The Homeschooler Mind Set

Home schooling is probably a really good idea for a lot of people, but only for a certain (unknown) percentage of people who actually do it. And, among those who do manage to home school, I would guess that the effectiveness of home schooling varies from pretty good to dismal because homeschoolers are doing it for the wrong reasons, in some cases for just plain bad reasons, and/or they really don’t know what they are doing.I have yet to meet a teacher who would claim that they are generally happy with what shows up at their classroom door from Home Schooling Land … even though most teachers with whom I have had this conversation are actually in favor of home schooling in principle.The point here is that it is probably pretty easy to execute the process poorly and damage the child.An analogy might be flying. Flying is great. We get from point A to point B quickly. But it is also kind of expensive, and really, flying in a giant commercial airliner is not really that great of an experience. Some people have opted to fly themselves, kinda like the home school version of air flight … get a pilots license get a small plane (or get into a system where you can rent planes) and fly yourself around wherever possible. These people truly experience flight, because they are in a smaller plane, communing with the clouds and sky and shit, and they are doing it themselves. Private flying is the home schooling of air transport.However, being a private pilot requires a lot of training and there are quite a few rules to follow. So in this sense, the analogy is not exactlylike home schooling, which has almost no rules or training of any kind. (By the way, analogies are generally not exactly like that which they analogize. Otherwise they would not be analogies. They would be clone-alogies.) Nonetheless, private planes are way more likely to go down than commercial planes, and usually because of the dumbest reasons … oops, forgot fuel. Crash. Or, oops, got lost, no air strips, only forest or ocean … Crash. Or oops, I’m flying on instruments and never really learned to do that. So, which way is up again? Crash….One could say that homeschooling is like this … a version of education that ideally would be much better than the “standard” approach, but in practice, is often (how often, we don’t know) executed poorly.The reason that I think a lot of home schoolers are not doing a great job is because their motivations are not really in the interest of the child. Their motivations are often religious, or often political or often both. The children are being dragged along in the adult’s efforts to make some point, play some game, avoid some personal discomfort, get their jollies in one way or another, etc.The following items are items that came across my virtual desk since I went to bed last night regarding home schooling. I’ve culled from about 20 sources to produce a set of commentaries … one could call it quote mining, or one could call it selective editing … to provide a sense of what part of the homeschoolers discourse looks like. I think this proves my point.57 unique benefits of home schooling” lists, not surprisingly, 57 “good things” about home scooling. Have a look.A lot of them are probably really true and important. But a lot of them are also more about either leisure or social isolation than about education.

I want my children to learn about God, Jesus, the Bible, and to not feel afraid to pray out loud, and worship God as we were created to do. And I certainly don’t need the school principal suspending them because they have infringed on their peers “freedom of religion”…Children have a right to wake up, go to school, learn, and never be afraid that the school might blow-up because someone brought a bomb to school. Think I’m exagerating? ……Home-schooled kids are only sheltered if parents make them that way…. as long as the parents make an effort to involve them in church activities, home-school umbrella groups, and other activities. They get to develop social skills without parents worrying as much about their kids picking up un-Godly habits….[source]

Home Schooling In The Eyes Of Federal Law

US Constitution makes it pretty clear that the government shall neither interfere nor control with education, private or public. This, as a matter of fact is untrue.So if this is true then certainly home schooling as per Federal Law is legal, that is because there exist no rule to suggest otherwise. Some of United States most famous Presidents came from home schools for instance – Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, all emerged from home schools. Why all the fuss if it’s legal? As per Federal Level the whole matter is legal.But as soon as the matter reaches to state level, it is a complete chaos, that because of poor understanding by local officials of public schools of the basis laws. Most of then are completely ignorant when it comes down to understanding the meaning of these laws. And to a certain extent the officials are not at fault, there exists no uniform laws and laws vary across different states. What is prevalent in New York may not be the same as in California[source]

Homeschooling critics, haven’t they learned anything?

Now honestly, I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks about homeschooling. I homeschooled my four children for reasons that made sense to ME, because they’re MY children, not the governments, not society’s, and not Jack’s. What I decided to teach them is my business, not the governments, not society’s, and not Jack’s. While I don’t necessarily agree that parents should isolate their children and school them in nothing but biblical history and caring for the home, I’ll reserve my angst as an opinion and fight for those parent’s right to teach exactly that.

Remember, this is just a few hours of what comes through my inbox every day, most of which I ignore. This is like dipping a vial in a stream to see if there is any pollution … yes, it turns out there is. Were I to cull over a month, the intensity of misguided religious intent and wacky libertarian arm waving would be much more palpable. In this case, though, I thought the short term sample would be a fairly impressive way to make the point.Please don’t tell any of the homeschoolers I wrote this post. They will get mad at me and never leave me alone.

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81 Responses to The Homeschooler Mind Set

  1. IanR says:

    because they’re MY children, not the governments, not society’s, and not Jack’s

    1. Children are not chattel2. Society/government/the-prison-industrial-complex still has to deal with them after you screw them up.3. Children are not chattel4. Children are not chattel5. Children are not chattel

  2. Eching what Ian said. Children are ultimately their own persons, and while the parents’ responsibility is to care for them until they are able to function as adults, the parents are not entitled to brainwash or “shelter” the kids so that they grow up completely unaware of the world around them.The more I think about it, Richard Dawkins “Form of child abuse” on religion makes sense.Homeschooling can be done very well, if the parents have the capacity and training for teaching. Sometimes homeschooling seems to be done as if the teachers were using an outdated driver’s ed manual and themselves had never driven a car (let alone flown a single-engine airplane.)

  3. Stephanie Z says:

    Go, Ian , go. That one made me rather sick too. Way for the writer to illustrate how important it is for kids to have access to adults aside from their parents.

  4. Mark P says:

    I think many, if not most, people home school because of religious reasons that end up not being in the best interest of the child. However, I do know of one case in which a mother home schools her high-school children not from choice but from necessity. The public schools made virtually no effort or accommodation for their particular learning problems, which left them falling further and further behind. Several private schools did not want to try to educate the children. The one that did was a strictly regimented religious school that in other circumstances might have worked (not because of the religion but because of the strictness and regimentation). However, even that school failed. The only way the children could be schooled was with very intense, personal, almost continuous supervision. It was not a choice that the parents made lightly because of the sacrifices involved.

  5. Zach Miller says:

    Well now, I homeschooled from 2nd grade through high school, but it was not for religious reasons, but rather health (CF). My mother used Anchorage School District (ASD) texts and had me read a whole lot of secondary stuff. I met with teachers from the ASD, and in fact high school was essentially a bunch of classes with retired ASD teachers. I developed my interest in science, and my distain for religious zealotry, while homeschooling.But I can see where Greg is coming from. The vast majority of the other homeschooled kids in Anchorage came from and with a lot of religious baggage. The mother of one family taught biology without, somehow, going into evolutionary theory at all.I recognize that I was a happy exception, but in general I don’t think that homeschoolers are homeschooling for the right reasons.

  6. wheatdogg says:

    I teach at a private school, and we have admitted several homeschooled kids over the years I’ve been here. Since we are pretty selective (and a very liberal school), we weed out the poorly prepared (or overly religious) students. Even so, the vast majority of homeschooled kids we get are poorly prepared in math and science. I will generalize here, but most homeschooler parents seem to lean toward the artsy-fartsy, liberal arts types. Math and science folks are more likely to send their kids out to school.Homeschooling, in my opinion, is generally a bad idea, if we consider the public schools the great “integrator” of US society. Where else do students of various backgrounds learn essentially the same things? Most private/parochial schools imitate the public school curricula. The only possible exception would be church/temple/mosque-run schools with a specific religious axe to grind.And for the record, I went to a public school.

  7. Greg Laden says:

    Everyone, meet Doc. Doc is NOT a religious freak. In fact, Doc is a pro-evolution home schooler. With only modest reading comprehension skills, apparently.Go away.

  8. Becca says:

    Ian- you’re right! Children are not chattel…”Comparing me to those who are conventionally schooled is like comparing the freedoms of a wild stallion to those of cattle in a feedlot.” Colin Roch, 12 year old HomeschoolerNow when are the schools going to recognize that children are not cattle either?Mike- Homeschooling can also be done very well, at least in some circumstances, when the parents have zero formal teaching training.

  9. Andrew says:

    Doc, everything you say is so different than everything I’ve ever seen or heard before that it must be made up.

  10. Martin says:

    I would like to quote a very respectable educator on the issue of home schooling:Home schooling is probably a really good idea for a lot of people, …Doc, if you ask nice, maybe I’ll tell you where I found that quote.

