Home-school texts dismiss evolution

As expected, the home schoolers are by and large doing it wrong. No wonder they are always trying to hide the statistics behind manufactured libertarian values.

Christian-based materials dominate a growing home-school education market that encompasses more than 1.5 million students in the U.S. And for most home-school parents, a Bible-based version of the Earth's creation is exactly what they want. Federal statistics from 2007 show 83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children "religious or moral instruction."


Hat tip: Ana

More like this

There is a raging debate (using the term lightly) over at Coyne's whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com

There has been a number of ignorant creationists spouting the same old arguments and are having their ass handed to them.

By NewEnglandBob (not verified) on 07 Mar 2010 #permalink

It should be a requirement for parents that homeschool their children to have a degree in teaching.

As a current undergrad with a deep interest in science and a formerly homeschooled kid (6th grade thru graduation), I can tell you first hand that math is about the only thing that the Catholic home school program my mother favored covered with any skill. Homeschooling has its place but that entire time for me was a waste of my time and left me behind my peers when I went to college. Who knew biology was fascinating? Though, I can honestly say that I don't recall my science text discussing evolution or creationism. I do recall that English and history were intensely focused on Christian history and the moral message in particular books.

To be fair, I did benefit from a father who had a deep interest in the natural world. I feel for kids who are home schooled by parents who don't have any awe or interest in the world beyond some book and its associated interpretation.

Federal statistics from 2007 show 83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children "religious or moral instruction."

Seventeen percent of home-schooling parents don't want to give their children any moral instruction? Good grief.

The other 17%, who would appreciate acknowledgement once in a while, are home schooled because their local school system was failing to meet their academic needs. You don't need a teaching degree to teach one person at a time. As a private tutor with a Math/Science degree, I'm sure my students would agree. My brother had learning disabilities that his school was unequipped to deal with, so my mother took it upon herself to make sure he got a good education. It doesn't take "manufactured libertarian values" to cause you to do whatever you can to make sure your child has a fair chance at academic success.

I've read over the article a couple time now and I still haven't been able to locate the part that's new information. That "most" homeschoolers are conservative Christians who teach Bible-based mythology in place of science isn't news, is it? (If we're serving red meat, I can also tell you that a good number of them also have David Barton's books on their shelves, which may be less commonly known.)

I'm not all that interested in homeschooler demographics, but the only place that I know about for decent, demagoguery-free information on these topics is Homeschooling Research Notes, where you can find more on the 2007 NCES data. (Addressed in other HRN posts is HSLDA [an HSLDA spokesperson was quoted in the article linked here] and Brian Ray, whose "research" is often used for advocacy purposes.)

So, is the point of this post to accuse secular homeschoolers of deliberately "manufacturing" and propagating libertarian rhetoric, to shield the high numbers of YEC Christian hs'ers from view, to guard the practice from scrutiny? Goodness. What a dastardly scheme.



Thanks much for the links! I found this statement:

36% of parents cited religious or moral reasons as their most important motivation for homeschooling (83% listed this as important).

That makes a lot more sense than the claim above that 83% of the parents want to, meaning 17% don't want to, give their children moral instruction. I was finding it pretty hard to imagine that one in six of homeschooling parents didn't want their children told, "Don't hit your sister" or "Tell the truth."

So a little more than a third of the parents say that religious or moral instruction is their main reason for homeschooling. And apparently almost another 50% say that such instruction matters but isn't the main reason for homeschooling.

And they weren't asked their views on evolution? Or what religion they planned to instruct their children in? Or whether they planned to give their children non-religious moral instruction? It does seem to be true that there are many, many homeschooling fundamentalist Christians, but these statistics don't seem very definitive. If relatives of mine who have been considering homeschooling the children decide to do so, certainly they would say on a survey like this that moral instruction is an important reason; they're concerned about drugs in the schools. But they're atheists.

Rather than making guesses from the questions that were asked, it would have been interesting had the parents actually been asked whether they teach/plan to teach evolution or creationism, and how old they think the earth is.

The greg laden crusade against homeschool doesn't make much sense to me. Homeschool can happen without creationism, the fact that many of them do so doesn't discredit homeschooling as much as it discredits schooling. Homeschools like that are literal homeschools- schools moved into homes, same conepts as schooling, except the kids recite the message that their parents enjoy hearing. I have taken bio courses in highschool and college, you all are very mistaken if you think an understanding of evolution can spring from that. I learned most of what I know about evolution from my mother. My mom homeschooled me for about a year; she was a zoology major, but didn't have a degree in teaching (or anything) so I guess some of the posters here think she is unqualified. Pfft. We got done with our workbooks before noon, and then we got to do whatever we wanted. That was when I really learned important stuff, developed my interests, and in general most of the things I know come from independent study rather than being schooled by anyone. I had a lot more time for living, it was invaluable. I wish I had gotten more of it; I went to private school the year after that, and learned almost nothing.

