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M. Leary

Homeschooling

66 posts in this topic

Golly, I seem to be playing devil's advocate today.

So this is all hypothetical to you?

It's not a majority, but it's a healthy minority.

I'd hate to see what an unhealthy minority looks like. :) The way I've always seen it, the majority is usually the mandate on how a particular group feels in general. If this were not true, we'd have very different elected officials today. :)

I don't know how it is in Canada, but in the U.S. there seems to be a significant problem with people over-reporting their own happiness and minimizing levels of distress. If you factor that in, the numbers at least suggest that the socialization concern isn't just a bogeyman that can be exorcised by quoting a few statistics/survey-type studies.

Can I ask what your source is for these "over-reporting" people"?

Actually, the studies are saying different things. If we just take ethnicity as a reference point for a moment, one is showing the actual percentage breakdown of the entire homeschool population, and the 2007 census numbers you're quoting are showing the percent of homeschooled children in each ethnicity compared with school-aged children in that ethnicity as a whole.

Actually, they're not.

I kind of feel like we're arguing semantics here.

Sure. The question then becomes how much these groups will interact. Unfortunately, the studies don't seem to address the question.

The likelihood is that given the fact that homeschooling is already a somewhat marginalized group—and I would suggest from my own experience in homeschooling circles—most homeschoolers stick together, wherever they are, and regardless of what background they come from.

However, I do want to drop back and make a point I was going to make earlier, but had thought against it for the sake of avoiding a long argument. People make a big deal about homeschooling diversity, but there are some very troubling problems in the public school system as well. In my mind, a socially-diverse school setting—if such a thing can even be found by most parents—does not a diversity-friendly child make. It presumes that interaction alone will sort things out.

It doesn't, really, presume anything of the kind. It does suggest that a diverse environment is more helpful for producing diversity-friendly kids.

My bad for mixing up personal and impersonal terms. I think if you look closer, you will notice I was referencing people who have often repeated the same, old, tired line about diversity in schools, not the studies we were speaking of before.

[1] There are problems with school systems in the U.S. Part of the decision i/r/t home- private- or public-schooling involves looking at the local schools and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses.

[2] No child is going to synthesize anything in a meaningful or mature way. Their brains aren't even done cooking until the college level. Schools can and should take measures to make sure that difference is respected--by cracking down on bullying and so on. That, however, takes us far afield of the subject at hand.

No, I don't think it does. It's actually at the core of the problem here. I think we have very different perspectives when it comes to the responsibility of training a child. I actually don't agree with you either on the "can" or the "should" in regard to respect and good behavior. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you're suggesting behavioral training is the responsibility of a school. I find this to be very problematic. Not only do I not think that there is a biblical precedent for it, I think it goes against the grain of common sense. Sure, as David pointed out earlier, a school can enforce discipline and punishment for intolerant behavior, but no public school is going to take responsibility for helping a child internalize a moral code. There's a good reason too, beyond the bazillion lawsuits waiting in the wings. The responsibility for engendering a moral conviction—not just enforcing discipline but also training and guiding a child's moral path—falls on the shoulders of parents. I would even go so far as to say that if a child displays systemic prejudice in a school setting, there's a good likelihood that he/she is emulating behavior at home. If that is the case (and I think studies would confirm that more often than not, it is), then there is no way a school is going to be able to change that or abate it, apart from expelling that child. Discipline, but not moral development.

Sure. But if (for instance) you live in a state where you're required to have a covering, aren't you more likely to seek out like-minded people?

It totally depends on how important diversity is for the parents at hand. This is just as entirely true of public schools, especially in light of the studies I posted above, outlining the segregation happening in public schools today. I doubt most caucasian, middle-class, public-schooled children and their parents are any more deeply involved in seeking out "un"like-minded people than their homeschooling counterparts.

Doubtful. The home environment is important, but the phenomenon of rebellion that occurs during the teen years suggests that it's not a determining factor. School can just as easily be a way of escaping a bad home life (though that's obviously not an issue for the folks considering home-schooling here). Besides--if you actually interact with someone of another race it's harder to maintain bigoted opinions (racism and classism--as social-structure issues--are better addressed in the previous point i/r/t declining diversity).

I think you assume a lot when you imply that people of all ethnicities meet on a neutral playing field without any preexisting notions. Racism and classism are far more complicated than you're giving them credit for.

All of this is pretty far afield, though. The point I was trying to make isn't that public schooling is to be preferred--it's that homeschooling has its own set of unique challenges.

Most certainly, I can 100% affirm that statement as well. I'm not wanting to pick a fight with you here, but I feel like the examples of challenges you are bringing up about homeschooling are tired generalizations, which are just as problematic in the public school system as they'd ever be in homeschooling.

This is key, and it's why I'm trying not to get too broad in my arguments here. I don't get the impression that anyone on-board here who homeschools/wishes to homeschool is a protectionist. Obviously not. The homeschooling community is pretty varied (even if it's not exactly "diverse") and broad arguments and statistics simply don't apply to individuals. In the end, it's up to the parent and their understanding of what's best for the child.

Here we can agree wholeheartedly. I would certainly not claim to say that public school is the wrong choice for children, or that homeschooling is the superior choice. I would suggest that the sunny outlook on public school as a prime paradigm in which to teach tolerance, as well as meaningful social integration, has been blown way out of proportion in general. There are systemmic problems in the public school that pose serious challenges for children attending those schools, issues just as vital as any homeschooled child faces.

