A critique of home schooling

Katie Criss has a post critiquing home schooling.

When I asked myself the question, How do you feel about home schooling? I first thought “Why would anyone do that” So I researched exactly that, What are the reasons that people give of why they choose to homeschool and how valid are they.


The analysis is here.

Comments

  1. #1 DRK
    February 14, 2008

    Is this an analysis, or is it taking four sad cases of nutty parents who also happened to be homeschooling their kids, and tarring a whole community with the resultant brush? Don’t get me wrong, I have some serious reservations about home schooling, (there is a danger of the child developing too narrow a world view, just for starters), but I wouldn’t call Ms. Criss’ piece an analysis — it seems to be more just an excuse to rant on home schoolers. I mean, there’s no discussion of comparative graduation rates or college admission for instance, or for that matter any serious statistics on the rates of abuse of kids in public versus home schools.

  2. #2 Louis B.
    February 15, 2008

    Disappeared.

  3. #3 Mark
    February 15, 2008

    My comments are probably a bit more emotional today that I would normally allow … My thirteen year-old homeschooled son works with several geology grad students from NIU (although he didn’t know the TA who was wounded in the attack).

    Katie Criss needs to do some actual research, instead of relying on hearsay. My wife and I have homeschooled our four children (ages 13, 11, 8, and 4; 1 boy and 3 girls) all of their lives, and none of the fruits of Katie’s “research” even remotely reflect our reality.

    1. We don’t homeschool for security reasons. In fact, most homeschooled kids are out in areas (museums, etc.) far more public than the controlled environments found in schools.

    2. We have to limit the number of requests that we can honor for our kids to be around other kids – otherwise, we’d never get anything done. Do some research: socialization is not an issue for homeschooled kids.

    3. We don’t homeschool for religious reasons. Yes, there are people who do, and who attempt to limit the exposure of their children to non-religious (or even to other religious) ideas, but we’re not among them. And we aren’t alone. And a public school education, however secular, doesn’t eliminate fundamentalist bias – as the bloggers of ScienceBlogs frequently document.

    4. We do have a bias. It’s called the Western Intellectual Tradition. That forms the core of our kid’s education. It includes Great Books (the dead white guys stuff), as well as science (and associated tools, like mathematics and statistics) and languages (Greek, Latin, and Spanish). Our kids are active researchers/writers, are involved in the community (Scouts, drama clubs, etc.), and have plenty of friends. Our son has traveled to Europe, as well as Canada, in the course of his education (our daughters are scheduled for trips next).

    In our area, there aren’t any public elementary, junior high, or high school programs that offer the curricula that we’re offering.

    My son is due to “graduate” from high next year, when he turns 14. As I mentioned, he’s already working with geology graduate students (he intends to be a paleontologist), and is a prepator in the Earth Sciences department of a local natural history museum.

    I have no idea who Katie Criss is, but she has no idea of what she is talking about. Generalizations need to be based on data, and she has none.

  4. #4 Christina
    February 15, 2008

    I agree with the above commenter that Criss’ take on homeschooling seems fairly biased and perhaps a not so thinly veiled attack on the religious right. This is not to say that I myself am not extremely suspicious of the religious right and their motives for homeschooling their children, but taking such a one-sided stance provides further fodder to fuel the fire for the religious right to argue that they are a persecuted minority among a vast, all powerful and oppressive liberal conspiracy. Personally, I prefer not to give them any ammunition in this argument and accordingly try to be as charitable as possible when discussing such issues. Her bias notwithstanding, Criss’ numerous grammatical errors and halting writing style do nothing to support her argument. I found this interpretation of homeschooling in America disappointing and slightly embarrassing.

  5. #5 Tom
    February 15, 2008

    Same old litany of debunked claims, one-sided accusations, and rhetorical mischief.

  6. #6 Sue in Denver
    February 15, 2008

    I am especially intrigued by Katie Criss’ statement that:
    In an institution goals are made to make sure that the material being taught is bias free…

    I’m not sure this is a statement that is founded in truth. Can this be substantiated? Every day Christians are discriminated against for speaking what they believe. And the idea of tolerance is promoted only if people agree with those touting tolerance. Evolution replaced creationism, alternative lifestyles are taught as normal, Republican presidents are spoken of disrepectfully. (I remember reading of one school where a teacher was asked to remove a picture of George Bush from her classroom as it might promote a political agenda.) I’m not sure who found a picture of our current president offensive, but that sou nds a little biased to me.

    You don’t have to look much deeper to see that most institutions teach material that is completely biased; mainly liberal and rather anti-religious in many cases.

    Thanks for sharing the article. What did you think of it?

  7. #7 Theo Bromine
    February 15, 2008

    I forced myself to read through the entire article – I agree with Christina’s comment about the writing style. (If I were a highschool writing teacher, I think I would give that a “B” grade, at best.)

    Both of my sons were partially homeschooled. One of them took an alternative approach to highschool, and in the end went to college with out actually finishing highschool. The other took advantage of “distance learning” for his last year of highschool so he could get access to courses not offered by the local schools. He graduated conventionally and went on to university.

    Many of the homeschoolers I know have taken that option out of desperation – their child is failing in school, despite being of above-average intelligence, and there does not seem to be any way to address the problem in the school system. Teachers are too busy, don’t know what to do, in some cases simply don’t like the child. Lots of homeschoolers can cite group school horror stories.

    As for teacher training, I agree that being a classroom teacher requires a significant amount of skill and training, and I have tremendous respect for those who do that job, many of whom are overworked and underpaid. But to say that a parent is not qualified to teach a few of their own kids if they have not taken this kind of training is completely missing the point. Homeschooling is individualized learning, not classroom teaching at home.

    One last point, because no discussion of homeschooling would be complete without someone mentioning socialization: I’m hoping that eventually people might realize that being bullied as a child is not necessarily the best way to learn how to deal with bullies as an adult, in the same way that throwing kids into deep water has fallen out of favour as a good way to teach them to swim.

