fact that home-schooled children perform well on standardized tests and are quite capable of achieving high levels of success.

One final point: Your comparison of your childrens interaction with you with my situation at school is of no help given your relationship with them. It did, however, make for some interesting reading. Let me restate that I stand by my observations about home-schooled children.

You didn't really do justice to my point about teaching history as God's plan so I will not address it here. I would actually be interested in a response from you if you are so inclined.

Thanks for an interesting post and for thinking that my thoughts about home-schooling are worth discussing one way or the other.

Kevin said...

One more question, Richard. Since when have you become so concerned about the generalizing of others? Given the constant cry against the liberal/northern/academic/marxist/Democratic/elites I would have thought you would be more willing to give a bit more leeway.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Kevin:

My defense was simply a response to your offense - no pun intended. Yes, and I make no apologies for a vigorous defense, especially since there were so many factual errors put forth in the comments and since my wife and I have been so involved in homeschooling. Regarding testing, you said "some" - actually, it's most. I think that is a noteworthy distinction. I mentioned my children and our experience in order to give some context & background and provide one example of success, though the vast majority of credit for that success would go to my dear wife. My experience is certainly not unique as I know scores of other families who have had similar experiences. I would argue that my noting it is as at least as helpful as you noting your experiences. Both are anecdotal, of course. That being said, the body of available research, and voluminous evidence now available, would indicate my experience is more common than was yours.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by requesting a response to your comment about teaching history as God's plan. If you're wondering whether or not I embrace that, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

And you are welcome. Thanks for taking the time to comment here.

Generalizing is acceptable Kevin, when the evidence supports it. (Not just Northern though).

;o)

*BTW, since you mentioned Korea, I thought I'd make note that there is a flourishing homeschooling community in South Korea:

http://www.hslda.org/hs/international/SouthKorea/200811060.asp

Kevin said...

Richard,

I just wanted to make sure that my comments were not being interpreted as anything other than a characterization of my experience as a teacher. Apparently, you and your wife made the correct decision and that is all the justification I assume you need. Obviously, I have no interest in challenging your decision in any way.

Please keep in mind that I can cite just as many studies that challenge some of the figures you present as well as your broader characterization of the benefits of home schooling. As you well know, this is an ongoing debate.

I should have added a quick (admittedly anecdotal) story of a home schooled girl who struggled her first year at my school. We worked closely with one another in my AP course and talked quite a bit about her home schooling experience. To be honest, I've probably learned more from this particular student than any published study. Before her graduation she made it very clear that it would have been a mistake to remain at home for schooling. The most difficult challenge for this student turned out to be the process of socialization both in and out of the classroom. This remains my biggest concern when it comes to this subject.

I will leave it at that. Again, I stand by my experiences and that is all I meant to convey in the comments that you cite.

Finally, thanks for the link on home schooling in Korea. It's quite interesting. I don't know of any of our Korean students that were home schooled before coming to the states.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the good things about homeschooling. While it is not best for all students many do quite well.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

No, Kevin, I would strongly disagree, regarding the benefits of homeschooling, it is not an ongoing debate - unless one has an agenda or is grossly misinformed. The ONLY people still suggesting that homeschooling is not a positive educational option are ones who:

1 - are misinformed.
2 - have something to lose, i.e. government funding, positions, etc.
3 - don't trust or want parents to direct their children's education.
4 - are unhappy with the fact they can't indoctrinate.
5 - are ignoring the results.

From a recent article about major universities and colleges recruiting homeschoolers:

"Today, a majority of colleges in America evaluate homeschooled applicants using the same requirements as those for traditionally schooled students. . . A sampling of three major universities across North America shows a consistent welcome environment for homeschooling students. Harvard University, Purdue University, and the University of Texas are all homeschooler friendly and impart some good advice for anyone interested in attending their school. . . Marlyn McGrath Lewis, Director of Admissions for Harvard College says "We receive a good number of candidates every year with all or part of their education from a homeschool background. **Homeschooling is broader than some people realize.** We are looking for the strongest candidates in the world and we find some of those among homeschoolers."

