December 7th, 2008

Socialization: All Your Kids Are Belong to Us


photo credit: DiabloDivine

Per request, I thought I’d offer up some thoughts on why parents feel a need to have their children socialized through government institutions. At the root of this issue seems to be the underlying desire to have one’s children “fit in”—the quest for acceptance, normality, and even popularity.

The most frequent criticism about homeschooling one’s children—seen by many as the societal equivalent of living in complete isolation in the mountains—is that the children will lack opportunities to interact with their peers and be adequately socialized. This argument is a potent one, for only a poor, uncaring parent would desire that their child always be the last one picked for the soccer team.

But what is socialization all about, and to what extent (if any) is it worthy of our interest? Let’s begin with The Association of California School Administrators, which is reported to have issued the following statement:

“Parent choice” proceeds from the belief that the purpose of education is to provide individual students with an education. In fact, educating the individual is but a means to the true end of education, which is to create a viable social order to which individuals contribute and by which they are sustained.

This quote is perhaps apocryphal—I could not find the original document—but in it the reader hears the influence of the man who established the first public kindergarten in the United States and who was the U.S. Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906. In The Philosophy of Education, William Torey Harris divulged the primacy of socialization through education by asserting that the entire point of public education is “the subsumption of the individual.” The entire quote reads:

Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.

Little wonder, then, that Marx, Lenin, and Hitler were all three staunch supporters of public education. If government-run socialization is the precursor of and pathway to subservience to the State, then it behooves all liberty-minded individuals to reject all such attempts to fit individuals into a bureaucrat-sponsored mold.

However, if in referencing socialization people refer only to the ability to “get along” and interact with their peers, it might be an interesting case study for these parents to walk the halls of the local school campus to better understand what influence they desire their children to have. What traits commonly accepted, embraced, and flaunted by most school-going children are those worthy of emulation?

It’s not just the child’s peers that parents should worry about—a litany of organizations, bureaucrats, teachers, and others are always asserting their influence in determining what is best to teach your child. One of countless examples will hopefully serve to illustrate this point. A few years ago, elementary school children in Palmdale, California, were required to complete a questionnaire relating to sexuality. Among other questions, the assignment inquired about the frequency of the following tendencies relating to the child:

  • Touching my private parts too much
  • Thinking about having sex
  • Thinking about touching other people’s private parts
  • Thinking about sex when I don’t want to
  • Washing myself because I feel dirty on the inside
  • Not trusting people because they might want sex
  • Getting scared or upset when I think about sex
  • Having sex feelings in my body
  • Can’t stop thinking about sex
  • Getting upset when people talk about sex

Six parents sued the school district after discovering that this questionnaire had been administered. In the 2005 court ruling that resulted, the Ninth Circuit Court stated the following:

In summary, we hold that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents “to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs” and that the asserted right is not encompassed by any other fundamental right. In doing so, we do not quarrel with the parents’ right to inform and advise their children about the subject of sex as they see fit. We conclude only that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on that subject to their students in any forum or manner they select. We further hold that a psychological survey is a reasonable state action pursuant to legitimate educational as well as health and welfare interests of the state.

In agreement with this court and in his “Pedagogic Creed” of 1897, John Dewey—the father of American public education—expounded on what he saw as the role of the teacher in government-run schools:

Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth. In this way, the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer-in of the true Kingdom of God.

So much for reading, writing, and arithmetic—it has long been an accepted (if unstated) truism that schools are nothing more than factories through which children are molded, grown, and made to conform to an ever-degrading standard of what a proper citizen should be. Given the stark contrast in virtue between a “social” school environment and that of the ideal Latter-day Saint home, one wonders why any parent in their right mind would proactively seek out opportunities to submit their children to such moral decay.

Note: for those who don’t understand the reference in the title of the blog post, see here.

72 Responses to “Socialization: All Your Kids Are Belong to Us”

  1. Rick
    December 7, 2008 at 3:28 pm #

    Connor, I was wondering, did you go through the public school system and if so, where, and how did you avoid the negatives that you outlined in your post?

  2. Justin
    December 7, 2008 at 4:24 pm #

    I totally agree with you and I really enjoyed the things you pointed out. I’ve been working on my wife — trying to convince her that we should home teach. Your post finally got me one concession — she has agreed to not do any public schooling whatsoever.
    Thanks for writing this.

  3. DMC the Great
    December 7, 2008 at 5:46 pm #

    This is just one more reason we need more school choice, and not just for those who are wealthy.

    If parents want to send their children to schools where they hand out condoms or give surveys like this, let them, even with taxpayer-supported vouchers.