  8. #8 ANDREA
    February 15, 2008

    Personally, I had more fun picking out the bad grammar than reading the ‘essay’. There wasn’t an original argument in this entire diatribe.

  9. #9 Cherish
    February 16, 2008

    Go Theo!

    I personally think this article wasn’t worth the photons wasted in generating a signal to my brain. Photons could be used for much better things.

  10. #10 Lori
    February 16, 2008

    “When I asked myself the question, How do you feel about home schooling? . . .”

    Why think when you can feel?

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    February 16, 2008

    My reaction to the “bias” thing: I totally agree with the author. There is going to be less bias in a pluralistic environment than a home schooled environment. This is utterly obvious. Many people take their kids out of schools and home school them for this exact reason: They are not interested in either diversity of opinion, or in a particular aspects of school (they are biased against it) and don’t want their kids exposed to it.

    I wish buplic schools were as secular and liberal as some of our commentators seem to imply! Even in a public school, there seems to be a lot of presumption that everyone who is normal is a Christian There is a lot of anti-evolution sentiment. It is kind of scary when a seventh grade life science teacher can’t get the class to settled down because they keep harassing her for teaching evolution. Those kids … the seventh graders who can’t tolerate evolution … should be home schooled. Kept home where they won’t bother the kids who want to learn.

  12. #12 Tom
    February 16, 2008

    The bias charge is the one thing in the whole article which actually sticks, but even so it is not a reason to crack down on homeschooling. The State does not have the a priori right to take children out of their families and indoctrinate them in views that are contrary to their parents’ wishes. This is not Communist China; our public schools are not reeducation centers. Our Founding Fathers were very big on protecting the “rights of conscience” and this is one example of that principle. In the case of fundamentalists (homeschoolers or otherwise) it is also an example of the principle “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    That said, however, I agree with Greg: people who insist on teaching their kids superstitious, medieval tripe should have the decency to do it in the privacy of their own homes, and let the rest of us learn twenty-first century science (even if it is only “theories” *rolls eyes*) in peace.

  13. #13 Adso of Melk
    February 16, 2008

    I found it a relatively uninformative, mostly hysterical, one-sided diatribe — not like that’s a bad thing all the time, of course, but here, it’s not that interesting.

    We essentially homeschool because the schools in our area are quite poor in quality and because we can tailor our education to our child, not the other way around. If there’s a problem with the curriculum, it can be solved the next day with no hassle; there’s no concern about being “ahead” or “behind,” and everything can be learned to mastery.

    There are plenty of “bias’s” (to quote the author of the article) in public school, and I agree with you that exposure to many or diverse “bias’s” will be helpful, but truly, unless your homeschooled child is living on a desert island, s/he tends to be exposed to many people, many ideas, many ideologies — as we all do just by living every day, reading, watching television, hearing people argue. The lack of national public schooling was no impediment to the foundation of this country’s democracy and somehow, even without public school, we managed to create a nation with a highly literate population whose essential government depends upon a diversity of viewpoints.

    Frankly, this article isn’t really worth the time.

  14. #14 the real cmf
    February 17, 2008

    re: “their child is failing in school, despite being of above-average intelligence”
    This statement from one commenter above strikes a nearly honest chord, and from inference, I think it is fair to ask ‘is it possible these failing, bright kids are in fact victims of plain old shitty and inferior parenting?’
    Which then leads to a second potential failure: homeschooling to cover that problem up….

    and about those data claims–homeschoolers often fall back onto a platform that demands data–but refuse to give it up in an unbiased manner, and always refute the data that exists, and cry ‘foul, stereotype!’ Good luck getting solid data out of such a cloistered, secretive and biased community/ies.

  15. #15 Cherish
    February 17, 2008

    I think it is fair to ask ‘is it possible these failing, bright kids are in fact victims of plain old shitty and inferior parenting?’
    Which then leads to a second potential failure: homeschooling to cover that problem up….

    I think it’s fair to assume you have no clue about the significant amount of research done by members of groups like Mensa (especially, Dr. Deborah Ruf – check out her book “Losing Our Minds – Gifted Children Left Behind), the Gifted Education Center in Denver, and SENG (supporting the emotional needs of the gifted) to show that schooling significantly short-changes the gifted. The more gifted, the worse the problem. Please spend some time checking out the homeschooling mensans special interest group, and you’ll see what horrible experiences gifted children have repeatedly. Most of the parents in this groupd did not want to homeschool but found it was often the last resort in dealing with uncompromising schools.

    Schools demand conformity, intelligence be damned, and bright children very often find school a horrible, frustrating experience. Often, the only way to allow them to learn both in ways compatible with both their drive and intelligence is to homeschool.

  16. #16 Theo Bromine
    February 18, 2008

    I said, regarding reasons for homeschooling: “their child is failing in school, despite being of above-average intelligence”

    In reply, “the real cmf” said: This statement from one commenter above strikes a nearly honest chord, and from inference, I think it is fair to ask ‘is it possible these failing, bright kids are in fact victims of plain old shitty and inferior parenting?’

    Certainly that is a fair question, to which reference to research indicating the contrary has already been provided above. In my experience, the poor parents are the ones who are likely not to try to take any action at all (let alone doing something as extreme as homeschooling) to address the needs of a bright child with problems in school. But maybe if my parenting skills were better, I would have been able to help my son succeed in conventional public school, without breaking his spirit and/or destroying my relationship with him. On the other hand, after skipping highschool to be homeschooled, my son is about to complete (with high grades) the 2nd of 2 post-secondary college diplomas (both of which are related to his chosen career), has a part-time job, does volunteer work, and is generally considered (according to reports from objective observers) to be a nice person to be around. So, if the desired parenting outcome is “get your kids to graduate highschool” I failed. But I would much rather see the desired outcome of “help your kids become productive members of society”.

    and about those data claims–homeschoolers often fall back onto a platform that demands data–but refuse to give it up in an unbiased manner, and always refute the data that exists, and cry ‘foul, stereotype!’

    It is not clear to me which data claims are being referred to here – care to elaborate?