  11. M. says:

    Statistics absolutely reflect that homeschoolers are as, or more prepared for higher education (and presumably, public eduction) as those students who have been educated in the public schools since preschool.Hi Doc, Greg…I teach at a major university, freshman biology among other things. I see public school kids, I see homeschoolers, and I see them as soon as they’re getting in.It’s a mixed bag. The main problem with homeschooling, in my view, is uneven education. I agree with Doc: most homeschoolers I saw had superior English writing skills and pretty good basic math skills (both frequently deficient in publicly educated children we get).However, then it sharply diverges. Homeschoolers tend to know what they know pretty well, but their knowledge is like islands in a sea – small spots, with vast uncharted regions they never heard of, and no awareness that anything else exists. And, oh, definitely less ability to even grasp the concept of multiple viewpoints; for many, things either are or aren’t, and “it’s being discussed by experts” isn’t any kind of answer.Mind, this is “on average” I’m talking about here. There are some extremely well educated homeschoolers, there are quite a few abysmally badly educated ones.Would I homeschool? If I was in, say, suburban Chicago, I wouldn’t even consider it. If I was in Louisiana, or Alabama – heck yes. It is pretty much impossible to do a hack job of educating your kids that would in any way be worse then what those states are doing in their public schools.So it remains a case-by-case thing. It is an error on part of public schooling proponents to attack homeschooling indiscriminately, but it is also an error by homeschoolers to paint all public schools with the same brush. There are some good ones out there.What we should ideally all agree on is that our K12 system is in dire (and I mean, fricking DIRE) need of overhaul. Some kind of centralization would be hated by everyone, but would probably improve the system to no end. Until something like that happens, homeschooling is a serious option. Not just for fundies, but for people who, say, would like their kid to know about evolution, for example.

  12. Crimson Wife says:

    Just because someone is homeschooling for religious reasons does not preclude them from following a rigorous academic curriculum. I could introduce you to any number of Catholic, mainline Protestant, Eastern Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, etc. homeschoolers who desire to teach their children in accordance with their family’s faith but also teach real science. You may consider religion the “wrong” reason to homeschool (which is your prerogative) but you can’t make any assumptions about the quality of the education provided simply based on that one factor. Would you automatically dismiss all traditional private religious schools as academically poor merely because they teach religion? Many of them have excellent academic reputations.

  13. David says:

    Doc: Give Greg a break. I am also a teacher at a college and I agree that some of my best students have been homeschooled. At the same time, some of the most ignorant (an I don’t use that word lightly) and underschooled students have been homeschooled. You get all kinds and some of what Greg says has merit.

  14. Natalie says:

    There are parents who homeschool to get their jollies? I’d appreciate some statistics on that one.I homeschool, but not for religious reasons, and neither am I opposed to public or even private education. My children attended an excellent public school in Seminole County, Florida. But when we moved to our small district in the mountains of Kern County, California? The schools here pale in comparison, academically and by way of resources. Although our school district spends nearly $1,000 more per student here (compared to our former district), the scores are much lower (if you assume that 100% is about equal in both states), there are no enrichment offerings, and my biggest concern, which is that the school lacks sufficient safety measures to ensure the children’s safety. Because busing here is fee-based, many parents are not willing (or able) to pay the $150/student/semester fee, and that means when school lets out, there are A LOT of people on campus, and with gates pulled open to allow access to anyone inclined to wander the campus grounds, that makes me worried for my children’s safety.So, my children are enrolled in a public charter school, but I am their teacher. I have both undergraduate (liberal arts) and graduate (information technology) degrees, and my husband has a doctorate in nuclear engineering. We are well-equipped to teach, in terms of our backgrounds, but I will concede that there was a steep learning curve for me as we worked out our new roles, and how I would *teach* my children, ensuring that they learned the things that I (and the school) felt were important.However, at least among the homeschooling families with whom we socialize, they are either the rare and wonderful exceptions to your general disdain for homeschooling, or you are too focused on the times when homeschooling isn’t ideal.And let’s be frank – the public schools? They need help, or at least, a good many of them do. California is straining with the burden of educating the children already in its schools. There will be homeschooling parents who do a bang-up job compared to what some schools matriculate, and others who do far worse. How is this different from public schools (and public school teachers) anyway, and why pick on such a small minority?For those who are such ardent advocates of the public schools, how ’bout you start proposing ways to fix them? Seems to me, you’ll serve a much greater good by doing that, than by going on and on about homeschooling.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    The “homeschooler mind set” certainly is emerging here. Kind of spooky.

  16. Cherish says:

    All this proves is that you’re good at quote-mining to create a certain viewpoint. And again, on average, homeschoolers are no worse than the public schools. There is just as much brain-washing (ever been forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance?) and nasty crap (i.e. bullying) that happens to kids at public school as in homeschooling.This is just another blatant polarization of the issue.

  17. Toni says:

    I would presume that, with the exception of Doc and COD, all posting here have done their research with regard to homeschooling statistics and are not relying on simple ancedotal information, correct? Because I have to admit, I want to give those of you who are nay-saying homeschooling, the benefit of the doubt with regard to your exposure to a homeschooling family.Remember this: Ancedote does not equal data. Your one(or two)experiences with a “poor” homeschooling family do not equal national, and in some instances, world-wide, data regarding homeschool statistics.I can assure you of a few things:1-I do NOT homeschool for religious reasons. I teach from a scientific, evolutionary, standpoint and always have.2-Both I and my husband are college educated and well-adjusted/versed in what should be taught. That I do not have a piece of paper labeled “teacher” does not mean I can’t. That my husband does, does not mean he can. Assuredly, I feel he is an excellent teacher, but I might be biased in that regard. Likewise, I can assure you of this: nearly all of the homeschoolers in this country can and do, successfully, teach their children daily. What we cannot successfully teach (for example, I’ll give that my one weakness is Foreign Language), we find another parent or a co-op, or even a curriculum, that can. Do not mistake this for “lack of credentials” or “proof we cannot” teach.3- Mr. Laden, had you done an ounce of actual research, instead of relying on analogies (or clone-alogies) to make your (non-existent) point, you might be surprised (and educated) to find that our “poorly administered” choice to homeschool is backed by and used by, thousands of curriculum choices that cover nearly every facet of life one can believe/have faith in. In fact, with your blog title of “Evolution, Life Science, Science Education, Human Evolution, and stuff”, you might be interested to learn that I could point you in the direction of at least a dozen curriculums that teach exactly as you preach to believe.Mr. Laden, please believe that I am not posting here to try and change your mind, only you can do that. But do understand that as a journalist of your regard, your points would be better taken to truth(rather than reactionary)if you actually cited truthful, real, and concrete evidence to support your stance. Remembering that ancedote does not equal data, your cites should NOT include the **few** abuse cases that have occurred over the years, as those people were not truly homeschooling. Likewise, citing anything from Focus on the Family, World Net Daily, The Pearl’s, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and any other far-right conservative(and reactionary) source, will cancel your opinion out.Truly, your research skills are lacking and for someone so respected in your community, one would think you’d have it more together than you do.Sincerely,Toni – Mother of two girls, 16 and 12 and homeschooling since the beginning of their lives.

  18. the real cmf says:

    “You’re all idiots.”Doc is not only as Greg said abopve, but he is frothy mouthed and anti-social as well…probably doesn’t get out of the house enough…Greg:”yet to meet a teacher who would claim that they are generally happy with what shows up at their classroom door from Home Schooling Land”Well of course that is because your not respecting the fact that these kids are so BRIGHT, and UNIQUE, and INDIVIDUAL…that is, if little womb-shadows of their HS mommy dearest qualifies as “individual”

  19. Napoleon Keller says:

    Crimson: “Just because someone is homeschooling for religious reasons does not preclude them from following a rigorous academic curriculum”You can’t be serious??hmmmm…just because the fat kid with the pimples eats mostly ice cream and cake doesn’t mean that it won’t also like steak and potatoes….

  20. memyrald says:

    I think I have posted on this topic before on here (or perhaps over at pharyngula), but I want to say again that (as you do point out above) not all homeschoolers are the same. I’m astonished to read that you don’t hear teachers generally happy with “what shows up”. My first biology professor in college (whose class I took while still in highschool) said his best performers were homeschooled students.Neither of my parents had teaching credentials–I largly taught myself and have still been adequately prepared for college where I have maintained my 4.0 GPA. I do agree there are harmful types of homeschooling (I happen to disagree with “unschooling”) but I urge everyone to understand different things work for different people.So how did we survive before institutionalized schooling?

  21. Echidna says:

    david “some of my best students have been home-schooled” – could it be that these were kids that were so smart that there was no way for them to fit in a normal school anyway?At the extreme end of the scale, a gifted specialist at a major university told me of a home-schooled child who was incredibly good at maths, for example doing differentiation at six years of age. There was just no way for teachers to cope with this one, or for him to cope with school. His big problem was finding peers of any sort to interact with – he was quite simply not a normal child.Clearly home schooling was the right solution for this particular child. Fortunately, there was plenty of educational support from the local university, who very naturally took an interest in this prodigy. Like any other good idea, the success is all in the implementation.