Edited by Joel C

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Golly, I seem to be playing devil's advocate today.

So this is all hypothetical to you?

Well, all argument is autobiography. My pushback is actually not too dissimilar from your own--just from the opposite direction. As a homeschooler, I spent all my life surrounded by people who would poo-poo the very idea that socialization might be a problem. For some folks it might not be; and I certainly don't want to suggest that home-schooled kids are by and large less socially adept than kids who go to public school. What I am suggesting is that there's a particular sort of experience that I--and kids like me--missed out on, and it's unserious to dismiss it with a blithe "oh, well, they turn out ok after all." We do turn out ok. The question is--what did we miss?

Since that's all I'm saying anyway, I'm not going to parse through the entire reply--I'm a Literature person, not an Education person anyway--but I'll hit a couple of high notes.

I don't know how it is in Canada, but in the U.S. there seems to be a significant problem with people over-reporting their own happiness and minimizing levels of distress. If you factor that in, the numbers at least suggest that the socialization concern isn't just a bogeyman that can be exorcised by quoting a few statistics/survey-type studies.

Can I ask what your source is for these "over-reporting" people"?

Oliver James suggests as much in The Selfish Capitalist. For instance, on p. 197, James observes that "around 15 per cent of English-speakers have 'repressor' personalities--will say they are happy whatever their true state.' He goes on to point out the self-esteem culture (again, USians generally score themselves as 'high' in self-esteem because that's what the culture wants).

Ok, so 15% might not be as 'significant' as I was remembering it, but I think it does suggest a problem with any sort of self-reporting survey (keeping in mind that a 'bad' survey is whatever doesn't prove the point I'm trying to make at the time. ;) ). And given how embattled homeschoolers tend to feel (I certainly felt it, and that kid in the video feels it), I wouldn't be surprised to discover that homeschoolers generally over-report satisfaction. That's not a hard argument, though.

[1] There are problems with school systems in the U.S. Part of the decision i/r/t home- private- or public-schooling involves looking at the local schools and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses.

[2] No child is going to synthesize anything in a meaningful or mature way. Their brains aren't even done cooking until the college level. Schools can and should take measures to make sure that difference is respected--by cracking down on bullying and so on. That, however, takes us far afield of the subject at hand.

No, I don't think it does. It's actually at the core of the problem here. I think we have very different perspectives when it comes to the responsibility of training a child. I actually don't agree with you either on the "can" or the "should" in regard to respect and good behavior. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you're suggesting behavioral training is the responsibility of a school. I find this to be very problematic.

I have no idea where you're getting that interpretation of what I wrote. My comment is specifically directed toward disciplinary matters. Kids should learn not to be jerks. If they're at school, they should learn it at school. That's the place of the school.

Not only do I not think that there is a biblical precedent for it,

We do many, many things for which there is no biblical precedent. Voting, for instance.

I think it goes against the grain of common sense. Sure, as David pointed out earlier, a school can enforce discipline and punishment for intolerant behavior, but no public school is going to take responsibility for helping a child internalize a moral code. There's a good reason too, beyond the bazillion lawsuits waiting in the wings. The responsibility for engendering a moral conviction—not just enforcing discipline but also training and guiding a child's moral path—falls on the shoulders of parents.

See, I have this odd idea that once a kid figures out that being a jerk is a bad idea with significant consequences, s/he will toe the line. Moral instruction? I'll settle for well-behaved.

I would even go so far as to say that if a child displays systemic prejudice in a school setting, there's a good likelihood that he/she is emulating behavior at home. If that is the case (and I think studies would confirm that more often than not, it is), then there is no way a school is going to be able to change that or abate it, apart from expelling that child. Discipline, but not moral development.

I don't disagree, actually. But this is all a separate question from the socialization one. The objection isn't that you're less likely to be nice to people of other backgrounds--it's that you're less likely to meet them. Sure, we've got problems in the public schools with racism and classism and every other ism you like. But the Other is right there all the same.

Doubtful. The home environment is important, but the phenomenon of rebellion that occurs during the teen years suggests that it's not a determining factor. School can just as easily be a way of escaping a bad home life (though that's obviously not an issue for the folks considering home-schooling here). Besides--if you actually interact with someone of another race it's harder to maintain bigoted opinions (racism and classism--as social-structure issues--are better addressed in the previous point i/r/t declining diversity).

I think you assume a lot when you imply that people of all ethnicities meet on a neutral playing field without any preexisting notions. Racism and classism are far more complicated than you're giving them credit for.

Again, I have no idea where you get the "neutral playing field" out of what I said. Let me break it down:

[1] Home environment is not the sole determining factor in a kid's development.

[2] Bigotry--which is a bit different from racism (racism being largely systemic--at least, as I understand it)--is difficult to maintain when you actually know someone of a different race/culture/sexual orientation/whatever.

Nothing in there about neutral playing fields--just an observation. Note the "harder" and "more difficult" parts--it's nowhere near an absolute statement.

All of this is pretty far afield, though. The point I was trying to make isn't that public schooling is to be preferred--it's that homeschooling has its own set of unique challenges.

Most certainly, I can 100% affirm that statement as well. I'm not wanting to pick a fight with you here, but I feel like the examples of challenges you are bringing up about homeschooling are tired generalizations, which are just as problematic in the public school system as they'd ever be in homeschooling.