  17. #17 Stella
    February 18, 2008

    That is the poorest critique of homeschooling I’ve ever tried to read. I just couldn’t force myself to finish it. The author may have an education degree (according to a bio on another article), but she clearly didn’t retain much from English Composition 101.

  18. #18 the real cmf
    February 18, 2008

    Cherish, I totally agree “schooling significantly short-changes the gifted.”

    I was one of those early statistical failures of the gifted program: I remember the bullying, the oddness of being the smart kid, the wasted time becoming dumb to fit in, etc. I don’t disagree with you at all that schools are inept, even today in that area–and I don’t think the schools are cut out to nurture that intellect either, and we all know that the PS system is designed from its inception to foster the average, the ‘normative’ and the inferior–designed to teach the ‘masses’ how to read the instructons that go along with a tool and die shop machine, and to calculate their taxes–or at least add up the receipts.

    On the other hand, I have watched as brilliant young minds from both the right wing Christian, and the left wing feminist and/or family bed crowd destroy their childrens minds with biased brainwashing experiences that make public school bullying look trite by comparison. What I disagree with is that homeschooling is the only answer.

    There are a lot of active and undoubtedly remarkable HS parents who come here to Greg’s blog, and it is nice to hear them–they are the shining minority, some of them (you?)I commend anyone who actually does a good job—and it sounds like you do Theo, et al–I look forwards, actually, to a time when there might be oversight of homeschoolers that goes beyond a yearly test–a test where the outside world gets to grade performance. That is the data that exists thus far, but I look forwrd even more to data about the failures–those kids who may have gotten the passing grades on their tests–what? administered at home at the kitchen table while mom and or dad watches/supervises/grades it?

    As one up above points out “there are a lot of people IN the [PS]system who are trying to point out that the system needs serious rethinking”

    Well. Yeah, but at least they are working towards that change and more importantly–> they admit the system is flawed. I don’t see that sort of accountability amongst homeschoolers as a rule, not as an exception to that rule. Homeschoolers ( the ones who DO chat on blogs, or who are active in the issues) have perfect, incredibly intelligent, high achieving, flawless children who are raised with parents who have equal qualifications… etc.

    *Pat on back* Keep up the good work….but who in the homescholer comm. even admit there are flaws at all in the looseness of it, or that it needs oversight ( oversight–the sworn enemy of both homeschoolers and child abusers alike-not a pretty fact, but a fact nonetheless)

    Moreso, I love the horror stories–the murderer homeschool kid with the obese depressed mom, who hid herself –and then her kid–away long enough to create a monster. I love these stories because they represent the tip of a hidden berg, and because HS parents are all so very individual, and all of their children so gifted, they are unaccountable to a society at large for enabling this behavior, and others.

    I say data on THAT doesn’t exist. The religious HS zealouts who create the next John Gacey, the HS feminists who raise pedophiles, and the just plain mediocre amongst the HS who create the kid who is just another depressed broom pusher, or a beer guzzling pan handler in Toronto; it is the other home schoolers who helped enable it by overlooking it, and denying the existence of it–that data will exist in the next generation.

  19. #19 Cherish
    February 18, 2008

    Real emf:

    At least if a homeschooler becomes homocidal, they only take out their family instead of an auditorium or classroom of unsuspecting students. (If you want to be very cynical about it, I suppose you could claim the former is Darwinism in action while the latter is mindless violence.)

    The outcomes you discuss are at least as prevalent (if not more common) in public school populations. My experience with homeschoolers (long before I was one) is that these kids have a much better sense of self and goals than any public schooler I’ve ever met. I’ve never worried about “reporting” anything because I’ve never seen it! On the other hand, I saw a lot of it when teaching public school and far more when working at a juvenile hall.

    I agree that homeschooling is not the only option for gifted children, but for some, it is definitively better than anything out there…or it may be the only option for some.

    As much as I may not agree with the religious homeschoolers, many of them worked hard to secure the ability for the rest of us to homeschool. While I’d like to be all morally superior and claim that my reason for homeschooling is “better” than theirs, I can’t make that claim in clear conscience. I think parents have the right to teach their children, period. If I didn’t believe that, I would be forced to sit by and watch while people tell my son that he’s actually very stupid and will get nowhere in life…because that’s what his third grade teacher was telling him. (If it’s taught in school, it must be correct, right?) I think that’s no better than forcing someone to allow their children to be taught things which go against their religious beliefs.

    (And frankly, while I may be fine with schools teaching evolution, they teach a lot of other crap that I don’t agree with. Heck, half the time they can’t even get the science right in the earlier grades.)

  20. #20 Dana
    February 20, 2008

    And who is Katie Criss? Some lady with a degree in early childhood/education who cannot write? Nor present a reasoned argument? I homeschool, and I think I could write a better critique of homeschooling. Instead, I decided just to write a eulogy. It was more fun.

  21. #21 shaun
    February 21, 2008

    Greg, how can you call this a science blog and then link to totally unresearched, feelings-based, inaccurate, poorly written article against homeschooling?

    It’s like your commentor’s awesome logic: child abuse happens because no one is watching parents 24/7, therefore homeschooling abets child abuse. By that logic the best way to prevent child abuse is just to install state-issued cameras in everyone’s home — after all, families need to be monitored! Either that or increase the school day so children’s time with possible abusers (read: unmonitored parents) is minimized.

    You guys are into scientific thinking — right . . .

    Count us as moderate, evolution-accepting, Christian homeschoolers — just like the 50 or so families in the co-op we’re going to this afternoon (in which, this spring, my daughter will learn about the history of the earth — the old earth). I know we don’t represent all the homeschooling families we’ve come into contact with — some are Jewish, pagan, and atheist too.

    I guess public school would be more appealing if social gatherings with my public school friends (we live in an area with strong public schools) didn’t lead to constant bitching about school problems. Not to mention the constant funding cuts, the busy work, the tendency to teach to the middle while the brightest students are bored out of their minds, steadily growing class sizes, massive drop-out rates of minorities (not to mention the substantial percentage of drop-outs who are gifted) . . . But why bring those up when you can write an article drawing totally on stereotypes conveniently located right inside your head? Cloistered, indeed!