  22. Denise says:

    I know a home-schooled kid who is 9 and can’t read. The reason he isn’t in school is that his mother hated school and doesn’t want to subject him to it. He is very bright and somehow manages to know a lot, but how much longer can this go on? Anyway, the down side of homeschooling. They seem to have gone completely off the radar of the authorities, otherwise I assume this couldn’t happen.

  23. Colin Foley says:

    An absurd amount of people I know online are home-schooled for religious reasons. Their viewpoints on a lot of issues. are, shall we say… misinformed. Still, one of my best friend in the real world is home-schooled due to antisocial tendencies and depression, and still gets a great eduction and learns quite a bit from it. The problem is that it’s not as strictly regulated as regular schooling, not that there’s an inherent flaw in the idea of home-schooling.

  24. merkin j. pus-tart says:

    If the recent events in Pennsylvania (and now happening in Florida) continue, I think many non-religious parents may look at home schooling as a option. When my child was in first grade last year he would bring home Veggie Tales worksheets. It appears to me that the quality of a teacher is a crap-shoot. His kindergarten teacher was very acceptable, but I felt like his first grade experience was a waste. Why should we have to accept sub-standard levels of some teachers? From my own experience (years ago now), schools sucked any love of learning I had.

  25. Elizabeth says:

    Dawn, I think you are right. Dr. Laden was being lazy. He wrote the first half of this post, and a number of homeschoolers volunteered to write the second half of the post on “The Homeschooler Mind Set”In sum, it is:judgmentalvaingloriousdisingenuousgrandiloquentmean spiritedpoor writing skillsobnoxiousimmature

  26. Stephanie Z says:

    Dawn, my personal theory is that Becca was so determined to be angry with Greg that he decided to give her a handout. Of course, it’s possible he just had a really good analogy he wanted to share. If that’s the case, it’s a pity no one seems to want to read it and reflect on all its implications.

  27. Deborah says:

    “I know a home-schooled kid who is 9 and can’t read.”Actually, I’ve known several. But I’ve never known a home-schooled kid of 15 who couldn’t read fluently. Some kids, especially those with a visual-spatial orientation, may not be developmentally ready to read until they’re ten. Or older. (This means that all those hours spent in the “resource room” with a reading specialist from kindergarten through the fourth grade, are a waste of time with this sort of child.) And I know many public-schooled adults who struggle with simple algebraic concepts. One myth in which the public school system is heavily invested is that all children should learn the same basic information on the same rough timetable. Many home-schooled children have the opportunity to specialize in one or two subjects of especial interest, a luxury that many people don’t have until graduate school, or ever. I’m not convinced that “deficiencies” in math or science or any other subject have any real-life relevance. The math that most people need for their daily lives doesn’t require years of study. Most of the people I know are not mathematicians or scientists (although I am): I know farmers and violinmakers and a welder and a boatbuilder and commercial artists and several carpenters who had little interest in high school, didn’t go to college, and yet are happy with their crafts, and make enough money to afford what most of us would consider the necessities of life: food, shelter, health care, vacations. We all have different aptitudes and passions. There will never be a shortage of scientists, engineers, doctors, or lawyers, as long as those professions are financially rewarding. We are actually much more in danger of stifling those people who have an artistic bent. I studied physics in college because of my perception that music was too “iffy”, but if I hadn’t, the world would never have noticed. Someone else, equally qualified, would have been happy to have my IT job. One more thing: “unschooler” bashing seems common. As mom to one home-schooled (now high-schooled) student and two un-schooled ones, I can say that if the public schools could do for my un-schooled kids what my kids can do for themselves, I’d send them off on the yellow school bus in a jiffy.

  28. Marcy Muser says:

    Greg, Ian, Mike, and others,”because they’re MY children, not the governments, not society’s, and not Jack’s”You guys are missing the point. Doc never claimed the children were his property (“chattel” to quote Ian). Rather, he said that they do NOT belong to the government or to society.Far too many of those who claim “children are not chattel,” do so in order to undermine the parents’ ability to make decisions for them, and to support the state as the ultimate authority over children. (On the other hand, they don’t blame the state for 15-year-olds who steal or kill someone – then it’s the parents’ responsibility and they are the ones who end up having to pay.) It really comes down to the question of who is in charge of the children and who is ultimately responsible for how they turn out. Most homeschoolers would claim that ultimate responsibility for children (and authority over them) rests with the parents, not with the state.As a homeschooling parent myself, I absolutely agree with you that children are not chattel – not mine, but also not the state’s. My children do not belong to the state, and it is not up to the state to make the decisions about their welfare. Rather, they are my children, and I am the one most invested in their success and their happiness. In order for me to provide them with the best possible lives, both now and in the future, I choose to homeschool them.

  29. Andrew says:

    I don’t think anyone here is saying that children’s actions are not the responsibility of some combination of the child him/herself and the legal guardian(s), usually one or more parent.By the way, doesn’t homeschooling require either a) that one parent have a really good job so the other can stay home with the kid(s) or b) that the family live in a trailer (or whatever)? Are there any SES statistics on home schooling?

  30. Stephanie Z says:

    Marcy, there are plenty of decisions the state makes about the welfare of children. There are laws that regulate the fabric that can be used in their pajamas and the labeling of items sold for their use. There are laws that require parents to protect them by using a car seat or seat belt and to do basic things like feed them. Few people argue with these laws, even though they represent the state asserting an interest in your children.The question is how much interest they have in children’s education and how to manage that interest in a way that supports homeschoolers who are doing all the right things.

  31. Andrew says:

    Stephaniez,I guess that many home schoolers object to each and every one of those laws and regulations you mention.

  32. Marcy Muser says:

    Greg,If you’re going to post on how homeschooling is often not done well (and in fact I believe that shows you’re making progress – I remember some months ago your being against almost all homeschooling), you might consider whether quoting college professors really helps your case all that much. Certainly, some college professors have had some homeschoolers who have done poorly. But how many college professors have complained about how their public-schooled students are doing? I believe you’d find FAR more complaints about public-schooled kids than about home-schooled ones. And the complaints about public-schooled kids are far more serious, because their deficiences tend to affect every area of their education. If they can’t read, can’t write, can’t take notes, or won’t follow directions, their entire future lives and careers are at stake (not just their success in the 6 units of science they have to take to get a B.A.).Take a look at these quotes.From James Gatti, commenting on Vermont Tiger:>I have spent 35 years teaching economics and finance at the University of Vermont and have seen the dramatic decline all too closely. The ability of my students to read with comprehension, to calculate, to reason abstractly has eroded, but the most severe problem is a refusal to work as hard as is necessary to learn difficult material. I had a student take one of my required courses who had failed it with three other faculty members. She got the highest grade in the course when she took it with me. Why? Because she finally did what the other three faculty members and I told her to do. Do the readings when they are assigned. Do the problems as assigned. If you don’t understand the readings or have trouble with the problems come and see us for help. It is not rocket science; it is hard work. They treat 4 years of college as an extended vacation.“I just think it’s unfortunate that such a large percentage of students who arrive at our door are in need of additional remediation to come up to the college level,” said M.J. Dolan, executive director of the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees. . . .Iowa community college students have been observed taking courses to catch up on junior high level skills, such as multiplying fractions, the basics of algebra, and identifying transition words that help connect ideas in written text.Laura Browne, associate dean of learning services at the Iowa Valley Community College District, said many incoming students need remedial reading and writing classes because they have spent so much time using grammatical shorthand to blog, send text messages and e-mail.”They don’t know how to write complete sentences,” she said. “Spelling is a problem.”Jeri Lee, who teaches an elementary algebra course at Des Moines Area Community College, said students struggle in her class because they have become too dependent on the calculator.”They never learn the basic facts,” Lee said. “Their mind-set is, ‘Let the machine do it for me.’ “High school teachers believe state standards are preparing students well for college-level work; however, roughly 65 percent of postsecondary instructors responded that theirstate?s standards prepared students poorly or very poorly for college-level work in English/writing, reading, andscience.And:>32 percent of high school teachers think students today arebetter prepared for college-level work?a percentage nearly two and a half times greater than that of postsecondary instructors who believe this.Even when students take substantial numbers of additional courses, no more than three-fourths of them are ready for first-year college coursework. Despite the higher percentages of students who met the College Readiness Benchmarks and took more than the recommended core, still no more than 38 percent of these students are ready for first-year college science, no more than 60 percent are ready for first-year college social science, no more than75 percent are ready for first-year college mathematics, and no more than 77 percent are ready for first-year college English. So, even taking additional higher-level coursework in high school does not lead to increased college readiness for many students.Students who earn good grades in their high school courses are led to believe they are ready for college; unfortunately, many are not. Many students are receiving high grades in their high school courses, leading them to believe they are ready for college. But nearly half of ACT-tested 2005 high school graduates who earned a grade of A or B in high school Algebra II did not meet the ACT College Readiness Benchmark for Mathematics, and more than half of the graduates who earned a grade of A or B in high school Physics did not meet the ACT College Readiness Benchmark for Science.I asked our admissions office to compare last year?s ACT science scores of homeschooled students with their conventionally-educated counterparts. The homeschoolers averaged in the 85th percentile on the science portion of the test, scoring one point below the average of all admitted students. Their scores in non-science areas were generally superior to the conventionally schooled students, and by a much greater margin than the alleged ?deficiency? that (the author) suggests would warrant an enormous intrusion into the lives of homeschooling families.All in all, our experience is that homeschooling is not only more cost effective but can produce results comparable to or better than private, parochial or public schools. For those interested in academic studies, there is a vast amount of literature available to the public supporting this conclusion.

