Every child is a casualty…

… when it comes to Creationist Home Schooling.

Two dozen or so atheists, skeptics, scientists, and secularists visited the 2010 Home School Science Fair at Har Mar Mall, Roseville Minnesota. We witnessed (if I may borrow that term) twenty six home school project posters. The presentations varied considerably in their sophistication, overall quality, and complexity of the work represented, and most of this variation is easily understood as the outcome of the wide age range of the children who produced them. Some were impressive, some were cute, some were more scientific, some were less, and each one had a quote from the bible linked somehow to the subject matter of the poster.

How good was the science? How good was the learning? Were children being indoctrinated in a religious view rather than trained in thinking scientifically? Were children being trained in a cynical view of science, so they might grow with sufficient disdain for rational and critical thinking that they might make compliant followers of fundamentalist doctrine, and vote with the anti-science Right Wing on matters of science policy no matter how stupid such a vote might be?

Well, let’s look at some of the presentations and see.

How are apes the same and different from humans? Hypothesis: there are more differences than similarities between apes and humans. Interestingly, this student discovered that humans and gorillas were more different than similar, but only by about 20% by count, while humans and orangs were more different than similar, with there being about twice as many differences than similarities. That is pretty much what evolutionary theory would predict. Evolution is true, according to this poster. Unfortunately, I do not think this is what the student concluded.

The effects of birds colliding into planes. This was one of my favorite presentations because of the identification of the cycle of life, as depicted in this picture:

i-db0d588ff8cc2878498f19b28db324bb-CroppedCycleOfGoose.jpg

Lilydale Fossil Hunt. This was about a fossil hunting expedition to Lilydale, in Saint Paul. A permit is required to collect fossils there, but it is a public fossil-rich limestone deposit. The student concluded that the deposit was proof of Noah’s flood. He found some cool fossils, mostly extinct shellfish. None of those large dinosaurs that were refused admittance to the ark were found. Oh well.

How does music affect plants? Conclusion: Rock and roll causes plants to grow poorly, classical music causes plants to be lush. I would have liked to see different results than that, but you can’t always get what you want. I just hope God buys me a Mercedes Benz.

Dinosaurs went extinct because they were too big to get on Noah’s Ark.

God made the ear. Say no more.

No, there was not very much science. Or at least, any science that seeped into these creepy presentations was entirely by accident and had the organizers of the event recognized it, they would have bowdlerized it. Yes, the projects ran rough shod over rational and critical thinking. Yes, it was indoctrination. Yes, these children are being used as tools in the culture wars by the organizers and judges of this event, by the children’s own parents, and by all involved. Yes, this is abuse.

The Twin Cities Creationist Home School Science Fair demonstrates one of the main negative outcomes of home schooling,1 and is evidence that we as a society should restrict or regulate home schooling to a reasonable degree. The mothers of these children have the same exact “mommy instinct” as the parents of other home schoolers … meaning, none … and have damaged these children socially and intellectually. Home schooling not only produces freakishly asocial miscreants but it also produces what we saw in this fair2 … a flagrant disregard for reality.

It was sad to see this. I wonder why the Minnesota Department of Education allows this sort of thing to happen. I wonder what college these children will be going to.

There are those who often point out that home schooled children are smarter, on average, or better educated, on average, than public school children. I assume that this “science” fair, being a public display of sorts, did not involve culling out the best and showing only the lowest quality outcomes. Seeing what I saw yesterday does not jive at all with the numerous assertions made by pro-homeschooling groups and pro-homeschooling activists that homeschooling is better. But if homeschooling is in part about learning to comfortably ignore the truth, why should we expect the rhetoric to match the reality?

_________________
The following notes, and a few words in the text (which are in italics) were added to clarify a few points.

1A phrase like “one of the main negative outcomes” means that there are a number of outcomes, possibly positives, possibly negatives. Among the negatives, there may be many outcomes. But one of them is … (then the rest of the paragraph happens here).

2A phrase like “X produces Y” in no way states that there are not other outcomes. A tomato produces tomato seeds. It also produces tomato flesh. If you work on this, you can come up with some other examples too.

Comments

  1. #1 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    Not all the science was/would have been Bowdlerized. Biology was, decidedly. However, a few (about 3 of 28) kids did some very nice work, falsified their hypotheses, explained the limitations of their research, intelligently answered questions about design (what would you do differently; how would you follow up), etc. And two of those had blue ribbons when we walked by later. Both were physics experiments.

    One of the possible upsides to the fair was that about 60% of the total and almost all of the good posters came from girls. I don’t have any idea whether that holds true in real science fairs, but it’s possible that there are some advantages for girls with an interest in science in home schooling. Assuming, of course, that they’re then allowed to continue their education and not pushed into someone else’s idea of a female field.

  2. #2 Bill
    February 14, 2010

    They’ll always have a home at Bob Jones or Pensacola Christian. Sigh

  3. #3 Pen
    February 14, 2010

    You forgot to add ‘creationist’ in front of homeschooling as you later on in your post. Whereas I thought it was one of the better features of the earlier sections and definitely supported you in your goal to set yourself up as an arbiter of reason and accuracy.

    P.S. Good scientists watch their control group. How are your public schools doing right now?

  4. #4 Teacher man Dan
    February 14, 2010

    “It was sad to see this. I wonder why the Minnesota Department of Education allows this sort of thing to happen. I wonder what college these children will be going to.”

    Probably a great school and not a secular anti-American, anti-Chsriatian, anti-conservative school. They would most likely go to a school like one of these:

    Belhaven College Bryan College
    California Baptist University
    Cedarville University
    Christ College Christendom College
    Crown College
    Franciscan University of Steubenville
    Grace College
    Grove City College
    Hillsdale University Indiana Wesleyan University
    John Brown University
    Leadership Institute
    Liberty University
    Mississippi College
    New Saint Andrews College
    Oklahoma Baptist University
    Patrick Henry College
    Pensacola Christian College
    Regent University
    Taylor University
    Tennessee Temple University
    The Master’s College
    The College at Southeastern
    Thomas Aquinas College
    Trinity Christian College
    University of the Cumberlands Yellowstone Baptist College

    There are numerous reasons why parents choose to home school their children. Secular teachings of evolution, sex education, etc are some of the reasons. Others can be found here: http://www.homeschoolfoundation.org

  5. #5 T-mac
    February 14, 2010

    Just as Christians presuppose the bible is true, many scientist presuppose evolution is true. Which is why both groups are essentially slaves to either the one and true God, or in the athiest world; the God of arrogance.

  6. #6 MadScientist
    February 14, 2010

    @T-mac: No one presupposes evolution is true, but there is a lot of evidence for it and no evidence against it. Now there’s a lot of evidence against the bible, but people believe it anyway. That is the fundamental difference between science and religion; science is based on observable facts while religion is based on hearsay about the supernatural.

  7. #7 peter
    February 14, 2010

    “many scientist presuppose evolution is true.”

    What utter stupid nonsense. Science doesn’t “pre-suppose” anything, science finds evidence and develops falsifiable hypothesis. Then puts it to the test.
    Religion finds no evidence and claims the truth despite that.

    I wonder – do “creotarts” ever get tired of the same canards, red herrings or any other lies they so freely peddle?

  8. #8 tmac
    February 14, 2010

    “no evidence against it” Ha ha good one. even the most influential evolutionist understand the many holes in the theory.

    “Religion finds no evidence and claims the truth despite that.”

    There is much evidence that supports ID, but its ok, figured you’d push it under the rug.

  9. #9 NewEnglandBob
    February 14, 2010

    That list of ‘colleges’ by “Teacher man Dan” is the list of colleges that is quite similar to the list I commented about for those schools which should be shut down because they have no recognition in the real world. They don’t produce people with any kind of education except mindless faith and arrogance and pride about their ignorance.

    Your list, Dan is the anti-reality, anti-science, anti-thinking institutions that produce liars and cheats.

  10. #10 feralboy12
    February 14, 2010

    If any of these kids are good football players, they can go to the University of Florida.
    @tmac: so evolution has “many holes,” while ID has “much evidence.” Setting aside for the moment the nature of that “evidence,” what’s the difference? A theory could explain just about everything, be backed by a mountain of evidence, and still have “holes.” Another theory could have “much evidence that supports” and yet be contradicted by the most obvious observations. Basically, you’re not saying anything.
    Your evidence has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

  11. #11 Daryl P Cobranchi
    February 14, 2010

    The mothers of these children have the same exact “mommy instinct” as the parents of other home schoolers … meaning, none … and have damaged these children socially and intellectually. Home schooling not only produces freakishly asocial miscreants but it also produces what we saw in this fair … a flagrant disregard for reality.

    What’s the matter, Greg? Traffic down so it’s time for another bash homeschooling post? My four homeschooled children are neither asocial nor miscreants. They are sharp, young, freethinking individuals. And they (mostly) have a love of real science. Yes, some of us “freakish” homeschoolers know what real science is. I’ll be teaching the chemistry class in our co-op group of secular homeschoolers next year. No bible quotes required.

    Daryl Cobranchi

  12. #12 Chris Granade
    February 14, 2010

    As a successful home schooler now preparing to enter into a PhD research program in quantum computation, I must take exception to your conflating home schooling with creationism. My family and I had many different reasons for our decision to home school (yes, I was a part of the discussion), and every one of them was secular. In fact, as an atheist, I take even stronger exception to your conflating the two. For me, home schooling was an unmatched opportunity to study the kinds of things I loved, such as physics and computer science.

    I don’t deny in the slightest that creationists have made great use of the laws concerning home schooling to engage in child abuse like what you document here (yes, intentionally keeping your child ignorant of the basic facts of the world is child abuse). My point is that there’s also a great many home schoolers out there who use it as an opportunity to allow their children to engage in a wide range of different opportunities outside of the narrow spectrum allowed by many public schools.