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    February 21, 2008

    shaun,

    Putting aside anything I think about the piece to which I linked, or about your comments or anyone else’s, I must take exception to your criticism that I shouldn’t link to an article that you don’t like! Your feeling that since this is “a science blog” that I should adhere to some standard that you have in mind is in my view misplaced.

    I had a very good reason to link to this post, and in retrospect, my reasoning was more dead on than I might have previously expected. I view homeschooling, as well as public school education, as complex issues, and as issues reflective of major economic and cultural problems … the big elephants in the room of modern politics. I am not a jingoist for or against any of these systems. But is it also true that about 75 percent of what we hear people say is utter bullshit (your comments possibly included! I’m not sayin’ … )

    Thus, more discussion is needed. I’m happy to see some of it happening right h ere .

  23. #23 Sunniemom
    February 21, 2008

    Greg- If Katie’s writing and reasoning skills are evidence of a public school education, I am truly thankful my kids aren’t going to have to suffer from the same affliction.

    There was no verifiable research nor objective analysis in Katie’s post, so I suppose I am as surprised as shaun that you would link to it, as it if mentally imbalanced meanderings are appropriate for the foundation of a meaningful debate.

  24. #24 Son of Priam
    February 21, 2008

    “Truthiness” is good enough.

  25. #25 the rail cmf
    February 21, 2008

    Greg, I agree with shaun—> you need some blog-science standards, maybe, like, one test per year administered by your mom at the dinner table…

    Cherish, your assertion that HS kids only kill family members is patently false, but interesting in light of my thesis that there is somerthing kind of, um, incestuous and cloistered about the whole arrangement . The list of oddness foisted on society is growing, and as I said above, the next generations and the current one will show more of these HS oddities–and for non familial HS kid homicide read this:
    http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/4089

    Here is one that fits your thesis–that HS folks kill their own, and it fits mine too–that some HS people use HS as a cover-up for darker things:
    http://gottsegnet.blogspot.com/2007/09/homeschool-girl-starved-to-death-by.html
    Again, as I have said elsewhere, because HS’ers demand that they be recognized as different, and often constantly demand no comparison with PS families( when it is inconvenient), your comparison to public school kids is not sound.

    But I do agree that the PS system and its basis is almost as full of crap as the average HS ideologues–so much propaganda in the place of history, so much identity politics that kids don’t learn factual analysis, or the scientific approach, or history, ala “the People History” etc…

  26. #26 Son of Priam
    February 21, 2008

    Katie Criss uses anecdotal evidence, cites nothing (no newspapers, no research, etc.), uses flawed reasoning (e.g., parents can abuse or exploit kids, but so can educators), and has written an essay riddled with grammatical and punctuation errors — low standards, very low standards. Posting it here without criticism implies tacit agreement.

  27. #27 Crimson Wife
    February 21, 2008

    CMF wrote: “I look forwards, actually, to a time when there might be oversight of homeschoolers that goes beyond a yearly test–a test where the outside world gets to grade performance.”

    Such as what, pray tell?

    If I’m not accepting any taxpayer money for our homeschool, why should I have to “prove” anything to the government? Particularly since private school students in my state are not required to take any kind of standardized tests.

    When the time comes for my kids to apply to high school or college, I’m confident that they’ll do very well on standardized admissions tests. Everyone else in the family has done so regardless of where he/she went to school (from an elite prep to a lousy public one).

  28. #28 Elizabeth
    February 22, 2008

    Everyone else in the family has done so regardless of where he/she went to school (from an elite prep to a lousy public one).

    Are you saying it does not matter where you go to school, home school and public/private are exactly the same?

  29. #29 the rail cmf
    February 22, 2008

    Hi Crimson: a short response to your query” why should I have to “prove” anything to the government?”

    You don’t have to prove anything. Again, I refer you to my earlier statement *pat on back* for those amongst you who do good work .There, are you happy? Oh wait a minute–you teach your kids about the holie virgin, don’t you? I retract that *back pat*…

    But I would like to see some of the home schooled welfare recipient “single mothers” that I have interviewed and researched( AND some of whom are, sadly, my relatives) get off of the dole and stop perpetuating the home school/incubator, because this idea that hs’ers don’t sap the taxpayer is one of those blanket statements that may be true in one generation, not so true in the next.

  30. #30 shaun
    February 22, 2008

    You seem disturbed that homeschoolers have no oversight, but who is overseeing the schools and the children in them? Who is holding them accountable when kids don’t master the material?

    Check out this sad story from NYT blogger and Chicago teacher Will Okun.

    I’m not trying to say the article is a reason for homeschooling. Rather, I’m saying that the whole “oversight” issue is a red herring. If kids in school have “oversight” and are passed along from grade to grade with D-pluses and C-minuses, how is this an improvement even over the totally made-up “mom giving a yearly test at the dinner table” scenario? (And why is that the stereotype, when I don’t know anyone like that?) If schools miss signs of abuse from parents and teachers, and ignore bullying from other students, how is this an improvement over the oversight every family is subject to from neighbors, extended family, and social services?

    As a homeschooler, I do from time to time get forwarded e-mails headed “Another reason to homeschool” with a link to another news item about a pedophile teacher who was passed from district to district before finally getting busted, a shooting, some weird humiliating punishment cooked up by a mentally unstable asst. principal. I put these in the same category as your blog posts on homeschooling: data outliers irrelevant both to personal decisionmaking and to public policymaking. To do otherwise — as my earlier post suggested — is the real junk science.

  31. #31 Greg Laden
    February 22, 2008

    Shaun,

    By and large, there is a great deal more oversight in public schools than in the homeschool setting.

    Also, problems that may exist with homeshooling don’t go away by pointing out problems in public schools. Or visa versa. That is known as the “watch the monkey” strategy, and it is neither original nor helpful.

  32. #32 the real cmf
    February 22, 2008

    “why is that the stereotype, when I don’t know anyone like that”. It is just one of the stereotypes–and stereotypes exist for a reason: where did we get this idea that all stereotypes are bad anyways?