  33. How sad that a biological anthropologist wrote this. My homeschooled daughter — who will be pursuing studies in environmental science and anthropology at Eckerd College, which awarded her a large merit based scholarship to attend — will be disappointed.It’s a pretty good bet that more people put their kids in public schools for the wrong reasons — usually because they figure that’s just what you do and there’s little to no intentionality behind the effort. The well-documented results of the typical public education are pretty dismal, and I’ve met a *lot* of teachers who are unhappy about what shows up at their door from Public School Land.But you’ve fallen into the usual “us vs “them” trap that misleads and obfuscates and, for an anthropologist, you seem to rely on an unfortunate abundance of flawed arguments and unsubstaniated opinion that you appear to present as fact. It’s not really worth replying to most of your opinions because they’re so ill-informed.If you really want to understand homeschooling — although it doesn’t sound like you really do — I’d suggest you actually read something about it. We have a number of informative resources at our Homeschool Resource section:http://www.learningis4eeveryone.org/component/option,com_bookmarks/Itemid,36/mode,0/catid,42/navstart,0/search,*/and I’d also recommend the Education Commission of the States section on Homeschooling: http://www.ecs.org/ecsmain.asp?page=/html/issue.asp?subIssueID=0%26issueID=72You might also be interested in learning that the majority of homeschoolers are not religious conservatives. I run a huge national group called UU Homeschoolers — Unitarian Universalist in founding, but secular and politically and socially liberal in focus. You can read a variety of articles at our website at http://www.uuhomeschool.org that are far different from the “57 reasons” views. Evolved Homeschooling is also popular: http://evolvedhomeschooling.blogspot.com/Get the facts before you comment and maybe you can restore my daughter’s faith in science and reason.Thanks.Terri Willinghamwww.learningis4everyone.org

  34. Tom Fiddaman says:

    There are so many sweeping generalizations, straw men, and non sequiturs in this post it’s hard to know where to begin. Rather than shooting the arguments down one by one, I’ll start with some questions, then point out where the stopped clock is right.Is there any evidence, apart from your anecdotes, that…1. outcomes for homeschooling in general are worse than for public or private schools?2. homeschoolers entering the mainstream school system are academically unprepared, or just unprepared to sit down and shut up?3. homeschoolers who are not doing well would do better in public schools?4. state and private educational institutions’ motivations are entirely in the interest of the child, and free of politics and religion?5. people with political and religious motivations can’t give their kids a decent education?6. homeschooled children are isolated from society?7. the “standard” approach to education is always executed well?8. steep learning curves in homeschooling are not offset by a very low student/teacher ratio and absence of overhead?9. parents choosing conventional schools aren’t sometimes avoiding discomfort or pursuing their own jollies?10. all of the content of conventional curricula is useful?11. schools regarded as good are good at teaching, vs. good at filtering in the admissions process, or merely demographically lucky?I’m not just baiting; I’m seriously interested in the answers to these questions. We’re homeschooling our kids. I want to be sure that it’s going to work out well over the long haul. An anecdotal approach to education policy is unhelpful because education, particularly homeschooling, is so diverse. There is no single “homeschooler mind set.” Serious evaluation of homeschooling outcomes and methods is decidedly sparse.Now the grain of truth: homeschooling is sometimes executed poorly. Where it fails most frequently, I think, is in math and science. The failure is due less to incompetence than to path-dependence. In all disciplines, progress is to some extent dependent on the stock of prior accumulated knowledge. That is particularly so for math, where it is for example hard to learn calculus without first mastering multiplication. Thus any early weakness or failure to focus on math tends to be reinforced over time. Formal curricula may help to course-correct early, before students fall too far behind, though I’m not convinced that conventional schools perform well in this area.The real question is, if there are kooky or crappy homeschoolers, what are you going to do about it? There are plenty of kooky, crappy public schools, textbooks, and teachers, so I doubt that compulsory enrollment or monitoring will help. My local district couldn’t handle the homeschoolers – if we all enrolled, they’d need another $5m/yr just to break even. My half-baked prescription for the education system would be to try carrot instead of stick: open the schools to homeschoolers as a resource. It wouldn’t cost a lot, each party would get a better sense of the performance of the other, parents would get more involved in the schools, students would get more involved in their own learning, etc.For the record, I went to public school in a great district with great teachers. I believe in the public school system. I have a PhD from MIT. I’m not a fundamentalist and I’m only a bit libertarian.

  35. Becca says:

    I think M. has hit upon a really important point. Homeschooling is typically an environment in which students can focus on some things and learn them well, while in some cases remaining deficient in other areas… this is both a strength (particularly for exceptional bright prodigies, or people who are dramatically different from average in their learning styles- Aspergers syndrome kids, perhaps) and a great weakness (particularly obviously in the case of certain religious homeschoolers opting to teach nothing- or, worse, misinformation, about evolution).Also, M.- I think that by “Chicago surburban schools” you mean New Trier, Neuqua Valley, or *maybe* Homewood-Flossmoor… I do not think you are thinking of Rich East… the high school I would have gone to.Which brings me to my next point… many parents, when confronted with a student who was not thriving in a particular school, would have just moved to a better district. For a variety of reasons, financial pressure chief among them, this was not the route my family ended up taking.So in response to Andrew, no, homeschooling does not require a fabulously well-off single-income family or living in a trailer- just a townhome. A single income (Teamster) salary and a stay-at-home parent can do it quite comfortably. It definitely costs less than private schooling at the fantastic (and fantastically-priced) independent (non-religous) schools in the Chicago area (at least).There are some limited data on SES in homeschooling families- like almost all homeschooling data, derived from not-fully-representative surveys. It does suggest homeschoolers are generally in higher than average incomes- but not incredibly so. It’s a good question.@ the real cmf- My goodness, you seem testy. Once again for the record- we are certainly not all clones of our ‘mommy dearest’- particularly those of us who were homeschooled by our fathers. Now, my father did indeed recognize my “specialness” and “uniqueness”- but also made it quite clear that, as my father, it was his *job* to think that, and probably no one else ever would. Which brings me to my next comment…@ StephanieZ- I am flattered that you think I might have such an important contribution to Dr. Laden’s posting, but I am inclined to take the “Dr. Laden doesn’t think very much about what he’s posting, does he?” side on this one, again. Thanks for playing, though!

  36. Greg Laden says:

    This post is about attitude, not statistics. The commentary on the post strongly underscores my presentation of attitude, as someone above has pointed out very succinctly.As for statistics, they are hard to come by because by and large home schoolers do not want to be surveyed or studied. Therefore we don’t know much about them.The canard that “oh, the public schools suck …” is really irrelevant. Of course they suck. How does the suckiness of public schools protect home schooling as a practice from scrutiny? It doesn’t.

  37. Tom Fiddaman says:

    “Dr. Laden doesn’t think very much about what he’s posting, does he?” I think this gets to the heart of the matter. For an alleged ScienceBlog, it’s sad that neither the post nor most of the comments reflect serious inquiry, without which this is just another culture wars conversation. It’s no wonder that the fundamentalist and libertarian immune reactions are triggered when people are ready to cast aspersions and change policy on the basis of little more than the accumulation of their own prejudices. It’s hard to get past that because there isn’t much good research on homeschooling, but one ought to at least look before leaping. Here’s one decent survey article: Understudied Education: Toward Building a Homeschooling Research Agenda and a link to links.