Not to pick back....;) But I feel like the responses you offer are slightly above the level of "So's your old man!"--and are the very type of tired arguments I've heard my whole life. Keep in mind--I was homeschooled. I gave a list of "pros" and "cons" a page back. I--personally--feel that I missed out on a diverse circle of acquaintances. I don't think attacking public schools really answers the objection--what it does is point out that both methods have a huge problem that needs to be fixed. But that's not advocacy at that point, it's an observation.

Here we can agree wholeheartedly. I would certainly not claim to say that public school is the wrong choice for children, or that homeschooling is the superior choice. I would suggest that the sunny outlook on public school as a prime paradigm in which to teach tolerance, as well as meaningful social integration, has been blown way out of proportion in general. There are systemmic problems in the public school that pose serious challenges for children attending those schools, issues just as vital as any homeschooled child faces.

When I meet someone with a sunny outlook on public school I'll tell them all wet. ;) I'm glad we agree on this last point, at least.

TL;DR version: I don't think that public school is ideal. I do think that homeschooling presents special problems i/r/t socialization that simply pointing out the problems with public school does not address.

Edited by NBooth

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Well, all argument is autobiography. My pushback is actually not too dissimilar from your own--just from the opposite direction. As a homeschooler, I spent all my life surrounded by people who would poo-poo the very idea that socialization might be a problem. For some folks it might not be; and I certainly don't want to suggest that home-schooled kids are by and large less socially adept than kids who go to public school. What I am suggesting is that there's a particular sort of experience that I--and kids like me--missed out on, and it's unserious to dismiss it with a blithe "oh, well, they turn out ok after all." We do turn out ok. The question is--what did we miss?

I certainly don't want to belittle or dismiss your own perspective. We all have experiences that engrain themselves into our way of looking at the world, and homeschooling is certainly a strong catalyst in that regard. While there are many ways in which my homeschool experience is very different from what you've described of your own, I admit that I can't claim to have the comprehensive perspective on homeschooling. I would only ask that you concede the same point. :) And for the record, I don't see why public school kids should be any less willing to ask that same question you just asked.

Oliver James suggests as much in The Selfish Capitalist. For instance, on p. 197, James observes that "around 15 per cent of English-speakers have 'repressor' personalities--will say they are happy whatever their true state.' He goes on to point out the self-esteem culture (again, USians generally score themselves as 'high' in self-esteem because that's what the culture wants).

Ok, so 15% might not be as 'significant' as I was remembering it, but I think it does suggest a problem with any sort of self-reporting survey (keeping in mind that a 'bad' survey is whatever doesn't prove the point I'm trying to make at the time. ;) ). And given how embattled homeschoolers tend to feel (I certainly felt it, and that kid in the video feels it), I wouldn't be surprised to discover that homeschoolers generally over-report satisfaction. That's not a hard argument, though.

We've probably reached an impasse here. Either a longitudinal, peer-reviewed study is accurate, or it isn't. Besides, it sounds like what James is referring to are casual interactions, not formal survey questions which ask respondents for honest answers. I guess for my part, I trust the experts to do their job.

I have no idea where you're getting that interpretation of what I wrote. My comment is specifically directed toward disciplinary matters. Kids should learn not to be jerks. If they're at school, they should learn it at school. That's the place of the school.

I apologize, I must have misunderstood you. It wasn't so explicit in your initial comment. Perhaps, though, discipline has become the role of the school because so many parents have first passed along that stewardship.

See, I have this odd idea that once a kid figures out that being a jerk is a bad idea with significant consequences, s/he will toe the line. Moral instruction? I'll settle for well-behaved.

Hmm. I'd be interested to hear you elaborate a bit more on that. From my perspective, there are plenty of people with no moral fiber who are well-behaved, as long as they think they'll avoid punishment. If it's true that American culture has settled for simply "well-behaved" children in our society, then I'd personally conclude that we are facing a very, very big problem.

I don't disagree, actually. But this is all a separate question from the socialization one. The objection isn't that you're less likely to be nice to people of other backgrounds--it's that you're less likely to meet them. Sure, we've got problems in the public schools with racism and classism and every other ism you like. But the Other is right there all the same.

As far as seeking to help a child interact meaningfully with diversity, this seems a little pessimistic to me.

Again, I have no idea where you get the "neutral playing field" out of what I said. Let me break it down:

[1] Home environment is not the sole determining factor in a kid's development.

[2] Bigotry--which is a bit different from racism (racism being largely systemic--at least, as I understand it)--is difficult to maintain when you actually know someone of a different race/culture/sexual orientation/whatever.

I think I would just submit the important clarification that while home is certainly not the sole determining factor in a child's development, it most certainly is the primary determining factor.

I don't think the differentiation of "bigotry" from systemic racism/prejudice would hold up under close inspection. Bigotry, in my understanding, is more or less an outworking of an underlying racism/classism/etc.

Not to pick back....;) But I feel like the responses you offer are slightly above the level of "So's your old man!"--and are the very type of tired arguments I've heard my whole life.

I'm sorry you feel that way, and I apologize if I came off as abrasive. It's unfortunate my rebuttals were received as only slightly above the level of rash retorts. I've tried to give good precedent, both philosophical and statistical, for my thought process.

Keep in mind--I was homeschooled.

Believe it or not, I haven't forgotten. :)

I gave a list of "pros" and "cons" a page back. I--personally--feel that I missed out on a diverse circle of acquaintances. I don't think attacking public schools really answers the objection--what it does is point out that both methods have a huge problem that needs to be fixed. But that's not advocacy at that point, it's an observation.