    I suspect some children would be better off with a Planned Parenthood-approved sex ed curriculum than with an abstinence-only curriculum, and vice versa.

  4. Daniel
    December 7, 2008 at 7:08 pm #

    Back off the Hitler button, man. I think you’re distorting things a bit. You want to convey the idea that public education is intended to be an assembly line that turns children into sex maniacs, subservient to the state. And thus you give the game away.

    Many people are doing home schooling so they can be the sole input into their child’s education, especially in terms of sex education. Well, you’ll never be the sole input, nor should you be.

    Re: the Palmdale case. People with no legal background (like me) sometimes get indignant about court cases without having a knowledge of the legal thinking behind the ruling. Since two courts upheld the dismissal of the lawsuit, wouldn’t you be interested in finding out why? maybe if the dismissal had some merit? and reporting that to your readers? Or are you simply promoting a kind of bunker mentality?

    We may have our views on society’s ideas about what a citizen should be, but I fail to see how home schooling helps this, especially when (in its current incarnation) it seems calculated to close down children’s exposure to science, evolution, sex education, and any views outside those of the parent. You don’t want kids to turn out subservient to the state (and neither do I), but it seems that home schooling is a recipe for turning out people who are subservient to parents and church, which is no better.

  5. Carissa
    December 7, 2008 at 7:41 pm #

    You don’t want kids to turn out subservient to the state (and neither do I), but it seems that home schooling is a recipe for turning out people who are subservient to parents and church, which is no better.

    Here’s one way it is better: parents have the primary responsibility and authority to direct their child’s education and upbringing. The state does not.

    Well, you’ll never be the sole input, nor should you be.

    You’re right. But a parent should be the PRIMARY imput in their young child’s life, and that is what homeschooling can help accomplish.

  6. Daniel
    December 7, 2008 at 8:22 pm #

    parents have the primary responsibility and authority to direct their child’s education and upbringing. The state does not.

    I’m going to disagree a little bit with you there. Intuitively I want to say, ‘Sure, parents should educate their kids.’ On the other hand, I don’t see that parents have the sole right to decide how that’s going to play out. (Certainly not a constitutional right.) An extreme example: if there were a community of parents that thought that kids shouldn’t be educated at all, would that be okay? I think the kids would be better served by overriding the wishes of the parents. It wouldn’t be an easy call, but I hope you get what I mean.

    But okay. Parents are responsible for the education of their children. This does not mean parents should try to do it themselves. Only a small proportion of parents are capable of doing it well.

    On the other hand, a country with a public education system will experience significant economies of scale, especially if there’s going to be any science on the curriculum.

    The ideal would be a strong and well-funded public education system that would educate all children, not just those of the wealthy or whose parents could manage it. Parents would have input at the local level as to how to approach the curriculum, but there would be national standards that needed to be met. And rather than restrict input, parents would be able to discuss controversial ideas with their kids in a way that shows respect for their intelligence. Wouldn’t that be something?

    And I’d also like a pony.

  7. designated conservative
    December 7, 2008 at 9:26 pm #

    Thank you for this excellent post. Far too many of us are products of a public school education and can no longer comprehend the point you are making here. Fortunately, I had a couple of radical free-thinking high school teachers who started me on a course of “think, ponder, and choose for thyself” that led eventually to homeschooling.

    If it wasn’t for their intervention in my life, I might be like so many I and my children come into contact with who, when pressed for something intelligent to say about education policy, fall back on “public school good, homeschool bad. Socialization. Socialization. Socialization.”

    For more from a designated conservative of the republican party, visit http://dcon2012.wordpress.com.

  8. Connor
    December 7, 2008 at 9:33 pm #

    Connor, I was wondering, did you go through the public school system and if so, where, and how did you avoid the negatives that you outlined in your post?

    I was raised in San Diego in a fairly conservative town with a mother who was very involved in monitoring my reading list and school assignments. Nevertheless, I became a product of public education as much as my peers.

    I didn’t really “wake up” (my term for first unlearning all the erroneous information I was taught in school and subsequently learning things “as they really are”—to the extent that I’ve researched them thus far) until about six months after college. What changed? I started reading source texts and documents, began questioning and analyzing everything I had previously been taught as truth, quickly discovered the history and influences of modern education, and realized how ignorant I had been just months previous, though I had completed upwards of eighteen years of “education”. Pondering why our schools turn out such ignoramuses was not a difficult task once I discovered the socialization argument. Then it all made sense.

    Granted, not everybody who goes through the system is an idiot. In Harris’ quote above, he argued that 99% turn out to be automatons, thus allowing for some (statistically inaccurate) wiggle room to admit that a few rebellious, studious individuals make it out without becoming shackled down by the socialization and “dumbing down” effect.