  38. Tom Fiddaman says:

    This post is about attitude, not statistics.That’s funny. Then why does it talk about performance, execution and qualifications?I would guess that the effectiveness of home schooling varies from pretty good to dismal because homeschoolers are doing it for the wrong reasons, in some cases for just plain bad reasons, and/or they really don’t know what they are doing.I have yet to meet a teacher who would claim that they are generally happy with what shows up at their classroom door from Home Schooling Land …Nonetheless, private planes are way more likely to go down than commercial planes, and usually because of the dumbest reasons …These all have implications that are subject to verification. The private plane analogy, for example, would be rejected if homeschoolers don’t in fact crash and burn more often than conventional students (as appears to be the case). If it’s attitude that matters, shouldn’t we at least attempt to measure attitudes?As for statistics, they are hard to come by because by and large home schoolers do not want to be surveyed or studied.Lack of data is not an excuse for jumping to conclusions. Yet here we have another leap: that homeschoolers are hiding (vs. the plausible alternative hypothesis, that homeschooling was until recently small and ignored by education researchers).How does the suckiness of public schools protect home schooling as a practice from scrutiny? It doesn’t.Fair enough, but one ought to at least examine the two side by side by the same yardstick (and not a yardstick picked by one side).In any case, be careful what you wish for: bringing homeschoolers into the conventional fold won’t just bring evolution to fundamentalists; it will also bring a lot of pressure to move the school system toward the homeschool mindset, whatever that is.

  39. Gwenny says:

    I also homeschooled. First from necessity, as my eldest son had “behavior problems” and spent a good deal of his time at home between educational placements. Between second grade and seventh grade I would say he was in my care, educationally, about 80% of the time. In seventh grade the school decided they wanted the already six foot tall young man to play sports for them and I offered them a deal. If they took him out of the placement where he was being “educated” in the companionship of murderers, gang members and drug dealers and took him off all his meds and gave me a tutor, would allow them to use him to win at football.The tutor’s first act was to have the 13 year old take the GED test, so she could see exactly where he needed to catch up after five years of being with me. LOL He passed all of the subjects except math. Additional testing showed him to have far above average knowledge of current events, science and incredible problem solving skills.Another story about home education. My youngest son was forced to go to Head Start because we were a single mother family on public assistance. The second day of class the admin called me over to the facility. She demanded to know what curriculum I was using, since my four year old could write his alphabet both upper and lower case, add and subtract up to 255, knew all his colors and shapes and could read many simple words. He had, she told me, the equivalent of a second grade education. I told her it was just PBS and Nintendo.After Columbine and the release of the ten characteristics of teenagers who might be a danger to themselves or society by the FBI, I took my children out of public school. All of them eventually decided just to take the GED test rather than bother with the other options and all passed. The eldest scored nearly perfectly. My daughter, the laziest, scored far above average on all subjects but science with she nearly got a perfect score in.Just for the record I was not motivated by religion. I was motivated by total disdain for a system in which I observed things like a teacher, who kept a Bible on his desk, saying, “What’s the matter with you? Are you all stupid? I was thinking of Pompeii.” when the classroom failed to identify the “volcano starting with P” he was thinking of . . .Soooo, instead of having broken adult children whose self esteem and worth had been trashed by years of abuse for being “different”, I have self confident and mostly successful children. The eldest son, age 28, is in law enforcement in another state and has four kids. The youngest son is a graphic designer at age 22 and was president of a Toastmaster club at age 18 and has been floor director of a public access television show for nearly four years.I say mostly successful because my daughter seems like she will never recover from her sister being kidnapped and has not found where she wants to go in life as she nudges the quarter century mark. ::sigh:: And I spoil her because I am, also, still crushed by grief by the lose of my child.I have no doubt there are loser homeschooling parents. But as an atheist and a radical I get tired of being lumped with nutso Christians who homeschool to keep their kids from learning anything.

  40. Logic Cop says:

    In ten minutes all comments that do not rely entirely on verifiable replicable statistically valid data will be deleted from this discussion of home schooling attitudes.

  41. the real cmf says:

    Gwenny: “First from necessity, as my eldest son had “behavior problems”I wonder if those “problems” had anything to do with the fact that you even ponder “a world without men…” or associate with that miondseton your blog? Hmmm…can’t imagine a young boy having a problem with that sort of mindset…ABC news “asks” “But would the absence of men make the world a better place? There would be far fewer wars without men on the planet, and the U.S. prison population would drop a colossal 97 percent…”And of course, the answer to why wars happen has nothing to do with mothers who create male children who not only are forced to believe in motherhood as a sacred entity, but also indoctrinated to not question female authority….the reason whty men fill prisons ( in that mindset) has nothing to do with innapropriate boundary issues or double standards on violence in the homes…nor does this “world without men” mindset encourage boys to tell–about the last taboo: the double standards on psychological, physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by women, and mothers.

  42. the real cmf says:

    Dawn: “Don’t be cute Greg…on your old blog, you left a little room for the unexpected, the unexpected sometimes happened and we did have some *reasonable discussion* on education and homeschooling”Yeah Greg, you lil’ cutie, knock it off!!Reasonable? as in “Greg listened to all of pro-HS the stereotypes, memetic misnomers, and propaganda from those who cannot possibly imagine that HS kids are being raised by dysfunctional adults” somehwere….Unexpected?Like what? Unexpected would be : an actual HS’er who discusses the various dysfunctions instead of the cheerleading that routinely occurs on the subject, here in cyberspace, and on Gregs blog–far far away from the actual home environments of the cheerleaders AND the dysfunctioal—out of sight of scientific scrutiny…Tom provides an interesting link (thanx) but asks “real question is, if there are kooky or crappy homeschoolers, what are you going to do about it?”I dunno, Tom , what do you suggest? Particularly, what do you suggest to document their behavioral kookiness–as a homeschooler, and FOR homeschoolers?

  43. Cthulhu says:

    Hi Greg,Interesting post – first time here at your blog. We home school our daughter because of learning disabilities. My wife an I both possess 4 year degrees (English and biology) and divide up the duty – I get the math and science (yay!). My son attends public schools and has been lucky to have really great science teachers (he is learning about evolution right now). And I agree – home schooling seems very hit or miss to me – you must devote a tremendous amount of time and energy to do it right, and I do not see that consistently.

  44. Penny says:

    “I have yet to meet a teacher who would claim that they are generally happy with what shows up at their classroom door from Home Schooling Land…”I can assure you that I wasn’t too happy with what showed up on my doorstep from School Land: a child who had manifestly learned absolutely nothing in three years, except perhaps to lie low as much as possible and try to raise her status through clothing and accessories. Her physical, linguistic and social development were all compromised. She was in a state such that I had a choice between removing her from school or taking her to psychiatrist.Now I’m not saying public school has that effect on all children…

  45. laurisa says:

    Cthulhu: you seem very genuine. i sincerely hope your decisions have been those that you can live with. I hope your son and your daughter are happy.Plus, DO came back to the old man’s blog. I’d love to hear more of what you say!

  46. laurisa says:

    Cthulhu: you seem very genuine. i sincerely hope your decisions have been those that you can live with. I hope your son and your daughter are happy.Plus, DO came back to the old man’s blog. I’d love to hear more of what you say!

  47. Gwenny says:

    @cmf

    I wonder if those “problems” had anything to do with the fact that you even ponder “a world without men

    Actually, they had to do with a combination of things, including being born “blue”–ie with the cord around his neck so that he was oxygen deprived which may have resulted in mild brain damage, witnessing his mother being abused for the first five years of his life and his own severe beating by his father, and just a genetic background that included a number of mentally ill folks. The SPECIFIC issue that got him labeled as “behavior disorder” was when a teacher grabbed him when he was scared and he ran away and wouldn’t come off the top of the slide.I suppose, in a way, my sons ARE a product of my ability to consider a world where I wasn’t raped against the concrete in the basement at least once a week throughout most of my childhood and a very abusive first husband. I strove to give my sons a strong enough sense of themselves as decent human beings that they would never feel the need to violate a woman in the ways I had been violated.

    or associate with that miondseton [sic] your blog? Hmmm…can’t imagine a young boy having a problem with that sort of mindset…

    How amusing. A person who extrapolates another person’s entire personality from the subject of one blog entry. Did you even bother READING the seed? It was an article about how one scientist considers the Y Chromosome to be flawed and that males will “die out” in 125,000 years.