I don't mean to demean your sense of missing out on those things. Of course your perspective is legitimate, and I'm certain you're not alone in your experience. I, however, had a very different homeschooling experience, and I think that while each of our respective experiences are legitimate, they're probably not representative of the complete picture. 2.9 million students are going to represent a fairly diverse (see? I worked it in!) group of people.

I think, perhaps, you misunderstand my intention in this conversation. I really don't want to demean public schooling, but rather point out what seems rather obvious to me, which is that homeschooling is no more inherently problematic than any other schooling paradigm. While public schooling certainly has some good selling points, it also has some significant drawbacks. More often than not, it seems that public schooling is taken as a given, and homeschooling is treated like a second-class idea, like the thing someone turns to when they've eliminated every other option. Perhaps it's because I had a very positive experience with homeschooling, but I feel like it's as strong a schooling concept as anything else out there, and gets an unfair shake much of the time. I guess I'm willing to go to bat for it, because I feel like it has just as much potential to be a successful and meaningful schooling paradigm as anything else out there.

When I meet someone with a sunny outlook on public school I'll tell them all wet.

I'd be happy to introduce them to you. There are several who have already posted in this thread. :)

Edited by Joel C

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I think this is getting a bit too involved at this point. Please don't think [1] that I mean to dismiss your own experience, or [2] that I devalue my education. I don't. I'm just trying to suggest that the trade-off here is a very real thing.

I had a long quote about repressor personalities and the difference between racism and bigotry--and I would be happy to continue the discussion of morality vs. not-being-a-jerk in another thread or in PM--but really, it's all so far afield that it's not really worth pursuing here.

Apologies if I came across as abrasive, myself. But honestly--doesn't all this seem a tad too familiar? I think it's a sign of how tired the whole discussion is, rather than any lack of insight on either side. The studies you link are helpful, and there's certainly more like them; Richard G. Medlin's article "Home Schooling and the Question of Socialization" (Peabody Journal of Education , Vol. 75, No. 1/2, The Home Education Movement in Context, Practice, and Theory (2000), pp. 107-123) is one example. In it, Medlin comes down strongly on the side of homeschooling, but only after carefully considering survey data that indicates dissatisfaction among homeschooled kids and so on and so forth.

(Meanwhile, in the same issue, we find "Participation and Perception: Looking at Home Schooling through a Multicultural Lens" by Susan A. McDowell, Annette R. Sanchez and Susan S. Jones. I've not read either article in depth, but the latter has some interesting stuff--such as, apparently, the fact that Whites both tend to home-educate in far greater numbers than minorities and tend to be more negative about it).

All the same, while socialization is a valid concern, I can't help but think that the discussion will always end up in an argument about which method is worse. It's a very negative direction for the whole thing to take. There are lots of good things about homeschooling that have already been mentioned: the ability to self-pace, the ability to study arcane subject matter, etc etc etc. There are certainly good people involved in it. By the same token, there are fantastic opportunities and experiences that homeschooled kids miss out on, and I don't think it's bashing homeschooling to say that. A balanced consideration should admit these limits without feeling the need to go on the defensive--particularly when (it seems to me) there's not really anyone on the attack.

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This is all really good stuff to evaluate here. Thanks for all the insight shared.

Taking this from a different angle, I have been probing my daughter for her preferences on this issue. Granted, her knowledge and experience base is very small at this point, but I do like to talk things through with her. She expressed an excitement about going to school, and a little light bulb went off for me based on some of the nature of her responses.

She likes school. She likes the process, the community of learning, putting her pencils away, hanging her stuff in her cubby. This is exactly what I felt about school as a child. I really loved going to school, so much so that I have since spent my entire life in schools as a professor, administrator, and policy developer. Both of us just really like school, and homeschooling may not appeal to her on that basis.

Ultimately, it is our decision to make for her - but I found this little discovery interesting.

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As an extremely shy person by nature, homeschooled until freshman year of high school, I will add: going to a public school doesn't necessarily teach kids to socialize with the *right* kind of people they need to be around to learn social interaction; sometimes the result is enclaves of like-mindedness, shy and bookish kids hanging out with other shy and bookish kids, just like in homeschool groups.

And despite my sheltered existence, I never once in my whole life did anything that could be considered "rebelling." That is, until I started working at IMAGE. (My parents pray for my soul daily now. Ha.)

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I think this is getting a bit too involved at this point. Please don't think [1] that I mean to dismiss your own experience, or [2] that I devalue my education. I don't. I'm just trying to suggest that the trade-off here is a very real thing.

I'm not offended in the least, and I've enjoyed this discussion thus far. I absolutely agree with you that there is a trade-off, I'd be shortsighted not to. But my intention, as mentioned above, is to promote the idea that people aren't necessarily getting the lesser end of the stick if they decide to homeschool. That's really all I'm interested in affirming in this discussion.

I also appreciate the extra studies you mentioned. We're probably more on the same page than it may seem in consideration of the last few posts. I'm not interested in having an argument for argument's sake, nor do I want to lionize homeschooling beyond reason; but I do feel like this is a worthwhile discussion to have. I don't think we've been disagreeing about whether one or the other is worse; at least that's not my intention. Any schooling paradigm—including both homeschooling and public schooling—will include both strong upsides and challenges. I hope I've not berated public schooling unfairly, I certainly have plenty of friends who come from a very positive public school experience. I guess for me, I see it more as the parents than the paradigm that defines how well a child will do in any respective setting. I'm a strong advocate of the home as the place which most shapes a child's understanding of life. I liked what John said earlier, which is that while they don't homeschool, they treat their home as a source of education and personal development, a place to shape the hearts and minds of their children. I think that's fantastic.