  9. Rick
    December 7, 2008 at 9:53 pm #

    Connor, thanks for your insights and sharing your story. Maybe I can add a few experiences. I was raised and educated in England. I started to wonder what was going on when in history at age 13 we skipped the War of Independence. We were taught that England had never lost a war since 1066. I took it as an effort to instill patriotism in the students. I moved to another town at age 14 and noticed that all my new school was doing was turning out workers for the local factories.

    I taught my children not to believe everything their teachers taught. I had one teacher call me at home and yelled at me over the phone. Also I untaught a few things at home.

  10. Carborendum
    December 7, 2008 at 10:13 pm #

    We’re not really talking about what wrongs can be done by which party. We’re talking about “What are parental rights?”

    How DARE parents believe they’re in charge of their own kids.

    I believe most people would agree that some balance would be the ideal. And I believe most parents strive for that balance.

    Vison of the Karate Kid’s breathing exercises.

    If we can agree that the balance between a solid foundation of values vs. socialization in a multi-cultural world would be a desireable end, I ask the following questions:

    1) Of the two extremes, which is more common by percent of participants in public and home schools respectively?
    2) Of the two extremes, which would be less desireable?

    I like the merging of the two myself. That way we get a bunch of people worshipping the gods through sexual orgies–YES!!

    3) How can we really decide what the optimum balance point is?

    Maybe through parent-teacher conferences where parents actually have input in what the kids are taught. Naaahhh.

    I’ve got my personal answers for these. I’m just wondering what other people think. Does anyone have any data on the first question?

    98% of statistics are made up on the spot.

    I believe in options. As long as the options are real. See, government has a way of FORCING the most Godless ideals into ALL schools. That’s great if you’re atheist, like our friend Daniel here. But what if you’re of a faith that teaches old fashioned values? (like most of the rest of us).

    Example:

    1) Significant numbers of parents move their kids to schools that don’t do those sexual surveys.
    2) Government thinks that not enough of the kids are getting these surveys.
    3) Government mandates ALL schools have such surveys.

    (Forgive me for saying that government thinks.)

    This isn’t panic speech. I’m saying this with some degree of amusement. But it’s funny because it’s true. They don’t care WHY. They just mandate whatever they want to get the results they want. That’s the way government works.

    (Search your feelings, Luke. You know this to be true.)

    The main problem with public school is that parents DON’T have options or input. If the government mandates something, like the sex questionaires, then the child gets it. Where is the choice?

    I really don’t mind when other people have input into my child’s education. What I object to is

    1) When values are being twisted calling good, evil and evil, good.
    2) When other’s force them to state as fact that which is only belief.

    Even with Church Doctrine, I tell my children that they need their own testimony. Don’t just trust us. They need to study it out themselves. Do you get that from a government paid pedagogue?

    You also get parents (like my own) who are not the kind of people you want educating children. When I’d ask them to clarify some things I was learning, if they didn’t know, they’d make things up. I stopped asking them questions by 4th grade.

    What about parents who (if unchecked) would teach their children that incest is acceptable social behavior, and the government is just misguided?

    Any wrong perpetrated by public school can be perpetrated by homeschooling parents, and vice-versa. Thus:

    A group of parents deciding that children shouldn’t have any education at all: Too late. Ever heard of “Unschooling”.

    Daniel stated:

    Only a small proportion of parents are capable of doing it well.

    You might have a hard time explaining why homeschooled children consistently do significantly better on standardized exams including college entrance exams.

    Disagreements will always exist about what is a good value and what conditions over-ride the observance of values. Such was the rationale for teaching sex ed in schools.

    Look where we are today. How many people are having babies WAAAYYYY too young?

    This is the major question. When do parents’ values determine the best upbringing; and when do the state’s? Values are not subject to majority rule.

    Well, if they agree with me, then they’re the correct values

    The basic liberal/socialist mind set is to get all the freedom that I can. But that guy is unqualified to have such freedom.

    The basic conservative mind set is to get all the freedom I can, and if others disagree, I will take my family into my mountain cave.

    The libertarian mind set is to get all the freedom we can get for everyone. Parental rights are absolute except for murder.
    Rationale for this is that government involvement in cases of child abuse and incest has not curbed the number of instances, only made it worse when foster families also contribute to the abuse.

    Well, I’m having a difficult time with this one myself. At what point does the government have a right to say,”You must . . .” or “You must not . . .” That is the artistry of government.

  11. Daniel
    December 7, 2008 at 10:20 pm #

    Connor – If you didn’t get anything out of high school, then whatever. But then you didn’t get a lot out of your undergrad either, did you? and BYU isn’t exactly socialist.

