Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Homeschooling and Asylum

posted by Scot McKnight

Homeschooling.jpg

On homeschooling… What do you think of the homeschooling movement in the USA? The numbers are more significant than you might think (see below after the jump). My father was a public school teacher; Kris’ father was a public school teacher; we have other family members who are public school teachers; we have uncles and aunts who are public school teachers. We’re for public education. Many parents are not.
What are the major reasons why parents choose to homeschool? Is homeschooling capable of providing social education? What are the advantages of homeschooling? [By the way, I've got a few homeschooled students now in my college classes.]

Here’s a clip from the Time.com article on homeschooling and how a German couple sought asylum in the USA because of their choice to homeschool their children.

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike are not like other asylum seekers, people fleeing war or torture in places like Afghanistan, Iraq or Somalia. They’re music teachers from a village in southern Germany. And yet, in what appears to be the first case of its kind, the couple and their five children were granted asylum in the U.S. last week by an immigration judge who ruled that they had a “well-founded fear of persecution” in their home country for engaging in what has become a popular albeit somewhat controversial American practice — homeschooling their children.

The Romeikes, who are Evangelical Christians, took their three eldest children out of school in the town of Bissingen in 2006 because they were concerned about the impact the government-approved curriculum and the public-school environment would have on their social development. “Over the past 10 to 20 years, the curriculum in public schools in Germany has been more and more against Christian values, and my eldest children were having problems with violence, bullying and peer pressure. It’s important for parents to have the freedom to choose the way their children can be taught,” Uwe Romeike said in a statement provided by the couple’s attorney, Michael Donnelly of the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)….


So they moved to Tennessee, got asylum …

Memphis judge Lawrence Burman’s ruling sparked outrage in Germany. Authorities in the state of Baden-W?rttemberg, where the Romeikes had lived, angrily dismissed suggestions that the couple had been persecuted. “We have compulsory schooling, and this law applies to everyone, including the Romeikes,” says Thomas Hilsenbeck, a spokesman for the state Education Ministry. “If parents don’t want to send their children to a public school, they can send them to alternative private schools.”

While there is a thriving homeschool movement in the U.S. — some 2 million children are now taught at home, or about 4% of the total school-age population, according to HSLDA — it is still a very new concept in Germany. According to the German media, there are only between 500 and 1,000 families in the country who homeschool their children — most in violation of the law. According to the compulsory-education statute introduced by the Prussians in the 18th century, all children must attend school from the ages of 6 to 16. And it’s traditionally been viewed as a child’s right rather than an obligation. “Compulsory schooling is one of the greatest social achievements of our time,” Josef Kraus, head of the German Teachers’ Association, tells TIME. “This law protects children.”



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RJS

posted February 3, 2010 at 6:39 am


We don’t/didn’t homeschool – and would only have done it if there had been a specific problem (either with learning style of a child or atmosphere of a school). But we have many friends and relatives who do or did. I don’t see socialization as a problem for any of the kids – any more than socialization is a problem in general. This is a non-starter as a reason against.



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Steve S

posted February 3, 2010 at 7:06 am


Our decision to homeschool has more to do with our own experiences in public school and our conviction that we are responsible for the development of our children into healthy adults.
At the age of 6-7 I was forced to deal with pornography, vulgarity, rebellion, etc. Not to mention uncaring teachers, and a learning environment that was contrary to my own personality.
I simply wasn’t ready to deal with the moral complexity of that world at that age.
We have watched two families approach schooling their children with the following philosophy:
Choose a schooling that is best for each individual child’s (holistic) development. This was homeschooling for every child at an early age. But quickly became unique to each child. Private school, public school, continued homeschool, early college, etc.
At the end of the day there are two truths we want to hold on to. 1) They must become fully functioning and healthy adults who are capable of dealing with whatever the world throws at them. 2) As parents we are responsible for getting them there.
This means that we must not shelter them for too long, but also that we must not expose them to things before they are ready.
As for the social end of things, I agree, it is a non-starter. This has much more to do with parental behavior patterns than enrollment in a public school.



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Joey

posted February 3, 2010 at 8:25 am


As a bit of a libertarian I have to be OK with the desire for parents to home school their children, but as a person with a heart for community development I would never do it myself. There are just too many of our neighbors who don’t have the means/knowledge/resources to do homeschooling. The public interest is best served when parents who care about their children’s educaiton invest in the public schools. Of course this goes against our die hard individuality but I see investing in my future child’s education through public schools as a higher calling than preservation and as a practical way to love my neighbor.



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Phil

posted February 3, 2010 at 8:35 am


I just talked about this with friends yesterday. My wife is a teacher, I’m a pastor and we are for the kingdom, and we are for “in the world protected by the evil one”, it also helps that we have one of the better public school’s in the district. The community benefits when all the kids are together and parents support the school system, even if it hurts them to do it. I’ve seen many homeschooler’s and too many are unable to cope in the real world after, in college or the work place after. Regardless of method you need to be involved in your child’s education. I’m not for homeschooling, I am all for supporting your school and helping your kids.



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Bob Young

posted February 3, 2010 at 8:55 am


My wife and I grew up in both public school and Christian school. We educate our children at home. We’ve seen success stories and horror stories for each technique. If the parents are involved and invested in the education process, the kids tend to turn out alright.
Socialization can be a non-issue – our kids interact well and have friends from all kinds of different places/ages/demographics, and they aren’t simply “normalized” to their peer level.
It is the responsibility of the parent before God to see that the kids are properly educated (intellectually, socially, ethically, spiritually, etc). How we choose to educate ourkids has nothing to do serving the “public interest”. But if they receive a well-rounded education, it will ultimately have a positive impact on the public.
Our kids aren’t “missionaries” sent to the public schools – they’re OUR responsibility before God to shepherd into adulthood. We’re free before God to choose whatever methods we think are best to achieve this.



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dolores m. eilerts

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:01 am


Homeschooler=ballet, pianist, volunteer over 800 hours a year, ballroom dancer, in college, Latin, self respect, hundreds ofhours of acvtvities, ITBS 13-14, high score ACT.
Took out of public school. For being bullied, constantly being selected for random punches for being intelligent. Beat up during PE, with balls thrown in face, Strep throat 3 times in 3 months. Could not keep weight on due t o psycological beating. Every day some ones little two legged animal would have the child in emotional turmoil , crying not eating , not sleeping, night terrors.
Teachers wouldnotdo anythinmg. The menta;ity, is this, buck and survie andtake it, or fall behind in the dust. And they could care less. I had a teacher tell me one time ” NO ONE TELLS MY KIDS NO”
I TOLD THE SYSTEM NO!!!!



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Monica

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:02 am


For Europeans Homeschooling is a very strange concept indeed.
But I can understand if someone with very bad experiences from public schooling rather homeschool their kids.
At the same time we are all a part of a community and need to live in it. Instead of taking our kids out of school we should work for making the school better, for the benefit of ALL children in that school. Just in the same way we want to work for a better and safer neighborhood, or workplace.
And the world out there is not always a pretty place. The risk is, if we homeschool our kids and totally shelter them from it, that the shock of entering it as a young adult, will be so overwhelming for them that they can?t handle it.



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RJS

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:05 am


Bob,
Our kids are not missionaries – but our families (including parents) are. The investment of parent effort in the schools in our town is huge – and the opportunity for social interaction with other parents is especially powerful in the lower grades (when most are new to the business). When families withdraw from the community -including the community schools, the mission of the church is hurt badly.



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Brandon Ives

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:07 am


After ten years in youth ministry, my opinion on homeschooling has completely changed. I used to think about those poor unsocialized homeschool students and how they would be eaten alive once they entered the real world. Unfortunately, like many aspects of the world, all the “normal” people who scoff at those poor souls seem to be the ones in trouble…
When I sit back and reflect on questions like, was I over socialized? Would I have been better served by my parents being completely involved in every aspect of my learning? Would homeschooling tailored around my unique abilities and weaknesses have pushed me to be a better learner?
Perhaps. Is it for every family. No, but for families that commit to it and have the resources to do it well, I think it is a great opportuinity. The students I know who are homeschooled are well rounded, well socialized, and typically strong students. There are a few exceptions, but public schools fail students as well. To me homeschooling seems like a reasonable way to raise children.



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Keith Foisy

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:13 am


We decided to home school because we were concerned for our kids education. Overcrowded classrooms make it very difficult to give a child the attention and assistance they need. In addition to this, there is a lot of attention needed for behavior management in the classroom today which also takes attention away from education. Third, our kids are very young. We had them in preschool last year and we would help out during lunch time and we couldn’t believe our ears when we heard 4-5yr olds calling their teachers four-letter-names.
Education is very important to us and at this point in our kids life we feel we can do the best job. Of course, my wife is able to stay home with the kids. i teach on Friday’s. And we both thoroughly enjoy being able to be such an integral part of our kids life and education.
They seem to get plenty of social interaction through the 3-4 church gatherings we are involved with a week. In fact, the lack of peer pressure on a constant basis helps them to be themselves.
There are other reasons, but i think that’s enough for now.