    Sure, back to earlier comment *pat on back* if you aren’t one of them.

    *Kick in ASS* if you are..oooops…is that bullying?

    My point, well covered here, is that there are often cracks in the home schooling cookie jar, but the ‘good’ HS parents are often deluded with their own PR( and the concurring opinions of their insular blog communities/fellow hs’ers) of being great parents, great teachers, all with incredibly bright kids etc–too deluded to look closer at others to get unbiased data/opinions.

    I’m not saying anything other than that, and Gregs blog here has often been an interesting (startling) look at that bias.

    I mean, would you know how to spot a pedophile in your numbers? Probably not ( especially if you rely on the evil ‘stereotypes’) I mean, would a HS kid actually be able to tell others? In the stereotype, we all fear some unknown stranger abduction/molestation/murder, but all the stats prove otherwise–> it is the people you know and trust the most who commit ( and interestingly up above someone notes that the HS murderer kid always kills family members…)

    When was the last time you got an e-mail from the h/s kid whose mother was sleeping with him/her a bit toooo long, or an e-mail from the h/s girl who gets a new horse every time she doesn’t ‘tell’ mom? Good luck with that–insular communities actively work to discourage insight.
    My feeling is that these are not outliers, but that they are just not discussed, and moreso, are covered up.

    Yeah, public schools gots th’ problems, but we knew that already. This dscusssion is just a small piece of that other elephant in the new addition…

  33. #33 the real cmf
    February 22, 2008

    Exactly, Greg. I have been trying to say that simply. AND that it is a smokescreen to point to the publics, rather than widen the discussion of the hs.

    shaun your reference to the Okun piece about public schools, sure, again, WE KNEW THAT already–and even that is horribly biased and flawed, as most of the piece quotes Dead Prez, and his logic is a nice ‘rap’ for some weed head, but fairly substance-less: a bigger piece of a different discussion, that of looking for the ‘intelligent black man’ who is ‘child like’ and likeable’ despite ‘seeming violent and angry’, because he is put upon by evil whitey,; that same guy who rolls blunts with his textbooks–the bubble gum of cross cultie rhetoric, and missing the larger point of the new bling-ism.

    but not in context to ALL of pub Ed today. I mean, I do not know one single kid who is being taught that blacks are 3/5ths human, and I certainly don’t know one teacher who is teaching that white Europeans are the shit–quite the opposite in fact, with deconstructionism working its way into everything in the social sciences.

  34. #34 shaun
    February 22, 2008

    “My feeling is that these are not outliers” — precisely. Your feeling. You feel that homeschoolers are insular weirdos, and you read about one like that once, and therefore they are. All the “good” parents you read about, on the other hand, don’t square with how you feel, so they are “deluded.” Sounds like an argument for Intelligent Design. Have you considered changing sides?

    And do you even read the comments and links? Okun himself said he disagreed with parts of the Dead Prez song. And I said that the bad stories about public school should have no bearing on the personal decision to homeschool or on public policy regarding homeschool.

    I’d continue, but if you won’t actually read my words accurately, what’s the point?

  35. #35 the real cmf
    February 22, 2008

    shaun, ok, you’re right. ‘Have a blessed day’

    In the meantime, then, I will be more assertive: my *observations*, drawn from a twenty year period of watching homeschool families in action, is that most of you are indeed weirdos, as defined by what is ‘normative’ and defined by other standards, like antisociability, Koreshian tendencies to isolate your children from wide ranging viewpoints while you propagandize their minds ( just like public school according to Prez) with lopsided religious viewpoints, and/or other pseudo doctrinaire crap ( I am thinking of one particularly rabid lesbian in Florida whose daughter is overly invoilved in the use of the word vagina), and tendencies to shelter same children from people who might find these behaviors odd; but mostly, my observation of many odf you as weirdos is most recently affirmed by noting the general tone of *defensiveness* in discussions that are not mere cheerleading sessions for HS.

    And in case you missed it, in contrats to the position you take on your post over there, in EVERY HS discussion, almost ever, the general HS community does indeed rely on comparisons to public schools failures to justify the HS position–in other words, it appears from the evidence that HS is largely exclusively a r4eaction to perceived PS faults.

    Is that a little more clear?
    You ‘said’ that bad stories, etc….you said that…does that make it science then? Or are you also, as your blog appears to be, a fence sitter for ID? You ‘saying’ so doesn’t make it science either, but you saying so does affirm my hypotheses of 1) defensiveness at the mere disagreement that HS is a perfect environment and 2) that HS routinely compare themselves to PS and then claim some higher calling on behalf their inately brilliant children.

  36. #36 Dana
    February 23, 2008

    ‘normative’ and defined by other standards, like antisociability, Koreshian tendencies to isolate your children from wide ranging viewpoints while you propagandize their minds ( just like public school according to Prez) with lopsided religious viewpoints, and/or other pseudo doctrinaire crap ( I am thinking of one particularly rabid lesbian in Florida whose daughter is overly invoilved in the use of the word vagina),

    So basically, the real problem isn’t anyone’s safety, but that you want to make sure that the the state has control of what a person thinks and believes?

    The “defensiveness” comes in because the consequences of these sorts of ideas restricts the freedomes of every parent who wishes to educate their child, regardless of how well they do it. Because you know someone who is “weird” hardly counts as a reason to bring the state into the private affairs of the family. I knew a lot of weird kids in school…in fact, I’m sure I wouldn’t have passed your normative test and I was public schooled my entire life. Passion for what we do proves nothing other than that passion, not that there is anything wrong with us or what we do.

    Because we raise children who may or may not agree with your view of the world certainly shouldn’t be a cause for state control.

    The only issue that should bring the state in is if true harm is being done to the child. The Constitution protects me from illegal search and seizure. I am supposed to be secure in my effects and my person. I do not think that it is any stretch to say that this should include my personal religious beliefs, or Crimson Wife’s, regardless of what you think of them. The state cannot just come in without probable cause. And filling out the paperwork to homeschool is hardly probable cause.