  13. #13 Andre
    February 14, 2010

    Greg, are you going to allow Teacher man Dan to use your blog as a billboard? Might you delete the post, or at least delete the URL and the list of colleges?

  14. #14 Bob Calder
    February 14, 2010

    Dear Friends of Home Schooling,

    Please visit the Founding Father of Home Schooling, R. J. Rushdoony on this youtube page:

    Read about his theories of governance:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rousas_John_Rushdoony

    And you may conclude with me that in order to confirm his paranoid bias, he reinvented history.

    In addition to creating home schooling and (wanting to) demolish the legal system of the United States, he directly inspired murder. How much nicer can a guy get? Does he invite direct comparison to any radical muslim clerics you know?

    Goodness gracious! Can you say William Bennett? Can you say Jeb Bush? Can you say racist, spearatist, idiocy? James W. Von Brunn, Promise Keepers, Marion “Pat” Robertson, Randal Terry, ARGH!
    Here is piece produced for a religious audience. Christian Reconstructionism By Dr. Bruce Prescott – Interfaith Alliance forum on Religious Extremism – Westminster Presbyterian Church April 11, 2002
    http://www.mainstreambaptists.org/mob4/dominionism.htm

  15. #15 Joshua Zelinsky
    February 14, 2010

    Teacher man Dan,

    Yeah that’s a great list of schools. Really. Let’s take a few from that list. Hmm, Liberty University is a 4th tier school according to US News and World Report Rankings. Now, those rankings don’t mean much, but 4th tier? That’s got to mean something. And that’s better than most of the other schools you list.

    Now to be fair, some of the schools listed are ok. Mississippi College is not a sucky school. And Franciscan University of Steubenville isn’t either. However, since that one is a Jesuit school I’m pretty sure they are fine with evolution and science. But nice try.

    Incidentally, I really like how while you complain about secular teaching of evolution, you include schools on your list like Patrick Henry College which actively requires students and faculty to sign a statement that they reject evolution. Have you ever encountered a “secular” university requiring students to affirm that they believe in evolution? Pretty sure we didn’t have at Yale. And I don’t recall it before they let me in as a grad student at Boston University. So um, yeah.

    I also can’t resist pointing out that your list includes Pensacola Christian College which is not only unaccredited but actively KJV onlyist. Bwahahah!

    Yeah. I’m not going to go through the rest of this list. The point should be clear. And I don’t want to die laughing. At least, not right now.

  16. #16 tmac
    February 14, 2010

    @Feralboy12

    I agree there are holes with both, but i’m not saying one is better then the other. I’m just concerned that one theory is being denied any “rights” because some seem to tie religion to the theory.

  17. #17 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    Andre, why delete? It’s an example of the people Greg is talking about, and Dan’s unlikely to find his target audience here. It seems like a pretty good list for, say, employers to know about.

  18. #18 Tyler DiPietro
    February 14, 2010

    “Ha ha good one. even the most influential evolutionist understand the many holes in the theory.”

    I strongly doubt you can either correctly identify this “evolutionist” or describe a real “hole” in evolutionary theory.

  19. #19 Andre
    February 14, 2010

    Stephanie, usually one deletes spam. This is spam.

  20. #20 Chris Granade
    February 14, 2010

    @tmac #15:

    Give it a rest. There’s not “holes” in both. For there to be holes in intelligent design (read: creationism), there’d have to be some substance to it in the first place. It isn’t a “theory,” and doesn’t have “rights.” ID and creationism are both explicitly religious ideas that have no place in a science classroom. Your attempts at false equivalency conveniently ignore that ID makes no concrete and falsifiable predictions, fails to explain the massive body of evidence, and is motivated for purely religious and political reasons.

  21. #21 freelunch
    February 14, 2010

    Since Northwestern College isn’t too far away from Har Mar, I wonder if they had anything to do with the program. Of course, that college may not be sufficiently opposed to knowledge to suit t-mac. They teach biology well enough to retain North Central accreditation (not sure why it took them 22 years to get it, but at least they have it).

  22. #22 Mary Zola
    February 14, 2010

    It is so typical for you atheists to be so condescending to people of faith. PZ Myers wrote about this fair a couple of years ago in a very abusive manner as I recall, and he sent his readers to harass the children at the fair. One group of his readers stole all the literature from one of he poster and threw it in the trash down the hall.

    This fair is a good thing for homeschoolers, there is nothing wrong with homeschooling, and this is only hurting the reputation of an organization that should be given credit and not hate speach.

  23. #23 Tim
    February 14, 2010

    Mary, I think you are confusing things. The Har Mar event does not occur in PZ Myers’ territory. He lives in a different place. Minnesota is big.

  24. #24 Anne Gilbert
    February 14, 2010

    I am neither for nor against homeschooling per se. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. It’s not homeschooling, all by itself, that’s the problem. It’s the *kind* of homeschooling some kids get. And that “science fair” is a good example of this problem. Creationists want to indoctrinate, not teach. And in most cases, they’ll get what they’re after — compliant, indoctrinated kids who end up going to some place like Liberty University, where they won’t get exposed to ideas like — gasp! — evolution. A few of the kids will rebel against this approach, and some of them may actually learn what evolution really is, not what these creationists conceive it to be.

    But that’s not the only kind of homeschooling there is. I’ve met homeschooling parents who are doing their own teaching to their kids, for a variety of reasons, many of them perfectly sound(I don’t count the “I don’t believe in fitting them into a box” anti-schooling that some parents claim about school systems, unless the kid just happens to have a learning style that school systems can’t handle, or the school system is really, really bad).

    On a related note, I am neither “for” nor “agains” anyone’s particular faith or nonbelief. That is something that is strictly up to the individual to decide for themselves. By the same token, I don’t want anybody trying to stuff their beliefs or nonbeliefs down my throat. I will decide for myself, thank you.

    Finally, that “homeschool science fair” doesn’t sound a lot like “science”, but I think that’s another story entirely.
    Anne G

  25. #25 Joshua Zelinsky
    February 14, 2010

    Mary, nice job assuming everyone here is an atheist. Incidentally, I know of at least one Orthodox Jewish school that sends kids to the general science fairs. One doesn’t need to be an atheist to see the problems here.

    And if anyone stole anything or harassed kids, yes that would be wrong. I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen though because if there were any strong evidence that PZ Myers had advocated such a thing we’d never here the end of it.

  26. #26 Greg Laden
    February 14, 2010

    Mary, I know what you are talking about and I can disabuse you of your inaccurate notions. I am the blogger that abused the children, not PZ Myers. How did I abuse them? That is a story for another time, though it has been told on this blog before. The people who stole the material from the science fair poster … that is probably a misrepresentation of an exaggeration form a cuple of years back. I’ll let the people who were involved in this, if they are reading this thread, describe it if they want to. For now, I’ll just assure you, and you’ll have to trust me on this, that didn’t happen either.

    It is true that we are mostly atheists, though.

  27. #27 Mal Adapted
    February 14, 2010

    Tmac, Pen, and any lurking creationists who think creationism and ID are science, no doubt you’ve heard some version of Richard Feynman’s famous quote:

    “Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

    Faith, on the other hand, is a way of trying to fool yourself. The first rule of faith is that you must believe, and that makes you the easiest person to fool.

    “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1 (New International Version)

    Why do you even bother trying to make science support your faith?

  28. #28 freelunch
    February 14, 2010

    t-mac –

    Read Isaac Asimov’s The Relativity of Wrong to understand why you are completely off-track.

    Mary Zola –

    Yes, homeschooling can be good. Reasonably intelligent people who have not been taught how to teach are generally competent to teach one or two children at a time as well as teachers do in a larger classroom. I do know people who have been homeschooled for non-religious reasons and they have been doing very well.

    Those who refuse to let their children go to school because they don’t want their children to learn science properly, because they are afraid that their child will learn that they teach religious doctrines that are indefensible are likely to find out that some of their children will reject those doctrines eventually anyway and those children may choose to blame their parents for trying to keep them from learning. If your religious doctrines cannot pass muster, then why do you believe them? Why would you ever inflict them on your kids? Still, if it’s all about religion, why not just send your kid to a parochial school?

  29. #29 tmac
    February 14, 2010

    @Mal Adapted

    “Why do you even bother trying to make science support your faith?”

    Romans 1:19-21 is why i bother to tell you. “for you are not without excuse”

    Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

  30. #30 Tyler DiPietro
    February 14, 2010

    Cool story, bro.

  31. #31 freelunch
    February 14, 2010

    T-mac –

    I don’t worship a book that is full of mistakes. The claims in Romans cannot be substantiated. Deal with it.

  32. #32 Greg Laden
    February 14, 2010

    tmac, and what does this have to do with science education exactly?

  33. #33 Mary Zola
    February 14, 2010

    I know that it was PZ Myers who went after the children. My memory is not that bad, although I admit it can be flawed sometimes.

    Why can’t these people just be left alone to do what they want?

  34. #34 DK Fennell
    February 14, 2010

    Just a small point. Not all home schooled kids are fundamentalists. In fact a home schooled team won the Paleo-Knowledge Bowl at Yale’s Peabody Museum last year (a year that the Bowl framers highlighted the role of Darwin).

    Public school, on the other hand, also has its quirks. I was told by my 5th grader’s teacher that it was bad to have her read “above her level.” When I asked why, she said that the “reading community” had a formed a consensus on this point. (She was not the only “professional” at this school to hold that view, by the way.)

    Anti-intellectuals are found everywhere. Public schools are spending an immense amount of money attempting to homogenize kids. I seriously doubt that this teacher would instill a love of science — or anything else for that matter — in any of her charges. That may not be abuse, but it’s certainly a shame.