  48. Tom Fiddaman says:

    I dunno, Tom , what do you suggest? Particularly, what do you suggest to document their behavioral kookiness–as a homeschooler, and FOR homeschoolers?I made one suggestion above:My half-baked prescription for the education system would be to try carrot instead of stick: open the schools to homeschoolers as a resource. It wouldn’t cost a lot, each party would get a better sense of the performance of the other, parents would get more involved in the schools, students would get more involved in their own learning, etc.I also mentioned that I was a bit libertarian. I don’t buy the libertarian party line that government is a bigger evil than any of the externalities it might address. But I do think one ought to have a clear delineation of the public’s compelling interest before regulating something. “To document their behavioral kookiness” doesn’t sound like a compelling interest; in fact it sounds a little Orwellian.Where I think the public does have a compelling interest is in ensuring that parents don’t violate the basic human rights of their children, and don’t raise ignoramuses who subsequently become a burden on society. I don’t see any evidence that homeschoolers are worse than average, or worse than public and private school parents, in those respects, so I don’t see the leverage in focusing on them.If you still want to document homeschooling, first note that you don’t get to document kookiness. You get to document educational outcomes. There might be several ways to do it, ranging from funding evaluation research based on voluntary sampling to mandatory testing. A voluntary approach seems appropriate to me at this time, when there isn’t a lot to go on, because it’s vastly cheaper, though it may involve selection bias. If you go the compulsory route, then there will be undoubtedly be corresponding demands on the public school system, which is already strained. I think the compulsory route is likely to drive those you’d most like to measure and fix underground, and in any case I doubt that there’s political will to go very far down that road.I’m not sure there is an easy answer, due to the multiple homeschooling philosophies involved. Policies that win over one group are likely to repel others. Anyway it’s an illusion to think that we can exercise much top-down control over the system. Instead, I’d be thinking about how to achieve three goals, mainly from grassroots up:- how do you prevent a public school death spiral? (parents opt out, voters are less willing to fund, quality falls, more parents opt out…)- how do you fulfill the social integration function of public schools in a more diverse setting?- how do you get sound science to win in the marketplace of ideas?In my mind, the answer has something to do with my half-baked prescription. Making schools more open and learner-directed could be a way to increase productivity, increase participation by groups currently repelled by some aspects of the curriculum, and disseminate the thinking skills needed to determine when the content of a theory or textbook is kooky. Make me king for a day and I’ll do better than that, but I think that’s all we can realistically hope for.

  49. the real cmf says:

    Gwenny: sorry to hear about your very sad sounding life. It makes me wonder why women choose such men to be with: makes me wonder more about the effects of intergenerational abuse–particularly because society is way too keen on listening to womens abuse stories, and not yet tooled for hearing the stories of boys who become “man surrogates” to mothers.Makes me wonder twice why they pass the “protector male” syndrome on to other generations…So when you say “A person who extrapolates another person’s entire personality from the subject of one blog entry…”Does it surprise you that I could in fact predict many of the stories you told above based on one blog post? The sentiment of a a manless world sells papers, and gets blog hits to those who like the language of the headline.Worse, by the time young men become aware of the dysfunction that mothers put on them, they have a Stockholm Syndrome like reaction “mothers can do no wrong,” rather than to look at abuse that mothers heap on kids for *whatever reason* they do it.Welcome to the world of dysfunction in childhood, where one generations excess becomes the next generations excess in reverse. All the more reason to send your kids to the PS, where often times, there are trained professionals who can spot dysfunctional parenting–though thye do often label it with misnomers like “ADHD”, and “Opp/Defiant Disorder” and other such things.Tom “king for today”Fiddaman: I like your aproach, but I disagree with you about this “first note that you don’t get to document kookiness…” bedcause guess what?YOU ARE KING TODAY!!!So please, for the sake of all of us, learn some ethnographic skills, and begin to document that kookiness!Especially document the anecdotal stories of power and control issues that many HS’ers have; and the insistence on their own “better than average” kids, or the knee jerk defensiveness many have at the mere suggestion that their parenting skills and or biases/flaws in those skills are to blame for a childs poor performance in PS….Your subjects will be forever happy, and remain loyal.

  50. the real cmf says:

    Gwenny: p.s. I did reqad the seed, which said “There would be far fewer wars without men on the planet, and the U.S. prison population would drop a colossal 97 percent…”and all I could think of was this conversation I had this morning with a colleague who holds a masters in social work: ” I did find that in my many years of being a parole agent/counselor/social worker for sex offenders, that at the bottom of it all most of them had been abused by women; their mothers, an aunt….”We both marvelled at how society at large would “castrate, kill, maim, otherwise harm” sex offenders, but even though the research all says that women are the primary abusers (neglect, physical abuseetc..) of children, it has yet to find it important to stop women–primary caretakers of boys– from sexually abusing them (it must have been the “babysitter” syndrome, etc.).Which of course, gives society a boogieman to boogie board all over, and fill those prisons with…

  51. Cthulhu says:

    Cthulhu: you seem very genuine. i sincerely hope your decisions have been those that you can live with. I hope your son and your daughter are happy.Plus, DO came back to the old man’s blog. I’d love to hear more of what you say!

    Thanks laurisa – I’ll be back (sorry – couldn’t resist) I like the blog. My kids are very happy – lots of friends, straight A students and on the way to being very good critical thinkers. The time and effort it takes to home school our daughter is worth every minute. And it pays dividends for my son too, as we bleed a lot of the science education to him also. It is kind of fun to teach a 6th grade basic physics at an 11th grade level and watch him get it! When the light goes on in my kids eyes when the finally understand WHY something works (instead of merely memorizing a bunch of dry facts) it is truly wonderful.

  52. This is what happens to children in a system where there is supposedly accountability: the children are labeled and drugged up because of who they are.http://www.pbs.org/parents/raisingboys/school.htmlI think I’d rather take my chances with allowing parents to teach their children.

  53. the real cmf says:

    Alas: my bad…it has been awhile since I encountered Doc here.But I don’t really see a whole bunch of assumptions up there: alot of opinions, discussions, etc, and a bunch of observations and inferences drawn from experience ( here on this blog and elsewhere) about some of the vocal yokels in the HS community…as well as some very interesting posts from others ( the heretofore-not-affiliated-with vocal yokels crowd) who have some useful, interesting perspectives to share.

  54. Elizabeth says:

    Al: Actually, I think the mistaken gender for the Doc was made by a home schooler.

  55. Tom Fiddaman says:

    So please, for the sake of all of us, learn some ethnographic skills, and begin to document that kookiness!OK, I just reread John Van Maanen’s Smile Factory and I’m ready to go. I must hang out with the wrong crowd, though, because I don’t see the kooky stuff around here. I just see people struggling to walk the fine line between pushing a formal curriculum and letting kids learn on their own, and sometimes getting the mix wrong. But then, sometimes the PS gets it wrong too.

  56. Steve says:

    You know, my wife and I decided to home school because of all of the unlearning we had to do once we got out into the “real world” – about history, about science even. I was in a fundy household when I was a teen, and no one in my school understood evolution any better than the fundies that were indoctrinating me. American History was “pravda’d” beyond all recognition, world history was barely discussed. Much of what was taught was taught out of outdated books (this was the ’70s). I had an English teacher that told me I read too much; I had another Senior English teacher that had poor (written!!!) grammar and spelling; I had a “Modern Fiction” teacher that sent me to the principle when I disagreed with her reading of Stranger in a Strange Land (she insisted Jake and Luke were the same person). I had a math teacher in 9th grade that told me you HAD to use a calculator to extract a square root – you couldn’t do it on paper. I had a geometry teacher that told me “There are three kinds of students, bumblebees, bluebirds, and barnswallows, and you’re a bumblebee trying to be a barnswallow” (because I was asking more advanced questions about axioms and theorums and proofs).Our daughter begged us to allow her to go to public school in first grade at the same school as her cousin. We sent her to school reading very well (although slightly sloppy penmanship), with excellent basic arithmetic skills, and a good grounding in science (for a first grader). Now, almost all the way through first grade, her reading is still improving (because her teacher was a reading specialist) but her math has regressed, as has her science. So we essentially have to send her to the school for seven hours, then get her back and THEN home school her. I’m failing to see the big upside of public schooling you’re talking about.

  57. Daniel says:

    I would have to say that homeschooling can differentiate a lot! I was homeschooled my whole life until college. From my experience I think it can be great until highschool, once there most kids really find their individuality and I think it’s much better to attend a normal highschool, even though I never did. Homeschooling can have extreme ups and downs.

  58. I was homeschooled. I was taken out of school in the 7th grade and never set foot in a high school during classes. I only went back to school my first day of college.I was taken out of school for two reasons: religious reasons, and I was getting beaten up. The principal had the gall to say that my getting beaten up was partly my fault. well, you know, it’s true.My parents were not smart people and had no idea how to teach. I graduated Clonlara by the skin of my teeth, and almost completely from teaching myself.I have a high paying job as a computer engineer right now. I consider this in spite of my homeschooling, not because of it.Would I recommend it? Yes, but only to certain kinds of people. Those with well balanced familes who are smart and have the time to teach their kids and be involved. For everyone else, make those kids go to school, because at least then they’ll get an idea of what they need to learn that their parents can’t or won’t teach them.Oh, and yes. Children are not chattel. When someone says “my kids are MINE”, I tend to respond, “No, your kids are THEIRS.” If you’re only doing things because you “own” the kids, and not because it’s in the objective best interests of the child, you need to have your children taken away from you. Period.