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Chad Hall

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:14 am


We home schooled our daughter in the second grade as sort of a test-run. The socialization issues was really a non-issue, there were plenty of other social outlets (neighborhood, community pool, dance, church, etc.). We opted for public school because neither my wife nor I felt called to dedicate ourselves to it.
Public school has been okay, but our venture into home schooling has made me sensitive to the problems, namely:
it is incredibly inefficient (a majority of the day is invested in crowd control)
it’s overcrowded (a third-grade classroom with one teacher and 25 students, and kindergarten classroom with one teacher and 24 students)
it is hyper-generalized (if your child is developing at a pace outside the bell-curve, they end up bored or behind),
and we still end up doing most of the teaching during an hour or so of home school every day (this isn’t too big of a problem, since we see educating our children as ultimately our responsibility).
Great topic that really does bring to light deeply held values.



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AprilK

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:23 am


I agree with everyone above who says the socialization question is irrelevant. Homeschooled kids can get plenty of socialization. And plenty of public schooled kids aren’t socialized in a healthy or good way through bullying, being exposed to things before they’re mature enough to handle it, etc.
As far as being part of our communities by participating in public schools, more and more families, both Christian and secular, are homeschooling. There are homeschool groups in my city for christian homeschoolers, for non-christian homeschoolers, and those open to everyone. Homeschooling can actually cause a family to become more missional and involved in their community if they are seeking ways to interact with other families making the same educational decision.
My oldest attends a private school. She goes to school on Tues/Thus and I teach her at home on Mon/Wed/Fri the assignments set out by her classroom teacher. It’s called “university model” because it follows the pattern of classroom instruction and home study on alternating days. We made this decision based on her learning style and personality. However, we’re coming to see the many benefits of having more family time and more direct interaction with her on a daily basis.
In Texas the public schools are more focused on students passing the standardized tests than they are in ensuring they get a good, well-rounded education. We live in one of the best districts in the state, yet are still choosing what we believe to be a more efficient and well-rounded model of education.



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Karl

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:32 am


Scot,
This CT interview with Susan Wise Bauer might go a ways toward answering some of your questions re. some of the reasons why parents homeschool:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/momsense/homeschoolcenter/interviews/susanwisebauer.html
Our own reasons for homeschooling include:
-we think we can give them a better education than they?d get in public school
- in just about any educational setting, the more individual attention that a teacher can invest in a given child?s learning, the more and better that child will learn. Homeschooling affords opportunities for individual attention and tutoring tailored to each child?s needs, far beyond what any public school can offer.
- my wife really wants to do it, and with a master?s degree in education she?s plenty qualified.
- when you eliminate the time spent standing in lines, waiting for other kids to be done with their work, moving between classes, and all the other inefficiencies of the public school setting, you can get done in 3 or 4 hours at home what it takes 7+ hours to do in a ?regular? school. This opens the rest of the day up for further exploration of things that interested the child, more time to read (we don?t allow weekday TV), time for gymnastics, dance or other lessons, trips to the library or a museum, or time to go outside and play with neighborhood friends when they get off the bus from their school.
The socialization question always comes up. A couple of responses include:
- Do you want the family to be your child?s primary socializing agent from ages 6-18, with age-group peers as a secondary agent? Or do you want your child?s age-group peers to be the primary socializing agent, with family as second?
- If parents are intentional about it and especially if you are active in a local church (beyond just Sunday attendance), live in a neighborhood where there are other children, and enroll your kids in a community sports league, theater, or other such activities, there are ample opportunities for socialization outside of an institutional school setting.
There are plenty of examples of bad homeschooling and of parents whose motives for homeschooling might be cause for concern, just as there are plenty of examples of nightmarish public school systems. Comparing the best of one to the worst of the other isn?t fair to either. But when done well homeschooling can be great for the kid, for the family, and for the community of which they are a part.



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Joey

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:42 am


Bob, of course the argument can be made that home schooled children can have a positive effect on society. Sure. My point was that not investing in the public education system is not a concrete way to serve our neighbors. It is primarily a self-interested endeavor.
I don’t begrudge folks for home schooling but it is what it is. If I don’t invest in the local public school then the children who have no other choice but to be there are not benefited.
RJS is right. Your children are not missionaries but your family, provided you are people of faith, are.
I’m sorry for poor experiences that people have had in public schools but I also know home schooled kids on both sides of the spectrum: those who are well socialized and those who are socially crippled by their lack of social interaction. There is a great home schooling network in my town and most of the students are provided with great socialization and a great education.
That doesn’t take away from my original point. Communities are best served when parent’s who care about their children’s education invest in the local public school systems.



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Karl

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:46 am


Scot, do you know Dr. Alan Jacobs at Wheaton College? He blogged at the American Scene re. his and his wife’s decision to take their middle school-aged son out of public school and homeschool him. The post and subsequent comments were fascinating to me. Read this about his experience:
http://www.theamericanscene.com/2008/01/18/confessions-of-a-christian-homeschooler
and later, he asked for suggestions re. curriculum
http://theamericanscene.com/2009/07/13/a-homeschooler-s-bleg



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Florin Paladie

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:56 am


The best education (especially in the formative years)is one-on-one basis, which neither the public, nor the private school system can offer.
Each child has different learning styles (different ways to assimilate information) and if the classroom setting they are in does not fit their style they will struggle. It is just impossible for the teacher to spend time individually with students on a regular basis. The setting just does not permit this. Because of this the public systems of education will always be forced to leave some (or most, some would argue) kids behind.
We have been homeschooling our kids and from my experience with them I can tell they would have been struggling in a public setting (though we didn’t know this when we decided for homeschooling). My son, for example, would have been categorized as ADD. Even on a one-on-one basis I’ve been struggling to have him focus. Yet he is doing very well in school.
Then, there’s the issue of a natural attraction toward certain subjects. In a homeschool setting I can have my kids advance very well on some subjects (without having to wait for other students in the class to catch up) and take it slower (spending more time) on other subjects. In this way we have insured they are well rounded in their education.
As to the religious aspect advocated in homeschooling it is an understandable one for religious people of certain stripes. We did not homeschool for religious reasons. We like to expose ours kids to “the world” so we can have conversations with them and be able to help them navigate through the waters. We don’t want them to adopt a view just because it happens to be ours or the adopted school system’s for that matter. We want them to think for themselves. It is true that in a public school setting we might not be able to catch everything they would be exposed to and so they might take it as “true”. It is a debatable aspect, I concede. Again, we’re talking about the formative years when they are shaped for life.
All in all, I think the american system is a great one for giving parents alternatives of education (which I think all countries should). We are currently involved in a homeschool curriculum (K12.com) that is State approved in Georgia (and in 23 other states). Our kids show as being part of the public school system. It is paid by the state education system and all of that. We’re very pleased with its high standards.
Don’t put all homeschooling in one pot as it used to be some years ago. It is a diverse alternative that is growing more and more, and for obvious reasons.



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dopderbeck

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:02 am


My kids all go to public school. For one of them this is vital because he has a disability and the public schools provide services he needs. For my middle son it’s working out very well so far; lots of his friends from church are also his friends at school. For my oldest, at this point I’m not sure it’s the best place for her to be.
I agree that the “missionary” model isn’t the best reason to send kids to public school. Here’s my big concern, though: how many parents in the U.S. who are homeschooling do so because they want to teach their kids young earth creationism and the Christian America doctrine? When I’ve heard sermons and seminars and so in in conservative churches about homeschooling, these are inevitably the big issues people have with the public schools. The same is true for presentations I’ve heard in churches on the Christian School movement. My concern is for the Church — that we’re raising a generation of insular people who won’t be able to engage with reality, perpetuating the obscurantist culture of very conservative Evangelicalism.
Yet at least in this thread, I’m not hearing that at all, so maybe my perceptions are biased by my own particular experiences.



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Bob Young

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:02 am


RJS & Joey, there are tons of other ways of being involved in the community besides sending our kids to public schools and getting on the PTA. TONS. And that’s what we do – we’re salt and light in the community through a number of different programs, projects, etc. We’re interconnected with lots of people in lots of ways in our community. But for US, our kids are way better off being educated at home, and in the end they’ll be a far more positive influence on their community because of it.



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Karl

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:04 am


?I don’t begrudge folks for home schooling but it is what it is. If I don’t invest in the local public school then the children who have no other choice but to be there are not benefited.
?RJS is right. Your children are not missionaries but your family, provided you are people of faith, are.?
These words put me in mind of Barbara Kingsolver?s novel ?The Poisonwood Bible.? Many of us know (in real life, not just through fiction) missionary kids who felt like they were sacrificed on the altar of their parents? zeal to be missionaries and na?ve belief that God would just automatically shield their kids from any ill befalling them on the mission field because after all, they were doing God?s work. That happened to friends of mine in Zaire/Congo. But it can happen in your local public school, too.
Of course it?s great when people invest in their local public school system and model engagement for their children rather than fearful withdrawal. Of course that can turn out great for all concerned and it is an option that should be seriously considered. I know families who have done exactly that (and it?s what we did in our school system through our oldest daughter?s 2nd grade year). But I strongly resist the notion that it is the right course for every family, in every school system, just as I would resist the suggestion that every Christian family should homeschool their kids. It is a choice to be made taking into account many different factors. But there are other ways to benefit the community just as much if not more, while homeschooling, as you could if you sent your kids to public schools.



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Rick

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:07 am


Bob #18-
Well said.