  35. #35 PZ Myers
    February 14, 2010

    You know this? Weird. I’ve never been to the Har Mar Mall, never been to the creationist science fair. I live over 100 miles away.

  36. #36 Chris Granade
    February 14, 2010

    Just to revisit my earlier comment, it’s not as if all home schoolers go to Christian colleges. Far from it. What’s been presented is one particularly appalling set of anecdotes, but there’s lots of anecdotes that run quite counter to the idea that all home schooling is child abuse and creationism.

    One anecdote I’m quite familiar with is my own. As I said, I have been accepted to a PhD program with the the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo. This is hardly a diploma mill or an indoctrination machine like those institutions that some of the other commenters have been harping upon.

    Of course, the plural of anecdote is still not data, but even an anecdote can serve to knock down destructive and counter-productive stereotypes like those so proudly displayed by many commenters here and by the original article. I have built my life on a pursuit to science, and more generally to the pursuit of human knowledge. To cast me in with the lot of creationists and child abusers is an insult of the highest order, and one I would have expected from fundamentalists rather than fellow atheists, agnostics and freethinkers.

  37. #37 sailor
    February 14, 2010

    “You know this? Weird. I’ve never been to the Har Mar Mall, never been to the creationist science fair. I live over 100 miles away.”
    Not really, the first thing Christians appear to do is lie for Jesus, the end justifies the means. Funny I think that is what communists believed also.

  38. #38 Mal Adapted
    February 14, 2010

    @tmac,

    How do you know you’re not fooling yourself?

  39. #39 Alex
    February 14, 2010

    Yes PZ, she knows that you went there. Knows as in faith. But it would be condescending to point out the stupidity of thinking like that. Questioning claims is verboten. Questioning claims is repression.

    Really though, by “Don’t be condescending” the religionists mean “Believe in the magic sky-fairy”. No doubt when black people complain of racism, they are just being “uppity”, too.

  40. #40 natural cynic
    February 14, 2010

    tmac
    deconstructing Romans 1 from the ESV:

    19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

    What can be known is not always plain – see quantum theory. It’s often counterintuitive, especially for one who was only trained to look with faith. What you may perceive as obvious is not obvious to me. I have the habit of curiousity, which often burdens me with the need to find out about the “things that have been made”. And I usually find them to have origins, and those things to have origins, etc. far back in time; and they have development that can be traced back, and those developments can also be traced back to known processes. That’s what science provides – without faith that things poofed into existence. So I don’t rely on God for explanations, or even know God to exist. I have not seen the evidence, so I just suppose that I do have excuse.

    What I do see is those who have faith have considerable futility in their thinking and knowledge of can be demonstrated about the world so that it is they who are blinded. And thus, the reliance on faith has made them fools.

    25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!

    Poor assumption. Since I don’t worship any God, that doesn’t mean that I worship any other gods or any creature.

    26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    And yet, if we observe what occurs in nature, we find evidence that certain things that are claimed to be against nature are not so. Paul was such a poor observer, so I really can’t trust him.

    28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

    Hmmm, this describes common faults seen in Jews and Gentiles, men and women, Theists and Atheists, everybody. Denying the existence of God really doesn’t seem to matter.

  41. #41 Dan J
    February 14, 2010

    Yes, PZ, but if they know you were there, just as they know their Bible is the word of God™…

    Well, I’m just sayin’.

    Tyler: Well played, sir!

  42. #42 Janet
    February 14, 2010

    I think “creation science” is the issue here, not homeschooling. You’ll see the same sort of material taught at private Christian schools as well as in church bible-study groups and Sunday schools where the congregations want to combat the “damage” done by the public schools. (Heck, as the Dover school board or Texas state science standards battles show, even the public schools are not exempt from religously motivated ideology.)

    Even if the Minnesota Board of Education wanted to stamp out all creationist literature and teaching in the state, they couldn’t. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are what they are–a double edged sword.

    Even if the regs said homeschool parents have to cover evolution, and the kids have to pass some state bubble test on the topic, the families could still teach their religious beliefs, and their kids would still learn to believe the creationist clap-trap.

    I homeschool, and I definitely am pained by some of what I see parents teaching their kids, but I also see very little that the government can do about it. My cousins are fundamentalist Christians, and the ones who can’t afford Christian schools find ways to send their kids to public school and teach them the literal truth of biblical creation at the same time.

  43. #43 Chris Granade
    February 14, 2010

    (Note that I tried posting this before, but it didn’t seem to go through, so I apologize for the double-post.)

    Just to revisit my earlier comment, it’s not as if all home schoolers go to Christian colleges. Far from it. What’s been presented is one particularly appalling set of anecdotes, but there’s lots of anecdotes that run quite counter to the idea that all home schooling is child abuse and creationism.

    One anecdote I’m quite familiar with is my own. As I said, I have been accepted to a PhD program with the the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo. This is hardly a diploma mill or an indoctrination machine like those institutions that some of the other commenters have been harping upon.

    Of course, the plural of anecdote is still not data, but even an anecdote can serve to knock down destructive and counter-productive stereotypes like those so proudly displayed by many commenters here and by the original article. I have built my life on a pursuit to science, and more generally to the pursuit of human knowledge. To cast me in with the lot of creationists and child abusers is an insult of the highest order, and one I would have expected from fundamentalists rather than fellow atheists, agnostics and freethinkers.

  44. #44 A teacher
    February 14, 2010

    To this day I have not met a student who came from the homeschool environment into high school who did not have some trouble, sometimes very serious trouble, adjusting. This is not a case of me only seeing the problems and not noticing the stellar students who were homeschooled. I assume that the excellent, non-religious homeschooled are very rare.

    It would not surprise me if homeschooling for the first few years of K-12, if done well, does not produce a negative outcome.

  45. #45 Elaine
    February 14, 2010

    PZ, you have never been to Har Mar? Have you also never visited the Giant Ball of Twine?

  46. #46 Frank Cornish
    February 14, 2010

    Mary didn’t write that PZ was at Har Mar a couple of years ago. What she wrote was that he had ordered his minions to come in, jackboots and all, to trash the Homeschool Creation Science Science Fair. They pulled the kids’ hair. They called them names. They broke the crosses that the kids were wearing. They sacrificed one of the kids at a Black Mass. They sang The Marseillaise. They checked the birth records to find out which ones were converted Jews and hauled them away. They stole Bibles and gave them to Muslim Terrorists to desecrate. They sent lists of the names of the exhibitors to both Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama so that they would be the first ones rounded up for Re-education Camps being run in the name of the Homosexual Socialist Health Care Agenda.

    Mary knows this, we all know this. Why don’t we just come out and admit it because we are going to take over before the Republicans can win their country back in November, anyway.

    Oh, Mary? We are also going to confiscate all your tea. Try getting your country back without tea. It won’t be easy, I tell you.

  47. #47 Katkinkate
    February 14, 2010

    Mary’s actually talking about an event 2 years ago, guys. PZ probably wrote something about it at Pharyngula and she took it as an attack on her kids.

  48. #48 tmac
    February 14, 2010

    @ natural cynic

    “Poor assumption. Since I don’t worship any God, that doesn’t mean that I worship any other gods or any creature.”

    This is where we seem to disagree, it is impossible to be impartial to everything. What ever you endeavor the most is your “god”. Whether it is the true God or money, power, arrogance, other people, etc. this is who your “god” is. Worship can come in any form, but typically comes in the form of whatever you strive for the most.

  49. #49 Chris Granade
    February 14, 2010

    @tmac #48:

    That is a true perversion of the word worship. You don’t disagree with natural cynic so much as you use a different dictionary! I, like many here, do not worship anything. Not a god, not a person, not even a concept. In particular, I am not one of those caricatures of a scientist that fundamentalists like to invent that so that they can say atheists worship science.

    Moreover, when you use a phrase like “true God” to implicitly throw in that there is a single, objective and observable god named God, you throw your own credibility out the window. That is at best an unfounded assertion, and your willingness to use such assertions in place of argument shows that you are more interested in rhetoric and convincing others than in getting to the truth.

  50. #50 Rod
    February 14, 2010

    Tmac.. that is horseshit.
    As a retired chemist, I do not “worship” chemistry, although I spend quite a bit of time at it and volunteer in my local HS chemistry class… it (and all of science) is fascinating, absorbing, interesting, challenging, wonderful, frustrating, rewarding… and much else as well. But worship, not so much. Study, yes, keep up on, sure, explore, absolutely… never worship chemistry, science, or anything.
    Not now, not ever… science (and my family) fills my need nicely.

  51. #51 Nomad
    February 14, 2010

    I think I realized something about this creationist science fair. The web site for this would be science fair is famous for the bizarre list of project ideas they present. A list that includes such topics as “what color is your brain?” and “how much voltage or current can a person take before he is killed?”. To be fair, they stress that the second one is to be a “literature search” and not an experiment.

    I don’t think they’re too clear on what a science project is. They try to ape the method, they had a list that tries to mostly follow the idea of the scientific method, but they don’t really believe it or even really understand it. They’re just posting the words, as if they’re trying to make the proper incantations to invoke the science spell. I’ve seen it called “cargo cult science” before, but given their heavy supernatural indoctrination I’m really starting to think they’re approaching it like a magic spell. First they think they have to talk about the scientific method and then they can go on to making stuff up out of whole cloth and explaining how the bible supports it. Which, I think, speaks poorly of their understanding of theology as well as their understanding of science. It brings up the question of whether they approach Christianity with the same stiff lack of understanding. Do they say the words and then proceed to do whatever they were going to do in the first place?

