Homeschooling and agendas

There is no bigger proponent of home education than yours truly. I myself was homeschooled from the fifth grade through graduation. Although a somewhat shy, awkward kid, I somehow turned out completely “socialized” (whatever the crap that means), was accepted to both an undergraduate and multiple graduate programs, and am well on my way to a PhD in an obscure academic field. Most reasons homeschooling is criticized are, in my opinion, absolutely groundless.

One particular critique is generally unfounded and misleading: Christians are sheltering their children from the real world, to the effect that those children will be swept away once they get out from under their parents’ protection. One should ask, “Isn’t sheltering (a.k.a protecting) my child part of my role as a loving parent?” Indeed. I want to shelter my child from playing in the street — doesn’t make me a bad parent. In fact, quite the opposite: it makes me a good parent. Where I would be letting my children down is if I were afraid to tell them the reason I wouldn’t let them play in the road, choosing only to scare them out of any desire to play in the street by saying things like, “The road is evil!” or “The cars are out to get you!” To be sure, for children of younger ages, warnings unaccompanied by a cogent rationale will be sufficient; but when they get older, it will be behoove them on many levels to know exactly why the road is a dangerous place to play, if for no other reason than such lessons might be adapted anywhere and result in children’s ability to plan for their own safety in analogous situations. The right kind of “sheltering” explains to the child what s/he is being sheltered from, why, and what to do about it once the protection is lifted. I am grateful that this is how my parents instructed me. My parents taught me to learn, think, analyze, and evaluate new information on my own. This is the kind of homeschooling I can get behind.

This sort of homeschool methodology is quite popular, but there is either one particular glaring failure to consistently carry it out, or it is not being done properly at least. I have in mind one particular field of study: I know firsthand that one of the primary reasons Christians have for homeschooling their kids is a concern over mainstream science. In other words, parents are afraid that their children will be taught something other than young earth creationism. Now granted, not all homeschoolers are even Christians, so this is not the case across the board. But among Christians who homeschool, this concern is reflected in all the major Christian homeschool curricula. When my wife and I were researching curricula for our children, I only came across one provider whose materials allowed for the possibility of an old earth. The exception was the Sonlight Curriculum, a curriculum development and supply company that counsels parents to look at both young earth and old earth creationist material. From what we saw, all of the material was still thoroughly “creationist” (what is often termed “special creationism”) and therefore critical of evolutionary theory and approving of Intelligent Design, except where incidental mention is made in secular books they offer (such as the excellent Usborne series).

Inasmuch as the “teach to learn” approach is not the case in home and all other types of education, we have an interest in promoting its return. Unfortunately, the abundance of Christians who are homeschooling in order to promote creationism at the expense of mainstream science plays into the critique of homeschooling as “sheltering” children to those children’s detriment. Kids are being taught to live in denial of science as practiced by actual scientists in their fields of study doing actual research. This selective ignorance happens often enough, but as a case in point, I wanted to point out the following recent incident, which is illustrative of an endemic problem within the homeschooling movement.

The Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC) just last year prohibited Sonlight from displaying their materials at a homeschool convention. When he pressed CHEC for an answer why, Sunlight’s co-owner John Holzmann was informed that it was because his company was negligent in protecting families from non-YEC origins positions. Unfortunately, the relative fair-mindedness Sonlight displays on this aspect of the origins question cannot go unpunished among certain groups within the homeschooling community. I like Holzmann’s response:

CHEC, apparently, can’t trust Christian homeschoolers in Colorado to do their own research, read what “the other side” is saying, and/or come to their own conclusions in these matters. CHEC feels the need to protect homeschool families from themselves . . . and from companies like Sonlight that don’t teach origins in quite the way CHEC prefers.

What really bothers me: CHEC’s behavior, in essence, answers my paper–Young-Earth and Old-Earth Creationists: Can We Even Talk to One Another?–in the negative: “No. We can’t. And, to the extent it is up to us, we won’t.”

The moral of the story, implies Holzmann, is that key leadership within the homeschooling movement is in many places too agenda-driven to serve the needs of parents who feel it their prerogative and even responsibility to determine which aspects of important issues their children should be aware of. He issues this warning:

If you’re involved in homeschooling, especially Christian homeschooling, I wonder if your state convention sponsors may be keeping you from hearing the “other side” in debates that concern you?

HT: SpunkyHomeschool

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  • Dan

    You have described one of my concerns about homeschooling my sons. After nearly giving up the faith when I realized my YEC views didn’t correspond with reality, I want to make sure my boys don’t get indoctrinated in YEC and give up the faith when they realize YEC isn’t true. So the task now is to find a homeschool science curriculum (secular or Christian) which accurately presents modern science. Thankfully I have a few more years before this becomes an issue.

