Saturday, March 15, 2008

Arrogance of the Left and Home-Schooling

Albert Mohler wrote another post on the California home-Schooling problem (read here). Now I did want to interact with this article he cites written by David Arnold on the NEA website. It is full of nonsense and deceitful arguments and needs to be challenged. The third paragraph states,

"So, why would some parents assume they know enough about every academic subject to home-school their children? You would think that they might leave this -- the shaping of their children’s minds, careers, and futures -- to trained professionals. That is, to those who have worked steadily at their profession for 10, 20, 30 years! Teachers!"

This is just plain arrogance in light of the plain, obvious and well documented facts. Home-schoolers do achieve academic excellence on the whole (btw: the results are better than the public schools). I have friends who have home-schooled their children that were never confident they could do it. They were not the most academically inclined, yet they managed to do it. How is that you might ask? The material that is available for home-schoolers is so good, that parents, who choose to home school, need not feel alone or afraid. This guy must certainly know this. Therefore, he is just wielding his academic snobbery, which has no basis in reality.

Lamenting an advertisement he says,

"The “it” is meant to be “teaching.” Let’s face it, teaching children is difficult even for experienced professionals. Wannabes have no idea."

No Sir, you have no idea. Of course Home-Schooling isn't easy. It takes work like anything else worth doing. Yet the material available to Home Schoolers is extremely helpful. The results prove it! Public Education doesn't prove their case.

This also misses an important fact. Many home-schoolers are not home-schooling because facts that are taught at school are wrong. There are many reasons why, which I plan on dealing with a couple here. What is overlooked by this writer is that many home-schoolers are not Conservatives! Let me say that again. Liberals also home-school for a variety of reasons. Home-Schooling is hardly monolithic. He is just plain ignorant or willfully hiding this obvious fact.

He then talks about the socialization problem.

"Forget about interacting with others? Are they nuts? Socialization is an important component of getting along in life. You cannot teach it. Children should have the opportunity to interact with others their own age. Without allowing their children to mingle, trade ideas and thoughts with others, these parents are creating social misfits."

Here again, the facts just don't jive. I think this guy is either willfully ignorant, or just plain lying. He would certainly have to know the arguments put forth by home-schoolers after nearly 30 years. Yet he decides to cite a TV commercial for evidence. Therefore, I firmly believe this guy is now just lying.

Think with me here. Many parents home-school precisely because of the overwhelming negative problems of socialization. Do my kids really need to learn how to smoke pot and get drunk and have sex on a Friday night? Do we really need to put them through the greatest stress during the most difficult period of life? This just proves that he wants kids to be socialized his way and not with the views of the parent's.

"Children should have the opportunity to interact with others their own age."

Where in all of life do people work or live with peers of their own age? When I graduated High School, the only place that had 50 other guys that were nearly of the same age as I was was in Basic Training in the Air Force! After those 6 weeks, I never worked with another person of my age again! Let me be clear. NEVER! Due to that simple fact, I was not used to working with older men who trained me and mentored me. When I did hang out with guys my own age, we were ridiculously stupid. How I managed to live to the age of 25 is only due to God's grace.

He quotes Sam Walton as saying,

"I can’t teach them how to be a teammate when they have never been part of any team."

Home-Schoolers do not just sit at home. This is a stereo-type and a straw-man argument. Think again with me for just a moment. If parents are home-schooling their children, then might it be because they do care about how their children develop socially? I have been hearing this argument for nearly 16 years. There are just no facts to support it, unless of course it is the kind of socialization that is just not agreed upon. If that is the case, this is just snobbery of the worst and arrogant kind.

More arrogance,

"I’m certainly not opposed to religious schools, or to anyone standing up for what they believe in. I admire anyone who has the strength to stand up against the majority. But in this case, pulling children out of a school is not the best way to fight the laws that govern our education system. No battle has ever been won by retreating!"

This guy really is blind. We are fighting him! He has the power of taxation. He has all of the money to lobby the legislators. He has the power of government (Remember the court case everyone!). It is his philosophical views that are taught by the force of law. Why should I wait 20 years to fight the problem. My kids will have graduated under his world view, and he wins by default! What a joke. There is more I'd like to say about this guy, but I better proceed on before I lose my sanctification.

Finally I wanted to deal with this claim,

"They would be wise to help their children and themselves by leaving the responsibility of teaching math, science, art, writing, history, geography and other subjects to those who are knowledgeable, trained and motivated to do the best job possible."

Again, this assumes facts are just facts. The are neutrally taught...right? Teachers are never motivated to teach facts within a certain world view. Evolution is not a part of a world view. It is just a fact. Atheism is not a world view. It is just a fact. Materialism is not a world view. It is just a fact. The mockery of Christianity within schools is just normal social skills being learned.

My conclusion is that this guy is so overpowered by the Left's world view that he is exactly the result of something Rush says quite often. "Liberals don't want to be judged by their results. It is their intentions that need to be honored." This is a world-view battle for the minds of our children and for freedom from an ever intrusive and abusive government.

The Public Educational system needs to be judged for what it is and what it does. That means results must be judged. This guy is not willing to even try to be objective about himself or his poorly reasoned arguments.


the forester said...

Great post. If I can find time later I'll come back to interact with it. If anything, I believe you haven't stated your case strongly enough. And considering that I'm a public school teacher, I think that counts for something.

Howard Fisher said...