    The fact that you seem to be arguing for state control of ideas is a little unsettling.

  37. #37 Cherish
    February 24, 2008

    Wow. It’s just like grade school. Anyone outside of norm gets picked on for being “wierdos”, except that now the dialogue has progressed to attempting to sound authoritative by using terms like “normative”…but not actually giving any numbers. I can see the public schools have trained you well: pick on anyone outside of the status quo, stereotype them, and deride their choices. You almost sound like a product of the Prussian education system.

  38. #38 Greg Laden
    February 24, 2008

    Is it possible that the use of the word “normative” has set some people on edge because of confustion with the term “normal?”

    normative

    Adjective
    1. Of, pertaining to, or using a norm or standard.

  39. #39 Cherish
    February 24, 2008

    I’m quite aware what normative means. What bothers me is the pejorative implication that being non-normative is somehow bad or makes you a “weirdo”.

    Einstein homeschooled for a time (and was thus also a weirdo). His thoughts on public education were along the following lines: “It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry …which stands mainly in need of freedom… It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.”

    Mark Twain (another homeschool weirdo) had several thoughts on schooling:

    “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education. ”
    “God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board.”
    “Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run.”

    The problem is *precisely* that school tries to make you into “standard issue”. The whole history of compulsory schooling started because the Prussian army wanted educated automatons. The system is wildly successful.

    And that is exactly why it’s a problem. Schools want children to fit into round holes, but there are a large number of children who are square pegs. Making them feel bad because they are different only destroys their self-esteem and reduces their motivation and confidence to do something that could truly be unique and different. Is it any wonder that people don’t want to be involved with public schooling? The whole point is to standardize education, and if you don’t want that for your child, then there is NO way to fix the system.

  40. #40 greg laden
    February 24, 2008

    I’m quite aware what normative means. What bothers me is the pejorative implication that being non-normative is somehow bad or makes you a “weirdo”.

    Normative means “status quo idealized” in essence. Your not a weirdo if you are not normative. You are perhaps like Einstein …. different.

    I agree with much of what you say about the education system (and I’m part of that system, working in an area where none of what you say applies), but I don’t assume that home schooling is less normative in its own way. Noting famous people from history is a form of cherry picking, really.

  41. #41 the rail cmf
    February 25, 2008

    Greg: spot on with normative–there is no standard, no oversight in that community–if such a far flung group of dueling weirdness perpetuating people can be called such.But as a group, their defensiveness is indeed normal…

    Dana: read my earlier posts up there–I am a abnormal weirdo, just like you….and in regards to your observation ” you know someone who is “weird” hardly counts as a reason to bring the state into the private affairs of the family”

    Most of the hs’ers I know are ‘weird’–some of them in a good way, most of them in bigoted/biased/proganadistic socially harmful ways that border on child abuse. Yes, I think some state oversight IS warranted, in light of the fact that these kids become ‘members of society’ eventually, meaning that we all have to deal with them.

    As for cherry picking HS folks, you forgot to mention David Koresh, et al, the Mormon bigamists, the seperatist feminist queerologists who sleep with their kids until they are twenty or so, the Rainbow people who smoke up with their ten year olds, and Andrea Yates.

    And yes, Einstein was provably weird, but in a ‘good weird’ way.

  42. #42 Cherish
    February 25, 2008

    Great, now we can qualify wierd with primitive, pseudomoralistic values like “good” and “bad”.

    The only thing I’ve been able to ascertain from your discussion on the topic is that you are only looking for cases that reinforce that “homeschoolers are wierd” (i.e. cherry picking the weirdos) while ignoring the fact that there is a large distribution of odd and dangerous people in the world who are just as likely to have gone to public school.

    It is also apparent that you have never spent any significant amount of time around people who don’t homeschool for religious reasons because it’s a completely different mindset.

    Maybe there is a norm for homeschoolers, but the standard deviation is considerably larger for that population than what you see in public school. It’s a group that, really, is very hard to quantify. If you looked at people beyond the outliers you seem to so fondly point you, you’d realize there’s a lot more to it than just secreting children away from society to beat and abuse for our own pleasure.

  43. #43 Greg Laden
    February 25, 2008

    Cher:

    I’m not sure if you are speaking here to me or to a commenter, but I’ll respond to a couple of your points.

    I have had quite a bit of interaction with all kinds of home schoolers. The kids do in my opinion vary a lot, but the parents vary much less than one might expect, regardless of their religious affiliations. But yes, the home schooling parents who are not keeping their kids home because they are fundies are not like the fundies in many ways … yet they (the non-religious homeschoolers) seem to be more similar to each other (the parents that is) than I ever imagined before I got to know a bunch of them.

    But that is all qualitative impression on my part and I may be wrong.

    The thing is, that the statements you make about variation are also qualitative impressions. This is actually an issue over which I often disagree with homeschoolers. (Keeping in mind that I’m not explicitly anti home schooling myself, and in fact, I’m self educated from 10th grade through to the end and did pretty well education wise… though I must admit I’m still poorly socialized :)

    Anyway, the objective truth is that we don’t know much about home schoolers. There is simply not a lot of data. There have been few studies, but given the growth of home schooling, these studies, which to begin with were inadequate, are out of date. Please let me know if you are aware of something current.

    The main reason, in my opinion that home schoolers are hard to quantify or to describe qualitatively is because a large number of home schooling parents vehemently resist such thing.

  44. #44 the rail cmf
    February 25, 2008

    Cherish : I am the poorly socialized turd slinging chimp, not Greg; he is a real nice actual silverbacked scientist(and I suspect he secretly, and perhaps wisely favors non- propagandistic,science/reason based healthy and adequate home schooling) whereas I am as described in the first half of this sentence.
    Yet I can’t help but note that when examining oranges, we don’t look to apples for our comparisons, so when you say “ignoring the fact that there is a large distribution of odd and dangerous people in the world who are just as likely to have gone to public school”, it falls flat for me because I for one am not looking at ps kids, or directly comparing HS kids to them. HS exists in its own social petri dish.
    The idea that the world is full of the odd and dangerous is not new. What is new is that some of them here in America might well be a sort of new form of odd and dangerous–kind of like a mutating virus, or a more virulent form of something…

  45. #45 the rail cmf
    February 25, 2008

    Cher: or, put more simply, when examining Turkish dancing, we don’t look to the Saudi or Egyptian moral codes to analyze them, but we critique the movements nonetheless, seperately, and in their own right.