    However, another concern is the reaction of the homeschool cooperative we are a part of when we start teaching theistic evolution. The cooperative is planning a trip this spring to the Creation Museum (about 3 hours from here). I’m not going to let my boys go because even at their young age, I’m sure they’d always remember seeing Adam and dinosaur playing together, which, of course, didn’t really happen.

  • Dan

    You have described one of my concerns about homeschooling my sons. After nearly giving up the faith when I realized my YEC views didn’t correspond with reality, I want to make sure my boys don’t get indoctrinated in YEC and give up the faith when they realize YEC isn’t true. So the task now is to find a homeschool science curriculum (secular or Christian) which accurately presents modern science. Thankfully I have a few more years before this becomes an issue.

    However, another concern is the reaction of the homeschool cooperative we are a part of when we start teaching theistic evolution. The cooperative is planning a trip this spring to the Creation Museum (about 3 hours from here). I’m not going to let my boys go because even at their young age, I’m sure they’d always remember seeing Adam and dinosaur playing together, which, of course, didn’t really happen.

  • Danny

    Viewing God’s word in the eyes of modern man is truly a daunting task. It is impossible to be sure of but one thing. God created. Why should we be amused or offended when someone interprets the past from a new finding? Exactly how new is the question and when can we say it is now old? Relative to today is the question we try to protect or defend. Such a waste of time and effort from my point of view is hard to defend but yet we think we must. Since there is evidence of both old and new let us try the oldest, faith.

  • Danny

    Viewing God’s word in the eyes of modern man is truly a daunting task. It is impossible to be sure of but one thing. God created. Why should we be amused or offended when someone interprets the past from a new finding? Exactly how new is the question and when can we say it is now old? Relative to today is the question we try to protect or defend. Such a waste of time and effort from my point of view is hard to defend but yet we think we must. Since there is evidence of both old and new let us try the oldest, faith.

  • It’s very fun to see the responses of so many bloggers on this. Thanks for adding your thoughts on this topic and your support for Sonlight.

    ~Luke

    Luke Holzmann´s last blog post..Bogged Down Blogging

  • It’s very fun to see the responses of so many bloggers on this. Thanks for adding your thoughts on this topic and your support for Sonlight.

    ~Luke

    Luke Holzmann´s last blog post..Bogged Down Blogging

  • Pete

    We briefly considered homeschooling for our two daughters (one is in first grade now and the other will start Kindergarden this coming fall). A good many of our friends homeschool and they are often very outspoken and evangelistic about pressuring others and often implying (or sometimes simply asserting) that it is unchristian not to do so. We saw a lot of advantages but ultimately knew it wouldn’t be a good fit since it would be very difficult for my wife and oldest daughter to presume that relationship; we’re both firm believers that being a good educator is a talent. We have been extremely pleased so far with the education our daughter is getting and she loves school so we are going to stay with this for now.

    Its interesting that the motivation for homeschooling is often science education, since I feel the same way, just from the other side:) When the children get into high school this is when I want to be the most involved, and though I won’t be pulling them out of their own school I will be sure to be involved in making sure they get a good education in math, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and oh yes, evolution. I’m especially motivated about math, since this is one subject I feel many give up on way to early. You know they always say that everyone wants a doctor or lawyer in the family. Not me, I want two scientists. Indeed, one in physics and one in geology. That way I will always have a ready source of information for all of my questions, right in the family:)

  • Pete

    We briefly considered homeschooling for our two daughters (one is in first grade now and the other will start Kindergarden this coming fall). A good many of our friends homeschool and they are often very outspoken and evangelistic about pressuring others and often implying (or sometimes simply asserting) that it is unchristian not to do so. We saw a lot of advantages but ultimately knew it wouldn’t be a good fit since it would be very difficult for my wife and oldest daughter to presume that relationship; we’re both firm believers that being a good educator is a talent. We have been extremely pleased so far with the education our daughter is getting and she loves school so we are going to stay with this for now.

    Its interesting that the motivation for homeschooling is often science education, since I feel the same way, just from the other side:) When the children get into high school this is when I want to be the most involved, and though I won’t be pulling them out of their own school I will be sure to be involved in making sure they get a good education in math, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and oh yes, evolution. I’m especially motivated about math, since this is one subject I feel many give up on way to early. You know they always say that everyone wants a doctor or lawyer in the family. Not me, I want two scientists. Indeed, one in physics and one in geology. That way I will always have a ready source of information for all of my questions, right in the family:)

  • Pete

    well on my way to a PhD in an obscure academic field.