All that being said, I'm the first to admit that not *all* stories are successful ones - but the same can be said of any schooling option. Homeschooling is not for the faint-hearted or those who are less than 110% committed. My wife sacrificed many, many hours teaching, grading, pushing, and everything that any good teacher does. It was a very tough job for her, but one which was also very rewarding.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Anon:

You're welcome. Obviously, I'm a cheerleader for HS. I do think, however, it is a viable option for many more than most realize. This is especially true with the internet, DVD classes, etc. Furthermore, the co-op option that many HS groups are promoting allows parents to get support from each other and provides some great opportunities for group work and sharing. I've not discussed the wonderful success our oldest daughter is having with her 3 school aged girls. They are all homeschooled and extremely bright - an unbiased opinion of course. It is amazing to talk with them and realize how much they are learning at their age. I may, just for fun, post a Youtube interview with one of them at some point and give readers an unscripted (scary) look at how they're doing. That would be fun.

Kevin said...

Richard,

Of course, you "strongly disagree" - no surprise there.

I will grant to you that home schooling (all or part) may be the best option. Still, I think I will end my participation on this thread since I am "misinformed", "have something to lose", lack "trust", lost an opportunity to "indoctrinate", and am "ignoring the results."

Michael the Dumb Tech Geek said...

I know some of my visitors (limited though they are) would like your post very much, so I linked to it.
Thanks for the kudos to the government teachers. When my dad was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, we had teachers who gave up their homeland for 9 months of the year to fly across the globe to a sub-tropical island just to make sure the military brats like me were educated properly.
In my time as a Scout, I did notice a large group of kids that were homeschooled. Even to me, they seemed a touch 'different', but I would never consider different to be automatically bad. Many of them just had vastly different life experiences and ways of relating to the world, which I loved learning from.
Thanks for ANOTHER great post, Mr. Williams.

chaps said...

Many public school teachers do not understand that the responsibility for educating children rests with the parents and teachers are hired by parents to assist, not direct, that education. The biggest impetus for home schooling in my experience is teachers who want to substitute their judgement for parents. Kevin's comments about teaching history as God's plan illustrates that perfectly.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Michael:

Thanks Michael. During the time my youngest (the one we homeschooled for 13 years) was a Junior and Senior, she took mandolin lessons from a public high school teacher at a public high school (after hours). He initially was very critical of homeschooling and voiced as much to our daughter (without our knowing about it). My daughter challenged each one of his assumptions - many of the same ones I addressed in the post - and by the end of the 2nd year of lessons, his whole attitude and outlook about homeschooling had changed.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

RGW

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Chaps:

I agree. I'll probably do a follow up post to this one after the comments play out.

I will add this, we saw some of this same attitude in Christian schools - "we know better than the parents" how to teach their children. We took our children out of government schools because of what was being taught and how it was being taught. We also reject Darwinism, moral relativism and the other leftist ideologies that are a constant under-current in public schools.

We removed them from a Christian school atmosphere because we believed we could do a better job in educating and do it more efficiently and also because we believed it was our responsibility.

James F. Epperson said...

"We also reject Darwinism, moral relativism and the other leftist ideologies" --- "Darwinism" is hardly a "leftist ideology." It is a scientific theory concerning the evolution and development of life on Earth, which has been accepted as established by the scientific community. The fact that numerous conservative politicians have pandered to the "Religious Right" by making expressions of support for creationism is what makes it seem leftist to you. It has absolutely zero political content.

BorderRuffian said...

Kevin Levin:
"The kids I’ve taught are very obedient and well-behaved, but try to get them to question what they read or what the teacher says and you will end up pulling your hair out. They were never taught to formulate their own ideas or to see school as an opportunity to develop their own views about things."
==================================

Strange.

Anyone that questions what he writes on his blog usually gets banned.

;-)

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Be nice BR.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

James:

Poorly phrased on my part. It would be closer defined as a quasi-religion as it has "evolved" in recent decades. You are correct - it is a "theory." And there are many reputable scientists - religious and non-religious who question Darwinism.