Thanks for the comment forester. I realize I haven't made my case as strongly as I could have. I have had more than one teacher such as yourself point this out to me. The irony is that many fellow conservative Christians that I go to church with are so blinded by their own traditions of schooling that to even hear a case for a different kind of educational system is simply anathema.

I do want to be clearer. I am not against some kind of community schooling. I am simply against the State run and controlled system. There has to be better ways than what this country is doing. But it is kind of like the Income Tax issue or the Social Security Tax issue, everybody knows they are Unconstitutional (I realize income tax was amended into the Constitution), but the power that elected officials have to steer the society and culture is just too overwhelming to leave to the private citizens and communities.

The for instance I could use was my earlier post on adding another grade level that becomes mandatory. Mommies don't want to stay home and raise their own kids. Day care cost too much. Hey, the government will raise them for you. That is just wrong.

Look forward to your responses.

the forester said...

Actually, when I wrote "If anything, I believe you haven't stated your case strongly enough," I really meant that Mohler's views on homeschooling are so outrageous that it would be difficult to state our position too strongly. Sorry I wasn't clear.

And the line about me being a public school teacher wasn't an attempt to position myself as a critic of your writing (egad!), but rather a claim to an insider view of public education that validates my evaluation of the system and my support for home schooling.

(After hitting the Publish Comment button I reread my comment and thought, hunh, I didn't word that well, I hope he doesn't think I was criticizing him. Sorry!)

Your post was spot-on. You'll see that when I return with more thoughts. Although your humility was uncalled for (nothing to be ashamed about in this great post), it is nevertheless inspiring. :-) I can only hope to respond as well to (in this case, perceived) criticism.

the forester said...

Whoops, now that I look at the original articles I see Mohler wasn't the one criticizing home schoolers. Sorry for targeting him.

It's difficult to take seriously an opinion that begins with a blatant grammatical error: "Certain jobs are best left to the pros, such as, formal education" [sic]. Such a person claims sole authority to teach our children to write?

Nevertheless, my experience in public high schools has given me an appreciation for the expertise that teachers bring to their disciplines -- an expertise that I am certain I could not replicate in home schooling. My wife and I have two sons who are not yet school age; whether or not we choose public school, private school, or homeschooling remains to be seen. We plan to reevaluate on a year-by-year basis for each child, and will most likely end up using a blended approach throughout K-12. During the later years we will probably abandon homeschooling, as the prospect of providing a comprehensive, in-depth program that competes with public or private programs daunts me.

So I do agree with one aspect of the NEA article -- professional teachers do possess a breadth of experience and training that should not be neglected lightly.

But my experience is that homeschoolers don't neglect it lightly. Understanding the insufficiency of a go-it-alone approach, they smartly tap into external resources and networks of other homeschoolers.

Moreover, the homeschoolers I know diligently socialize their children through sports, scouting, music and arts programs, summer camps, and church activities. If anything, their children interact with peers in a wider variety of contexts and for more diverse purposes than do many public school students. And these contexts generally afford healthier adult-child ratios that allow modeling and reinforcement of proper relational skills. In public schools, children adopt far more from their peers than they do from adults -- the blind leading the blind. (How right you are in pointing out that nowhere outside of school do human beings work or live only with peers of their own age.)

To be brutally honest -- and this is my perspective from ten years as a public school teacher (plus two in private school) -- those who advocate public schooling to the point of criticizing home schooling do so primarily for budgetary reasons. Larger school populations permit them to hire more teachers and offer more programs. It's an issue of resources, which equals control, which equals power. Power intended for good, granted, but power nonetheless. In order to obtain that power they willfully reduce children to wards of the state rather than of their own parents -- an utter bastardization of the order and responsibilities established by God.

Every warped worldview leads to hypocrisy, and we can see this hypocrisy clearly in the NEA article conclusion: "Don’t most parents have a tough enough job teaching their children social, disciplinary and behavioral skills? They would be wise to help their children and themselves by leaving the responsibility of teaching math, science, art, writing, history, geography and other subjects to those who are knowledgeable, trained and motivated to do the best job possible." At a time when student achievement appears to be at an all-time low and children consume more media (television, movies, internet, video games) than ever before, can our society really afford the argument that parents should leave education in the hands of trained professionals? If anything we need more parental involvement, not less. Home schooling parents are not the problem -- they are part of the solution, and they should be applauded as models of parental involvment.

That brings me to a dirty secret: although our sons are not yet school age, my wife and I are already home schooling them. Shocking, yes, but true. My two-year-old knows the alphabet, can recognize at least ten written words, and will recite for you any of about twenty bedtime books by memory. He also sings dozens of songs and can count to one hundred. My five-month-old attends music lessons, enjoys books and has the alphabet sung to him every night. Forgive me if I shout here: I am a public school teacher, but I AM NOT ABOUT TO LEAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF TEACHING MY CHILDREN TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

That responsibility belongs first to my wife and me, and we will not allow any government program to retard, through its slow, all-together-now pace, the intellectual development of our children.

One day we may decide to use public (or private) schools as tools to help our children learn. But that doesn't mean my wife and I will relax in our responsbility as educators -- far from it. If anything, a decision to send our sons to a public school will mean we'll need to work even harder homeschooling them in the afternoons and evenings.

That is an attitude public educators should endorse.

Howard Fisher said...


"And the line about me being a public school teacher wasn't an attempt to position myself as a critic of your writing (egad!)"

I must be an odd duck. I read what you meant and never saw any ill will from your finger tips.


Thanks for the comments.