Ultimately, I'm advocating so strongly for homeschooling because I think it deserves as fair a consideration as anything else. Like I said before, I don't consider it to be a second-tier choice, but rather just as legitimate an option as any school-based setting. This discussion may be familiar—"tired"—to you, but I daresay it's brand new for some people tuning in. Call me a homeschool-awareness advocate, if you like. :) I strongly believe in homeschooling as a viable and equally important schooling option for parents, and for those who are unfamiliar with it, I want to help provide some balance and perspective to the picture.

I think we're both coming to this discussion with very strong personal experiences with homeschooling. For myself, I don't have as much of the feeling you expressed that there were things you missed, that your public schooled friends experienced. My parents were willing to let me venture out into a lot of different experiences, but helped to shape those experiences according to the bounds of my personality. To me, that's part of the beauty of homeschooling, that parents can involve their children in an unlimited array of classes, experiences, and activities, but at the pace and amount appropriate to each individual child. In the end, however these kinds of things are very subjective, especially considering all the different homeschooling methods out there. Not really worth arguing about, as neither of us can detach ourselves from our own past experiences.

I had a long quote about repressor personalities and the difference between racism and bigotry--and I would be happy to continue the discussion of morality vs. not-being-a-jerk in another thread or in PM--but really, it's all so far afield that it's not really worth pursuing here.

That's fine with me. I personally feel pretty strongly about the need to help children develop and own a personal sense of moral and ethical conviction, instead of just affirming or chastising behavior. However, I don't know if having a back-and-forth about it is going to change either of our minds. The same is probably true of the racism/bigotry argument.

Edited by Joel C

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We're probably more on the same page than it may seem in consideration of the last few posts.

I think that's undeniable. I want to emphasize that I'm not bashing homeschooling, and my own experience was on the whole a good one. What regrets I have hardly outweigh the satisfaction I feel for being able to study at my own pace, follow my own interests, and so on.

I will also note that these issues of socialization/diversity will probably vary greatly depending on where one lives and what kind of covering the state requires (if any). Small towns in South Georgia have fewer opportunities for either than larger cities presumably do.

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Yes, there's a protectionist "religious right" element within homeschooling.

Yeah, my biggest problem with homeschooling is where the parents' goal is to not educate i.e. teaching evolutionary theory as "crazy godless people say we came from monkeys". BZZZT!

If a parent can do a better job than their public school system, and has the time and resources, then they should go for it.

Full disclosure: I'm a public school mathematics instructor.

Edited by bloop

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We've probably reached an impasse here. Either a longitudinal, peer-reviewed study is accurate, or it isn't. Besides, it sounds like what James is referring to are casual interactions, not formal survey questions which ask respondents for honest answers. I guess for my part, I trust the experts to do their job.

In my experience with people, it is accurate when a person agrees with the results and not accurate when they disagree. :)

On the homeschooling front, outside of a few times, my experiences with homeschoolers have been the angry "I am not gonna let the godless liberal schools get their hooks in my kids" variety. So, I appreciate hearing from folks who do not fall into that category.

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In my experience with people, it is accurate when a person agrees with the results and not accurate when they disagree. :)

Potay-to, potah-to. This is silly rabbit-hair splitting. [EDITED TO ADD:] :)

On the homeschooling front, outside of a few times, my experiences with homeschoolers have been the angry "I am not gonna let the godless liberal schools get their hooks in my kids" variety. So, I appreciate hearing from folks who do not fall into that category.

Yeah, my biggest problem with homeschooling is where the parents' goal is to not educate i.e. teaching evolutionary theory as "crazy godless people say we came from monkeys". BZZZT!

Well, I've met public-schooled kids and parents who have similar sentiments. However, I don't form my conclusion around those extreme exceptions. Perhaps the problem you both have is less to do with the paradigm, and more to do with the lack of exposure to a wide variety of people from the homeschooling circles. Consider that none of the eight admitted homeschooled or homeschooling people in this thread have affirmed such a skewed stereotype.

However, I will admit that

may contradict my more reasoned perspective of homeschoolers. Edited by Joel C

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In my experience with people, it is accurate when a person agrees with the results and not accurate when they disagree. :)

Potay-to, potah-to. This is silly rabbit-hair splitting. [EDITED TO ADD:] :)

I have a less polite version that goes something like "statistics are the trollops of reasoned argument."

On the homeschooling front, outside of a few times, my experiences with homeschoolers have been the angry "I am not gonna let the godless liberal schools get their hooks in my kids" variety. So, I appreciate hearing from folks who do not fall into that category.

Yeah, my biggest problem with homeschooling is where the parents' goal is to not educate i.e. teaching evolutionary theory as "crazy godless people say we came from monkeys". BZZZT!

Well, I've met public-schooled kids who have similar sentiments. However, I don't form my conclusion around those extreme exceptions. Perhaps the problem you both have is less to do with the paradigm, and more to do with the lack of exposure to a wide variety of people from the homeschooling circles. Consider that none of the eight admitted homeschooled or homeschooling people in this thread have affirmed such a skewed stereotype.

Not entirely affirmed, perhaps, but in my experience it's hardly an unfair stereotype--particularly since the best-selling homeschool textbooks tend to cater to exactly this isolationist tendency. Perhaps those of us who aren't fringe-dwellers are the real exceptions.