  59. Andrew says:

    With ants, the parents are chattel, owned by the larva.

  60. Phil says:

    “Their motivations are often religious, or often political or often both.”I kind of agree with you on certain points. I homeschool my 4th grade son, and soon my 2nd grade daughter, but not for any of the reasons you assume.We do this because my son was bored in school, and was losing his enthusiasm for learning.In other words, our motivations are solely about our children. My son is the example of a homeschooler that doesn’t fit your perceptions. Sorry about that.I’m raising my kids to be well-rounded life-long learners. We have high standards for education. I can’t really say the same thing of the dumbed-down public school curriculum.The bottom line is that there are bad students and bad teachers everywhere. For every poorly performing homeschooler you point out, I can point right back at TEN similar students in the public system. For every socially awkward homeschooler, I can walk into any public high school and find just as many, or more, students who you might call a “freak” or a “geek” or worse.Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, anybody?We’ll keep homeschooling, and you’ll keep promoting stereotypes. In the end, my kids will receive a better education, and have a much more interesting childhood, than most other kids.

  61. Steve says:

    “Children are not chattel.”Absolutely true, but not informative. When you choose to bring a child into the world, you accept a profound responsibility for preparing that child for adulthood. It’s your responsibility and your right to teach that child what you believe to be true, or to select an appropriate proxy to perform that task (or degrees of that task). This is fundamental to liberty of any sort – including freedom of religion.Since 75% or more of the US self-identify as Christian, and we adhere to a rude form of representative government, what do you suppose might happen if we give the state the right to override that educational responsibility? My daughter is (unfortunately) in public school, and even though they’re not doing anything overt, it’s literally STEEPED in Christian symbology and sensibility. I have to re-assure her on a regular basis that it’s perfectly ok for her friends to be Christian and for her not to be – and she’s only in first grade.Our school district has a history – teachers telling non-christian students they were going to hell, teachers talking about Jesus to their class (in a proselytizing manner, not even in any semblance of an attempt at a historical, religiously neutral discussion ), things like that.Many people believe children should go to school for ‘socialization’ – by that I suppose they mean “getting used to being around other kids.” But kids learn by example, and many studies have demonstrated that kids in school are far more influenced by their peer groups than by the adults in their lives, when it comes to behavior. This is not generally true for home schooled kids. That’s why (IMO) home schooled children tend to have better problem resolution skills, and interpersonal skills – rather than learning problem resolution on the playground, where name calling and shoving someone is de rigeur, they have adult examples of how to approach such things. Probably not perfect, but certainly better than what happens in a group of children.

  62. Greg Laden says:

    I have to re-assure her on a regular basis that it’s perfectly ok for her friends to be Christian and for her not to be – and she’s only in first grade.Same here but farther along in grades. I get the impression that Christians, even know and love my daughter personally, are related to her, whatever, have even the tiniest clue as to how bad this can be. We deal with it, sure, but having a highly questionable world view assumed by everyone you encounter all the time, and everything from mild astonishment to disdain as the reaction to a child when someone finds out this view is not shared, is oppressive.

  63. Becca says:

    I get the impression that Schoolers, even those that know and love homeschooled pupils personally, or who are related to them, whatever, don’t have even the tiniest clue as to how bad this can be. We deal with it, sure, but having a highly questionable world view assumed by everyone you encounter all the time, and everything from mild astonishment to distain as the reaction to a child when someone finds out this view is not shared, is oppressive.It’s ok Dr. Laden. We love you anyway. Can we all get along now?

  64. Kelli says:

    I am a homeschooling mom and a church youth worker. Before moving to our current community all I heard from many adults was Claysville is “a good school” I would like to know to these people’s ideas about what makes a school good. Low test scores, overcrowded classrooms, lack of variety in subjects etc… Spending a few minutes with the kids in my youth group is enough to realize that the school is not doing the right job. We decided to try it out anyway. When our kids were there they were called names like nerd, freak, and weirdo because they actually like to learn about things. My oldest son was made fun of because he did not talk like a backwoods hick. Being out of the school they are able to move along at their own pace. They are not being dragged along because the other kids are at a different level.

  65. Shawna says:

    I cannot comment on how well prepared homeschoolers are for college mainly because my lack of experience with them and because so much of what is reported to the public are the great success stories, which leaves a lopsided picture.But I can attest to the poor quality of preparation of publicly schooled students, having taught them, observed them and having been one of them!I was a decent student myself and in fact selected to skip over some high school classes to begin college early–I did not do so due to my parents divorcing at the time and my sister and I taking a back seat in life… regardless, the first thing “I” noticed in university was how unprepared I was for it! Even community college hadn’t prepared me for what was required and in fact I look 18 months of between community college and university so as to mature and arrange my life so that I could dedicate myself to university.As I home educate my 2nd grader I often find myself reviewing concepts with him and saying, “Now pay attention, because even my high school students couldn’t keep this one straight/ spell this/ compute this/etc.” It motivates him and saddens me that my high school students hadn’t even internalize nor retained basic 2nd grade material.My own children, whom are in public high school and attended public schools their who academic lives, fall short in many areas. Where their interests lie they do VERY well; in the basics, they often falter. In fact 3 of my adult children have not had success in community college and have fumbled terribly in the basics of living (finances, economics, self-sufficiency, finding out what they need to help them in various aspects of living: where and how to file taxes, where and how to obtain car insurance, where to go vote and how to find out where to go vote, trying to decide which political party they want to register for–what is a Democrat, what is a Republican, etc.) Yes, dad and I emphasized these things at home and as parents; we both were self-sufficient, independent, intelligent, avid readers and able to find what we needed in life to make it on our own as young people–each out of the house before 20… but considering that so much of our children’s lives are spent on a school campus, I now see how much that influence overrides their learning until they are older and more mature and the teachings and examples of home begin to resurface and set in.Again, I may not know much about how prepared home educated children are for the academic life of college, but I do know that many of those publicly schooled students simply are not!

  66. Shawna says:

    Oh… and I do not home educate for religious reasons.

  67. Tom L says:

    Analogies aren’t ever exact, but they are designed to produce a particular reaction in the mind of the listener.The plane analogy is all about how dangerous it is to allow an inexperienced individual to have access to a finicky and unforgiving process. When a pilot makes a serious mistake, flaming death usually ensues in short order. There are no second chances.If a child’s education were a plane, his pilot would have to crash it every Tuesday and Thursday for better than twelve years running in order to render the airframe unflyable. No repairs allowed, either. When not actually crashing, his pilot would also have to make a habit of landing at shopping malls, freeways and dry lakebeds without ever noticing that they weren’t in fact airports.Homeschooling is the very antithesis of a finicky and unforgiving process. Every day is a new opportunity to look back and say “Gee, what do we need to do differently?” To go through an entire twelve or more years of educating a child, unaware of what is and isn’t working, would require the parent to pay no attention whatsoever. This outcome seems far more likely in the public schools, where a parent could leave the education to somebody else, and only gets notification of need for course corrections at report card time, midterm progress reports, or to respond to disciplinary problems.No, analogies aren’t ever perfect. But sometimes, they’re just really, really lousy.

  68. Rolfe says:

    Hi Greg,Sorry I’ve been so scarce, but blogging has been a pretty low priority lately. I just heard your call for wacky libertarian arm-waving and my ears perked up. Maybe if you had called for anarchists trolls I’d have been over here sooner…I have to say I like your airplane analogy. If all your trying to do is get from point A to point B and there’s a cheap commercial flight that runs the route, then flying your own seems pretty silly. I’m not saying it should be outlawed, mind you.But the private plane can allow you to do and see things you’d never do otherwise. I’m trying to line one up right now to fly my family down into the Bolivian altiplano and mingle with the flamingos. We know where we want to go and the commercial flight won’t get us close. Will probably end up just spending 4 days in a land rover.The reasons I want to homeschool aren’t very different from the reasons I want to fly in a dinky little prop plane every once in a while: I want to take my kids places that aren’t easy to reach. If they’re interested in something they shouldn’t back down until they get answers.Well, I have a lot of other reasons too. I’m sure some of them are due to my wacky politics. But I really don’t think my mind is in the “the homeschooler mind set”. So the homeschooler mind set must not be the set of all homeschooler minds.OK, I haven’t done my libertarian arm waving. How about this: If homeschooling is outlawed, only outlaws will homeschool! More seriously, if my rights to homeschool were curtailed in any meaningful way I would either flout the law or leave the country. I’m not worried that it’s going to happen, but I do take the issue that seriously.