    The “what color is your brain” was the really enlightening point. Of course they’re not suggesting that the home schoolers crack open their skull to see what color their brain is. They’re suggesting that the students either look up the answer in a book or else make up the answer. I think making up the answer is the clear intention for some of the questions, like “what is God made of?”. Or even better, “if there were aliens, why would the visit humans?”. You can’t do an experiment, you can’t even do research based on what others have done on the behavior of aliens. The only option is for the poor students to pull the answers right out of their own buttholes, polish it off, and put it on display.

    So all the scientifical talk is window dressing. It’s the set piece, they think that if you talk about the scientific method and if you use the metric system then it must be science. The website stresses the importance of paying attention to the number of significant digits in your measurements and then offers “why did God make birds to fly” as a project subject. Yeah, good luck figuring out the number of significant digits in that experiment.

  52. #53 Irene
    February 14, 2010

    Greg, I am sorry to read your sad news.

  53. #54 Greg Laden
    February 14, 2010

    Irene, thank you. This was nothing unexpected, and pertains mainly to my daughter as this was a member of her mother’s family. We are doing fine.

    But hey, today was also Huxley’s first visit to urgent care! All in all a very distracting day, and it is days like this that make me glad for both Amanda and me that we don’t fetishize either holidays like Valentines day or birthdays.

    (Though Amanda did get some nice PJ’s, and a wireless portable mouse and the usual annual cache of teacher supplies)

  54. #55 Lynn
    February 14, 2010

    The mothers of these children have the same exact “mommy instinct” as the parents of other home schoolers … meaning, none … and have damaged these children socially and intellectually. Home schooling not only produces freakishly asocial miscreants but it also produces what we saw in this fair … a flagrant disregard for reality.

    Yikes! Is this a shout-out? You know, calling our children “freakish asocial miscreants” – while fresh and catchy – may activate the cabal. Is that what you want? If so, you may be disappointed to learn that many of us aren’t homeschooling anymore. Did you know? Yes, despite our non-existent “mommy instincts,” a number of us battled our own worst instincts and enrolled our little freaks in school this year. Isn’t that wonderful???

    By the way, how long will it take for our children’s miscreancy to wear off? Or, is the damage permanent? I’d worry, but I don’t have a conscience. Or, do I get to have one now? I’m soooo confused. :(

  55. #56 Greg Laden
    February 14, 2010

    enrolled our little freaks in school this year.

    Why?

  56. #57 Alicia
    February 15, 2010

    These people do not represent all homeschoolers any more than they represent all Minnesotans. It’s 26 kids out of thousands who homeschool in Minnesota, and we’re an active bunch who take part in an awful lot of other activities. There’s a reason hardly any homeschool families take part in this bogus thing, and it’s not because we’re all home duct taping our children to chairs.

    As of 2005, there were 17,000 children registered as homeschoolers in Minnesota. Keep in mind that parents only have to file paperwork for kids between 7 and 16, plus the fact that the rate of homeschooling has been increasing each year. Given that, it’s safe to say that more than 20,000 children are being homeschooled in our state. Good science would not allow any sort of assumptions to be made about 20,000 children based on a sample of 26.

    Please stop lumping all of us homeschoolers together with small groups of people who annoy you.

  57. #58 Greg Laden
    February 15, 2010

    Alicia, I’m not lumping you together. You are. Home schooling advocates traditionally refuse to support any effort to actually enumerate, count, study, or knkow anything about homeschoolers. As far as I can tell, every home schooler in the state is like the ones we see at the science fair. There is no information to the contrary because the homeschooling lobby, as a special interest group, has fairly effectively lobbied against any activities that would allow some kind of assessment.

    Which makes a lot of us wonder about homeschoolers.

  58. #59 Pen
    February 15, 2010

    Tmac, Pen, and any lurking creationists who think creationism and ID are science

    Urrrmmm…, dear Mal Adapted, I’m a renowned atheist (well, not so renowned, perhaps, but definitely an atheist), and grew up in a society where atheism and evolution were pretty much taken for granted. Also the parent of a homeschooler, hence my comment, which you forgot to read properly. Thanks for the good laugh though.

  59. #60 GBM
    February 15, 2010

    @ tmac

    Your argument is a really blatant equivocation; we ‘worship’ science in the sense that we tend as a group to have a high regard for it. You ‘worship’ God in the sense (presumably) of offering reverence or attempting to propitiate a supernatural force. Those are plainly two different concepts which are grouped together somewhat arbitrarily under one English word; using an argument that relies upon such linguistic trickery makes you look either foolish or disingenuous.

  60. #61 Chris Granade
    February 15, 2010

    @Greg Laden #58:

    Thank you for making your position so painfully clear. You have made it obvious that no matter what I achieve in my life, I should not expect you to give me any more respect than either of us gives to creationists. While I find your position in this to be nothing short of hateful, I am glad that you have put it so clearly. It saves me the time of reading and commenting upon your blog with the expectation of being treated like a rational adult. While your blog certainly does a lot of good in the world, and I thus wish you well with it, I also wish you would recognize that home schooling is not in general creationism.

  61. #62 Greg Laden
    February 15, 2010

    Chris, I recognize that homeshcooling is not all about creationism and religion, though a large part of it is. Indeed, it’s relationship to evolution is understated, I think, because one common use of homeschooling is to take a child out of public school for the year in which they are required to take biology, then put them back in later. If there actually were good data for homeschooling numbers, this would barely be on the radar screen numerically, but it would have a huge impact on science education.

    Instead of telling me that I’m the big meany, why don’t you work on your fellow homeschoolers. Right now, home schooling is a rogue method of education in many ways. There are reasons that is good. You have not seen the homeschoolers screaming at me that I should be criticizing the public education system yet (they’ve been here before and they’ll probably be here shortly). But of course, I have plenty of criticisms of the standard system. BUt it simply is not the case that since one system sucks the other system can’t be criticized. Indeed, when we see that sort of logic coming from homeschool supporters, we wonder what homeschooling is all about, n’est pas?

    Anyway, yes, it is good that home schooling is a rogue system in many ways, but part of that libertarian spirit comes through as a resistance to being counted, being examined, being critiqued. There is some bad education going out there in the home schooling world, and some good education. But all of it is hidden under a virtual veil of secrecy.

    Fix that, rather than yelling at me. Or, prove that I’m wrong about it.

  62. #63 Alicia
    February 15, 2010

    With all due respect (which actually isn’t a lot), we don’t want you coming into our homes to assess us.

    Try replacing “homeschoolers” with “parents.” It’s granted that there are some terrible parents in our state. Some are abusive and horrible. Some feed their kids nothing but junk food. Some yell and belittle. Some teach beliefs that others find objectionable. Many have never read a parenting book, much less taken child development classes.

    Given all of this, maybe we should have the state evaluate all families in Minnesota annually. Maybe all parents should be required to fill out forms detailing their children’s diets, the dates of doctor check-ups, what books they’re reading to them, what activities they’re engaging them in, what religious doctrines the children are being exposed to, how many minutes of daily exercise the children are getting and what the parental beliefs about discipline involve. Parents should be required to pass parenting tests and take regular child development classes or else agree to put their kids in government-run day care. And then since you can’t trust parents to report honestly, have regular and surprise visits by psychologists and other experts to make sure they’re parenting in the way the state thinks is best.

    How many parents would welcome this? Would they be hiding something if they didn’t want to be regularly “studied” by the state?

    We’re not your business. Sorry. This apparently bothers you a great deal, but you don’t have a right to assess us.

    Just because we don’t feel the need to let you evaluate us doesn’t mean we’re hiding anything. We just don’t feel the need to be studied by you or anyone else, thanks all the same.

  63. #64 Leslie Haber
    February 15, 2010

    I have raised four free thinking, atheist kids (well, one describes himself as a deist, but I’m sure that will wear off in his PhD program). I home schooled three of them for at least a few years, and two for most of their under-HS education. I then sent them to regular, public high school.

    I home schooled them as a last resort, when I discovered that the schools were incapable/uninterested in giving my gifted children what they needed–when they were constantly harassed for their “religious” beliefs and the administration was uninterested in doing the right thing– when I realized that raising free thinkers was going to require a lot more from me than dropping them off every day.

    They reentered at high school, when the AP/gifted kids were sufficiently segregated that they were not seen as massively different, and when the courses were more up to their speed. They had no trouble adjusting, except to the mountains of “busywork” that public schools tend to substitute for thoughtful teaching.

    I mention all of this because I hate being lumped in with religious home schoolers. My kids were unusual, though (top 10% SAT scores, admission to Duke TIP, IQs in the gifted range). And my situation was unusual–as an MD, I have the science and math background to teach it myself.

    Done right, homeschooling can be a tremendously rewarding activity for both parent and child (and frustrating and time consuming and difficult and…).

    I have, however, seen the opposite results mentioned throughout this post and the comments. Religious home schoolers do not have the necessary background to teach the sciences, and clearly have no wish to enrich themselves to the required level. It is, indeed, a disservice to the children. I would love to see some regulation, but from my own experience I can imagine how difficult it would be to frame that legislation (for that matter, I would love to see some control over the qualification of parents in general, but we can all see that slippery slope).

    Public schools do not have all the answers. The cookie-cutter system loses kids at both ends of the spectrum. Critical thinking skills are ignored at best, discouraged at worst. The science community consistently bemoans the way science is taught. My high schoolers still run into misinformation and agendas, even in AP level courses. And the massive tendency to “teach to the test” leaves little time or wiggle room for the conceptual learning that truly defines knowledge.

    There are no easy answers. I would love to agree that religious homeschooling is a pariah. The implications, though, of regulation are far-reaching–if the state, and only the state, can decide what a child may/must learn, the mechanism for suppressing free-thought is already in place (and it only takes one gander at the Texas State Board of Education to see this happening, in the status quo). Be careful what you wish for.

