…it has the problems just like every other form of schooling does! That’s the big secret, people. There’s nothing special about it that creates genius kids. Certain people are attracted to it, which may cause a larger-than-average group of successful kids to emerge. The kids who tend to do better are the ones who have highly intelligent, driven, organized (a BIGGIE!!!) parents who are homeschooling for the purpose of providing a top-notch (but less expensive) education. (That describes my mom).
I just wanted to throw that out there, but my focus is actually to write a response post, as my friend here requested.
I’ve seen this article a couple of times (look here and here), and I am hoping it is the beginning of a change. The writer of this article seems to be a little surprised that many of the kids who grew up in the homeschooling community didn’t assume their parents’ values once they grew up. If you’ve read the longer article, he holds a fairly fundamentalist viewpoint on raising children, and it comes as no surprise that these kids are leaving their homes and trying to forge a new life for themselves. That is part of the American Dream, and not everything they are doing is wrong.
He starts with many good points, but he undermines himself when he talks about sheltering (longer article). (Don’t worry. I’m not going to talk about sheltering! Most of you know my slightly more liberal opinion on it, and I know that a lot of my readers’ opinions vary on this issue). This guy misses the point when he says that there is a problem with kids who are too sheltered; he then starts to make excuses for all of the radical sheltering he did.
A common theme I’ve seen has been a push on non-essential issues. He brings up the example of his son wanting colored hair and a tattoo. I’ve seen other more trivial issues pushed (for the sake of others’ privacy, I won’t share what they were…they are distinctive enough that it would be mean to share them. Let’s just say they were pretty appalling.), and important values have not been imparted. I’m sure most people do this to some degree, and I’m not saying everyone should let their 15 year-old have a tattoo.
I do think that emphasizing non-essential issues consistently is a significant weakness for homeschoolers; Bible-reading and character qualities aren’t pushed for as much as issues like courtship, vaccinations, and movie choices, to name a few. There is a marked emphasis on avoiding things that are negative rather than on striving for the positive things. It leads to a lot of frustrated, unhappy, good kids who don’t feel like they can get approval from their parents. I honestly try not to pay too much attention to it anymore, because it’s really depressing to watch kids get hurt like this, especially when they are sweet, well-behaved kids. It’s not a form of injustice that I can really do anything about.
This guy starts out pretty strong with some of his points (judging, emphasis on the outward form, family as an idol–lots of this is in the longer article), but he strays really far from it at the end when he says, “ If we have their hearts they will seek to honor us whether we are present or not, and their hearts will remain open to our influence.” (Keep in mind that he is not just referring to young children…he fully intends on trying to get his older children to adopt these values.) The focus of your life shouldn’t be spent on trying to conform to your family’s value system, although that’s not to say that everything your family believes is wrong or that there aren’t good things you can take away from them.
The whole reason these people (49% of homeschoolers, according to HSLDA) homeschool is for religious reasons, and we are to spend our life thinking about how we can honor the Lord, not honoring our family by adopting their value system (and believe me when I say, these value systems are specific!) This guy is starting to see some of the blind spots, but I don’t think he goes far enough or really sees the damage of having the family as an idol or over-sheltering. I also don’t get the impression from this article that he really understands the danger that can happen when non-essential issues are pushed. (I may actually blog about that specific issue…)
I am not even going to bother to talk about what Jesus would say about this, because most of you who read your Bibles already know what He would say… And let’s just say that it would be a heck of a lot more inflammatory than some of the stuff I’ve said. I will leave you with one of my FAVORITE verses ever, Matthew 23:23.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
PS. I didn’t do a blog post yesterday because I slept in before work, then fell asleep when I was done…But I will not prioritize sleeping over writing! No more.