You are incorrect, it has plenty of political ramifications - most of which are contradictory and which defy logic.

And numerous leftist politicians pander to the religious left - the global warming earth worshipers. To each his own, right?

But, let's stay on topic James. Homeschooling.

Michael Bradley said...

I taught college students for 36 years. During the last 15 of those years I was on the committee which evaluated whether or not students with high school diplomas actually met departmental requirements. In order to do this the committee, and others like it state wide, had to develope measurement criteria which allowed us to compare public school graduates with home school graduates.

The results of our evaluations, year to year and over five year intervals, were that both systems produced prepared and unprepared students. Some outstanding students came from home school backgrounds as did some from public schools. I had two students which stand out in my memory as being very poorly prepared for college history studies--one was home schooled, the second was a graduate of a prestigeous private prep school.

One of my home school graduates has just returned from a post-doctoral year in China where she taught and studied at a leading Chinest university.

Whether or not students will raise questions depends on how they have been taught. I know many public school and private school teachers who discourage student questions because it diverts them from their carefully prepared lesson plans. I know home schooles who do not understand the material well enough to respond to questions from their children.

In short, I can't support stereotypes about students, home or public school ones. They are all individuals and all have individual sterngths and weaknesses.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

All good points Dr. Bradley. Your experience, Kevin's, and mine are mostly anecdotal. I would just reiterate that the overwhelming majority of studies clearly indicate that homeschooled students, as a group, outperform their public school peers.

My post here, as I pointed out, was primarily in response to the comments made of Kevin's blog.

Kevin said...

Professor Bradley,

I am good friends with an admission's worker here at the University of Virginia and he echoes pretty much everything you've said. Your comment was right on target. And as a teacher of 15+ years I couldn't agree more with your final thought.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Kevin:

To reiterate, it was the negative stereotyping of homeschooling contained in the comments of your original post that prompted my defense of homeschooling. I understand you say your comments were related solely to your limited interaction with homeschooled students, but those comments, along with some of those that followed, certainly could be described as stereotyping.

Kevin said...

Richard,

I would have been more than happy to share my thoughts about home schooling with you if asked. My comments were more in connection with my experience with home schooled students as well as the Dwyer book. Why you interpreted my comments as some kind of general conclusion about the benefits of home schooling is unfortunate, but could have easily been avoided. Finally, If I remember correctly I never said that home schooling was "child abuse". What I said was that teaching history along the lines that Dwyer outlines is. Now that is something I am more than happy to elaborate on at some point.

I found the links you provided to be quite interesting and informative.

Michael Hardy said...

Richard – enjoyed your post and regret to see that a fellow blogger would allow such a baseless attack on home schoolers. I am both a
product of the private school/homeschool world, and we are current
homeschoolers. We chose this path because we believed that we could give
our children a better education than the local school system could. Were
we to live in a place that had a better school system, then we might consider other possibilities. Considering that our son, who is eight, is involved with scouts, takes piano lessons, meets with our local home school group once a week, volunteers with a couple of local historical societies, and participates in re-enactments or goes to church on the weekends, well, we have no problems with socialization. And so far this summer, he’s attended cub scout camp for a week, VBS for a week, and is currently at "Kids Kollege" at the local community college. As far as education, I’ll give just one example. Last year, we studied space. He had books and biographies to read, we watched programs on the planets and lunar landings, we hauled out or telescope and got to see the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter, we visited museums, we built and launched our own model rockets, and to cap off the semester’s lessons, he got to watch a night time space shuttle launch from Titusville, Florida, which is across the Intercostal Waterway from Kennedy Space Center. He even studied the mythology of flight, so that when his grandfather and I took him to the Air Force Museum in Dayton,
Papaw started to explain the statue in the lobby, only to have Nathaniel
cut him off: "That's Icarus; he had wings made of wax, and he flew too
close to the sun, which teaches us not to think we're too smart." Let’s just say that I’ll pit his education against any school system's.