    HaHaHa, you are using this as evidence FOR being socialized 🙂

  • Pete

    well on my way to a PhD in an obscure academic field.

    HaHaHa, you are using this as evidence FOR being socialized 🙂

  • AMW

    I somehow turned out completely “socialized” (whatever the crap that means)

    It means normal. And your average homeschooler is pretty flippin’ abnormal. I was homeschooled for 3 years and so knew some other homeschoolers. Weird. I went to a college that had a relatively high percentage of homeschooled students. Weird. I also know of some homeschooled kids at my church now. Weird.

    But, as I say, I was homeschooled for a while, and I think I turned out normal. And I made two good friends in college who are perfectly normal and really fantastic guys. What I came to realize is that it’s not the homeschooling per se that does a kid in. It’s being homeschooled by crazy people that does it. (That and sharing those crazy people’s genes).

    And if you think about it, the average person who decides not to follow the mainstream to the extent of pulling his kids out of school is bound to be at least a little crazier than the average person who sticks with the status quo. So sampling the homeschool population will give you a huge selection bias. Homeschooling isn’t a cause of abnormality, just a pretty good indicator of it.

    So in short, I learned to just relax and enjoy the sideshow. If any readers are worried about homeschooling, I say don’t sweat it. If you’re crazy, sending your kids to the public school isn’t going to make them normal. And if you’re normal, teaching them yourself isn’t going to drive them over the brink.

  • AMW

    I somehow turned out completely “socialized” (whatever the crap that means)

    It means normal. And your average homeschooler is pretty flippin’ abnormal. I was homeschooled for 3 years and so knew some other homeschoolers. Weird. I went to a college that had a relatively high percentage of homeschooled students. Weird. I also know of some homeschooled kids at my church now. Weird.

    But, as I say, I was homeschooled for a while, and I think I turned out normal. And I made two good friends in college who are perfectly normal and really fantastic guys. What I came to realize is that it’s not the homeschooling per se that does a kid in. It’s being homeschooled by crazy people that does it. (That and sharing those crazy people’s genes).

    And if you think about it, the average person who decides not to follow the mainstream to the extent of pulling his kids out of school is bound to be at least a little crazier than the average person who sticks with the status quo. So sampling the homeschool population will give you a huge selection bias. Homeschooling isn’t a cause of abnormality, just a pretty good indicator of it.

    So in short, I learned to just relax and enjoy the sideshow. If any readers are worried about homeschooling, I say don’t sweat it. If you’re crazy, sending your kids to the public school isn’t going to make them normal. And if you’re normal, teaching them yourself isn’t going to drive them over the brink.

  • Thank you, gentlemen, for your comments.

    Dan,
    I understand your concern. In fact, homeschooling is a perfect fit for parents who want to tailor their children’s education by gathering resources from various providers, so in the end you don’t have to find a specifically homeschool-oriented curriculum that addresses science at all. We probably won’t. There are a host of textbooks that do address science without any ad hoc folk science thrown in. My wife has expressed the same objection that you did about the local homeschool group. Unless you’re dealing with an intimate co-op (and you may be), I don’t foresee very many opportunities for awkward situations, and generally speaking, no family goes on all the field trips.

    Dad,
    That’s the problem. Faith and fear are competitors. People teach their kids to fear science as a threat to the entire faith. Recognizing science certainly presents different challenges in understanding certain doctrines of our faith than the challenges you’ll find in mainstream fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity, but nothing as devastating as throwing the anchor of your faith into the quicksand of literalism.

    Luke,
    I appreciate your commenting here. I think it’s a good thing Sonlight is doing, and I appreciate its courageous decision to be a thoughtful alternative and to stand in the midst of opposition.

    Pete,
    I don’t really want to get into a debate over homeschooling vis-à-vis the other methods (government schooling, Christian schools, classical schools, etc.). Suffice it to say that home schooling is by far the best option if you’re wanting to give your children opportunities for specialized, in-depth supplementary training in any field (science, math, etc.) because they’re not wasting 6 hours each day in a classroom waiting for their fellow students to catch up. After school should be a time for supplementary, not remedial study, and for homeschoolers, “after school” includes all but about three or four hours of the day. My first-grade daughter spends hours upon hours reading up on her favorite subject, which happens to be science. It’s almost a challenge to keep supplying her with more information. When children have the chance to influence their own supplementary curriculum, their natural interests are stirred and cultivated far earlier.

    Re: your crack about my somewhat esoteric academic discipline (haha, you know, I actually thought of that when I wrote it!), I would rather by far that my children developed specialized interests that marginalized them among their peers if their character and education were superior for it.