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MatthewS

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:09 am


Not sure any one person can speak for the whole movement. Homeschoolers are often put in the unfortunate position that they are asked to defend or redeem the entire group from all its worst representatives. Some people that do it are freaks and that’s a shame.
Our lives presently revolve around my own schooling (part-time seminary student, I work full-time) and schooling our son at home. He is taking several classes outside the home from a home-school group where various parents teach non-core classes such as music, art, chess, Taekwondo, PE, etc. He attends Sunday School and AWANA, has sleep-overs with friends, does Cub Scouts and 4-H, did Little League for several years. We adapt the Well-Trained Mind (trivium) which is giving him an historical perspective. He is the only 11-year-old I know that talks about the 12 Olympians, Roman hypocausts, and Egyptian gods. He kicks my butt at Halo. In my biased opinion, his grasp on history and literature is beyond that of many of the high school grads I know. His social skills are very strong (I can honestly say this based on his interactions at Cub Scouts, etc.). I am concerned that we not short him in the sciences – this is a problem not completely resolved in my mind.
My opinion is that the most important factor in a child’s education is the involvement of the parents. Regardless of the school system, parents who don?t give a rip are a formidable stumbling block but parents who are positively involved are a major asset.
I have worked with kids in our community who attend the public school; some of them are great, a few are very troubled. Many of the teachers are excellent – they really care about the kids and about their subject. It would not be the end of the world for our son to go to the public school but I know from listening to conversations among kids that there are some prevalent influences that I am glad for him to avoid.
I guess this is my too-long way of saying “it depends.” Sometimes it’s the best choice, sometimes it’s not, and neither choice should be stigmatized. I respect the dedication of this German family and I hope their kids go on to be a credit to their parents.
PS teachers are some of the most dedicated people around and they do a wonderful thing. Our choice to home-school is in no way intended to be an affront to the excellent teachers or administrators in our school district.



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keo

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:10 am


“If I don’t invest in the local public school then the children who have no other choice but to be there are not benefited.”
Not benefited? Parents who homeschool in the US have to pay the same school taxes whether their kids are at home or in school. Those with “no other choice” have a larger pool of taxes to spend on a smaller number of students, resulting in smaller classes, higher teacher salaries, newer facilities, more technology, etc.
Parents of public schooled kids should thank those of us who homeschool for subsidizing their kids’ education. And probably for driving education reform by showing the public that their tax dollars ($19,000 / child in New York) aren’t buying the same quality of education that many homeschoolers achieve without any tax subsidy.



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David

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:18 am


First, Scot, you’ve bitten off a big one here! ;)
Second RJS / Joey,
I could echo many of the reasons given above for why we home school our kids. A couple of points about your impression that home school families are not involved in the local schools (or the community at large):
Recent studies I’ve seen show that overall, home school families are far more involved in their local communities than are public/private school families. It may be that they have a more missional mind-set, or that they have more time to devote since they aren’t chained to the public school system’s schedule, or it may be that they are more civic minded, since the right to home school is constantly being challenged.
But here is my own experience. My family and kids are extremely engaged in the lower-middle class neighborhood in which we live. Many kids here come home to vacant homes. They need help with homework projects and there’s no one available at home to help, so they come to our house. Last week I attended a parent teacher conference at a local school on behalf of a neighbor’s kid because he’s having trouble in school, and because it takes more than what his grandma has to offer to get this kid on track. My wife and I are the primary contact for him and two of his siblings with the elementary, middle, and high schools they attend. The church has gotten engaged with them and us as we try to bring them through their education.
This isn’t necessarily an either/or situation. I’m not going to put my kids at risk to “save” the public school system. But we can choose to be involved and support the school, our neighborhoods, and the families and kids God has put us in the midst of.
Shalom,
Dave



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ChrisB

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:20 am


We don’t homeschool.
But the choice between homeschooling and investing in your community is a false one. You can do both.
Most do neither.
But for those concerned about the content of the curriculum, that’s often mandated at the state and even federal levels. There’s little parents can do.
Childrearing is first and foremost about making MY child into a contributing member of society. If I can help with yours too, I will.



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Bob Porter

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:25 am


I am a grandparent who doesn?t have to deal directly with this issue anymore, but have one set of grandchildren currently being home schooled. I really appreciate the tone of the posts in this thread and the points that have been made.
However, I am more than a little surprised that curriculum (and the underlying worldview) has not been addressed. From my perspective, this is critical because of the problem of trying to explain to young children that text books are not necessarily based on facts.



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Phil

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:28 am


to keo #22
http://soapbox.clanotto.com
“If I don’t invest in the local public school then the children who have no other choice but to be there are not benefited.”
I don’t think many of you understand that it’s not the tax money that school’s need, it’s moral influence. This is the experience of my wife this last decade in teaching. She has watched many students attend the Christian high’s rather than the public one she teaches at. Most of the christian teachers have went to these schools as well. What has resulted, instead of 1/3 christian homed kids at the school, positively influencing their whole school, you have maybe 1/6. That drastically affects the atmosphere of a school. What’s happened, busing costs have went up, and the other schools aren’t attractive anymore and more students are returning to her school, and it’s making a difference to morale and atmosphere.
I’m hearing a lot of fear for your children, perhaps need, perhaps not, but you won’t be there to protect them forever.
That said, I am aware that most education environments are design for female learners. This is disastrous for boys. Boys need to be encourage to learn in ways that they can. If they aren’t learning, and leaning on the administration isn’t helping, and you kid hates school. Then, I say you need to think of alternatives.



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RJS

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:35 am


Bob
In your situation homeschooling may be the best thing, I don’t know your situation – and I think that homeschooling should be an available option. My sister took her daughter out one year because she struggled with dyslexia and was not getting the personal attention she needed – definitely the right decision at that time and place. The year of personal attention put her in a position to succeed when she returned to the public school. If bullying or unresponsive administration is a problem or a child is unable to cope with some aspect – those are also good reasons.
But in our schools parents are involved in the classrooms doing extra work with students in all of the elementary schools and the teachers and administration supports this effort. It is not just “PTA”. The schools work hard to build an atmosphere that is competitive by intolerant of abuse (esp. by students) – they have built a team camaraderie. It isn’t perfect – but it is quite good
Childrearing is not first and foremost about making my child into a contributing member of society. Childrearing is about growing an adult who will stand on his or her own feet at the end of the process, who will think creatively and intelligently and act on it. As a Christian parent there is more to it in terms of religious upbringing – but also in terms of mission in the world. We are called to help with others too – within and without the church.



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Joey

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:36 am


Karl, the Poisonwood Bible is hardly a fair comparison. I agree that it can happen but that it is in no way a necessary consequence.
Let me make this clear: I don’t see sending children to public school an evangelism tool but as a medium to show love and service.
I know too many students who’s parents do not have the means to offer alternative education opportunities. Education is so fundamental to the development of a community. You may invest in your communities in plenty of other ways but don’t fool yourself into believing that your children are necessarily going to end up serving their community more effectively because of being home schooled. PTA is hardly what I have in mind. It would be wonderful to see parents involved in tutoring, reading programs, local reforms, parenting classes, TESL, etc.
Again I don’t begrudge anybody for home schooling but home schooling is not a way to better the education of the majority of our neighbors – an education that is ultimately the bedrock of a community.
Keo thank you for investing in the community through your taxes. Feel better? You are incredibly generous. If only everybody paid their taxes our education system would be wonderful….wait. It takes personal investment to change things? Time and resources?
I really don’t mean to offend home schooling families. Your children are going to have a great education. I firmly acknowledge that. I just worry about the other children who aren’t as fortunate.



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Jordan

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:41 am


I was homeschooled from 6th grade on and I liked it. I was able to do a lot more academically. That meant I was able to start college when I was 16 and grad school by 20. I don’t know that that was the best thing for my social development but I’m nerdy enough that I don’t think I’d have been terribly socialized in a public school either.
My mother put a lot of time into my education and worked very hard at finding the best curriculum and text books. She also was able to teach a whole group of us homeschoolers chemistry and biology labs despite her math/science phobia.
Looking back though, I am very sure that homeschooling is not for everybody. I knew several families who basically homeschooled so they didn’t have to bother with public school and could have their kids working more on the family farm. That’s why I do think it’s important that some sort of reasonable oversight by the state/county is a good idea. There’s no need to make homeschooling impossible, but there needs to be some accountability, in my opinion at least.
I don’t think we should necessarily bash the “missionary” aspect of public school either. My wife says she is very grateful that she was in public school because she was able to “be a light” to many hurting young people while she was in junior high and high school. She’s in the helping profession though so it sort of makes sense that she would see it more “missionaly”. The important thing is, it was her that saw it as a mission, not her parents. Frankly I feel like I really missed out on that part. I’m a scientist and not naturally the “missional” type, but I can’t help but feel that homeschooling was almost in a way selfish of me. My parents and I were extremely focused on my education put maybe not so much focused on what I was doing for the Kingdom.
Overall, I’m still a bit confused as to what to think about homeschooling. I liked it a lot, got a great education, and feel I turned out OK, but looking back at times it seems a bit isolationist, non-missional (I don’t know if that’s a real word), and fiercely independent (“don’t tell me how to raise my kid!”).



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Joey

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:42 am


Dave #23
I appreciate your response. If but all parents had such concern for their neighbors.
ChrisB, you’re right – most do neither. I’m only advocating that all Christians worry about the education of their community – Dave is an example of that happening through home schooling but I would argue that is more rare than not.