But that’s not the real reason for my post. For many years, both my wife and I have worked in the community college system – me as a librarian, and my wife as an English professor. We have seen on a daily basis the products of the public educational system. These young adults
are often just barely functionally literate; they have problems
participating in debates and forming ideas on their own. Even the students who received (rather than earned) A’s in high school cannot put two sentences together in an essay. They come back shocked; a few
realize that they were just given a grade for keeping a chair warm, and
were disenfranchised by the public school system. At one of the community colleges where I worked, we had many university drop-outs – they started at a four-year university and were unable to cope with the required work. Some of them fell into the above category – they were
disenfranchised by the public school system. Granted, I did have one
professor-friend who assigned Lewis’s Abolition of Man for his incoming university freshmen, but even the requirements of mediocre professors were too much. Many of the dropouts were products of the “socialization” that so many educators cite as a disadvantage of home schooling. They continued unabated the socialization they had learned at public schools once they arrived as college, and since many
professors are not interested in patting them on the head and passing
them along, they failed miserably. Many were at our community college to
bring up their grades to get back into the University – before mommy
and daddy withdrew their financial support.

I can say that watching kids both from local schools and from high
schools across the country fail miserably when it comes to high education was the number one reason why we chose to home school our kids.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Michael. Your experience with homeschooling is, as I've noted, pretty common. Sounds like you're doing a great job.

Thanks for taking the time to share your observations - very helpful, especially since you added your observations in the community college system.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Kevin:

I'm glad you found the links interesting. Of course, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

In regards to this comment:

"Finally, If I remember correctly I never said that home schooling was "child abuse". What I said was that teaching history along the lines that Dwyer outlines is."

This is what you wrote:

"I’ve seen up close what happens to kids who are taught to see US History as “God’s plan”. In a previous comment someone said that it reminds them of child abuse and I couldn’t agree more."

The "kids who are taught to see US History as “God’s plan” comment goes beyond any reference to Dwyer. There are many Christian scholars who may disagree with Dwyer on some of his interpretations, but still believe teaching history as "God's plan" is proper.

I'm certainly no scholar, but I see all history as ultimately working out God's plan for man. That is nothing new or unusual for orthodox Christians to believe and embrace.

Johann Van De Leeuw said...

Keep up the good work Mr. Williams! I'm with you 100%! (I'm a homeschooler myself; I wouldn't have it any other way. :)) A good friend of mine, who is a vice principal at a middle school, homeschools his children. Ask him why. Would you rather educate your children at home and invest your life in them, or send them to school where they will be exposed to other kids who drink, bring lighters to school, (ostensibly to start a fire), bring BB guns to school, etc. (Those are actual incidents that happened at the middle school my friend is a vice principal at.) I believe its quite obvious. Socialization huh? Riiiiight.
Again, great post Mr. Williams!

Johann Van De Leeuw said...

BTW, I like the cartoon at the top.

Kevin said...

Richard,

I don't really get the sense that you want me to comment on this issue. If you are looking for where I stand on home schooling as a whole I can only point you to Bradley's comment, which I've already said I agree with.

Yes, I believe that teaching history along the lines outlined by Dwyer constitutes a kind of child abuse. If you read the post and comments you will notice that I briefly explain the problem I have with this approach to teaching history, which is different from simply stating that history is the working out of God's plan. As I said in a previous comment, I am more than happy to answer your questions if you are so inclined.

Unfortunately, you seem much more interested in taking my words and using them to make your point, regardless of whether it accurately reflects my view. It looks like that is working out for you.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Gentlemen:

Please try and keep your comments non-personal. I'll edit or reject otherwise. I've had to edit one, but no serious violations yet. But I want the responses to be narrow and not directed personally toward Mr. Levin.

I understand this is an emotional issue, and it's easy to stray, but there's no need to focus on Levin - outside his comments.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Is Homeschooling Child Abuse?":

Working with data from the High School and Beyond Survey from the National Center of Educational Statistics, I found that high academic achievers came from all backgrounds whether they be public, private, or homeschooled.