    AMW,
    Listen, I know what you mean by “weird” and “abnormal” homeschoolers. You are precisely correct when you say that weird Christians tend to homeschool but that avoiding homeschooling would be unlikely to prevent the children of weird parents from turning out weird, and that normal people produce normal children even if they do homeschool them. The idea that homeschooling itself is what causes weirdness is fallacious. The arguments about homeschooling being bad for “socialization” would predict that my naturally introverted tendencies would have been exacerbated such that I wouldn’t learn to relate to peers and/or elders, when the opposite was true.

    When I seek to identify what makes so many homeschoolers strange, I come across these things (anecdotally, of course):

    1) They speak differently: more like adults. They tend to talk about more mature topics and have better vocabularies. Weird, huh?

    2) They aren’t as interested in or knowledgeable about the things their non-homeschooled peers are interested in. This particular distinctive has (both fortunately and unfortunately, IMO) been much less common in the last few years than when you and I were being homeschooled, AMW. For example, our homeschool group’s girls’ club recently had a “High School Musical” party — whaa…? My daughter, by contrast, is interested in DK, Usborne, and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. I’ll be darned if I regret steering her away from the nonsense pop culture tells her she’s supposed to be interested in, but at the same time, at least modern homeschoolers aren’t as commonly in the vortex of the 1850’s as they once might have been. (This leads back to the right and wrong ways of “sheltering” our kids.)

  • Thank you, gentlemen, for your comments.

    Dan,
    I understand your concern. In fact, homeschooling is a perfect fit for parents who want to tailor their children’s education by gathering resources from various providers, so in the end you don’t have to find a specifically homeschool-oriented curriculum that addresses science at all. We probably won’t. There are a host of textbooks that do address science without any ad hoc folk science thrown in. My wife has expressed the same objection that you did about the local homeschool group. Unless you’re dealing with an intimate co-op (and you may be), I don’t foresee very many opportunities for awkward situations, and generally speaking, no family goes on all the field trips.

    Dad,
    That’s the problem. Faith and fear are competitors. People teach their kids to fear science as a threat to the entire faith. Recognizing science certainly presents different challenges in understanding certain doctrines of our faith than the challenges you’ll find in mainstream fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity, but nothing as devastating as throwing the anchor of your faith into the quicksand of literalism.

    Luke,
    I appreciate your commenting here. I think it’s a good thing Sonlight is doing, and I appreciate its courageous decision to be a thoughtful alternative and to stand in the midst of opposition.

    Pete,
    I don’t really want to get into a debate over homeschooling vis-à-vis the other methods (government schooling, Christian schools, classical schools, etc.). Suffice it to say that home schooling is by far the best option if you’re wanting to give your children opportunities for specialized, in-depth supplementary training in any field (science, math, etc.) because they’re not wasting 6 hours each day in a classroom waiting for their fellow students to catch up. After school should be a time for supplementary, not remedial study, and for homeschoolers, “after school” includes all but about three or four hours of the day. My first-grade daughter spends hours upon hours reading up on her favorite subject, which happens to be science. It’s almost a challenge to keep supplying her with more information. When children have the chance to influence their own supplementary curriculum, their natural interests are stirred and cultivated far earlier.

    Re: your crack about my somewhat esoteric academic discipline (haha, you know, I actually thought of that when I wrote it!), I would rather by far that my children developed specialized interests that marginalized them among their peers if their character and education were superior for it.

    AMW,
    Listen, I know what you mean by “weird” and “abnormal” homeschoolers. You are precisely correct when you say that weird Christians tend to homeschool but that avoiding homeschooling would be unlikely to prevent the children of weird parents from turning out weird, and that normal people produce normal children even if they do homeschool them. The idea that homeschooling itself is what causes weirdness is fallacious. The arguments about homeschooling being bad for “socialization” would predict that my naturally introverted tendencies would have been exacerbated such that I wouldn’t learn to relate to peers and/or elders, when the opposite was true.

    When I seek to identify what makes so many homeschoolers strange, I come across these things (anecdotally, of course):

    1) They speak differently: more like adults. They tend to talk about more mature topics and have better vocabularies. Weird, huh?

    2) They aren’t as interested in or knowledgeable about the things their non-homeschooled peers are interested in. This particular distinctive has (both fortunately and unfortunately, IMO) been much less common in the last few years than when you and I were being homeschooled, AMW. For example, our homeschool group’s girls’ club recently had a “High School Musical” party — whaa…? My daughter, by contrast, is interested in DK, Usborne, and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. I’ll be darned if I regret steering her away from the nonsense pop culture tells her she’s supposed to be interested in, but at the same time, at least modern homeschoolers aren’t as commonly in the vortex of the 1850’s as they once might have been. (This leads back to the right and wrong ways of “sheltering” our kids.)