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Christoph Fischer

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:46 am


Just a little note from a German pastor (actually not too far from Bissingen), to put the original case into another perspective:
We have a great public school system, which is actually designed to _promote_ Christian values, rather than teach against them. We have Christian religion classes in public schools. We have teachers who are committed Christians. There is no reason to take Christian children out of our public schools.
And even if you don’t believe all of that, we actually have recognized Christian schools in Germany — no need to seek asylum in the US.
Of course, the original article didn’t say exactly what branch of Evangelical Christianity the Romeikes belong to, did it? We’ve had a couple of similar cases during the last few years and usually the people are Russian-German immigrant, subscribing to an ultra-legalist form of Christianity that wouldn’t find a lot of Christian values with you and me, either.



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Your Name

posted February 3, 2010 at 11:08 am


This email, from a German scholar and author, sheds further light on the specific German situation that prompted this post. The author is objecting to some conservative Americans’ invoking of Nazi Germany in their objection to the anti-homeschooling attitude of present-day Germany:
“I am familiar with this case and empathize with the parents but deeply resent this article’s fortuitous reference to Germany’s Nazi past. Compulsory schooling in Germany, triggered by the Reformation, goes back to the 16th century, at least on some states, and to the mid-19th century in all states. The 1938 Nazi law centralized this legislation because Hitler centralized everything in the country; the term for this was Gleichschaltung. But after WWII authority over education has been returned to the individual states. Parents are free to send their kids to either public or Catholic, Lutheran, evangelical or other religious and private schools, which are state-subsidized. Some states uphold Christian values at public schools better than others. But all 16 states require that parents send their kids to public or private schools. Political correctness prevents public officials from naming the true reason why they would consider it insane to relax the strict school attendance requirement. Like France, Germany has huge Muslim populations unwilling to integrate. Most of their kids refuse to learn the national language well; the families reject the national culture with horrendous social costs to the entire nation. In Berlin district of Reinickendorf (pop. 360,000) , for example, 90 percent of all public school students are of Turkish or Arab descent. Their dropout rate is around 90 percent. What little useful secular stuff they learn they receive from public schools, though. If homeschooling were allowed they’d send their kids to Koran schools, and there would be no way for German educational authorities to monitor their educational progress.
“Most knowledgeable Germans know that this is the true reason for the stubborn refusal of German states (and the Federal Republic) to change their constitutions in this regard. This is not a good state of affairs. But by now I have come to loathe the constant bashing of present-day Germany, which is a very decent country, for its Nazi past. It would be good if the American media started covering foreign affairs again instead of spreading cliches.”



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dopderbeck

posted February 3, 2010 at 11:14 am


Still curious from those of you here who were homeschooled: for how many of you were young earth creationism and the notion that America is/was a Christian Nation important parts of your education?



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Jordan

posted February 3, 2010 at 11:25 am


dopderbeck,
We were taught young earth creationism, as was every Christian I grew up with whether homeschooled, in private Christian schools, or in public school. We weren’t ignorant of evolution and I didn’t have any real trouble in my college genetics and evolution class, but I will say that it did make a lot of us science-minded kids avoid careers in Biology. Why put up with the constant bashing?
In terms of “America is/was a Christian Nation”, I’m not exactly sure what you mean by that. We were taught “normal” history. American history was basically the same as what I learned in my college American history class at any rate. Perhaps we enjoyed looking at the faith of the Founding Fathers more than you would see in a secular class, but I would think that would be normal for a Christian education. My mother was heavily influenced by Aquinas and scholasticism. I learned Latin, logic, and a lot of European philosophy and literature.



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Karl

posted February 3, 2010 at 11:32 am


Joey, the reference to Kingsolver?s book wasn?t meant as a 1-to-1 comparison. But I?ll stand by it insofar as it illustrates that sometimes parents? sense of mission and calling ends up leaving their kids trampled in the dust, when the kids weren?t ready (and shouldn?t have been expected to be) to be exposed to all that their parents? idea of ?the family?s mission? demanded of them.
I?m not anti-public school. I?m not saying that everyone who sends their kids to public school is damaging their kids due to a misguided sense of mission. I?ve seen families be involved in public schools in great ways, and seen kids flourish in that environment. If we had our kids in the public school system we?d want to be active participants, not just passive consumers of the services offered. We are still involved and engaged in the lives of a lot of kids and families who are in the local public school. But I?m against the suggestion that I am doing something unchristian or non-missional, by making the choice not to engage in the community in *this* particular way. Your own community is poorer because of certain things you COULD do, but have chosen not to do. There?s no arguing that IF you did A,B and C in your community, then those areas of your community would benefit, and by not doing A, B, and C you are depriving that aspect of your community of the blessing of your presence and involvement. But you can?t do everything. And you have made choices, for various reasons, re. where and how you and your family will be involved. Same for us.
A lot of interesting points were made in the thread on The American Scene related to Alan Jacobs? post that I linked above. I hope some folks will take the time to check it out.



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Mark Mathewson

posted February 3, 2010 at 11:37 am


I have to disagree with RJS and Bob (#5). My kids are missionaries, if by that we mean “ones who are on mission.” By virtue of their being apprentices of Jesus, my children are ambassadors for the kingdom and part of their responsibility (yes , even as children and now teens) is to proclaim and live out the gospel of the kingdom among their peers in creative and effective ways. Or, to put in terms familiar to this blog, to live the Jesus Creed in their schools. And of course it is the responsibility of my wife and me as “co-missionaries” with them to train them to be able to do so (for their time now in public school and later for their adult lives). And no, they have not been, nor will they be, sacrificed on the altar of any evangelistic aspirations I may have. By God’s grace my children have had a significant impact for God’s kingdom in the (way less than perfect) public school system in our community. If you would ask them, they wouldn’t change their experience for the world. I simply can’t see any biblical basis for saying children who are followers of Jesus, whether home-schooled, attending parochial schools, or attending public schools, are not missionaries (at least in the sense I have described here).



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Deets

posted February 3, 2010 at 11:44 am


With over a decade of experience in children and family ministry, I’ve met and counseled a good number of children and parents. Here are a few observations that I will give on this issue.
First, I see inadequate socialization on behalf of both home-schooled and institutionally-schooled children. Too many parents count on schools to socialize their children. Schools, public or private, are not adequately prepare or capable of achieving that goal. Remembering the past discussion on Christian Smith’s book, he drew a clear conclusion that healthy socialization requires parent and church adult mentoring.
Second, the biggest problem I have with parents who home school is the attitude that they demonstrate toward authority. That is a lack of submission to authority. Too often home school families that come into my office with an attitude that no one other than the parents (teachers, administrators, the community, and even the church) is capable of giving helpful input to the lives of their children. In these cases, I see that the parents teach their children to respect parental authority, but to respectfully disregard any other authority. I say respectfully because they seem to teach manners, but with skepticism toward others. While the most radical cases come to mind, I fear and witness this lack of submission to authority as side effect of home schooling.
Third, I don’t personally know of a single family that has lost a child to secularism because of the influence of the school alone. I’ve had cases where this is the claim of the parents, but is seems consistently in these cases that there are many other issues going on in the lives of their children. On the contrary, I’ve see a good number of home-schooled children who eventually are confronted with the challenges of the world only reject their “controlling parents” and opt for the secular world view. In short, loving parents who mentor their children with grace don’t have to fear the world’s influence.
Finally, while I’ve heard many word-of-mouth stories of persecution, I’ve never witnessed it first hand or even second hand, at least not on behalf of the public schools. I’ve found most schools are keenly aware of their need to neither push someone toward, nor away from any faith. Yes they teach evolution, but evolution isn’t persecution.
I don’t think that there is a single, perfect option for our children’s education. I do think that all parents need to weigh all the costs of their chosen mode of education.



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Chad Hall

posted February 3, 2010 at 11:47 am


RJS & Joey:
I find it interesting that we use language like “withdraw” to describe the choice to home school rather than attend public school — as if the natural, normal, or default setting is to attend public school and that a family who chooses otherwise is “withdrawing.”
I wonder if either of you has chosen to “withdraw” from public housing? :)



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sonja

posted February 3, 2010 at 11:51 am


I’ve homeschooled my children for eight years now. My daughter is in 10th grade. My son is in seventh grade.
I have to say that I find the idea that any one could take on the institution of our public education system and some how reform it so amusing and silly as to cause me to ROTFLOL. That is truly a task similar to tilting at windmills. Have any of you missed the fact that it has it’s own Federal department now? I live close to Washington, DC and the building it is housed in is nearly as large as the Ag department. Would any of you suggest that I and my family take on the reformation of the FDA? Really? Let’s think about this a little more carefully.
Once one gets past the federal beauracracy(sp?) we have the state and local departments of red tape and full of crap to deal with. I have no doubt whatsoever that the teachers in individual schools are devoted and caring and want to teach their students, but they are being prevented from that every turn. Having an alternative that is at hand (homeschooling), I have chosen to take advantage of it. I don’t know why some of you find that so offensive or think that I am backing out of my end of the social contract.
I want my children to reach adulthood able to learn, not with a head full of random trivia that passes for knowledge these days. So I am teaching them how to learn. How to use their knowledge in one area learning and apply it to another. What they learn in astronomy is used in English and History, for example. My daughter is writing a thesis paper this year based on watching all the Disney movies and finding common themes and showing what those movies teach about bullying, racial differences and being able to get along with each other.
She and her brother also belong to our local hockey club. There are kids there from all walks of life. And we see that as our mission field. That is where we walk with salt and light and it is as much needed there as it is in the schools. Even more so, because we get the parents too!