Then again, perhaps it depends on exactly what part of the region/nation/world you live in. I would expect homeschooling families from rural areas like I grew up in to be more inclined to isolationism/distrust of science-liberals-whatever than homeschooling folk in the more urban areas, where there's already a far greater variety in the jostling mass of humanity. Similarly, I would expect income/education of the parents to be related to how isolationist they actually are. But I have no easy way to test either assumption.

However, I will admit that
may contradict my more reasoned perspective of homeschoolers.

Dear sweet merciful heavens. I couldn't make it more than a few seconds in.

Edited by NBooth

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Well, I've met public-schooled kids and parents who have similar sentiments. However, I don't form my conclusion around those extreme exceptions. Perhaps the problem you both have is less to do with the paradigm, and more to do with the lack of exposure to a wide variety of people from the homeschooling circles. Consider that none of the eight admitted homeschooled or homeschooling people in this thread have affirmed such a skewed stereotype.

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Well, I've met public-schooled kids and parents who have similar sentiments. However, I don't form my conclusion around those extreme exceptions. Perhaps the problem you both have is less to do with the paradigm, and more to do with the lack of exposure to a wide variety of people from the homeschooling circles. Consider that none of the eight admitted homeschooled or homeschooling people in this thread have affirmed such a skewed stereotype.

The eight minority members? :) The few I have known who did not fit that mold often complained that they felt awfully alone in their homeschooling communities because their reasons for homeschooling were so...out of whack with the norm. They also complained about the dearth of textbooks out there that were not of the "Man rode on dinosaurs to work!" variety. ;) Understand I went to a church that was really into homeschooling...to the point that most married members felt obligated to come to a decision quickly on the birth of their child. People would talk about not being sure with a tone of "I would not admit to the pastor I am unsure". So... my experience suggests that the eight members here are the fringe, but hopefully a rapidly expanding minority. :)

Emphasis mine, because this is definitely an issue. My own upbringing wasn't exactly evolution-hostile; it was more evolution-indifferent.We didn't study Answers in Genesis-approved textbooks, but we did have plenty of AiG material laying around the house, and I wasn't exposed to any real science on the matter until college. Fortunately, my parents instilled enough of a love of learning--and respect for, y'know, actual scientists--that it didn't take long for me to synthesize the science and move on. Not everyone is so fortunate.*

______________

*The link refers to declining church attendance, not homeschooling per se, but insofar as the two seem linked, I think it's not an unreasonable connection to make.

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I have a less polite version that goes something like "statistics are the trollops of reasoned argument."

And yet you had no problem using statistics of your own in our previous discussion, no?

Not entirely affirmed, perhaps, but in my experience it's hardly an unfair stereotype--particularly since the best-selling homeschool textbooks tend to cater to exactly this isolationist tendency. Perhaps those of us who aren't fringe-dwellers are the real exceptions.

I'm feeling a lot like a broken record player here, and I don't have the time to get deeply involved in another long discussion, but why is it assumed that homeschooling has any more of a problem with this than the very loud, embarrassing culture war battles to get creationism to be taught in public schools? Fundamentalists Christians of every ilk, and in every corner of education, are peddling creationism. If a lot of Fundamentalist Christian public school parents had their way, such textbooks would be included in public school curriculum.

Then again, perhaps it depends on exactly what part of the region/nation/world you live in. I would expect homeschooling families from rural areas like I grew up in to be more inclined to isolationism/distrust of science-liberals-whatever than homeschooling folk in the more urban areas, where there's already a far greater variety in the jostling mass of humanity. Similarly, I would expect income/education of the parents to be related to how isolationist they actually are. But I have no easy way to test either assumption.

I can't speak to that, but I do agree that environment has a lot to do with it.

Dear sweet merciful heavens. I couldn't make it more than a few seconds in.

Oh no, don't tell me you missed the punchline! :)

The eight minority members? :)

I'm sorry, when you said the eight minority members, did you mean the only homeschoolers who posted here? :)

The few I have known who did not fit that mold often complained that they felt awfully alone in their homeschooling communities because their reasons for homeschooling were so...out of whack with the norm. They also complained about the dearth of textbooks out there that were not of the "Man rode on dinosaurs to work!" variety. ;) Understand I went to a church that was really into homeschooling...to the point that most married members felt obligated to come to a decision quickly on the birth of their child. People would talk about not being sure with a tone of "I would not admit to the pastor I am unsure". So... my experience suggests that the eight members here are the fringe, but hopefully a rapidly expanding minority. :)

Referencing what I said above, sometimes parents try to force their school district to accept creationist curriculum, sometimes they take their kids out of school and push it themselves. Fundamentalists are everywhere, in every schooling paradigm.

Another thing, building off of your last sentence, which is admittedly conjecture on my part, but perhaps also a strong educated guess (no pun intended), is that there is a whole generation of homeschoolers who will be coming of age in the next couple of decades, and I imagine that whatever weird ghosts that do remain in the closet of homeschooling will be shooed away by these adult homeschoolers, as they become parents themselves, begin to homeschool, and negate the stereotypes. Homeschooling will only become more mainstream looking forward.