    Maybe education just isn’t your thing. That’s okay, but your contempt for regular people unblessed by your religious/conservative self-education really does reflect poorly on you. People that go through public schools are 99% likely to be idiots? You need to learn some stats, my friend.

    Oh, and Skousen ain’t a source text.

  12. Connor
    December 7, 2008 at 10:24 pm #

    Daniel, I tend to disregard your comments on my education-oriented posts. I realize that as an educator you’re likely offended by my position, so I don’t fault you for disagreeing with what I have to say (and lacing your disagreement with snarky rebuttals). Bygones, I guess.

  13. Daniel
    December 7, 2008 at 10:42 pm #

    You might have a hard time explaining why homeschooled children consistently do significantly better on standardized exams including college entrance exams.

    Not really. The testing is mandatory in public schools. Not for home schools, where parents can decide to give the tests or not. This introduces self-selectional bias, as students on the lower end are likely not being counted. If all homeschooled kids took the tests, we’d see a clearer picture.

    I believe in options. As long as the options are real. See, government has a way of FORCING the most Godless ideals into ALL schools.

    Ojalá.

    That’s great if you’re atheist, like our friend Daniel here. But what if you’re of a faith that teaches old fashioned values? (like most of the rest of us).

    Great. Have all the religion you want at home and at church. That way it’ll get done just like you want it. Or else do something legitimately comparative at schools. Even I’d go for that.

    I thought your story about your parents was interesting. Kinda funny too, but it must have been frustrating.

  14. Daniel
    December 7, 2008 at 10:44 pm #

    That’s okay, Connor. That’s why I (usually) stay out of the religion threads. Cross-purposes and all that.

    I like ya, really.

  15. vontrapp
    December 7, 2008 at 11:05 pm #

    Daniel,
    What could _possibly_ be “legitimately comparative” to religion just right at schools??

    Oh right, atheism.

    It’s not like we want our religions and values taught in school. Quite the opposite, we want religion and values taught at home, and NOT untaught at schools. If that means not having schools (or not attending them), so be it.

  16. Daniel
    December 7, 2008 at 11:12 pm #

    Although, just to follow up: I’m a university educator. I don’t care how kids come up through the ranks, public or home.

    And in my personal life, I’ve seen some really awful homeschool examples, and I haven’t seen the good ones that are out there.

    But I have this question I ask sometimes when I’m thinking about an issue. I think: “What if everyone did it?” I think the result of everyone homeschooling would be horrendously worse on average than at present. You’d get some stellar kids (probably the ones that are doing well anyway because they’d have the most motivated parents), and widespread complete disaster elsewhere.

    If you dream of gutting the NEA, this probably looks great to you. It doesn’t look like a success story for a 21st century industrialised nation, or even the 19th century. Want to compete with China? This isn’t the way to do it.

  17. Daniel
    December 7, 2008 at 11:31 pm #

    vontrapp: If a school wanted to do a unit on comparative religion, telling about the doctrines and history of different religions, covering a wide range of beliefs, then I’d say go for it. IF it were scholastically valid and not just someone’s attempt to sneak their religion into school.

    But this is all getting away from the main point. Public education is a social good, and rightly the concern of a country that wants to have an educated populace.

  18. Jema
    December 8, 2008 at 8:19 am #

    Thanks Connor for the post. I was raised in public education, but after much research have long been for homeschooling. I ‘ve successfully been able to convince both sisters with children to homeschool their children. And my 3rd sister claims she will when she has children. My mother (former educator) is coming around as well. Teachers are the biggest defenders of the current system. Most of them are good people that don’t want to admit that they play a role in the “socialization” of children.

    Unfortunately for myself, I currently live in East Germany (married a German) where homeschooling is illegal. The main argument (they claim) is that they fear a parallel society will emerge from homeschooling. They have no basis for this claim, but against the law it is.

    I recently joined a group to fight against it. (They’ve given up trying to fight this in the courts with the disappointing decision–that parents don’t have the right to educate their children and are trying to change the law legislatively.) Anymore information, statistics, quotes you have on the subject would be greatly appreciated!

  19. vontrapp
    December 8, 2008 at 9:24 am #

    Daniel,
    Sorry, I misread you and jumped the gun. Yes a balanced comparative religion curriculum wouldn’t be bad, as an elective. If a student wants to learn more about different religions great. Same goes for sex ed, as an elective sure, but it’s not. The government doesn’t like to give choices, id likes to mandate. The only solution I see (and maybe there are better ideas) is to take away the government monopoly. If people can only choose government run school, then the government has the final say one what they will learn. Take away the government monopoly on education. There’s many ways to do that I’m sure, but that’s the brunt of it.