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keo

posted February 3, 2010 at 11:51 am


Actually, I’ve taught public school, Joey (#28).
The public interest would be more efficiently served by developing real relationships with your neighbors — in a forum that is much more public and open to your influence than a public school.
Homeschooling is mainly a question of educational quality for me. If education is the bedrock of our communities, then I’m confident my kids will have the biggest impact on their communities, through public policy development and through direct relationships with those who most affect society, if they have received the best education.
Homeschooling sometimes includes involvement with the public school, by the way. Intramurals, music, extracurriculars, even particular courses. It isn’t either / or.



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Bob Young

posted February 3, 2010 at 11:55 am


RJS – PTA is obviously not the only kind of involvement – I was using that to imply something broader.
Dopderbeck, I’m not sold on young earth creationism – I’ll let my kids evaluate the evidence and make up their own minds. We believe in the Creator, but when and how… sheesh… people will always be arguing about that. While I’m certain that the Genesis account is great poetry, I have no clue as to the historicity of it.
And when it comes to the USA, while some curriculum treats the American experiment as a God-ordained thing, we teach our kids that the rebellion of the thirteen colonies against those God had set up over them was neither good nor godly. The kidnapping of blacks, forced labor and torture, subjugation of women, raping and pillaging of the natives… these were shameful.
We’re teaching our kids that they are first and foremost citizens of the kingdom of heaven, sent as ambassadors to the USA on behalf of their king. But there are indeed many homeschoolers who buy into the whole patriotic “Light & The Glory” mumbo jumbo.



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Holly

posted February 3, 2010 at 11:58 am


First time to post here.
I’m a home-schooling mom of 8 kids. I’ve always home-schooled. We kinda fell into it, intended to do it for one year, then found that we loved it so much that it seemed the way to go.
Anecdotally, I have three teenagers. A few months ago we began attending a new church. It’s a little bit more “liberal,” if you will, then we are accustomed to. Our kids came into the youth group, so eager to be there. Friendly, ready to give their money to support the group’s Compassion child, ready to play guitar, ready to serve at the rescue mission, ready to make friends, etc. Honestly, for having been home-schooled for forever, my children are surprisingly social and outgoing. They simply LOVE people, and want to be with people.
Guess what? The public schooled kids don’t know how to relate or respond to my homeschooled kids. I go sometimes to help out – and the public schooled kids kinda stand in a group and interact, my kids will stand at the edges, joining in the jokes and fun…and the ps kids will glance around furtively at them, but not really know how to respond! I was surprised at that.
This week, several different adults came up to me at an event at church and said, “You are to be commended! Your children are WONDERFUl! They know their Bibles. They GET the big picture of the world.” Again, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised.
For the guy who asked above, no, we’re not YEC and we’re not isolationists and we’re not America is a Christian nation types of homeschoolers. There IS a large segment of homeschoolers who ARE such, and it is discouraging, because just like anything else there is tremendous pressure to conform – or else you risk being rejected. It’s so odd, though, because I receive pressure from all sides. Homeschoolers want you to be just like them – others want you to be just like they are. Just this week, I had a professor who teaches in the doctoral program of an evangelical seminary tell me that I was selfish to the rest of the world because I had 8 children. You can only take the concept of responsibility to community so far…before you have no individual personhood left at all.
We fully believe in living Jesus in our community. My husband works in our community for a social service agency. He counsels families in almost every way imaginable, he mentors young, fatherless boys. We all serve, and actively seek out ways that we can be involved in the life of our community.
I agree with those who say it has to be both, and. You have to invest in your own children, and do so mightily. You need to invest in the greater community, too. We were a pastor’s family for many years, and know firsthand the pain when the parents TRY to give all of themselves away and have nothing left over for the family. You have to have balance, you have to do both, otherwise you raise children who feel that you have saved nothing, given nothing, to them.



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Skip

posted February 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm


We’ve homeschooled all three of our children. Two are now adults, one is still at home. The primary motivator for us is that the kids have, without a doubt, received a superior education through homeschooling compared to the local public schools. A major secondary reason, which has become more important with time, is that the “socialization” that kids are exposed to in our public schools is terrible! The bullying, peer pressure, sexualization, and general disrespect for adults are aspects of kids’ culture that it seems our local schools are unable to control. We were quite comfortable sending our two older sons to high school, because we felt they had matured enough to handle the social environment. It’s not something I wanted to put them into as 5th graders.
Speaking of socialization, our kids, and most homeschooled kids in our neighborhood, get plenty. This year my wife led a poetry reading class culminating in a recitation program involving about twenty homeschoolers. We’ve had homeschool activities involving anywhere between ten and thirty kids such as biology dissection led by a med school anatomy professor, plays, choirs, medieval feasts, museum trips, zoo trips, etc. And our kids have always participated in Scouts, Little League Baseball, 4-H, and church. I’m afraid some people think that most homeschoolers barricade their kids in their homes and don’t let them out until they’re 18. Not us, and not the homeschoolers in our community.



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Joey

posted February 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm


Chad, I don’t believe I ever used the word withdraw. Also, most people DO attend public schools therefore it is the most “natural, normal or default setting.”
I am also an advocate of Christians moving into lower income neighborhoods.
I don’t feel, however, that public housing and public school is a fair comparison. Public housing, first of all, is not used by the majority of people nor is it considered standardized (though it is the plight of many). Second, housing has less of an affect on mobility (though environment can definitely be a contributing factor). Third, public school is much more concerned about the health of a person than public housing is. At public school many children get a healthy meal – sometimes even two – where as at home sometimes meals are hit or miss. Public schools offer food, guidance, and sometimes the basic necessities of life (nutrition, exercise, hygiene, etc.) Public housing is a band-aid for those who are without a roof. Public school isn’t perfect but education is the single most important factor to survival (in our culture) and is where the largest chasm is between the Haves and the Have-nots exists.
To your point, Chad – maybe we should consider public housing, or at least low income housing, as a way to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters. Is that something you’d be willing to consider?



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Joey

posted February 3, 2010 at 12:21 pm


Keo #40, point taken.
Again, I understand that homeschooling is often a superior education. And I agree that the most beneficial use of time is to simply invest in our neighbors. But I also know that I can invest in my neighbors all I want but if I am not willing to be where they are my investment can only go so far. It’s like an urban missionary who lives in the suburbs and commutes in to the poor neighborhood by day.
Of course, there are exceptions and I really am grateful that many of you home schooling families are that.
I am happy anytime a home schooling family takes time to invest in the other children in their neighborhood. I’m happy any time a well educated person see’s helping their community as part of their responsibility. I just hope there are enough parents who are willing to invest in their local schools as well as their neighborhoods so that the entire community can be lifted up together.
“If you have come to help us you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with our liberation let us work together.”
-Lily Watson-
Go to the people
Live among them
Learn from them
Love them
Start with what they know
Build on what they have:
But of the best leaders
When their task is done
The people will remark
“We have done it ourselves.”
Lao-Tzu



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Dan

posted February 3, 2010 at 12:26 pm


I thought John Armstrong had an interesting take on this story back a couple of days ago. (check the link)
I would have liked to know why the couple didn’t send their children to the publicly funded religious schools available. Setting aside arguments re: laws for compulsory education (which we have in the US but differently administered), I would like to believe that publicly funded protestant christian schools would be a blessing to all. I wish I had insight as to the opposition to sending a child to “free” faith-based schools. Certainly, there is much about the story we don’t know.
I thought the angle regarding Muslim schools as reported on John’s blog was interesting.
DJ|AMDG
Your Church is Too Small



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bryan

posted February 3, 2010 at 12:49 pm


i’m a pastor and my wife is a public high school teacher. the truth is that our schools and communities need Christian kids in them. I to often see parents pulling their children out of the public schools and bringing them home in order to ‘protect’ them. the truth is that they’ll only be able to protect them for so long. many students who leave our ministry to go to college who have been home schooled their entire lives, struggle in college with the relationships and everything else the public system reveals.
and then i hear parents try to argue that home schooling does not influence their social skills. that is not true. home schooled kids by majority lack social skills that most acquire in the public realm. i’m a jr high and high school pastor, and for the most part, i can look at a kid and tell you with high certainty, whether they are public or home schooled. the students within our own ministry who are home schooled tend to be the ones that are socially awkward and therefor almost feel as though they are outcasts.
my conviction is that at the roots of it all, education needs to be taking place in the home alongside the public system. i will do my best to educate my kids myself in home when it comes to morality, difference between right and wrong, world view, etc, but then allow them to learn what the public schools offer, rudimentary and socially.
my heart is for one day our public schools to catch on fire for God, and that’s not going to happen if all the kids that love Jesus are at home behind walls.