Emphasis mine, because this is definitely an issue. My own upbringing wasn't exactly evolution-hostile; it was more evolution-indifferent.We didn't study Answers in Genesis-approved textbooks, but we did have plenty of AiG material laying around the house, and I wasn't exposed to any real science on the matter until college. Fortunately, my parents instilled enough of a love of learning--and respect for, y'know, actual scientists--that it didn't take long for me to synthesize the science and move on. Not everyone is so fortunate.*

My parents took me to hear both Ken Ham and Hugh Ross. I read Creation Ex Nihilo, and Francis Collins. My parents were never pushed "old earth" or "young earth", they presented us with both and gave us the freedom to decide. Peddling Creationism might or might not be a problem, but if it is a problem, it's one that is shared in all educational arenas.

Edited by Joel C

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I don't see how fundamentalist parents trying to push Creationism on public schools (and often failing) is the same as a parent unilaterally determining that it's what their child's curriculum will be at homeschool.

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I don't see how fundamentalist parents trying to push Creationism on public schools (and often failing) is the same as a parent unilaterally determining that it's what their child's curriculum will be at homeschool.

Both such parents belong to the same ideological group, both want the same thing, for their children to be taught creationist curriculum. I'd wager that a lot of the public school parents from that ideology are already pushing creationism in their own home. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see AiG material in those homes as well. Parents make all sorts of unilateral decisions, no matter what schooling paradigm they subscribe to.

Edited by Joel C

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I have a less polite version that goes something like "statistics are the trollops of reasoned argument."

And yet you had no problem using statistics of your own in our previous discussion, no?

Shamelessly. Go back and read the context of my initial comment. I was explicitly referring to my own use of James' study.

Not entirely affirmed, perhaps, but in my experience it's hardly an unfair stereotype--particularly since the best-selling homeschool textbooks tend to cater to exactly this isolationist tendency. Perhaps those of us who aren't fringe-dwellers are the real exceptions.

I'm feeling a lot like a broken record player here, and I don't have the time to get deeply involved in another long discussion, but why is it assumed that homeschooling has any more of a problem with this than the very loud, embarrassing culture war battles to get creationism to be taught in public schools? Fundamentalists Christians of every ilk, and in every corner of education, are peddling creationism. If a lot of Fundamentalist Christian public school parents had their way, such textbooks would be included in public school curriculum.

Ah, but the majority of public school text books aren't published by Bob Jones and A Beka. That is the issue here, as far as I can tell--that suitable materials aren't as readily available to homeschooling parents. What fundamentalist parents want is precisely not the issue.

[And this leaves aside the very simple fact that--and here come the statistics!--most parents who homeschool do so for "religious or moral instruction." This observation doesn't automatically mean that the majority of homeschooling parents are fundamentalist, but when you pair it up with the best-selling "science" textbooks I referenced earlier, it seems pretty apparent that a large number--perhaps a majority--are. And no amount of saying "but there's fundamentalists in the public schools, too!" will change that. The simple fact is that the fundamentalists--by and large--don't call the shots on what's in the curriculum in public schools. Yet, anyway. They very obviously do in the homeschool-textbook publishing arena.]

Dear sweet merciful heavens. I couldn't make it more than a few seconds in.

Oh no, don't tell me you missed the punchline! :)

You mean the whole video isn't a punchline? :)

Emphasis mine, because this is definitely an issue. My own upbringing wasn't exactly evolution-hostile; it was more evolution-indifferent.We didn't study Answers in Genesis-approved textbooks, but we did have plenty of AiG material laying around the house, and I wasn't exposed to any real science on the matter until college. Fortunately, my parents instilled enough of a love of learning--and respect for, y'know, actual scientists--that it didn't take long for me to synthesize the science and move on. Not everyone is so fortunate.*

My parents took me to hear both Ken Ham and Hugh Ross. I read Creation Ex Nihilo, and Francis Collins. My parents were never pushed "old earth" or "young earth", they presented us with both and gave us the freedom to decide. Peddling Creationism might or might not be a problem, but if it is a problem, it's one that is shared in all educational arenas.

No, it really isn't. Outside of a few (widely-mocked) states, it seems that for the most part science classes in public school teach science. How well or poorly it's taught might depend on the teacher, but since we're looking at textbooks that's not really inside the scope of the discussion.

Edited by NBooth

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Shamelessly. Go back and read the context of my initial comment. I was explicitly referring to my own use of James' study.

Ah, I see now. Well aren't we scandalous!

Ah, but the majority of public school text books aren't published by Bob Jones and A Beka. That is the issue here, as far as I can tell--that suitable materials aren't as readily available to homeschooling parents. What fundamentalist parents want is precisely not the issue.

Come now, this is silliness. Unless someone is amish, or lives somewhere remote and inaccessible by car, there are hundreds, nay thousands of non-religious books and materials readily available to homeschool students on a variety of topics. In my entire 18 years of homeschool education, I never once used either A Beka or Bob Jones. Besides the fact that public school curriculum is broadly available to homeschool families, there are hundreds of different textbooks available through bookstores like Barnes & Noble.

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Ah, but the majority of public school text books aren't published by Bob Jones and A Beka. That is the issue here, as far as I can tell--that suitable materials aren't as readily available to homeschooling parents. What fundamentalist parents want is precisely not the issue.

Come now, this is silliness. Unless someone is amish, or lives somewhere remote and inaccessible by car, there are hundreds, nay thousands of non-religious books and materials readily available to homeschool students on a variety of topics. In my entire 18 years of homeschool education, I never once used either A Beka or Bob Jones. Besides the fact that public school curriculum is broadly available to homeschool families, there are hundreds of different textbooks available through bookstores like Barnes & Noble.

Not all homeschoolers (and we've had anecdotal reports of others in this very thread) have found it as easy as you seem to have.