  • AMW

    They speak differently: more like adults.

    The best way I’ve heard (average) homeschoolers described is as seeming simultaneously older and younger than their age. Their vocabulary tends to be deep, breadth of knowledge extensive, and manners very correct. But then there is often a painful awkwardness, a slowness on the uptake, and a tendency toward self-seriousness.

    for homeschoolers, “after school” includes all but about three or four hours of the day

    I’ll give you that. When I was homeschooling I could usually finish the lessons in about half the length of a regular school day. I remember finishing the day at 10:00 or 11:00 in the morning.

  • AMW

    They speak differently: more like adults.

    The best way I’ve heard (average) homeschoolers described is as seeming simultaneously older and younger than their age. Their vocabulary tends to be deep, breadth of knowledge extensive, and manners very correct. But then there is often a painful awkwardness, a slowness on the uptake, and a tendency toward self-seriousness.

    for homeschoolers, “after school” includes all but about three or four hours of the day

    I’ll give you that. When I was homeschooling I could usually finish the lessons in about half the length of a regular school day. I remember finishing the day at 10:00 or 11:00 in the morning.

  • My wife and I have been homeschooling our six children now for 25 years … 4 more years to go and we’re done!

    When people expressed concern about the “socialization” of our children, I would (with feigned umbrage) fire back, “Are you implying that another 9 year old can teach my child how to relate to others better than I can? I am training my children to be adults, not perpetual children!” We found that at all stages of homeschooling, our children interacted far more confidently with adults than did their conventionally schooled friends. And now that most of them are adults, this is often still the case.

    We have been using Sonlight more and more, and will likely use it for our last child’s main H.S. curriculum. We have noted that, though still “creationist”, it is far more open to science than any other Christian curriculum we have found. We talk a lot about evolutionary science and big bang cosmology in our home. Our children are all well aware of these sciences; and they are aware of the price I have personally paid within the Christian community for embracing evolutionary science … not unlike the price Luke Holzmann is paying for his stance.

    Sadly, this divisiveness is likely only to get increasingly bloody in the years ahead. And this is especially so within the Christian homeschooling community, a community dominated by highly committed parents with typically fundamentalist views.

  • My wife and I have been homeschooling our six children now for 25 years … 4 more years to go and we’re done!

    When people expressed concern about the “socialization” of our children, I would (with feigned umbrage) fire back, “Are you implying that another 9 year old can teach my child how to relate to others better than I can? I am training my children to be adults, not perpetual children!” We found that at all stages of homeschooling, our children interacted far more confidently with adults than did their conventionally schooled friends. And now that most of them are adults, this is often still the case.

    We have been using Sonlight more and more, and will likely use it for our last child’s main H.S. curriculum. We have noted that, though still “creationist”, it is far more open to science than any other Christian curriculum we have found. We talk a lot about evolutionary science and big bang cosmology in our home. Our children are all well aware of these sciences; and they are aware of the price I have personally paid within the Christian community for embracing evolutionary science … not unlike the price Luke Holzmann is paying for his stance.

    Sadly, this divisiveness is likely only to get increasingly bloody in the years ahead. And this is especially so within the Christian homeschooling community, a community dominated by highly committed parents with typically fundamentalist views.

  • AMW

    You guys will like this. I’m likely moving to southern California this year. The public schools are lousy, and private schools are expensive. So today my wife and I started seriously kicking around the idea of homeschooling.

    I sure hope my first post above was right. Ha!

  • AMW

    You guys will like this. I’m likely moving to southern California this year. The public schools are lousy, and private schools are expensive. So today my wife and I started seriously kicking around the idea of homeschooling.

    I sure hope my first post above was right. Ha!

  • GJG

    Cliff said,

    “Are you implying that another 9 year old can teach my child how to relate to others better than I can? I am training my children to be adults, not perpetual children!”

    I’ve used these same words many times. It’s funny to see them coming from someone else!

  • GJG

    Cliff said,

    “Are you implying that another 9 year old can teach my child how to relate to others better than I can? I am training my children to be adults, not perpetual children!”

    I’ve used these same words many times. It’s funny to see them coming from someone else!

  • @Cliff Martin – As ever, glad to hear your perspective, which is always more seasoned than my upstart views. 🙂

    @AMW – Ha – that’s classic! But in all sincerity, I assure you that, while there will undoubtedly be a period of acclimation, you will not regret it if you stick with it.