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Monica

posted February 3, 2010 at 1:10 pm


One thing I am wondering about, as a European, is; what qualification is needed to homeschool?
I have no talent whatsoever in teaching, and would not be able to homeschool my kids even if I wanted to.
Is homeschooling something that someone with teaching profession/experience do ,or is wider spread?
One difference with my country the Netherlands, and the US is that you often can choose your school (it seems to be different in Germany) The schooling system here in the NL is open, and you have no obligation to stay in your catchment area. Basically every little village has one public school, one protestant and one catholic, and in bigger towns the choice is even bigger.
I and my husband would never been able to produce the same quality of education as the one our kids get on the local (christian) school.



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E.G.

posted February 3, 2010 at 1:28 pm


Ultimately, the parents have to decide what is best for the children. It may be public school (particularly if the school in the area is good). It may be private school (Christian, or otherwise). And it may be homeschooling.
So many factors go into the decision: quality of the school, the curriculum, the distance that kids have to travel each way, the experience that the kids are having in whatever the context, etc., etc., etc.
With that many factors, every family – indeed every kid – will potentially be different, and a one-size-fits-all is never really going to work.
Thus the ability to choose is vital.
(Having lived in Germany, however, this does not surprise me. Remember, this is a country where you’re not allowed to name your kid something that isn’t on an official list. I’m all for community, but the laws of that country often seem intended to reduce any ability to act as an individual. I still like Germany, and appreciated the time that I spent there. But, when I hear things like this, I’m sure thankful that I live in Canada.)



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Rick

posted February 3, 2010 at 1:31 pm


Monica #48-
Generally, you do not have to be a qualified teacher to home school. States have certain requirements on what needs to be accomplished (time/days schooling, etc…), but beyond that almost any parent is allowed to teach. There are numerous (and growing every year) resources for parents to use. Some, as AprilK #12 mentioned, do a combination of home schooling and private schooling.
Parents to have to keep in mind that should they ever put their kids to public school, if they plan to attend college, or just for the real world, will they be sufficiently prepared (required standardized tests for example). However, the impressive accomplishments of home schoolers has made public schools and colleges more comfortable (even encouraging) in accepting that transition.



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Karl

posted February 3, 2010 at 1:34 pm


I had a conversation over a decade ago with a girl who was homeschooled by non-Christian parents, for primarily educational reasons. She had also been in the public school system for a time also, including one year of high school. This girl, 16 or 17 at the time, was very impressive. She would look an adult in the eye with no hesitation and hold – or initiate – a conversation with no hint of awkwardness, self-consciousness or embarrassment, no sense of “I am a teenager and it’s kinda weird that you, an adult, are talking to me.”
Without my ever commenting on that trait, when I asked her about the differences between her public school experience vs. her home school experience, she volunteered that she didn?t like ?who she became? when she was in the public high school (remember, this kid isn?t a Christian or from a X?ian family). She said that rather than seeing herself as a person, and all people of all ages as ?persons? with whom she could relate and from whom she could learn, she began to think of herself as ?a teenager? or as ?a highschooler? and to think of all other people of all other ages, as beings of almost an entirely different species with whom she wasn?t supposed to be able to relate. It happened subtly, almost by osmosis. She said she realized what was happening ?when I realized that I wasn?t looking adults in the eye anymore? when talking to them. Out of high school, back to homeschooling, and that ?I am a different species called teenager? attitude went away.
That?s just an anecdote and proves nothing. There are plenty of self-confident public school kids who can hold a good conversation with an adult. But I am not surprised, for example, by bryan?s observation that homeschooled kids in church might struggle relating to public school kids. We had a similar situation as the one he describes arise in our church youth group. The public school kids (most of whom are involved in young life and who aren?t bad kids) were into boys/girls, fashion, who was ?hot?, what music was cool, who drove what kind of car, who had the coolest ?stuff?, what was on the latest MTV reality show, basically all the things that culture and the media tell teens they are supposed to be into. The homeschooled kids (primarily from 2 different families) weren?t into those things. The homeschooled kids were much easier for an adult to talk to, were much less superficial, were more involved in more areas of church and community life, and were much more the kind of kid I would like my kid to be in her teen years. But the public school kids didn?t know what to do with them, and they were left awkwardly on the outside of the circle. Those 2 families eventually left the church and went to a different church where more families homeschooled, and where their kids wouldn?t be treated like oddballs by the majority.
I would argue that in the broader world college where there is more room to be an individual, it will be a lot easier for a homeschooled kid to find a niche, however small, than it is in the typical high school. As long as they weren?t overly sheltered (so the are less likely to freak out and go bananas when exposed to promiscuity and chemical recreation in college), I wouldn?t have any qualms about their eventual socialization in college, just because they don?t fit into the typical American high school or Jr. high mold. In fact, when considering the kids from our church?s youth group that I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I have fewer worries about how well the homeschooled kids (who left our church) will adjust in college, than I do about what choices the public-schooled kids from our high school youth group are going to make once they get to college. Not that either group will be without its shining success stories or sad cautionary tales.



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Traci

posted February 3, 2010 at 1:38 pm


It is hard to have an honest opinion about this topic until you have been faced with it. As public school teachers in a large public school teaching family, it was with great dismay that we watched the system fail our son. At the age of five he was psychologically belittled and depressed while the school did nothing to change the situation. We were involved at the school, in other families’ lives, and in contact with the teacher, but the school had no incentive to help us. If we pulled out of the system, they still received our money. There was no choice in our eyes but to homeschool.
I agree with the earlier comment that the Federal Government is a large bull to grab by the horns. How could I possibly change the system for the better of my child in the 13 years that they would have him? Educational reform takes decades to occur! So in the meantime, we attend Board of Education meetings, City Council meetings, support teachers in the community, and look for kids who could use our help. But we won’t neglect our own children’s needs just to try to achieve a change that won’t occur until I am a grandmother.



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Rick

posted February 3, 2010 at 1:44 pm


E.G. #49-
Exactly. Therefore, people need to avoid criticizing one side or the other.
Instead, we need to focus how we can encourage and support each other in the realms we find ourselves, rather than being negative about how others are doing it.
How can homeschooling families be missional? How can private school families be missional? How can public school families be missional? How can each of those situations support and encourage those in the other circumstances? Answering those type questions should be our focus.



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Chad Hall

posted February 3, 2010 at 1:54 pm


Joey (#44),
Granted, it was RJS who initially used the word “withdraw,” though it sounds like you agree with the term. Maybe not.
Our family utilizes public school because it’s the best option for our family at this point, but if we chose another option down the road, that choice is not (in my mind) a deviation from normal nor a withdrawal from community. It’s a legitimate choice among the several options that are each just as normal as the next.
As for public housing, I don’t mind sharing my value openly, which is: “Heck no I am not going to opt in to public housing.” If you want to, knock yourself out. :)
Seriously, I think public school is there for people who need it (like our family) and that for people who don’t want or need it, that’s their decision. This notion that somehow they owe it to me and my family to send their kids to school with my kids is preposterous. I don’t feel they’ve shunned community with me because they are not in public school.



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AH

posted February 3, 2010 at 2:25 pm


I’ve been a part-time or full-time instructor for a number of years at various institutions (Calvin College being the latest). My experience has been that home-schoolers are usually amongst the best learners of the class, they tend to be the most creative, and the most confident.
My one concern with several home -schoolers is how well they relate to their peers. However, those who were socially awkward tended to be the exception, not the norm. Most fit in just fine.
I’m a single adult, but if I were ever blessed with kids, I’d strongly consider homeschooling, but recognize it’s not right for everyone.



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The Charismanglican

posted February 3, 2010 at 3:51 pm


While I had a great public school education, it’s important to figure out what the aims of a great public school education are.
I want my kids to read Christopher Columbus’ own writings instead of the propaganda that’s in the textbooks. I want them to know as much or more about Dorothy Day as they do about D-Day. When we talk about the Fathers, I want them thinking about Irenaeus and Clement instead of Jefferson and Adams.
I don’t want my kid to have an opinion on Darwin, Marx or MLK without ever actually reading what they have to say. I don’t want them saying the pledge of allegiance. I don’t want them learning how to fit in, how to punch a clock and how to be perfect consumers.
It’s either homeschool or some sort of really expensive private tutoring. And we’re broke. So we homeschool.



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Your Name

posted February 3, 2010 at 4:58 pm


What an interesting topic that has obviously touched a lot of nerves.
My sister homeschools her kids and my best friend has homeschooled her eight successfully (the oldest is working on a master’s). Both came at it from an academic/religious perspective (rather than the other way around). All of the kids are bright, friendly, capable of interacting with peers and non-peers.
I used to attend a church which was the home base, so to speak, for the county’s homeschool group. One thing I noticed is that while all the kids (and it was a LARGE) group were socialized well and could interact with people of many different ages, they didn’t really learn to interact with people of different styles of thinking. Their parents were good gate-keepers in the sense that the kids were never exposed to people they might not agree with. They weren’t missionaries…they never met anyone not like them. Some were worse than others.
I also work in children’s mental health. I see more and more parents I work with choosing to “withdraw” from the public school system because that system is not – thanks to mental health reform – capable of meeting some of the special emotional needs of children with severe emotional disturbances. Twenty years ago, those kids would have been raised in our state’s institutions (not a lot of options for treatment then). Now, we work very hard to keep kids in communities, but their needs are still a challenge that many schools can’t handle. Homeschooling has been a God-send for several families I know.