  64. #65 Chris Granade
    February 15, 2010

    @Greg Laden #62:

    Before anything else, I would like to take exception to the characterization of my earlier comments as “yelling.” I would like to think that I have been civil, if rather blunt. As for the claim that I haven’t “seen the homeschoolers screaming at me that I should be criticizing the public education system yet,” I can assure you, I have. This is part of what made homeschooling difficult for me and my family; any support group for homeschoolers must be carefully managed to avoid being drowned out in the very kinds of noise you allude to.

    I don’t know if the rabid and creationist homeschoolers are the majority or simply louder and more obnoxious. I don’t deny that the lack of statistics is problematic, either. That said, it’s not so simple as just gathering assessments– I have seen the valid concern of assessment used as a blunt weapon to bury any potential homeschooler under a mountain of paperwork. As a result, many of us treat any sort of assessment requirements with no small level of concern. It is not an easy problem to solve, and I am in no position to come up with some kind of a magical fix that would make homeschooling susceptible to statistical analysis without giving enemies of homeschooling a sledgehammer at the same time.

    But I’m getting distracted. You claimed that I’m telling you that you’re the big meany, but I don’t have to tell you that. You’re smart enough, that when you write passages like the one below, you’re sure to recognize that they are unfair, unfounded and downright hateful:

    The mothers of these children have the same exact “mommy instinct” as the parents of other home schoolers … meaning, none … and have damaged these children socially and intellectually. Home schooling not only produces freakishly asocial miscreants but it also produces what we saw in this fair … a flagrant disregard for reality.

    You didn’t claim that creationist homeschooling produces “freakishly asocial miscreants,” you claimed that all homeschooling produces “freakishly asocial miscreants.” You can’t tell me that’s because of a lack of statistics, or because of virtual secrecy or whatever else. When you write words like that, you are telling the world in no uncertain terms that it does not ever matter what kinds of things homeschooled individuals such as myself achieve, but that you will regard us as miscreants with a “flagrant disregard for reality.”

    Taking exception to such harsh and unfounded statements doesn’t mean that I think that homeschooling is “the other system can’t be criticized.” It means that I think that when you rightfully call out the horrific abuse that the creationists profiled here have committed using home schooling as an umbrella, that you have stepped over the line and gone into the kind of hateful screeds that I would expect out of these creationists. Whether it was your direct intention or not, you have gravely insulted me and my family with your words. I am disappointed to see this happen, as I genuinely think that there is a lot that you have done that is worthy of applause and celebration.

  65. #66 Greg Laden
    February 15, 2010

    With all due respect (which actually isn’t a lot), we don’t want you coming into our homes to assess us.

    This is very typical of the paranoid xenophobia we often see form homeschoolers. Nobody want to go into your home. I personally think homeschoolers would benefit from a self organized representation of some kind (other than the Cabin in the Idaho Mountains approach currently most common).

    This is especially so because you know that state by state it is happening by regulation anyway. Why not jump in now and control more about how it happens?

    Given all of this, maybe we should have the state evaluate all families in Minnesota annually.

    This (and the surrounding text) is right out of the Homeshcoolers playbook. No, as I said above, the fact that there are problems more generally or elsewhere does not mean that the issues specific to homeschooling are not something to be addressed.

    We’re not your business. Sorry.

    As an advocate for science education, homeschooling, which is a means of avoiding or tainting or otherwise ruining science education (though not all homeschoolers do this, we are told), I very much see you as my business. Sorry.

    Leslie: I mention all of this because I hate being lumped in with religious home schoolers. My kids were unusual, though (top 10% SAT scores, admission to Duke TIP, IQs in the gifted range). And my situation was unusual–as an MD, I have the science and math background to teach it myself.


    Done right, homeschooling can be a tremendously rewarding activity for both parent and child (and frustrating and time consuming and difficult and…).

    Agreed. I’m not lumping you, by the way. You are being lumped by default, by yourself and your fellow homeschoolers, not by me. I, personally, applaud your efforts.

    Chris: I would like to take exception to the characterization of my earlier comments as “yelling.”

    Maybe you weren’t yelling. It is hard to tell in the text form, isn’t it. You were definitely winging, though.

    I don’t know if the rabid and creationist homeschoolers are the majority or simply louder and more obnoxious.

    Nobody know. It would be nice to know.

    That said, it’s not so simple as just gathering assessments– I have seen the valid concern of assessment used as a blunt weapon to bury any potential homeschooler under a mountain of paperwork.

    This is a huge potential problem and I am totally with you on this.

    I’ve also see head on collisions between cars and trucks, yet I still drive to the grocery store. But yes, there should be concern about assessment. I’ve seen very little concern, and a lot of entrenchment.

    You didn’t claim that creationist homeschooling produces “freakishly asocial miscreants,” you claimed that all homeschooling produces “freakishly asocial miscreants.”

    No, you added the “all” and I wold appreciate it if you did not put words in my mouth.

    As someone who is entirely self educated from 10th grad through the beginning of graduate school, I would resent that remark you said I made. But yes, I’ll be happy to clarify. I don’t think that all home schoolers are freakishly asocial miscreants. Only some. And they tend to come from the closed quarter religiously oriented home schoolers.

    And within that range, there are actually some real success stories. A good friend of mine, for instance, is home schooling her children in a Christian evangelical household, and those kids are doing great. My statement was meant to be non-specific, I never meant “all” and thanks for the opportunity to clarify that.

  66. #67 Greg Peterson
    February 15, 2010

    While at this event, I had an extended conversation with one of the women at the booth in the center of the exhibits. She was promoting a Dead Sea Scrolls lecture event at Northwestern College taking place within the next few weeks or so. (BTW, why Christians would promote anything to do with the DSSs is a bit puzzling to me, as they do Christianity no favors, but who knows what take they might have on these artifacts?) I said that I am a Northwestern College alum, and she said something I forget, and I said no, I’m an atheist now. Which apparently was an open invitation to ask me several questions unrelated to why I actually am an atheist. OK, to be fair, she did START by asking why I am atheist now, but that’s not a question that can be easily answered. Unlike a religious conversion, which can happen in an instant in response to some overwhelming emotional need, deconversions often can, and in my case did, take several months of thought, reading, conversation, research, and the like. It’s probably true that there is something like a precipitating moment when the doubts are first taken seriously, and an end-point moment of sorts when one realizes one can no longer take theistic claims seriously, but the experience overall is pretty far from something that can be pinned down. I said there was no single magic bullet, that it was literally a matter of hundreds of things. This was the wrong answer. I’m usually very good at discussing atheism with Christians because I was a committed and serious Christian for a fairly long time and understand very well how they think. But I sort of blew this encounter, because I allowed myself to be put on the defensive with the usual cadre of clueless Christian questions: Was I an atheist because I had suffered a tragedy, like Darwin did with the death of his daughter? No. Of course like anyone, my life had ups and downs, but no tragedy caused me to lose my faith. Had I been converted to atheism by liberal teachers who made me doubt the Bible through use of the documentary hypothesis. No. Gawd no. I am a Northwestern alum, remember? It doesn’t get much more fundamentalist than that. Huxley said that he and people like him wanted to find a way not to have to believe in God so they could experience sexual license. Was that my problem? Ah…no. Not at all. My sexual ethics are very much intact, thanks.

    At some point I said something indicated that I am divorced. And the glib smirk that spread over her face was literally infuriating. Now she had it, she thought. Now she knew the reason I am an atheist. It’s to do with my divorce. And I told her to wipe the expression off her face that seems to indicate that she thinks she knows something she doesn’t.

    Anyway. The one thing she did not bring up, and I maintain could not bring up, is, “Did you find out that Christianity is mistaken?” That wasn’t even on the menu as a possible reason why someone might embrace reason and reject theism. Simply that all the best reason, logic, observation–common sense, really–flew in the face of any possibility that it could be correct.

    So I’ve been kicking myself ever since this encounter for not having turned things around. I went so far out of my way to defy the stereotypes of atheists that I felt sure she carried (and this is easy for me, because I really am by nature polite, friendly, gracious, and not at all bitter or angry or arrogant…OK, maybe a little arrogant, but the rest is true), that I did not properly confront her nonsense and her bigoted assumptions, and her raging hubris.

    Other than that, the fair was fine and it was a great pleasure discussing issues with new friends at Old Chicago.

  67. #68 Leslie Haber
    February 15, 2010

    Greg:

    I did not intend to imply that you had lumped folks like me with religious homeschoolers (although some of the commenters did).

    I mentioned details only to point out to the general audience that there is another point of view in the homeschooling debate. Any attempt to protect children from their parents by definition infringes on the rights of the parents to protect their children from the state.

    That might not seem so bad in “liberal” communities, where it is generally assumed that the state knows best how to educate a child. It cannot, however, be transposed onto every school district, or even each classroom. And it certainly doesn’t work down here in the Bible Belt, where the “state” is often occupied with its own agendas. The door swings both ways.

  68. #69 Greg Laden
    February 15, 2010

    Any attempt to protect children from their parents by definition infringes on the rights of the parents to protect their children from the state….The door swings both ways.

    Yes, it is a difficult balance! (but it is a balance)

  69. #70 Irene
    February 15, 2010

    Chris: You didn’t claim that creationist homeschooling produces “freakishly asocial miscreants,” you claimed that all homeschooling produces “freakishly asocial miscreants.”

    You might consider the title (and the subtitle) of this blog post: “Every child is a casualty… … when it comes to Creationist Home Schooling”

    <>..a successful home schooler now preparing to enter into a PhD research program in quantum computation

    Just out of curiosity, which grad program?