    But hey, “a slowness on the uptake”? Somewhat uncharitable for an impressionistic generalization, wouldn’t you say? Besides, one could hardly fault a child with an extensive “breadth of knowledge” and “deep” vocabulary for bottlenecking in his response time, it would seem to me…

    @GJG – And here’s the guy who’s most likely to influence our textbook/curriculum developers for the better! As soon as you finish your series, I’m planning on highlighting them here on the blog. They will be invaluable.

  • @Cliff Martin – As ever, glad to hear your perspective, which is always more seasoned than my upstart views. 🙂

    @AMW – Ha – that’s classic! But in all sincerity, I assure you that, while there will undoubtedly be a period of acclimation, you will not regret it if you stick with it.

    But hey, “a slowness on the uptake”? Somewhat uncharitable for an impressionistic generalization, wouldn’t you say? Besides, one could hardly fault a child with an extensive “breadth of knowledge” and “deep” vocabulary for bottlenecking in his response time, it would seem to me…

    @GJG – And here’s the guy who’s most likely to influence our textbook/curriculum developers for the better! As soon as you finish your series, I’m planning on highlighting them here on the blog. They will be invaluable.

  • AMW

    @GJG: after your next book you need to work on putting together a homeschooling biology curriculum. (You’ll have plenty of time to complete it before I’ll need a copy.)

    @Steve: Sorry, man. I just calls ’em as I sees ’em.

  • AMW

    @GJG: after your next book you need to work on putting together a homeschooling biology curriculum. (You’ll have plenty of time to complete it before I’ll need a copy.)

    @Steve: Sorry, man. I just calls ’em as I sees ’em.

  • @Steve: Sorry, man. I just calls ’em as I sees ’em.

    Yeah, but make sure you sees ’em correctly before you go doggin’ me and my children. ( 😉 )

  • @Steve: Sorry, man. I just calls ’em as I sees ’em.

    Yeah, but make sure you sees ’em correctly before you go doggin’ me and my children. ( 😉 )

  • Doug

    Watching this discussion has been fascinating for me. I have four daughters, two of whom have been homeschooled. Those two are adults now. One is expecting our first grandchild, and she is a private-school teacher. The other lives across the country, is single and loving it, and has a successful professional life in sports science. Both of them have master’s degrees.

    The other two have been schooled in public schools. the youngest is in middle school, the other is a sophomore in college.

    If we were going to compare and contrast, this would be a perfect situation. Two homeschooled children, two who aren’t, and all with the same parents through the whole experience. To top it all off, their parents are now teachers and administrators with advanced degrees in the public school system!

    So, how has it all turned out? For us, I can honestly say that the difference between them that could be attributable to their homeschooling has been pretty negligible. The BIGGEST difference between sisters is mostly, in my opinion, that the public-schooled girls have a little rougher “edge” to their personalities. That is, they are a little more sarcastic and a little more “world-weary” than their other siblings. But, OTOH, in our society, I don’t always see that as a negative. After all, our culture sometimes requires a certain external hardness in order to survive. It kinds of reminds me of the old country tune “A Boy Named Sue”, in which the absent father deliberately named his son Sue so that he would be tough enough to survive.

    Yet, the homeschooled kids academically excelled more than their sisters. I think, based on my own experience, that this is because the external distractions of a public school, and the ever present (kids) attitude of public schools of a kind of disdain for learning rubbed off on them.

    So, if I were to make the argument for or against homeschooling from a purely academic point of view, I would have to say that homeschooled kids by and large are VERY much more advantaged than public-schooled kids. Yet, I can see no great moral disadvantage in public schools either. I think it really boils down to the example parents play in their kids lives, and whether or not the parents model proper morals to their kids. I can honestly say I am proud of ALL my kids in how they turned out morally. I don’t think homeschooling had much of an effect on that one way or the other. Decisions made by all my kids weren’t based on textbooks, it was (and is) made based on the content of their characters.

  • Doug

    Watching this discussion has been fascinating for me. I have four daughters, two of whom have been homeschooled. Those two are adults now. One is expecting our first grandchild, and she is a private-school teacher. The other lives across the country, is single and loving it, and has a successful professional life in sports science. Both of them have master’s degrees.

    The other two have been schooled in public schools. the youngest is in middle school, the other is a sophomore in college.

    If we were going to compare and contrast, this would be a perfect situation. Two homeschooled children, two who aren’t, and all with the same parents through the whole experience. To top it all off, their parents are now teachers and administrators with advanced degrees in the public school system!

