Prejudice by Any Name

Hot Abercrombie Chick has provided the ideal prototypical essay on homeschooling in the ad hominem/circumstantial/jump-to-conclusion mode.

The trouble with this sort of theorizing is that it tends to propagate prejudices under the disguise of observation. One isn’t really observing so much as serving up personal bias.

To route through the impending argument that someone is only voicing opinions on their weblog and their right to do so, I offer Rebecca Blood’s “Weblog Ethics“. Yes, we all have the right to voice our opinions, but we also have the responsibility to support those opinions when they undermine the wellbeing of another person following an important life choice.

How you raise your children is an important life choice, the means of their education no less of one.

Now. Just what is my bone of contention with this “Religious Homeschooling ” Post?

Amanda Doerty, while downplaying her enthusiasm for public education, is bold about her reservations concerning the homeschool choice.

“I find the Christian fundamentalist home-schooling/private schooling movement a bit frightening. In principle it’s fine…” [snip]~Amanda

What does this mean, “In principle ” ? Does this mean we can think about it as an abstract idea…but we dare not do it? And why not?

“…parents home-schooling their children were not exactly the kind of people who would make the best teachers; most had never attended college at all, and few of the rest had attained a four-year degree. Generally, the mothers would be in charge of educating the children, and they were even less likely to be educated” [snip]~Amanda

First of all, I would like to disabuse people of the idea that only ” Christian fundamentalist[s] ” homeschool as an education alternative to public or private schools. Second, that only certified ‘experts’ are capable of teaching.

Teaching is an art, it is the cultivation of a mind, it is not a factory manufacturing a product. It has to do with nurturing the abilities and curiosities of the intellect, and training in the skills of gathering knowledge.

Something lots of mothers are quite good at, in relation to their children. Something not all certified “teachers” are talented with. So what is the point? The idea of what constitutes education and what promotes it isn’t lots of methods and standardized tests as is commonly bandied about by people who don’t know any better.

Information on education is plentiful, and one reason it is so plentiful is because the homeschooling movement is determinedly improving itself. I highly recommend those resources for every parent. It helps immensely if you have to talk shop during teacher parent conferences or if you expect to help your child out with homework. Or God Forbid, if your children stumbles in the education system and needs assistance from you, their parent.

Homeschooling is not just for homeschoolers. It is something every parent does a little of along the way. Because parents teach and train. That is their responsibility and that is where the buck stops. Not with school systems.

I could say more, but this is enough to make this particular rebuttal. I want to move on to what initiated Amanda’s frightened response:

She quoted an article based upon “The Southern Baptist Convention voted down a controversial proposal Wednesday that would have asked parents to pull their children from public schools in favor of religious education.”

As a homeschooler, I, too, had noted this move of the Southern Baptist Convention with interest. And along with Amanda ( I’m guessing here), I breathed a sigh of relief that this particular proposal was voted down.

Because that is not what homeschoolers need. They don’t need manipulations and coercions to educate their children at home. It is too demanding a job. It takes conviction, from within, and it takes some grit to stay the course with homeschooling. It is a vocation, just like our compatriots the public school teachers.

Not every parent is cut out for this choice, and they should have public school choices. Good Public Education. Because we need educated citizens, whether homeschooled or public schooled or religiously schooled. However you like your preferences.

So what do Homeschool parents need? They need freedom to follow their choice. They need support in doing so. And that is what Churches and their conventions could offer: support, as in encouragement. And that is what I think the spirit of the SBC was, they just didn’t go about it in the most helpful way.

I would challenge some of Amanda’s contentions that “one actual religious school, affiliated with the major church for this group, was probably a step up from the home-schooling but the academics were well below the public schools “. Are there facts and figures for this? Probably not. Success outcomes monitored in terms of decent citizens contributing to the well-being of society? Probably not.

And the idea of who is “qualified to teach “, now there is a loaded statement. The person who has the authority to raise the child, while answerable to the needs of their society, is qualified to make that decision. Education is not “one size fits all”. Different children will respond and learn with different outcomes and that brings me to probably the most important point I would like to make about education. In all its forms. Or way of life for that matter.

Freedom to excel with have a correlative freedom to fail. There will always be some failures when you allow for freedom. Even when you do not allow for it. But in a static system that forces everyone into some sort of assembly line production will guarantee only one thing: a lack of excellence. It will squash every sort of individual effort to excel and to explore.

That is what education choices gives back: a chance to excel, but with the possiblility to fail.

since I’m no expert on the Christian home-schooling movement, I won’t try to over-generalize. But I think it’s safe to say[snip] ~Amanda

No, Amanda, it wasn’t safe to say, and it wasn’t responsible, and yes, it did generalize. Educate yourself a bit about the “Christian home-schooling movement”, and then get back to me…maybe we can talk.


I would like to draw attention to LivingRoom’s most excellent set of blog tips. That is where I came across the Rebecca Blood essay. I am working my way through the compilation of blog improvement tips and articles.