  70. #71 Chris Granade
    February 15, 2010

    @Irene #70:

    You might consider the title (and the subtitle) of this blog post: “Every child is a casualty… … when it comes to Creationist Home Schooling”

    I did consider the title. I also considered the content of the post, where the qualifier was dropped and many sweeping generalizations were made.

    Just out of curiosity, which grad program?

    I will soon be joining the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. (I’d provide links, but last time I did, the spam filter ate my comment. Both institutions are easily found via your favorite search engine.) Currently, I am a Masters student in theoretical physics at the Perimeter Institute. While I don’t mean to brag by bringing up these details, quite a few commenters seemed to be under the impression that home schooled children can only grow up to be students at Christian universities or diploma mills.

  71. #72 Lynn
    February 15, 2010

    “…enrolled our little freaks in school this year.”

    Greg: “Why?”

    In some cases, they went on to college; in others (as in my own), our kids asked to go. It’s that simple… well, we also did it to spite you and refute the argument that we love our politics more than our own children.

    For what it’s worth, my daughter loves school, is doing well (4.0 GPA, “Outstandings” in citizenship and work habits, lots of friends, etc.), and I’m happy that she’s happy. I’m not thrilled with all of it (material that’s unchallenging, teachers that are surprisingly sarcastic and demeaning, peers who are sent to school having been taught “sufficient disdain for rational and critical thinking that they might make compliant followers of fundamentalist doctrine,” etc., but I realize that school – *like homeschooling* – is a mixed bag.

    By the way, I happen to agree that what happens in homeschools affects us all. I’d even add that we have a moral responsibility to speak up for exploited, voiceless children (and not call them miscreants); Leslie (64, 68) makes good points about regulation, however. Plus, from a purely pragmatic standpoint and in the case of fundamentalist Christian homeschooling, requiring the teaching of evolution in homeschools would be like throwing gasoline on an already unmanageable fire; Christian homeschooling advocate groups like HSLDA and Exodus “Let My children go!” Mandate – not to mention the demogogues at FOX – would love us for it. The notion that Christians are persecuted for their faith is what feeds the movement, afterall.

  72. #73 Greg Laden
    February 15, 2010

    Lynn, glad to hear (and not surprised) that the kids are doing well.

    I don’t think the fact that insisting that statewide standards be met will in some cases lead to explosive outcomes (figuratively) is a reason to not insist. That, in fact, is the strategy of the fundy homeschoolers, and it should not be accepted.

    This is why I’m fully in support of colleges preferentially admitting students with actual educations. Those can be homeschooled educations, of course. But then twe have the basic problem of how to manage that issue. And, to my mind, if you work out the logic all the way you end up with homeschoolers having to be at least somewhat accountable for what they are up to.

  73. #74 Janet
    February 15, 2010

    You write: No, you added the “all” and I wold appreciate it if you did not put words in my mouth.

    Actually, you didn’t add “all”, you added “other” to the paragraph in question–

    The mothers of these children have the same exact “mommy instinct” as the parents of other home schoolers … meaning, none … and have damaged these children socially and intellectually. Home schooling not only produces freakishly asocial miscreants…

    –Even without the word “all”, you are expanding the scope of your comments from just the homeschoolers at this particular “science fair” to homeschoolers and homeschooling in general, even if you later acknowledge the existence of “a few good ones” out there.

    Your post is actually a perfect example of why homeschoolers suffer from what you call “paranoid xenophobia.” We don’t trust the state to assess us in great part because we fear that we will be presumed guilty (of miseducation or worse) rather than presumed innocent from the very beginning of the process. The negative stereotypes and the prejudice in favor of the educational status quo are very real and make us leery of additional oversight.

    Additionally, I personally don’t see how either homeschoolers or the state would benefit from the time and expense of detailed management of homeschoolers. Even if homeschoolers had to pass a bubble-test showing that they were exposed to evolution and the rest of the official state curriculum, there’s just no way to force families to abandon their religious faith and not pass those beliefs on to their children.

  74. #75 Greg Laden
    February 15, 2010

    Janet, we could have a conversation about what my point is, or you can play sophistic games with me and tell me (incorrectly) what my point is. Well, no, those are not really options. We do the first one or nothing.

    Yes, I think you have correctly described both the source and the nature of the paranoia that pervades the homeschooling community (not all of it, as you suggest, but much of it). But that does not matter. That people get it wrong is not a reason that it is OK for people to get it wrong.

    So, no, we don’t ignore the fundy homeschoolers when it comes to evolution because it would be difficult to not ignore them, and no, we don’t ignore the fact that whatever benefits are possible from homeschooling (and there are many) that homeshcooling is still part of our overall system of education and that there are expectations.

  75. #76 Janet
    February 15, 2010

    Sigh. My point wasn’t to play a “sophist trick”, but to point out that while you didn’t use the phrase “all homeschoolers”, by including the phrase “as other homeschoolers” you were (or appeared to be) painting with a wider brush than just those homeschoolers you saw at the creationist event. It seems unfair to act surprised that some folks took your words in a broader fashion.

    I don’t know that I can have a debate with you, because I’m not sure what, exactly, you are arguing for? That the state should not allow fundy homeschoolers to teach creationism? I would argue that, to truly eliminate the problem from society, you’d also have to ban private Christian schools and churches from teaching it as well, and that such a ban is just not feasible, from either a legal or a practical standpoint.

    And, while you’re trying to ban creationism-as-science, what other “bad science curricula” would you like to ban, for the good of the state? Perhaps global warning denialism or that vaccines cause brain damage? (I would argue that misinformation about vaccines hurts kids more directly than misinformation about Darwin.) Once the state board of ed or the legislature starts a list of lessons you’re not allowed to teach, just imagine the heated debates… And, again, any of these bans would simply not be enforceable in the home or in private school.

    Are you arguing that your state assess homeschoolers in more detail than it currently does? I would argue that this is somewhat more feasible, if you are just trying to see whether these kids have basic skills. You can easily give homeschoolers the same standardized tests your local school system uses. But, it’s not as simple as it seems at first glance: If the test developer is honest, 50 percent of the kids you test should be below the 50th percentile. Who is to decide whether that low-scoring child is simply less gifted, or is the victim of bad teaching?

    And, what if the parent of that low-scoring child doesn’t want to put the “failing” kid in school? They may argue for the chance to try again, perhaps with a different curriculum or approach, or just argue that their child needs more time to mature and master the material.

    Suppose Johnny isn’t reading at “grade level”, but he is reading longer books than he did last year. Is the burden on the parent or the state to prove that the student would have learned more had he been in the neighborhood school? And how would either side prove its case? Should the state try to take custody of the child to force him to be educated as the state sees fit, if there is no indication of child abuse other than a low test score? Shall we fine the parent or send them to jail if they are making an honest effort to teach the child? Not every kid in public school learns all the material presented there, and we don’t prosecute poor teachers. If they have tenure, they aren’t even fired.

    If you go beyond a basic skills test, you have to acknowledge that families make many curriculum choices. For example, my 6th grader at home is doing American history for social studies. If she were following the state curriculum, she would be doing ancient Greece and Rome (among other topics). Does she fail the state assessment because she didn’t learn about ancient Greece this year, or does she pass because she learned the material that she was presented with? Is my choice to present material in a different order criminal neglect, or just a personal choice? Who is going to draw the line for every piece of information that is included in the K-12 curriculum?

    States generally allow private schools to choose their own curricula, and home schools would certainly demand the same freedoms. To account for different choices, homeschools would have to be assessed on an individual, case-by-case basis. But, because there are so many individual homes, individual kids, and individual approaches, it would be difficult and expensive to do so and still be fair.

    I think if you actually sat down and read your state’s education laws and your local school districts’ policies and procedures, you would find that there is less accountability than you might think.

    For public schools, the state does not test that every single thing in the standards is mastered. Just read the typical state standards document and try to imagine a test that encompassed it all. Inputs are tightly regulated–the kids spend so many hours a year in school, the teachers have certificates, etc. Outputs are much less regulated–tests probably emphasize basic reading. writing, and math. True understanding of the use and misuse of the scientific process is probably not covered. “Schools” are held accountable, but specific teachers or students are not.

    Private schools are not tested at all by the state, and have great leeway in curricula, though there are probably safety regulations and such. Religious schools have complete freedom to teach their theology as they see fit.

    Homeschools are all over the map. Some states regulate more than others. But, where states have tried to regulate more tightly, homeschoolers generally create ways to work around the regulations, often by forming “umbrella schools” that move their families out of the homeschool regulations into the private school regulations, or by signing up for a correspondence school from a less-regulated state, or by demanding “religious exemptions” via the courts or the legislature. I am not familiar with all fifty sets of state regulations, but of the ones that I am familiar with, I don’t know of any that make it impossible for families to use fundy curricula, or that improve the lives of homeschooled kids in any meaningful way.

    Finally, if you go beyond academics and try to determine not only if Johnny can read, but if he is an asocial miscreant (or a close-minded fundamentalist), you are getting into the realm of parenting choices, not just education. And, if the state is going to do that, homeschool parents would rightly demand that public school kids’ social and emotional lives be investigated in the same level of detail as theirs. I just can’t imagine how the state could possibly do that.

  76. #77 Greg Laden
    February 15, 2010

    That the state should not allow fundy homeschoolers to teach creationism?

    Not to count as biology/science credit, no. Under no circumstances.

    you’d also have to ban private Christian schools and churches from teaching it as well, and that such a ban is just not feasible, from either a legal or a practical standpoint.

    That is not infeasible, it is in practice. There was even a recent court case.

    “bad science curricula” would you like to ban, for the good of the state?

    No sophistry, just dog whistles!