  46. #46 Cherish
    February 26, 2008

    Greg:

    (First, a nit-picky thing, but please don’t call me Cher. I’m really not keen on nicknames.)

    No, some of my earlier comments were not aimed at you but at other responses.

    On thing you said was: “The main reason, in my opinion that home schoolers are hard to quantify or to describe qualitatively is because a large number of home schooling parents vehemently resist such thing.”

    I think that this will continue to be an issue until every state makes it legal with minimal requirements to annually (or so) evaluate students.

    In ND, which is mid-range as far as requirements, I was allows to homeschool without any sort of supervision because I had a BS. My son only had to take national standardized exams every other year which were sent to the local public school HS administrator, but I had them done every year because *I* wanted to see where he was.

    In California, despite what the author of the original critique says, there is no way to “homeschool”. The easiest requirement to fill is to have your child enrolled in an R4. Usually a homeschooler sets one up and everyone in the homeschooling group enrolls. However, I saw families who did not go this route and no one bothered to check up on them because, out there, the system is so overloaded that no one has the time to deal with it. (Versus one year here when the test scores didn’t get sent to the right place, and someone was calling me pretty quick to find out what happened.)

    Realistically, while some states still make homeschooling illegal or difficult, you’re not going to get many families who are very open about their homeschooling. They’re going to be far more concerned with keeping any curious about homeschooling away because they don’t want someone either trying to take their kids away or throw them in jail (or both). IMO, it benefits society to make it legal while providing some minimal oversight (i.e. just checking to see that the kids are learning sufficiently) because people aren’t going to feel like they need to secret their kids away in order to educate them the way they feel is appropriate.

    Real (or rail) EMF: What you’re saying about a virulent strain could be very easily applied to the conditions that led to the American Revolution. You are a conformist, plain and simple. Because you have a problem with it doesn’t mean it’s wrong or weird or illegal. It just means you can’t handle it, and that’s really your problem and no one else’s. No one has to change anything they’re doing, nor should they, because you choose to view something as wierd.

    As for your dancing analogy, usually dancers will immerse themselves in the dance and the culture in order to be recognized as an expert…and usually this is of no avail until the dancers have been recognized *within* the culture as being experts. It does very little if someone from a different culture and different type of dance comes in and lambasts someone. All it shows is how ignorant they are, and they’re told to go away and come back when they know something or can add something constructive.

  47. #47 the real cmf
    February 26, 2008

    Char: it’s “real cmf” if you want to use it right, and “rail cmf” when I am having fun.

    Me? A conformist? Harharhar-me heartiest pilates laugh for you…if you only knew.

    But I am against adults using their children to push agendas into the public, because if anything, it is cowardly to use children to further agendas–a sure sign of cowardice in parents to address what they percieve to be social wrongs. or failings; likely a sign of unaddressed control issues (parents who faileed as children using children to succeed for them) put on to the most vulnerable.

    So about the dance, well, I know that what you describe is of course from your limited experience dancing (belly, right?)–yes you are right, belly dancing cliques can certainly be some of the most catty, snipy, and kind of incestuous amongst the dancers can’t they be? And yes, I agree with your assertion that they are prone to chase people away with their grade school-like sniping;-)

    But what I am saying is that I have seen more than one form of dance, and participated at more than one party full of drunken A-rabs, and capitalistic belly dancers looking to strike oil, and on your analogy, I am guessing that you are not Nesrin Topkapi, Samia, or Naima Akef, so be careful when putting it out there.

    As Suhair Zaki is quoted as saying of the new dancers imported from other countries “They will never be up to the Egyptian standards, the Egyptian belly dancers’ standards,They don’t have the lively spirit, they don’t have the sense of humor…”
    http://gobellydance.com/ArabicStars.html

    Even she has a desire for “standards’” Char, and surprisingly, like yourself, she also wants to keep ‘outsiders’ away.

    Unlike belly dancing training, social movements are not entirely done through ‘isolation’, and children are not necessarilty extensions of your own body–other little muscles to manipulate, and there are indeed social consequences for raising screwed up kids.

    As for HS, and the Revolutionary Founding Fathers, well, I have yet to meet one homeschooler who fits their profile–if for no other reason than that the Rev. agenda included others. HS isn’t at all revolutionary, if only because it is so full of individual agenda–unless you count the fact that HS’ers, like the founding fathers, also have “agendas”. Those agendas are an interesting bunch indeed.

    If you want to know what I think about H, or what my connection to it is, you can peruse some of the other HS blogposts here on Gregs blog until my book comes out.

    But I never once said HS is ultimately bad, or morally wrong, or anything like it: instead, I have ROFLMFAO about the cloistered defensiveness of HS’ers who interpret questions as threats, and insight or concern as criticism of them, personally–and that is my main focus–this sort of bunker mentality which is being foisted into our culture by the HS’er, via their human propaganda missiles…er…children.

    Sure, the Bush people are scary, but the alternative is what? A bunch of overly pluralistic half wits who didn’t step out of moms bed until they reached the age of majority? Or the polar opposite, the bibble thumpin’ people who believe the earth was created in six days?