Although homeschooling represents a very small percentage of education in the US, it does present some complexities along income, race, region, and religion. Note that bureaucrats are concerned about the loss of public funding resulting from homeschooling. Also, note that the growth of homeschooling (around 15-20%/year) isn't significant yet because the denominator is still relatively small, but clearly it's a trend that deserves attention.

I have to echo BorderRuffian's comment because it's not a question of nice or naughty rather it's the truth.

"The problem is compounded for kids who are homeschooled early on and than (<---sigh...it must be a tough habit to break) have to adjust to a classroom like mine"

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Johann:

When I was in school, pocket knives were common as were hunting rifles hanging in the windows of the pickup trucks in the parking lot. No one gave it a second thought.

The experts have made the school problems what they are, along with the breakdown in societal morals.

Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

BTW - I am a product of public schools. I never attended any private schools. I'll try to find time to discuss my personal experiences (many positive) in a post at some point in the near future.

RGW

Kevin said...

Richard,

I appreciate your trying to control the tone of the discussion. Still, I hope you will understand if I decide to bow out of this discussion.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Kevin:

Not at all. You are more than welcome to comment here, debate, disagree, and present your case (within the topic). As I said, all comers welcome.

Also, I understand it is easy to sometimes misread what one has said in a blog post. As someone else recently pointed out here, it is impossible to see facial expressions, voice inflections, etc, etc. However, in the case of your post, I honestly don't see where I misread your opinion initially. The comments of the other readers seemed to follow your thought line and there was no attempt to clarify and really only one person who challenged what you wrote.

I responded vigorously, but you've clarified some of what you said and I accept that. You're welcome to do so more if you choose. There's no need to repeat my whole post, but your comments, as well as those of your readers, put forth very old baseless charges against homeschoolers. I addressed those specifically, not Dwyer's book. I have a copy of his book, but have never read it, other than casually leafing through it. Some of it is quite good, other parts I would disagree with.

The part I do agree with is that his contention that God is in charge of history, as difficult as that is for some to accept. As I've noted before, I've not always been of that persuasion and was once a committed Darwinist myself. I could argue from the other side if I wanted to.

Peter Marshall is another well known Christian historian and would disagree with Dwyer over the WBTS. I like a lot of his work and we used his books in our homeschooling. He is a graduate of Yale and Princeton. You can find out more about him here (if you are interested):

http://petermarshallministries.com/

But, as I said, I don't want to get into a debate about Dwyer's book as I've not read it completely. That will be for another post.

In regards to child abuse, many Christian parents see what is going on in government schools as child abuse: moral relativism, lack of discipline, drugs, the necessity of a police presence, the teaching of Darwinist theory as fact, the antagonist attitude toward the Bible and Christianity, sex education (in a way which promotes promiscuity and unwanted pregnancies), I could go on and on.

So, the solution is liberty and choice in lieu of government coercion which always leads to inferiority, thus homeschooling and private options.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Kevin:

Yes I understand. I've had similar experiences at Civil War Memory.

;o)

Best,
RGW

Anonymous said...

Dominic of Ohio

My wife and I have four grown children. She home-schooled each child from first grade through eighth grade. They went to a private school for their high school education.

Today, one son who didn't care to further his education has his own business. One son graduated from one of the best art school's in the nation and paid his own way. Our third son is presently enrolled at Temple University in Philadelphia, commutes by train, and is also paying for his education himself.

Our daughter works for one of the most brilliant women who started out as a small-business owner and her name is recognized everywhere in the U.S.A. She has since sold that business for hundreds of millions of dollars, and presently has other interests where we live. My daughter juggles between this job and a full-time art education at a local university, where we live in PA.

Each of our children have been honored to be on the Dean's list, at Temple and the other two schools.

Our children, homeschooled, were not taught to eat peanuts and chew tobacco, or to be as incivil, insulting, and full of invective as some of these witless "teachers" show in their stupid remarks about homeschooled children. They should go back to school, they appear half educated.


Dominic of Wooster

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Dominic - thank you for the comment. Your experience is inspiring though, as you know, not all that uncommon with homeschooled kids.

The comments by the teachers are quite revealing, aren't they? Ignorance on parade.