    Sorry, Janet, your approach is an anathema to quality education.

    but if he is an asocial miscreant

    I wasn’t suggesting that we ban asocial miscreants. I am a blogger after all!!!

  77. #78 Sallie
    February 15, 2010

    This has been stated previously, but I really feel a need to repeat it: Not all homeschoolers are creationists! Stop lumping me in with those people!

    If the public school in my neighborhood had been able to provide my children with an education, then I wouldn’t have decided to homeschool. And I might have stuck with the school longer, despite the academic flaws, if my kids hadn’t been exposed to bullying and other disturbing behavior from the other kids. I don’t think you truly understand the problems of the urban school systems. They are very scary places.

    Since leaving the school system, we’ve met many other homeschooling families. Most of the ones we’ve met have been secular homeschoolers, who also left the schools due to lack of academic rigor or due to bullying/violence/disruptive kids. I do know some religious homeschoolers, but in urban areas, it seems that secular homeschoolers are just as common. I imagine this is less true in the bible belt and in rural areas.

    I understand your disdain for the teaching of creationism. My husband and I are both atheists, though my deconversion has been recent. I agree with you about the misteaching of science among certain religous groups.

    But, I think you unfairly stereotype homeschoolers in this post. You also called my kids freakishly asocial miscreants and implied that I’m a bad parent for making the choices that I have made. Can you see why I’m upset?

  78. #79 Greg Laden
    February 15, 2010

    This has been stated previously, but I really feel a need to repeat it: Not all homeschoolers are creationists! Stop lumping me in with those people!

    Yes, this is true, and it has been acknowledged and no one thinks differently, so please stop assuming that everyone who criticizes certain aspects of homeschooling is saying the things you presume them to be saying! Coming to the table with all the same old preconceptions is not good modeling FTK’s and does not help your case, if you have a particular case to make.

    I don’t think you truly understand the problems of the urban school systems. They are very scary places.

    My wife taught in the school district with one of the highest percentage of free and reduced districts in the Twin Cities, and my daughter goes to a school in an “inner ring” district (which are overlapping with the urban districts). I went to urban school districts while I was in school (back in the old days) and I work with teachers in the city schools.

    So again, I think you’ve come to the table with a presumption that is not accurate.

    …who also left the schools due to lack of academic rigor or due to bullying/violence/disruptive kids.

    Sometimes I think this might be a euphemism for something. Is it?

    … in urban areas, it seems that secular homeschoolers are just as common. I imagine this is less true in the bible belt and in rural areas…/em>

    Maybe. But we don’t really have good data.

    But, I think you unfairly stereotype homeschoolers in this post. You also called my kids freakishly asocial miscreants and implied that I’m a bad parent for making the choices that I have made. Can you see why I’m upset?

    So, you can call all the “urban” kids bullies, and that’s OK?

    Seriously, I don’t assume you’all are anything, and I did not say that home schooled students are necessarily anything. Maybe some home schoolers are a little rough on reading comprehension.

    But we do agree on the science. The science that is taught in home school settings should be good science.

    It would also be good if homeschoolers as a rule (as far as I can tell) didn’t automatically pull the wagons into a circle whenever they think someone is looking at them. It is hard to get allies hard to be self critical, hard to improve, hard to appear (or, maybe, be) legitimate if whenever someone looks a little hard at you the same old presumptions come out of the glove box.

  79. #80 Janet
    February 15, 2010

    Hmm… The only court case I know of is the one that said the University of California system did not have to count creationist biology as meeting its own admission requirements. The effect is pretty limited. The private Christian high schools involved can still offer the classes and issue diplomas and transcripts, and the credits may be accepted by other colleges at their own discretion. At any rate, “science credits” only count in high school.

    Not sure what “approach” of mine you consider an anathema–for the most part I was speaking about hypothetical approaches to regulating homeschools. My point was simply that for the state to determine who is and is not doing a “proper” job of education is a difficult task, with any type of schooling. With homeschooling, it seems to be beyond the realm of what state regulations could likely accomplish.

  80. #81 Greg Laden
    February 16, 2010

    Yes, that is one case I was thinking of, plus less directly related is not a court case but the accreditation (lack thereof) of the ICR “college” in Texas. Now that things are settled on the basics of what is creationism and what is science I think we’ll start to see more.

    With homeschooling, it seems to be beyond the realm of what state regulations could likely accomplish.

    So, given that there are state standards, accreditation systems, admission systems, why is more or less sticking with the program … but in the highly individualized and creative way possible with homeschooling … a problem?

  81. #82 Lorax
    February 16, 2010

    Greg, Im late to this conversation (as always). But in regards to your post, and I know the subsequent conversation has devolved from this, I disagree that there was not science at the creation homeschoolin’ science fair. Well I agree with you, but having attended several recent public school K-6 or 8 science fairs, the kids at Har Mar were not far off. Except for the kids who were far off.

    BTW was it just me or were the posters that had the “best” apologetics conclusions given 2nd place ribbons. It seemed to me the 3 2nd place awardees all had, and thus my personal viewpoint of god is right conclusions.

  82. #83 WG
    February 16, 2010

    My goodness. Someone in a homeschool group I’m in sent me the link to this. I guess I’m “one of the bad people” according to the writer and some of the commenting people here.

    I’m a homeschooler. I believe in science and I believe in ID and creation. I’m sure that doesn’t make sense to some people.

    I think it’s okay for people to disagree with my family’s beliefs. But, I feel really sad for the people who seem so angry here. It seems you guys aren’t having a conversation with each other at all. There’s so much accusing and name calling. And, it seems that I am someone who has been tried and convicted by many of you as a child abuser. Pretty strong words….

    I believe it would be so much better for all our children if “us adults” could find a way to focus on the fact that it’s most important and interesting to look at “the source of human life” as an exciting science to study, rather than trying to “prove” why entire segments of the population should be discounted as entirely wrong.

    In my experience with the homeschool community and many in the creation believing community-at-large, we are pretty typical. My kids are learning what we, their parents believe. And, they’re learning about what other people believe.

    As homeschoolers specifically, the most exciting part of that learning is getting to help them study “why”. As each one gets older, part of the process is showing them what the foundations of both sides of the “evolution” and “creation” debate are. We enjoy seeking and reading a variety of different sources to learn about the “scientists” on both sides and how they each have studied their theories.

    My kids are learning so much discernment in the many science subjects we are able to help them study. We regularly find that all kinds of scientific disciplines can be filled with solid ideas and some “evidence” of the validity of the conclusions. And they love finding how there are still so many questions that can be pursued and studied. They get excited when they see that delving “deeper” into questions actually can lead to more questions. And, looking for the answers is an adventure.

    For us, and most homeschoolers, the focus of “studying science” is not even centered around creation vs. evolution. In fact, one of OUR FAVORITE topics is any science learning related to the weather. It’s just fascinating, and there is so many ideas and theories and so many wonderful advances in technology that have allowed an explosion of new data to be collected and analyzed.

    It’s a wonderful process. But, reading blogs and comments like this is just sad, I think. I’m afraid that the people who are so angry here, are going to raise their children to feel complete prejudice-based hate towards my children.

    I’m afraid the results of “this” type of conversation here isn’t going to have anything to do with “science” or “creation vs. evolution”. It will just lead to your children to learn hate and prejudice and discrimination. And, what a sad lesson that is to learn. I hope you can see that and consider how your words and beliefs may have a very unintended impact on your children.

    I’m sure that your children and mine together could make the generations after us be so much better if they could see that we-the adults-have the capacity for tolerance and a great appreciation for diversity with each other, even on religious matters. They NEED to learn that our different ways of educating our children and family beliefs do NOT mean that some other child has less value or is less intelligent than “our families are”.

    After reading several posts here, that future possibility seems to be of little interest to some people who have written very passionate posts focused on belittling people and institutions whose beliefs or values are in conflict with their own.

    It feels like many of you have decided that your assumptions about my value as a parent and person are true as you see them. Is there no room for learning more about someone different from yourself and finding that we can ALL THRIVE and exist together?

    Religious beliefs is usually only a “part” of why people homeschool. Our reasons are many for why we do it. One, of mine is that I hope that I can help my children NOT become people who feel such passion to write to others in such an enflamed and destructive manner as I’ve seen written here. It will make their life and other’s lives so much less than they could be, if they could find a way to embrace and respect others who are different from our family.

    I’m absolutely believe that all of you here are great, worthwhile people. I hope you can take a breath and encourage the bloggers and commentators here to try and find ways to be constructive and positive. If you use all your energy to tear things down, you’ll miss out on giving your talents and energy to building up many worthwhile things in life.

    God bless every one of you.

  83. #84 Greg Laden
    February 16, 2010

    Lorax, sure there was science, as I said in the post, and the distribution of projects was exactly as I had suggested it would be base on previous years. And where there was an opportunity for the science to conflict with the scripture, guess which one won? The science that happened to be there was more or less incidental. But once you throw that bible quote in there making the link, the science becomes part of the story (for the few that had some science to begin with) rather than the story.

  84. #85 Greg Laden
    February 16, 2010

    WG: Thanks for your thoughts.

    I’m a homeschooler. I believe in science and I believe in ID and creation. I’m sure that doesn’t make sense to some people.

    As long as you don’t teach your children creationism instead of good science, then it should not matter what you “believe.”

    We enjoy seeking and reading a variety of different sources to learn about the “scientists” on both sides and how they each have studied their theories.

    I’d be interested to know what you read!

    In a public school setting, “teaching the controversy” is equivalent to “teaching creationism” and for good reason.

    Regarding your concerns about “hate” and so on, until this year, High Shcool, my daughter, an atheist has been pretty regularly hated by many of her fellow students (mainly Christians) and one teacher. The bottom line: As long as everyone is a Christian, there is very little prejudice.