    So, how has it all turned out? For us, I can honestly say that the difference between them that could be attributable to their homeschooling has been pretty negligible. The BIGGEST difference between sisters is mostly, in my opinion, that the public-schooled girls have a little rougher “edge” to their personalities. That is, they are a little more sarcastic and a little more “world-weary” than their other siblings. But, OTOH, in our society, I don’t always see that as a negative. After all, our culture sometimes requires a certain external hardness in order to survive. It kinds of reminds me of the old country tune “A Boy Named Sue”, in which the absent father deliberately named his son Sue so that he would be tough enough to survive.

    Yet, the homeschooled kids academically excelled more than their sisters. I think, based on my own experience, that this is because the external distractions of a public school, and the ever present (kids) attitude of public schools of a kind of disdain for learning rubbed off on them.

    So, if I were to make the argument for or against homeschooling from a purely academic point of view, I would have to say that homeschooled kids by and large are VERY much more advantaged than public-schooled kids. Yet, I can see no great moral disadvantage in public schools either. I think it really boils down to the example parents play in their kids lives, and whether or not the parents model proper morals to their kids. I can honestly say I am proud of ALL my kids in how they turned out morally. I don’t think homeschooling had much of an effect on that one way or the other. Decisions made by all my kids weren’t based on textbooks, it was (and is) made based on the content of their characters.

  • @Doug – Interesting perspective. Thanks for weighing in!

    This is all very difficult to talk about. A criticism of home/government education is in effect a criticism of one’s choice to educate his kids in that way, and worse, a perceived criticism of his kids. Similarly, you feel the need to hedge your acknowledgment of inequalities between your own two pairs of daughters. Because of this, I avoid publicly engaging in debates over government education. If any of you are not thick-skinned, I encourage you to ignore my next three paragraphs.

    I would agree that the greatest single reason to homeschool is the academic factor. That said, allow me a couple observations on the morality question.

    First, it is not at all insignificant that it was the first set of daughters that was homeschooled. You’d have a hard time convincing me that older sisters of such character as you describe did not make an impact on the younger two by their example; the influence of an older sibling on the character and morals of younger sibling, especially of the same sex, is not at all negligible. Peers are obviously influential, but kids just a few years older have even more of an influence.

    Furthermore (and please take this with a grain of salt), one cannot possibly account for and counteract all the influences, faulty worldviews, and ungodly attitudes encountered and absorbed when the child is among his peers in a government or even Christian school for over thirty hours a week in the most formative years of his life. Even kids whose parents are fastidious about filtering that sort of content out of the home will be influenced by their peers whose parents don’t share the concern. Peer influence serves as an amplification system for everything floating around in pop culture (in fact, this is what gives pop culture its power). Nowadays, for instance, many of our first-grader’s classmates are watching PG-13 and R-rated movies and listening to their parents’/older siblings’ raunchy music, and they don’t just leave all that junk at the door to the school. And it would be naive to think for a minute that we will be able to detox our kids from all that stuff (when we can even identify it) while also instilling in them actual positive values in just the time we have with them in the few hours after school that we’re together. We don’t even know what our kids really believe until they’re out on their own. Latent, residual effects will escape our watchful eye.

    Like I said, although I certainly take stock in the “character and morals” argument, even if it were completely groundless, I can’t imagine doing anything but choosing the method of education likeliest to result in my children being “VERY much more advantaged” than they would be under another method. I mean…we are talking about education, aren’t we? What else is school for exactly? 😀

  • @Doug – Interesting perspective. Thanks for weighing in!

    This is all very difficult to talk about. A criticism of home/government education is in effect a criticism of one’s choice to educate his kids in that way, and worse, a perceived criticism of his kids. Similarly, you feel the need to hedge your acknowledgment of inequalities between your own two pairs of daughters. Because of this, I avoid publicly engaging in debates over government education. If any of you are not thick-skinned, I encourage you to ignore my next three paragraphs.

    I would agree that the greatest single reason to homeschool is the academic factor. That said, allow me a couple observations on the morality question.

    First, it is not at all insignificant that it was the first set of daughters that was homeschooled. You’d have a hard time convincing me that older sisters of such character as you describe did not make an impact on the younger two by their example; the influence of an older sibling on the character and morals of younger sibling, especially of the same sex, is not at all negligible. Peers are obviously influential, but kids just a few years older have even more of an influence.

    Furthermore (and please take this with a grain of salt), one cannot possibly account for and counteract all the influences, faulty worldviews, and ungodly attitudes encountered and absorbed when the child is among his peers in a government or even Christian school for over thirty hours a week in the most formative years of his life. Even kids whose parents are fastidious about filtering that sort of content out of the home will be influenced by their peers whose parents don’t share the concern. Peer influence serves as an amplification system for everything floating around in pop culture (in fact, this is what gives pop culture its power). Nowadays, for instance, many of our first-grader’s classmates are watching PG-13 and R-rated movies and listening to their parents’/older siblings’ raunchy music, and they don’t just leave all that junk at the door to the school. And it would be naive to think for a minute that we will be able to detox our kids from all that stuff (when we can even identify it) while also instilling in them actual positive values in just the time we have with them in the few hours after school that we’re together. We don’t even know what our kids really believe until they’re out on their own. Latent, residual effects will escape our watchful eye.