All the degrees in teaching in the world cannot change the problems inherent in the system of schooling. Schooling is a system intended to produce unthinking obedience and apathy. Children are put in a room where they are taught what to learn and when, and it often has no relevance to their lives. Kids are isolated from people who are not the same age as they are, erasing a sense of community, past and future from their lives. They get in trouble for going to the bathroom, talking to each other, learning something unauthorized (reading ahead, drawing, writing instead of doing what is assigned). The cirriculum is arbitrarily divided into subjects that cannot be easily justified as being separate, and the experience of mastering any specific material is difficult when classes end suddenly and move onto the next prescribed lesson and take up so many hours in the day. Kids who care about the things they learn are devestated by this, kids learn not to care too much about schooling. Teachers are often as bored as the students are, and have very little say in what they are allowed to teach and when. School makes learning into a chore which is to be avoided, instead of a constant and interesting feature of our lives. It makes learning into a proccess where a vessel is filled with knowledge, rather than something that people do themselves to improve their lives. Children stay childish because they don't get to make any decisions for themselves, school is done to them. Their source of self esteem is narrowed down to being graded and measured by others, jumping through hoops for approval. If they are 'behind' on some subject, they are kept their for life, despite how they may perform later on. Independent thinkers get in deep trouble in school, because they realize that there is very little point to any of it. It weeds out people who do not blindly obey, and cements their class position for 'underachieving'. There are kids with genuine learning and behavior problems, but there are a ton who can't escape a label that makes them into the problem rather than the school.

The only difference between creationist homeschool and public school is that the parents are deciding what lessons kids are supposed to regurgitate on demand rather than the state. Excuse me for not being horribly offended that some children are being made mindless by their parents rather than a bunch of strangers. I don't know how many of you have actually looked at the cirriculum for public school systems like I have, but there are equally absurd across the board lessons taught to kids in public school. Like "discuss the impact of the united states on the rest of the world (spreading democracy, increasing freedom, etc)" WTF? Is this more rational than creationism somehow? In fact, it seems more absurd to me because no background knowledge is needed to see that such a shallow white washed version of history is incorrect. Then there are "core skills", like writing. Our class learned to write essays like a machine would, with color coded components that allowed no room for creativity. I remember those awful essays, you failed if you didn't follow the formula exactly. It was meaningless work, every single day, work that meant nothing to anyone but had to be done. I am sure everyone here who went to public school has countless memories of absolutely pointless or totally incorrect things that they were expected to learn with enthusiasm. If the goal of education is to make sure that every kid can repeat certain pieces of information rather than understand any of it, then the rejection of homeschooling in favor of public schooling makes sense (sorta). If the goal of education is for people to be able to think and be able to learn things when the need arises then it makes no sense at all. It isn't a secret what position people calling the shots take on this one. Woodrow wilson said this in a public speech:

"We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks. "

Homeschool in an environment where learning is facilitated rather than forced seems perfectly acceptable to me. Unschool and free school are good options as well. It takes a lot of effort to rid people of the curiosity and interest they naturally posess, but K-12 school seems to do a pretty good job.

Of course I'll add the standard disclaimer that there are different types of homeschooling, and some of them are actually quite good.

However, there are a lot of very fundamentalist curricula which are far worse than most of us even realize. They make no secret about teaching young-Earth creationism, but that's only the beginning. I'll link to a specific account of homeschooling from someone who went on to college and had a lot of catching-up to do:


Skeptifem:I agree with almost all of your points.

I am not on a crusade against homeschooling. I do, however, provide a critique of two specific aspects of home schooling. Otherwise, I generally support the effort.

Well, I agree with Julia L. I cannot POSSIBLY express how frustrating it is to spend year after year chasing the media around after they mindlessly repeat HSLDA's biased tripe and try to get a correction. HSLDA wouldn't know a real statistic if it hung an anova on their tonsils. What they DO know is a protection racket of creating legislation that keeps them in business defending their members. They should be prosecuted under the RICO act.

Parents who choose to homeschool are trying to solve the same problems any parent is trying to solve. They come from all kinds of backgrounds in education, class, and religious point of view, and frequently they act more as administrators than as teachers, hiring teachers to cover subject matter they deem important.

Given that public school teachers are still standing in classrooms (at my expense) telling people climate change is a myth because it snowed this winter, I'm in no hurry to see what awesome strategy for assigning credentials would emerge from a big push for certifying homeschools.

Why are home schooled children singled out when Christian private schools do the same thing? It is not home schooling per se that leads to brain washing on the subject of creationism.
I have friends that have home schooled their children because they lived an alternative life style. Their daughter got her PHD this summer in Evolutionary Biology/Population Genetics. She is 27 yrs old and never attended formal school until going to university at 18. Their whole circle of home schooling friends attend large state universities, some have gotten advanced degrees, many in science related fields. It is not home educating your child that leads to this narrow-mindedness on scientific matters. This anti-evolution mindset pre-dates the home school movement. Do you remember the Scopes Trial? This was a public school. The Butler Act, which gave Tennessee the legal basis to outlaw teaching of evolution in school was a state statute.
This anti-science attitude does not have its genesis in home schooling. Please leave the process of home education alone and go after the real culprit, fundamentalist religion. Fundamentalist religion has the numbers to reorganize as private schools if home schooling is witch hunted out of existence over this. The average unconventional family, that for various reasons chooses to home educate their children, does not.