    I’m absolutely believe that all of you here are great, worthwhile people.

    After spending several paragraphs explaining how we are not, I find that sentence to be a little funny. Not ha ha funny.

  85. #86 Frank Cornish
    February 16, 2010

    I think that readers should follow the link in “Lorax’s” signature to the “Angry by Choice” blog for a great story on the Creation Science Fair. (And no, I am not a sockpuppet.)

    What is being ignored here is that the reason that the Fair is being held in a mall for the stated purpose of giving the kids a chance to witness for Jesus. If it were truly a science fair, it would be held in a different venue, where the kids’ projects would be treated with more respect for the kids. I see the group that is putting it on as being exploitative for their own religious, evangelical reasons and I think that this is a topic that should be discussed in this thread.

    What the creationist homeschoolers fail to realize is that the filter they are placing in front of their childrens’ knowledge acquisition process is not always going to be there. Unless they think that they will always be there to prevent their kids, even as adults, from learning about how science works they are risking the loss of their kids’ religious faith when they become independent adults.

    That’s fine with me, but what is not fine is that many will end up being angry at their parents for shielding them in a way that enforced the belief that science is only so good as far as it is misused to confirm a pre-existing faith. When that is shaken, the realization that lying or misprepresenting science is a necessary pre-condition for their faith they will mistrust their parents on everything.

    I was thinking the same thing at the Jerry Bergman/PZ Myers event at the University of Minnesota last November. I was sitting next to creationist parents (which I could tell by glancing at the literature they brought with them to “disprove evolution.”) The kids who, as young adults still don’t even understand the concept of “theory” in science as being quite different than the colloquial meaning will likely eventually become atheists. While the plural of anecdote is not “data” I know people who are atheists as adults who still carry a great deal of anger towards their creationist parents for this.

    I also wonder about their parents and what they teach in political science. Do they teach the differences between socialism and liberalism, or is anything short of religious libertarianism considered communism?

    This has implications for their own future, for the society that they live in. Do parents have the “right” to indoctrinate their kids, considering that the kids will grow up to be adults and to be expected to understand what is going on outside of their religious circle?

    We know that not all homeschooling parents are motivated by their desires to indoctrinate their children. We know that many homeschooling parents sincerely think it is the best way to ensure that their kids who are gifted get the best preparation for post-secondary schooling. What Greg is saying here, is that those who are doing so to keep the kids from a scientific education is that unless we find a way to at least check up that the kids are not being not being miseducated their are long-term effects beyond the time that the kids turn eighteen.

  86. #87 Greg Laden
    February 16, 2010

    What is being ignored here is that the reason that the Fair is being held in a mall for the stated purpose of giving the kids a chance to witness for Jesus. …I see the group that is putting it on as being exploitative for their own religious, evangelical reasons and I think that this is a topic that should be discussed in this thread.

    That is an important point, and yes, let’s discuss it! (It is not being ignored… it simply hasn’t been mentioned explicitly, only implied, in this post… it has been part of the conversation. This objective is explictly stated on the fair’s web site, by the way, so there is no question about this.)

    I also wonder about their parents and what they teach in political science.

    Interesting question. Perhaps some of our CHS readers will lend some insight.

  87. #88 Heathen Homeschooler
    February 16, 2010

    Plenty of folks have already addressed the fact that not all homeschoolers are fundamentalists pushing creationism. I also firmly believe that the religiously motivated homeschoolers aren’t the majority either– they just want you to think they are. But this isn’t the sort of forum or audience that would be open to considering that concept in the first place even with a supported argument based on US Dept. of Education data. Your biases are already so deeply rooted that they aren’t going anywhere. Oddly enough those biases have actually been carefully crated by the extremist homeschoolers you disparage here. You’ve given them a lot of power over your minds. So much for free thinking.

    What I’d really like to highlight is that not all creationists are homeschoolers. Here in Texas they unfortunately make up almost half of the State Board of Education and write the state’s science standards to include evaluations of the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution. I homeschool so that my heathen children will actually have the opportunity to engage in life science that actually contains the rigorous study of evolution they would never get in the fundamentalist controlled public education system. Given that 90% of children in Texas are in the public system, I’d be a lot more concerned about creationism infiltrating public education standards here and in other states’ classrooms than 26 homeschooled kids in a mall.

  88. #89 DuWayne
    February 16, 2010

    As a for the record, after reading the blogpost, before reading the comments, I was all about tearing you another asshpole Greg. It’s not that the post wasn’t clear (though it turns out it wasn’t), it was that the post seemed to clearly indicate that homeschooled children are freakish asocial miscreants with a flagrant disregard for reality. I get that you did not mean that and I am not trying to hammer at you for doing so – I just wanted to point out that the wording of your post made a very strong implication about the nature of homeschooled children.

    I would also like to note that as a supporter of homeschooling who wishes his eldest were homeschooled, I am also a supporter of treating homeschools and private schools with the same accountability that public schools have. Children who are homeschooled or in private schools should be required to pass certain standard (or appropriate) tests to ensure they are getting an education. Though in all honesty, I would love to see those same assessments to be of considerably higher quality in public schools first…

    I also think it would be appropriate for children to be assessed in more than just an academic context. I have a hell of a lot of mixed feelings about it, but it becomes far to easy for kids to be abused in a great many different ways, when no one is paying attention – as is the case in most states, in regards to homeschooled children. I am not sure what the balance is, but there needs to be better balance between privacy rights and child safety.

    Finally, while I definitely do not believe it should be a state requirement, I think that it is totally in the best interest of homeschooled children to see a therapist every so often. There are a lot of (non-abuse related) mental health issues that first get noticed in schools. There are also a lot of potential problems that a child might develop specifically because they are being homeschooled – issues that might be compensated for, but without someone objective taking notice of them, might not be noticed by anyone in the family or homeschool community. For most kids that would probably be something that can be dealt with in 2-4 meetings annually, while for some kids, it may be very helpful for them to regularly see a therapist.

    I am all about homeschooling – but only when it is done sensibly and with the understanding that it is going to be a *huge* fucking investment of time and energy on the part of the parents…

  89. #90 Lynn
    February 16, 2010

    Frank: I also wonder about their parents and what they teach in political science.

    I’m not a “CHS,” but I used to be one. Many teach the same “Christian Nation” revisionism that they’re pushing in Texas right now. In fact, David Barton is popular keynote speaker at hs conventions and his books continue to be considered must-haves for many.

  90. #91 Janet
    February 17, 2010

    Q: So, given that there are state standards, accreditation systems, admission systems, why is more or less sticking with the program … but in the highly individualized and creative way possible with homeschooling … a problem?

    State standards — States get to set standards for the curriculum being paid for by taxpayer dollars. Private schools are not only exempt from the official curriculum, they usually purposefully choose a distinctive niche in the marketplace (Montessori, Catholic, Waldorf, Core Knowledge, Great Books, etc.). Most homeschoolers want the same freedom to choose, and there is more than one way to get a “good” education.

    Another big issue with homeschoolers is the multi-age “classroom”. Families often teach to the child’s age in reading and math, then do other subjects with siblings together, especially when kids are close in age. So, all the kids in a family may be studying Native Americans for social studies, with the older children getting harder homework, such as a research report, the younger ones getting a worksheet or writing a paragraph, and the kindergartner getting a coloring sheet. Only one of these kids may have plains tribes in the state standards, but everybody is learning something. (We’ll assume the kindergartner needs to revisit Native Americans before graduation, though.)

    Admission systems — Colleges have freedom to admit who they please. If I want my kids to go to a particular college, I absolutely do have to make sure my kids meet the admission requirements, take the SATs and APs, etc. Most homeschoolers do “get with the program” to one degree or another as the high school years approach, precisely for this reason.

    Accreditation systems – Accrediting an individual home would be prohibitively expensive. Accrediting agencies are just not set up for rating tiny homeschools. Accredited curricula is available, however.

    Buying a curriculum from an accredited vendor certainly helps when the family expects to be in and out of the regular school system. For example, if your child is training for the Olympics and can’t go to school during the sports season, or if you are a military family homeschooling while stationed overseas, it makes sense to go this route. It makes transferring back into “the system” easier. However, that accreditation is contingent on following the program “to the letter” so the vendor keeps their accredited status. So, learning material in a creative, flexible, and more individual way is less possible. You can add individual experiences or go at an individual pace, but you still have to do all the vendor-required assignments. It is often expensive, as well (depending on the vendor).

    Homeschoolers refer to this approach as “school at home” or “school in a box,” and while we’re glad it’s an option, we don’t expect it to be best fit for everybody. There are a lot of kids at either end of the spectrum — dyslexic, ADHD, gifted, etc. — that really benefit from more flexibility.

  91. #92 CrisisMaven
    March 7, 2010

    For home educators, students and researchers: I have put one of the most comprehensive link lists for hundreds of thousands of statistical sources and indicators (economics, demographics, health etc.) on my blog: Statistics Reference List. And what I find most fascinating is how data can be visualised nowadays with the graphical computing power of modern PCs, as in many of the dozens of examples in these Data Visualisation References. If you miss anything that I might be able to find for you or if you yourself want to share a resource, please leave a comment.

  92. #93 Vosh
    March 10, 2010

    In a deschooled world, the Earth would not be paradise. There would be less than perfect parents. It proves nothing to point that out. In a schooled world, all the kids are abused. You spent your entire childhood, from age 5 to 18, being told what to think and when to think it. The primary lesson you learned was obedience. That’s abuse. In school the first lesson you learn is to seek out and have contempt for others. That’s abuse leading to more abuse. You don’t trust yourself to learn, so you don’t trust your children to learn, unless another entity coerces it. Like so many of us, you’ve been brainwashed.