    Like I said, although I certainly take stock in the “character and morals” argument, even if it were completely groundless, I can’t imagine doing anything but choosing the method of education likeliest to result in my children being “VERY much more advantaged” than they would be under another method. I mean…we are talking about education, aren’t we? What else is school for exactly? 😀

  • Doug Moody

    HI Steve,

    What else is school for? Hah! Yes, what”else” does it educate us in? All sorts of things, and you might be surprised that no t all of them are negative.

    I have worked “in the world”, and now I work for the government. I can tell you that, as a percentage of people, I think there are probably more christians in teaching than in any other field I have experienced. I can certainly say that in business, there weren’t that many (or at least ones who showed their faith)

    So, if God has a plan whereby He is putting people in key positions to help educate the next generation, I think he has a great many of His people in the right places. That’s why I am miffed sometimes when the public criticizes public education as “godless” and antagonistic against God. That might be the case in higher ed, but not in K-12. I have nothing but praise, by and large, for the people who inhabit those classrooms and are striving to make a positive difference in children’s lives. Heck, even the few atheists and homosexual teachers I know still care about children in a positive way.

    So, all is not lost in public education (as far as morals go) Yet, the curriculum is suffering mostly because of bureaocracy run amok. The so-called “No Child Left Behind” legislation is a prime example of what I mean. Good label, bad implementation!

    All that said, I still think that from a strictly educational standpoint, the main issue becomes one of caring and being able to impart the LOVE of learning in a child. If that one thing gets put into a child’s head, the rest will take care of itself. Homeschooling usually succeeds on that count just because by default parents who make the decision to homeschool are naturally going to pass on their love of learning, if, by nothing else, lots more contact time with the child. It is my observation that the students we have the least trouble with in public school and who turn out as fine people are the ones whose parents are involved in their lives away from school. Almost to a child, every time I see a good student, I see good parents behind them.

  • Doug Moody

    HI Steve,

    What else is school for? Hah! Yes, what”else” does it educate us in? All sorts of things, and you might be surprised that no t all of them are negative.

    I have worked “in the world”, and now I work for the government. I can tell you that, as a percentage of people, I think there are probably more christians in teaching than in any other field I have experienced. I can certainly say that in business, there weren’t that many (or at least ones who showed their faith)

    So, if God has a plan whereby He is putting people in key positions to help educate the next generation, I think he has a great many of His people in the right places. That’s why I am miffed sometimes when the public criticizes public education as “godless” and antagonistic against God. That might be the case in higher ed, but not in K-12. I have nothing but praise, by and large, for the people who inhabit those classrooms and are striving to make a positive difference in children’s lives. Heck, even the few atheists and homosexual teachers I know still care about children in a positive way.

    So, all is not lost in public education (as far as morals go) Yet, the curriculum is suffering mostly because of bureaocracy run amok. The so-called “No Child Left Behind” legislation is a prime example of what I mean. Good label, bad implementation!

    All that said, I still think that from a strictly educational standpoint, the main issue becomes one of caring and being able to impart the LOVE of learning in a child. If that one thing gets put into a child’s head, the rest will take care of itself. Homeschooling usually succeeds on that count just because by default parents who make the decision to homeschool are naturally going to pass on their love of learning, if, by nothing else, lots more contact time with the child. It is my observation that the students we have the least trouble with in public school and who turn out as fine people are the ones whose parents are involved in their lives away from school. Almost to a child, every time I see a good student, I see good parents behind them.

  • Steve,

    I see you have a first grader. We might have to homeschool and will be making our decision this weekend. I’d love to get more info re the curiculum you use. As a former scientist, i want to make sure the curiculum does not have a ye perspective which will fuel my doubts. I’ve been doing some research on the well-trained mind website. As a doubter, the idea of homeschooling is overwhelming, and i suspect i’ll have a hard time finding a homeschooling group where i fit in.
    As a background, my daughter is at a public school now, but she is horribly stressed out so i think homeschooling might be the best choice for her. My email is likeachildscience at gmail dot com.

  • Jeffrey

    A new company (that I work for) is the only Christian publisher developing curriculum with OEC assumptions. Novare Science and Math. novarescienceandmath.com