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dura mater

posted February 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm


This is a great conversation!
I reluctantly began homeschooling one of our children eight years ago; his school was failing him, and there were really no other viable options around. He has several “learning quirks” that probably underlay his school problems, though the school did not identify them. He asked to be homeschooled; I was busy with my profession, and dubious about home education.
It turned out to be a success! Within a month or two of starting to homeschool, many of our son’s depressive symptoms, which we had not even identified as such while he was in school, resolved. He was able to sleep without nightmares, in his bed, rather than in a sleeping bag outside our bedroom, and stopped calling himself “stupid.”
It was so much fun that the following year our other child, who was doing fine in school, joined us, and we have not looked back. Homeschooling has been the most creative, mind-stretching, faithful, loving gift that I could possibly have given to our kids & my husband. It has changed our family in wonderful ways. And I think that it saved my son from academic failure & the emotional sequelae of it.
For the record, our kids are high school junior & sophmore, respectively. They are planning to go to college.
Though we did not start homeschooling for religious reasons, we did choose a Christian curriculum, once we decided to homeschool. While there have been (mostly political) aspects of the curriculum with which we have disagreed, and thus ignored, the curriculum has been a huge blessing, allowing us to integrate our faith into everything we do and teach.
Two important benefits that we have found in homeschooling, not mentioned in other comments, are:
1) it allows you to disciple your kids
2) it nurtures great relationships between parents & kids.
Just my $.02



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ahumanoid

posted February 3, 2010 at 6:42 pm


I’m not sure this comment will even be read, since there are quite a few. I write this as a college student who was homeschooled from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Here are the negatives I have observed:
1. One of the virtually unavoidable negatives of homeschooling is the barrier of experience that exists between homeschoolers and 98% of society. Homeschoolers will never experience the traditional classroom environment and everything that goes with it. Obviously there are aspects of homeschoolers’ reality that are not experienced by those who have attended “normal” school. However, there is not a sense of “missing out” or “being different” for non-homeschoolers because the majority of the population attended public/private school.
2. A negative that can be more easily avoided than the first is the potential for close-mindedness. While this is a risk posed by any mode of education, certain aspects of the homeschooling experience are especially conducive to the development of a very narrow perspective on life. For example, in a “normal” school there are multiple teachers, so the viewpoints of one are easily challenged (in most cases). In contrast, homeschooling involves (usually) only the parents, allowing a limited exposure to to different perspectives. If parents deliberately expose their children to different viewpoints this potential negative is clearly not an issue.
3. Lack of social development is a potential concern that may be overemphasized relative to other concerns (especially in terms of frequency of occurence, as previous comments have demonstrated). For example, the “stereotypical homeschooler” is lacking in the area of social development. This probably is not true in most cases. However, there is a huge potential for parents (esp. those in fundamentalism of various forms) to utilize home education to isolate there kids and, thus, create various social issues.
P.S. This and further analysis can be found on my blog. . .



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Twinkle

posted February 3, 2010 at 6:45 pm


Joey said: My point was that not investing in the public education system is not a concrete way to serve our neighbors. It is primarily a self-interested endeavor.
Ah, I see. So I should put my kids in my local public school instead of going to park days with agnostic and atheist homeschool families, instead of going on a trip during the school year to visit our sponsored kid and help earthquake victims in the Dominican Republic, and instead of participating in our local YMCA during school hours, because my real motivation is self-centered instead of Christ-centered. Got it.
And here I thought I was listening to what God told me to do with my family.



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danderson

posted February 3, 2010 at 6:55 pm


I’m a public school teacher in a school with 70 percent low-income students. While I’m committed to these students, I’m always dismayed by the political-correctness of my superiors. I live in a quite liberal Midwestern city, and the very thought of school choice or charter schools is like a dirty word among the educrats. They’re drive more by ideology and a very skewed view of social justice than they are about actually doing what’s best for the child. The students in my classroom are primarily native-Spanish speakers, and most of the parents work multiple jobs so they basically hand their children over to the schools 7 hours a day or more. The educrats know that they have the power and many of them reject even Obama’s call for educational change. It can be very discouraging….and it’s made me become more moderate over the years.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 3, 2010 at 7:01 pm


ahumanoid — now that’s a moniker!
We’ve had so much good discussion on this post today, but I want to stand up and give you a clap for your forthright and honest comments … and I’m sure you could give a good list of the good things you experienced too.



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ahumanoid

posted February 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm


@ Scot: Thanks! Yeah, there are definitely positive aspects to homeschooling (in most cases). However, I’ve observed a gradual move toward ignoring the risks involved with this mode of education. I just wanted to put some of the potential negatives out there to provide a more balanced perspective (in light of the majority of previous comments).
p.s. Please ignore the typos (such of there instead of their); I posted rather hurriedly.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm


ahumanoid, nice adverb to cap that comment.



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Twinkle

posted February 3, 2010 at 7:44 pm


@53 Rick said:
How can homeschooling families be missional? How can private school families be missional? How can public school families be missional? How can each of those situations support and encourage those in the other circumstances? Answering those type questions should be our focus.
Thank you. Praise God he gave the Body both a left and right arm. Let’s be the best arms we can be together.



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Joey

posted February 3, 2010 at 8:53 pm


Twinkle, I did say that but if you had read the rest of my comments you would know that your reply was not to what I was trying to communicate. I applaud anybody who is missional in their approach to education, yourself included. You can take lots of comments out of context.
I inferred repeatedly that I am not against home schooling. I am simply pro-folks being involved in the education of their community (especially public education since most students are publicly educated).



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Joey

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:04 pm


Also, Twinkle, that comment that you quoted by me was probably made in haste and isn’t a good representation of where I stand. For inferring that your choice to home school is “selfish” I apologize. I definitely echo Rick@53′s comment that you quoted.



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youth pastor

posted February 4, 2010 at 1:27 am


someone has to be honest and talk about some issues we’re dancing around in relation to homeschooling and Christian education. i’m going to stir the pot because someone needs to!
before moving to my current home, i had little exposure to homeschooling families. i hope i can share some observations in relation to homeschooling in my town/church.
the area in which i live tends to be more conservative; that is, the Christians tend to be more conservative. we also have a growing minority/immigrant population in our town. currently there are negative perceptions about the public school district in regards to safety [there are, after all, minorities at the school] and education [the school does poorly on nationalized tests. again, we have a high percentage of ESL student]. my wife and i were told by many church members, “don’t live in town, live outside of town so your children can go to a different high school. but don’t worry, there’s always the Christian school.” we also had one family with whom we were close say, “we are sending our kids to the Christian school so they don’t have to go to school with Mexicans.” i’m not making this stuff up.
in terms of socialization of homeschoolers. now that i know several homeschooled students, this is a serious issue. some observations: they don’t relate to other students at church. they don’t know how to make friends with kids who joke around about normal kid things. they relate better to adults. some of the students themselves have told me about their struggles.
honestly, do you all really believe that homeschooled kids don’t have issues with socialization? is that from the perspective of those who are homeschooling their kids or of those who have actually interacted with homeschooled kids?



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Burly

posted February 4, 2010 at 8:09 am


I was in public (Kindergarten; 9-12; State school [UNC-CH]), private Christian [fundamentalist] (1-3); homeschooled (4-8); Divinity school (MDiv.). My wife was in public school in Canada (K-13, yes one more year – not held back). Her experience was great (top of her class). Mine was fine all round. My only socialization issue was that I didn’t realize you weren’t [socially] supposed to tell on kids who were cheating! I wasn’t socialized, but got socialized quickly (and kept from getting my behind kicked)!
We’re now in a great school district in OH. Our oldest is in Kindergarten. We decided to homeschool him for the sake of his learning primarily. We just knew that with his restlessness (not out of the ordinary – just all boy) and my wife’s aptitude to teach, this would be the best educational option for him. What’s odd in our situation is that we are using a State approved/State paid curriculum and he is enrolled in the Ohio Virtual Academy. So it’s a fully paid (by taxes) program and my wife (his primary teacher) gets to interact with my son’s “teacher” (the overseer paid by the State) on a regular basis. So, our reason for homeschooling is mostly-purely education/book-smarts based on my son’s aptitude and my wife’s ability/willingness/passion. But, again, it’s not homeschooling. It’s a virtual academy. So, it is homeschooling. Clear?
RJS said – “I don’t see socialization as a problem for any of the kids – any more than socialization is a problem in general. This is a non-starter as a reason against.” Totally agree. We will be keenly attune to these issues as long as we “homeschool”, which may or may not be long term.
Steve S. said – “At the end of the day there are two truths we want to hold on to. 1) They must become fully functioning and healthy adults who are capable of dealing with whatever the world throws at them. 2) As parents we are responsible for getting them there. This means that we must not shelter them for too long, but also that we must not expose them to things before they are ready.” Yes. But at this point, the sheltering is not our issue. We (and including him) are out in the community interacting with people a lot. He’s in a Sunday school class at church for his, “socialization”, too.
dopderbeck: “Still curious from those of you here who were homeschooled: for how many of you were young earth creationism and the notion that America is/was a Christian Nation important parts of your education?” I had a Bob Jones curriculum. Of course I was taught those things. But finding out in HS/college that my education was faulty in those ways (and my parents see now the light … and as if there’s not faulty on the other side) was more like a kid finding out there’s no Santa Claus. I got over it.