    Well, anyways, don’t take it personal and all…but I did enjoy your posts about the importance of fathers in childrens lives–especially as it regards the teaching of language. I thought that was perhaps the most unusual post I had ever ever seen on a homeschoolers blog;-)

  48. #48 Cherish
    February 27, 2008

    As for dancing, I don’t know what you’re arguing about because you’re making my point for me. The highest respected dancers are the ones who are from or understand the culture. This is why I’ve never attempted to learn any of the true ethnic forms (I only participate in the fusion scene). The people from that culture are going to do it far better than I ever could, and what it would take to become a dancer in one of those cultures is far more than I’m willing to invest (because, it is, after all a hobby). I’ve learned from from very good teachers in my area, and I’m reasonably respected for what I do. And I’m quite aware that it will never be as good as the people who grew up in the cultures that originated the dance. If I tried to go and critique a native dancer who has respect in her culture, I’d be thrown out of the building…and with good reason.

    Now that that’s out of the way, assuming that every reason for homeschooling is motivated by cowardice is not “insight”. It’s making huge, sweeping, derogatory generalizations.

    Homeschoolers are not using children to push their agenda. They have an agenda, and usually that agenda may have issues surrounding children. Unlike most people, they feel strongly enough about their agenda to act with some consistency in that they actually are willing to follow through and do what they believe rather than assume it will be figured out by someone else.

    In my case, my “agenda” was that my son was having a horrible time in school, and I was told by a specialist in gifted assessment to take him out of school because it was making him angry and inhibiting his learning. For someone of his ability, he was seriously underachieving. In the time he was out of school, I was able to get him to the point where he was placing where he should be on assessments. He was able to go back to school and place into advanced classes.

    During the time he was out of school, I came across the Mensa homeschooling SIG which has no formal political stance or religious views…because everyone who is part of the group has their own set of beliefs. There’s the whole gamut from the religious based to the unschoolers to the classical training to the eclectic. A lot are stay at home moms (and dads), but some work as well. (There were a couple college professors, and a couple other students like myself.)

    The only thing people like this had in common is that their children were gifted and while some chose to homeschool right away, most tried going the “school route” and had problems like my family. The schools are not equipped to deal with kids who learn twice as fast (or considerably more in some cases) as the norm to which schools teach. Those of us with gifted/LD kids were twice a screwed because schools only worry if kids are “below average”, not “below their tested capabilities”. So if you’d like, you can imagine that the agenda for this group was “we want our kids to be able to learn and achieve to their full potential.” Completely pernicious.

    I think the cowardly thing is to leave the kids in school and hope someone else will fix the problems. Taking kids out and ensuring that they are getting the best preparation for their future careers (i.e. taking personal responsibility for the lives of your children) is a lot of serious effort and commitment. It’s not something most people will do for their kids.

  49. #49 the real cmf
    February 27, 2008

    Cherish: The point about Suhair is that she id from a culture that is “nation wide” not just a bunch of theoretically theoretical radicals– and also that she stands for STANDARDIZATION, which homeschoolers don’t.

    and about sweeping generalizations your comment below takes the prize:

    *”Homeschoolers are not using children to push their agenda”*

    That might be true in your group, but it ain’t so nationwide–not even close, even if only considering the simple number of Christian HS’ers.

    As for “if I tried to go and critique a native dancer who has respect in her culture, I’d be thrown out of the buildings,” not only is that presumptive that there actually is a quantifiable HS culture ( one with clear cut boundaries–another issue) — we still have to struggle with what is one homschoolers culture over anothers, after all they are all so “unique”–too “unique” to be classified, and too “unique” to have their methodology scrutinized, or criticised, much less looked at in qualitative terms. Not to mention their are thousands of HS enclaves around the country, and some of them are like secretive klaverns …

    In the analogy, I imagine it would best be described as the difference between your fusion scene and the local belly culture here: it might be a wonderful idea to talk about respect, but good luck getting a real world dancing gig with that, b/c the local dancers have it all sewn up. All those experts who test out well amongst those who go “lee-lee-leee” every time they move a muscle aren’t so hot in Egypt.

    So again, there is not one cohesive ‘culture’ there are many, and the opportunities within those seperate cultures are defined almost arbitrarily, with the consensus of the local scene and those who control it–at the expense of others–especially the novices.

    That is to say then, that this arbitrary localized (I have used the word ‘incestuous’ to describe that scene) standard works for those dancers who benefit directly from it, at the expense of perhaps better dancers from outside it, and the important aspect of new methods/movements/ideas.

    The gifted thing, well I am not convinced that is all that makes a young kid “angry”. I am sure that other things were going on, but it is a convenient foil to blame the schools for that anger. Maybe he just needed more time with his parents? Or maybe in your model,with your son being gifted ( I always hated that label growing up) he just needed more parental involvement? So, if gifted kids have higher capacity, maybe HS options should have been used for accessory learning–concurrent with public school lessons? That way the purportedly gifted kid can get a double dose of learning–kind of like a second job to fill the mental bank account…

  50. #50 Cherish
    February 27, 2008

    It’s actually well documented that gifted children in school often suffer from a lot of anger and other very negative emotions (anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies). Wouldn’t you be pissed off if someone who was obviously not as smart as you was telling you to do something you already understood? Or because you were mistreated day in and day out by age-mates?

    While I imagine you wouldn’t want to examine data that conflicts with your viewpoint, there are a number of good websites with info on the topic. SENG (http://www.sengifted.org/articles_index.shtml), Deborah Ruf’s site (http://www.educationaloptions.com/)…or of course, you could check out Mensa (their research journal has an entire volume on homeschooling from last year), National Association for Gifted Children (http://www.nagc.org/), Davidson Institute, Hoagies Gifted, what have you.

    Many of these organizations are advocating for parents to take their kids out of school if schools refuse to accelerate or accomodate kids precisely because of the emotional damage it does. Putting gifted kids (especially those in the highly, exceptionally, or profoundly gifted categories – no not all gifted kids are the same) into school wastes their time and abilities and makes them angry and depressed because they’re so different (and constantly reminded of it!) from their age-mates.

  51. #51 Crimson Wife
    March 4, 2008

    Everyone else in the family has done so regardless of where he/she went to school (from an elite prep to a lousy public one).

    Elizabeth wrote: Are you saying it does not matter where you go to school, home school and public/private are exactly the same?

    When it comes to standardized test scores, yes. When it comes to quality of education (a *VERY* different thing), absolutely not.