  69. Cherish says:

    If all your trying to do is get from point A to point B and there’s a cheap commercial flight that runs the route, then flying your own seems pretty silly.OT: Not if you took the cheap flight I did between Oahu and Hawaii last year. I would’ve easily considered buying my own plane. I was seriously waiting (praying?) for the flight-attendant to throw one of these horribly obnoxious kids out the door mid-flight. Without a parachute. :-)Back to your comments, I agree with your sentiment. I think you can take the analogy a bit farther as well. You get what you pay for. Public schooling (very often, but not always) is sort of the Wal-Mart of education. I’m not saying there aren’t some awesome teachers out there, but it’s really hit or miss and the system doesn’t do much to encourage teachers to put their all into it. The ones who do seldom receive any sort of formal recognition. In terms of flying, you’re on a first-come, first-serve cattle-call flight where they give you only peanuts and water, riding through insane turbulence, and sitting next to the talkative guy who won’t shut up as you’re trying to read the last few pages of an incredibly intense novel.Not my idea of fun.

  70. ThirstyJon says:

    When you say

    “…home schooling, which has almost no rules or training of any kind…”

    I cannot help but wonder if perhaps you don’t know very much about this topic at all. This is my first visit to your blog, but my exposure to the world of homeschooling has revealed to me a group of people motivated by excellence who are constantly self-training.I work with young people, and with a few exceptions the homeschool kids that come my way are the best of the best.:-)ThirstyJon

  71. Lynn says:

    Rolfe: “I’m trying to line one up right now to fly my family down into the Bolivian altiplano…”Helpful advice: Try not to forget fuel because we wouldn’t want you to oops… CrashAnd, thank you for my new favorite quote: “The homeschooler mind set must not be the set of all homeschooler minds.” Hey, could you do another one for me using the word vainglorious?

  72. Greg Laden says:

    Thirsty Jon:What you say is very positive about home schooling.The public school teachers I know most about and the school I know most about are wonderful. Therefore the public school system is wonderful.OK, now that we are done with the circle jerk, can we talk about verifiable data?If you have the typical home schooler attitude, here is what you will conclude I know about home schooling: Nothing. Because we probably disagree. And the typical home schooler attitude (with many exceptions, of course, rolfe above being a notable example) seems to be: If someone disagrees with you, tell them they don’t know what they are talking about.Prove I’m wrong! …. :(

  73. Tannerzmum says:

    Denise wrote, “I know a home-schooled kid who is 9 and can’t read.”I taught in public schools for 15 years before having my children. I knew *many* 9 year olds who couldn’t read!It’s not for anyone else to decide how I choose to educate my children, just as it’s not for me to decide how you should educate yours. Your arguments against homeschooling are purely anecdotal and misinformed. They are not supported by the current research.

  74. Willa says:

    Greg on April 30:This post is about attitude, not statistics.Greg on May 2:OK, now that we are done with the circle jerk, can we talk about verifiable data?Which one? You don’t seem to know quite what you want out of the discussion.If you want to talk about attitude, I see plenty of both kinds on both sides. You’re not going to prove anything about the “homeschooler mindset” by random quote collections. I think the “mindset” tack can prove exactly anything, or nothing.If you want to talk about verifiable data, that usually validates the homeschoolers. Of course, verifiable data is hard to gather reliably, as you point out. I would add that many, in both homeschools and public schools, don’t think that the standardized academic measurements in themselves are very reliable.The quotes you culled are from a spectrum of worldviews, from Protestant Christianity to secular evolutionary. There is no indication of what kind of schooling is taking place in any of the quotes, so judging from that, academics are not your primary concern with homeschooling.I think this is the heart of the mindset that bothers you:“misguided religious intent and wacky libertarian arm waving” What it must come down to is that you think it’s more dangerous for parents to choose how to educate their children than for the government to do so. That’s the only thing I can see in common between the various quotes…. the mindset that parents have the right to educate children according to their own standards and values (within a framework of law, of course — there was no suspicion of abuse or illegality in any of the quotes that I could see, unless you think that sheltering from violence or teaching the Bible are abusive practices).

  75. Amy says:

    Anyone who has spent any amount of time in our public school system should know a lot about brainwashing! Why can’t Johnny read? Because your tax dollars are paying for social engineering!Wake up! Our school systems completely fail tens of thousands of kids every year yet our National “Educators’ Association” has time to fight in favor of placing Ramadan on the school calendar and arm wrestle “conservative” parents who don’t think their child’s first grade teacher should read a “storybook” about Heather and her “two mommies”?!?! I wonder where we could be going wrong.. hmmm…Get over yourselves people. Thank God for freedom, now all you home education haters can go forth and multiply and stick *your* offspring in our abysmal school systems… oh yes, those institutions of higher learning are producing some fine, upstanding cogs for the wheel.

  76. Melissa says:

    So, you obviously do not approve of homeschooling. Why continue to rant about it though? Are people not free to make their own decisions regarding their own families? Even if you don’t agree with them? Haven’t you done this with your family? What purpose do your rants accomplish other than stir up a hornet’s nest. Or is that the desired result? It seems your post is specifically designed to create controversy. I find that rather sad. I would be very interested in having you post some actual facts and statistics that have been published regarding homeschooling. Or would the facts not match up with your rants? Opinions are fine…but try backing them up with some facts next time. Real, published facts that are out there for everyone to see. Not just people’s published opinions but hard facts.

  77. Jeanette says:

    How many homeschooled children have you heard of that take drugs for “learning disabilities” or “ADD”?Which students consistantly out-perform public schooled children academically?Who says homeschooled children get no interaction with other adults? Do they all live in caves?NOT CONVINCED.

  78. “I have yet to meet a teacher who would claim that they are generally happy with what shows up at their classroom door from Home Schooling Land …”This isn’t relevant, because a teacher generally only sees failed homeschoolers.”The reason that I think a lot of home schoolers are not doing a great job is because their motivations are not really in the interest of the child. Their motivations are often religious, or often political or often both. The children are being dragged along in the adult’s efforts to make some point, play some game, avoid some personal discomfort, get their jollies in one way or another, etc.”I disagree. Having met a great number of homeschoolers (in the Bible Belt, no less), our primary motivation is to provide the best education possible, and that is increasingly not available in our brick-and-mortar schools.”In this case, though, I thought the short term sample would be a fairly impressive way to make the point.”…are you really a science teacher? Like… really? A successful one? What is your degree in, and when did you receive it? Because this ‘sample’ isn’t statistically valid and is only impressive in the fact that the person whom is presenting it is someone who claims to be a scientist.Your views seem to be both biased and overly simplistic. You seem to think that brick-and-mortar schools are all the same, everywhere, and that’s simply not true. I live in Oklahoma, and our schools are generally terrible. On top of that, educating children isn’t half as hard as you make it out to be. Children are designed to learn and desire to learn. Oklahoman children don’t seem to lose the wonder of learning until they hit a classroom where, by the way, the word evolution is never mentioned, much less taught.

  79. Wow says:

    “This isn’t relevant, because a teacher generally only sees failed homeschoolers.”And you’ll only hear about the children who teaching has failed.Beware of bias. Especially when claiming bias on someone else.

  80. Greg Laden says:

    Rose, sorry, I thought you were referring to what I wrote in this blog post. Yes, in the past I’ve expressed a lot of things about home schooling that have been denied by home schoolers. No doubt about that!. You seem to think that brick-and-mortar schools are all the same, everywhere, and that’s simply not true. You need to pay more attention to what I’ve written about “brick and mortar,” then you would not make this incorrect generalization.”…are you really a science teacher? Like… really? A successful one? What is your degree in, and when did you receive it?”Just click on the “about” page above, if it is still there (this blog is getting redesigned and it may go away, in which case it will move to gregladen.com)I’ve never taught in K-12 schools, if that is what you are asking, other than as a guest (which reminds me I’ve got a presentation to prepare for Thursday..)Thanks for your comments.

  81. “And you’ll only hear about the children who teaching has failed.Wait, what? Your sentence doesn’t make any sense. I think you mean that, as a homeschooler, I’ll only hear about children whom were unsuccessful in a public school? If so, I disagree.First, homeschoolers are not an isolated bunch. Every homeschooler that I know is active in their community, meaning that we spend alot of time with publicly-schooled students.In addition, the media frequently reports on everything from scholarship winners to spelling bee winners, with successful school stories in between. It’s very, very easy to find success stories about public school students, especially in states with great public schools.Of course, I wasn’t talking about whom we hear about, but whom we see. Successful homeschoolers rarely stop homeschooling, thus teachers are only likely to see returning students for whom homeschooling failed.Beware of bias. Especially when claiming bias on someone else.I wasn’t claiming that teachers (or anyone else) are biased; I was noting that his statement wasn’t relevant.

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