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Brian

posted February 4, 2010 at 8:33 am


This week my homeschooled teenage daughter enrolled part time to take a class at the public school. Her first walk through the halls was, shall I say, “educational.” Everyone gets socialized, its just a matter of to what one is socialized. I am amazed that the kind of socialization she observed is considered a good thing.
As for the social differences between homeschoolers and others, I see two major components. One is that the conventional classroom restricts students’ interaction with those outside their own peer group. The other is that homeschooled children often have much less exposure to popular culture, and this decreases the range of possible conversational topics when public school and homeschooled children are together. On both counts I think homeschool has more potential to shape a child’s social maturity, both for a healthy childhood and with a view toward adulthood.



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Karl

posted February 4, 2010 at 9:50 am


youth pastor, you ask: ?honestly, do you all really believe that homeschooled kids don’t have issues with socialization? is that from the perspective of those who are homeschooling their kids or of those who have actually interacted with homeschooled kids??
Those are fair questions. I knew as a kid in the 80?s, and know now, kids whose homeschool experience has made them very socially awkward. I know others who are pretty comfortable with their age-peers. Conversely, I know many public school kids who relate just fine to their peers but can barely interact with adults at all, and think of themselves as a different species from everyone who isn?t between the ages of 14 and 18. Kids whose socialization in the public school setting is accurately described here (please take the time to read this short piece ? written by a public school teacher – on the socialization that goes on in many public schools ? and elements of which I recognize even from my own private, Christian school experience two decades ago):
http://www.gazette.net/stories/011008/princol132359_32358.shtml
Is my goal with my kids supposed to be to ensure that as teens, they will be on the same wavelength with other 16 and 17 year-olds whose values and interests have been shaped by consumer culture, popular media, and the several hundred other teenagers who they spend 7+ hours with every day? Or is it to help them see beyond that and to take a longer view?
Of course, I?d rather shoot for some kind of balance. I want my kids, if we continue to homeschool them, to be like the homeschooled kids that I know who have been exposed to the big broad world, to other ideas and viewpoints, who have frequent interaction with their nonn-homeschooled age-peers through various community, church and neighborhood involvements, so that they *can* relate to kids their own age, even if their schooling and socialization experiences are different.
ALL kids have issues with socialization. The questions are what issues will they have, and how will the parents help them deal with those issues. Don?t compare the worst of homeschooled kids with the best of public schooled kids, or vice versa. I don?t think homeschooling is the only way to go, and of course it bears its possible pitfalls and issues to be watched for and avoided or mitigated. But so do all schooling choices. One could equally ask: ?honestly, do you all really believe that public schooled kids don?t have issues with negative socialization and a peer culture that equates learning with ?boring? and ?uncool? (or a host of other, stereotypical, public school issues)??



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bck

posted February 4, 2010 at 12:15 pm


Why have we chosen to homeschool? See this link, as a representative example.
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/35234742/ns/today-today_people?GT1=43001
Who wants to have to deal with nonsense like that? Who wants to spend their time arguing (for or against) zero tolerance policies, whether or not to wear uniforms, or any of the other side issues that always seem to distract from a focus on actual teaching? As homeschooling parents we haven’t “withdrawn” from the community; however, we have opted to “withdraw” from these types of distractions.



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Barb

posted February 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm


i was going to add my family’s story to the mix but erased it and want to add this idea to the discussion.
We live in an area with a high LDS population. the Mormons, as far as i can tell, never homeschool. AND they get very involved in the school. By high school the LDS Kids were the leaders of the school. AND they didn’t expect the school’s teaching to line up with Mormon doctrine, they did that at home and at church. Are our orthodox Christian doctrines, lifestyles, etc. more vulnerable to contamination by the world than the Mormons? Why are they less afraid than we are?



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me

posted February 4, 2010 at 2:55 pm


Late to the discussion here, but I’m having a hard time with all the people claiming that not sending your kids to school constitutes bailing on your community. In my experience, trying to influence anything that happens in schools – from the classroom to what is taught to the rules that govern the school – is like trying to influence the movement of the planets! When I worked in a school, and when my oldest son was in school, many of the teachers and the principals viewed parents as the enemy – and ignorant enemies at that! If there was anything the teacher found unpleasant or displeasing, well no wonder – look at his/her mom. If there was any problem, the solution was to tell the parent to change what they were doing and never, ever to ask the parent for help/insight/suggestions because perhaps they had had success dealing with these things at home. So on and so forth. So, if you can’t influence the smallest, tiniest part of your own child’s school experience, how in the world are you supposed to influence other people’s school experience. At our local schools, they don’t even allow parents in as volunteers! I have friends around the country who have the same complaints about their schools as well. So, is the presence of your child suppose to impart some sort of gas into the environment that will positively influence people around them or what? I don’t understand how my presence as a frustrated, resentful parent picking up and dropping off my kid who is being bullied and acting out is supposed to help support the community education. I may sound like I’m just being cynical or sarcastic, but I am dead serious. I don’t understand what about putting my kid into a setting which is ill suited for him and which I can exert no influence at all over is supposed to do to make things better for anyone else.



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me

posted February 4, 2010 at 3:02 pm


youth pastor,
minority families are the fastest growing segment of the homeschooling population. Also, we are a mixed race family (my husband is african american and my kids are mixed. My stepson who lives with us is african american.) We have never had any problems with homeschool families and race. It is possible that some of them who we do not socialize with choose not to socialize with us because of issues of race. However, none of them has ever been rude or made us feel uncomfortable. There are also a number of homeschool families who have adopted kids of other races – either from overseas or through foster care. OTOH, every time my sons have been in public school, race has been an issue. In kindergarten, the teacher would make comments about my son and one other mixed race kid in the class being “different” than the other kids and how it was understandable that the other kids would have a hard time relating to them (this in response to conversations about bullying that was going on). Kids regularly use racial slurs to refer to my sons in front of them. Etc. It is unfortunate if racism is a factor in homeschooling where you are. However, that experience is not in anyway universal or representative.



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Burly

posted February 4, 2010 at 3:48 pm


Barb #73 asked whether LDS are less afraid than Christians. Barb, you didn’t say that all homeschool families choose to for religious reasons, but I thought it may have been (whether intentional or inadvertantly) implied. However, it is a good question for those who are “protecting” their kids. But, again, that has absolutely nothing to do with why we are currently homeschooling (and using a “secular” curriculum).



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Twinkle

posted February 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm


@66 and 67 Joey:
Thanks for your apology. I’m sorry I got snippy in my anger. I have worked so hard to find the right balance for my family, but surprised myself with the vehemence of my feelings. I shouldn’t have let them get the better of me. Homeschoolers get challenged all the time on the same issues mentioned here. It’s tiring to have to keep answering over and over, and even more tiring, to remember to stay humble.
Our family first chose to homeschool for purely educational reasons. I was a public school teacher and the child of a public school teacher. My only hesitation with homeschooling was over not being involved in my community public school for the sake of the community. In my city there are all kinds of homeschoolers, so I committed to this path with the understanding that we would not segregate ourselves.
Yes, there are issues with homeschooling. Yes, there are issues with public schooling. Yes, our God is big enough to handle all of them, especially when we ask him for our next step, and put one foot in front of the other. And he gives us grace to do what he asks.



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me

posted February 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm


Barb, if you live in an area with a high LDS population, then you live in an area where there are a lot of people who share the same values and sense of common purpose. Plus, if there are a lot of other families who are raising their kids in much the same way you are, you are not so worried that your child will either be unduly influenced or be rejected by those who are being raised in ways that a radically different from your own. Most of us do not live in an area where there are a lot of people who share our religion. values/outlook. Heck, where I live LDS are incommon, but they are disproportionately represented among homeschoolers. One of the reasons I think a lot of schools don’t allow parents much influence is because different groups of parents want such different things. What one group views as a positive, another group will see as a negative, so it’s just much easier for the school to take charge and minimize the influence of all groups. But then those parents who take an interest in their children’s education end up feeling powerless and shut out.
Also, I think you are overestimating the extent to which people are homeschooling as a means of withdrawal and protection. Yes, there is some of that going on. However, I think most of us view that aspect (and it is only one aspect) as being about having our kids in an environment where they can feel comfortable, normal and supported until they are old enough to deal with being in a setting where they may be uncomfortable, different and unsupported. When my oldest son was 6, he had a hard time dealing with the differences between what we had taught him and what he saw going on at school. It was confusing, made him feel weird and was a premature experience of having his ideas of how he should behave and how the world ought to work deeply challenged. We took him out of school and homeschooled him until this year when he went to high school. He was appalled by a lot of what he saw, but felt very comfortable with the fact that there is a gap between his peers and how he had been raised to behave and approach the world. He doesn’t find this difference threatening or confusing as he did in first grade in large part because we were able not only to impart Christian values to him without a lot of interference, but we were also able to prepare him for how to deal with moving around in a world where those values make him different than many of the people around him. I’m sure many parents are able to help their kids navigate these issues from a younger age. However, for us, we really struggled to help our son with his confusion and sense of isolation at such a young age. So yes, there was an element of protection, but it was more like hardening off a young plant to gradually get it used to the cold and the wind and not like putting a plant in the greenhouse to keep it away from the weeds.



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