At the same time, having done a quick Amazon search, I'm happy to withdraw the generalization. The other points I made still stand, though.

Withdrawing the withdrawal. This is one of only two biology books that show up. The other's about horses. Looking through the other selections, it looks like this is a consistent thing.

Look, I'm not saying it's impossible to build a solid curriculum. I'm saying it's more difficult. There's no need to get defensive over an observation like that. It's a fact that most of the top-selling homeschool resources are fundamentalist-oriented. Not an opinion, and not a smear--a simple honest fact. And it's a fact with which anyone who either homeschools or is considering it must come to grips.

These should be pretty non-controversial observations:

[1] That the majority of homeschoolers seem to be religiously conservative-leaning-fundamentalist, and

[2] That the textbook market reflects this.

That's not at all the same thing as saying that all homeschoolers are fundies, or that all textbooks are useless for people interested in real science. As far as I can tell, no-one on this thread is insinuating that. My own family wasn't fundamentalist, and I suspect most of the homeschooling parents here wouldn't identify as such. After all, observing trends isn't the same thing as getting a bead on every single member of the group.

Edited by NBooth

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Dude. Took me less than five minutes. Seriously.

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And for the record, this really doesn't need to be about textbooks. Textbooks are only symptoms. Going back to what you said earlier, I suppose I just disagree. It is about what fundamentalist parents want. It's always about the parents. Parents shape the way children learn, no matter the schooling method. In my eyes, anyway.

Edited by Joel C

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Dude. Took me less than five minutes. Seriously.

Oh, I saw it when I was searching around earlier. Somehow I think 32 items covering a diffuse area (and some of which--like the top pick there--look pretty chintzy) doesn't really prove your point. But whatever--since no one's saying there aren't options out there. This might be a better link, although you would have to comb through it.

So I suppose all the parents who complained about not being able to find solid texts are just...computer illiterate? Or perhaps it speaks to the more general tenor of the home-schooling community. The latter would certainly fit in with my experience among the homeschoolers in Georgia and Alabama.

And for the record, this really doesn't need to be about textbooks. Textbooks are only symptoms. Going back to what you said earlier, I suppose I just disagree. It is about what fundamentalist parents want. It's always about the parents. Parents shape the way children learn, no matter the schooling method. In my eyes, anyway.

In that case, you've really got to face the fact that the best-selling home-school textbooks are fundamentalist in their bent. Because if these books are what the parents want, it confirms the idea that homeschoolers are majority-fundamentalist in a way that public schools just aren't.

Edited by NBooth

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I'm going to step back here, and say that this is not a worthwhile discussion. I have plenty of things to bring up, like the fact that Bob Jones and A Beka have as much to do with private Evangelical Christian schools as homeschooling, and that what you're really objecting to here is probably the whole Christian education movement, which stretches far beyond the bounds of homeschooling, and which is a far stronger and more time-honored bastion of fundamentalism.

However, this tit for tat is a waste of both of our time. It's obvious you came from a more fundamentalist environment. I did not. Our two perspectives will not mesh because we are obviously from different ends of the spectrum, so to argue about it is somewhat pointless. I am a living, breathing, evolution-believing, socially-liberated, societally-integrated homeschooler. I'm here to say that I and others like me do exist, and we're not as rare as people are making us out to be. Perhaps it's because we're not as loud and obnoxious as the fundies. Noisy people tend to give off the impression they're more substantial than they are. I don't know. But there are plenty of us normal H.S. folks out there.

[EDITED TO ADD:] The bit about noisy people wasn't aimed at anyone here. It was meant to be a reference to fundamentalism in general.

Edited by Joel C

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I'm going to step back here, and say that this is not a worthwhile discussion. I have plenty of things to bring up, like the fact that Bob Jones and A Beka have as much to do with private Evangelical Christian schools as homeschooling, and that what you're really objecting to here is probably the whole Christian education movement, which stretches far beyond the bounds of homeschooling, and which is a far stronger and more time-honored bastion of fundamentalism.

I hate that you feel that way. I actually think this is worthwhile, since the purpose of this thread seems to be, in part, an inquiry into the environment of the homeschooling movement. This sort of thing is absolutely worth discussing, particularly for parents who are wondering what in the world they might be getting themselves into.

[And this is why the discussion of textbooks is absolutely germane. If a parent is considering homeschooling, they need to know how great a wealth of resources will be available. I've suggested that, while there are materials available, they might take more digging to come across. You've offered alternative resources; I've critiqued their paucity and offered an alternative link. I'm not MLeary, but I suspect this is very helpful in trying to develop a possible curriculum.]

I am a living, breathing, evolution-believing, socially-liberated, societally-integrated homeschooler.

Good for you. FWIW, I am too, though I suspect my background is more conservative (my parents weren't so fundamentalist; my father's congregation was). I'm also a leftist, a quasi-socialist and a theological centrist. Not that any of that matters; what matters is whether these opinions are common. From what I can tell, they aren't, really. And that's not just my impression coming from the Deep South; it's an impression that was confirmed at my (conservative but not fundamentalist) Christian college and further confirmed through the reasoning I've laid out above.

So there's no need to get irate or feel like anyone's attacking you. As far as I can tell, that's not happening. General observations aren't the same as pronouncing on individuals.*

_________________

*Says the guy who on this very board argued against generalizations about gender on the grounds that they are harmful. A foolish consistency and all that. ;)

Edited by NBooth

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