Brooke: "HSLDA's biased tripe"

Did you see that HSLDA offered an iPod and VISA gift cards as "incentives" to parents who agreed to self-select their children for Brian Ray's "largest and most in-depth study ever conducted on homeschool families and their academic ability"? Further, parents were required to order the tests themselves from companies such as...Bob Jones!, the same publisher that writes curriculum for many HSLDA families! What a mockery.

Given that public school teachers are still standing in classrooms... telling people climate change is a myth

The idea of homeschools as refuges from fundamentalist influences in public schools has always seemed like a reasonable possibility to consider. I'm told it's not likely possibility, but I'm not convinced. Maybe I've seen too many man-on-the-street interviews.

If you want a chilling preview of our dystopian future as a theocracy, sign up for the HSLDA mailing list. For example, this tidbit was in today's note. http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/201003050.asp
as they acknowledge, there is "no need to identify yourself as a homeschooler because this bill will affect all Americans."
They get away with this as a 501(c)(4)

"501(c)(4) exemptions are given to civic leagues and other corporations operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, or local associations of employees the membership of which is limited to a designated company or persons in a particular municipality or neighborhood and the net earnings of which are devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.[19] Characteristics that set these organizations apart from 501(c)(3) organizations include an unlimited ability to lobby for legislation and the ability to participate in political campaigns and elections.[20]" -wikipedia

Any lawyers interested in trying to take on this organization will have my full cooperation. Attorney's general who wish to investigate what is essentially an insurance system, also. http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/articles/102299.htm

And everyone reading here will be more prepared to evaluate the journalistic skills of articles written with HSLDA as an uncorroborated source. ;)

There is a basic assumption grounded in ignorance that a lot of opponents to homeschooling make--namely that "homeschooling" is the same as "religious homeschooling." As an educated secular homeschooler (my wife and I have 8 degrees between us), I can say that there is a large community of secular homeschoolers who provide their kids with science and math educations which are superior to those from public schools. As an example, my son (just turned 14) is completing Trigonometry. In public school, even in honors classes, he wouldn't even start Geometry until the coming year. My younger son (9 years old) is doing algebra. Again, he would be years away from that in school. For students who are intelligent and motivated, homeschooling can be a far better option than public school, as long as they have parents who are dedicated.

I do not agree that homeschoolers should have an education degree. I have taught enough education majors to know that such degrees are a waste. Our colleges attract the lowest level of students into education programs, and much of what they study is method, instead of actual content.

I also personally know homeschoolers without college degrees who are providing amazingly thorough math and science educations for their kids.

The real issue is that society needs to learn that the term homeschooling is an umbrella term that covers many groups that are stunningly divergent in their backgrounds and approaches.

By Thomas Jones (not verified) on 19 Jul 2011 #permalink

There is a basic assumption grounded in ignorance that a lot of opponents to homeschooling make--namely that "homeschooling" is the same as "religious homeschooling."

Nobody thinks that. But there are a LOT of anti-science homeschoolers. Ask any biology teacher who is not teaching creationism in the classroom: In some districts it is routine to take the kids out of class the year they get biology and put them back in later, for instance.

As an educated secular homeschooler (my wife and I have 8 degrees between us), I can say that there is a large community of secular homeschoolers who provide their kids with science and math educations which are superior to those from public schools.

There certainly are highly qualified secular home schoolers! It's a large community, but probably a minority. Personally, I still question the ability of parents to really give their kids excellent education in several advanced (High school AP and Advanced) areas on their own simply because I doubt anyone is going to be qualified in so many areas. But home schooling vs other options up to the last few years of high school or so is probably a great option for people with the privilege to afford it and ability to carry it out.

I agree with much of what you say, but I do think we need to count, measure, asses, observe etc. what is going on in the home schooling community to a sufficient degree to ensure against problems. That some are doing it very well and even more are doing an adequate job does not mean that we as a society should not be concerned about the non insignificant number where things are just going badly.

Another thing you might consider: not all of us religious homeschoolers are anti-evolution. I'm Catholic and, like the recent popes, I both believe in God and accept evolution. I don't have a problem with the idea that the Creator caused life on earth to evolve over a long period of time just as modern science indicates it did. I want my son to learn and accept evolution, too, since I don't believe we have anything to fear from scientific truth.

I am well aware that some homeschool science texts have an anti-evolution bias and try to avoid those. I don't want my son being taught as part of his science instruction that the universe is only six thousand years old!

The homeschool community is very diverse. We've all got different ideas and opinions, which may be a big reason why we're homeschooling our kids rather than sending them to school! That's why it's neither fair nor accurate to tar us all with the same brush - not even the religious homeschoolers.

By Rosemarie (not verified) on 11 Apr 2012 #permalink