    But this is all getting away from the main point. Public education is a social good, and rightly the concern of a country that wants to have an educated populace.

    That depends on who decides what is good for society, and what kind of educated populace the deciders want.

  20. Carissa
    December 8, 2008 at 9:32 am #

    Public education is a social good, and rightly the concern of a country that wants to have an educated populace.

    You’re correct, but here’s how I think it would be best done. The state cannot force people to become smart, wealthy, moral, etc, even though all these qualities would likewise benefit the state. But they can encourage it. They could help provide the land and even the buildings for schools. That is how it used to be done.

    Beyond that point, I don’t think they should have a role in dictating what is to be taught. It’s not their job. No, I don’t agree with you that we should have federal standards. I’ve pondered this quite a bit because most people think it sounds like such a great idea. Where is the authority for the federal government to do it? It doesn’t exist and it rightly shouldn’t. As has been pointed out, it has been used throughout history as a tool of suppression and control.

    This does not mean parents should try to do it themselves. Only a small proportion of parents are capable of doing it well.

    Parents should be able to delegate the job (if they wish) while still being somewhat in control of what is taught. The parents should be the employers of the teachers. Instead, that has become the state (through the process of taxation). In case you haven’t noticed, not many parents want the responsibility of doing it themselves. That is fine. They should have alternatives that they are happy with.

    Jema- I have been interested and saddened with the homeschooling climate in Germany for years now. I applaud you for your courage and your involvement.

  21. loquaciousmomma
    December 8, 2008 at 9:57 am #

    “Is it a right or a duty in society to take care of their infant members in opposition to the will of the parent? How far does this right and duty extend? –to guard the life of the infant, his property, his instruction, his morals? The Roman father was supreme in all these: we draw a line, but where? –public sentiment does not seem to have traced it precisely… It is better to tolerate the rare instance of a parent refusing to let his child be educated, than to shock the common feelings and ideas by the forcible asportation and education of the infant against the will of the father… What is proposed… is to remove the objection of expense, by offering education gratis, and to strengthen parental excitement by the disfranchisement of his child while uneducated. Society has certainly a right to disavow him whom they offer, and are permitted to qualify for the duties of a citizen. If we do not force instruction, let us at least strengthen the motives to receive it when offered.” –Thomas Jefferson: Note to Elementary School Act, 1817. ME 17:423

    This quote is interesting. Thomas Jefferson was against compulsory schooling, but for making it very enticing.

    As a member of the LDS church, I was surprised to read a Meridian Magazine article in which it was shown that the church leaders at the time of free public education’s introduction were vehemently against it. The church offered private schooling, but it was ended for lack of interest. People preferred free public schooling.

    The biggest argument against pubic schools was the exposure to teachings that countered those of our faith. It was seen as spiritually risky.

    Because the membership of the church basically rejected this teaching, it was put aside.

    In today’s social climate, with immorality nearly expected, I have chosen to homeschool the children who are willing to cooperate, and am public schooling those who aren’t. ( I have 7 kids, 5 who are school-age) I still try to be an educating mom to the public school kids at home, teaching them true thought processes and the principles of freedom not taught at school.

    I am attending a community college and am surprised to see the frightening inabilities of my fellow students. They can’t even come up with a simple analogy. They haven’t been taught to think that way.

    Our public school system doesn’t educate, it teaches the most basic needs and then spends the rest of the time indoctrinating them with psychobabble, environmentalism, and obedience to authority.

    At the very least, if parents send their children to public schools, they need to deprogram their children every night and teach them how to think.

  22. vontrapp
    December 8, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    Public education is a social good, and rightly the concern of a country that wants to have an educated populace.

    I just had another thought about this. Sure, education can be the concern of a country, but it is not the right of a country to have an educated populace. A country has no rights, but that which are delegated from the populace. The populace in turn has no right to education, only that they can seek education. I have a right to seek out any education I want, but I do NOT have an entitlement to have that education freely given me. Most of all, I have no right to tell my neighbour how he should educate himself, nor his children. The right to choose what education will be sought rests solely on the individual (and the parents in the case of a minor).

    So yes, the populace can take an interest in education, and perhaps collectively incentivese education. But there is no authority to dictate what education will be.

  23. Carissa
    December 8, 2008 at 10:12 am #

    loquaciousmomma- are your ps children social prodigies and your hs children social misfits? Please answer objectively :)

  24. David
    December 8, 2008 at 11:48 am #

    Socialization in the public schools is a scary thing. It was watching how children get socialized (in a very short period of time) that convinced us to take our daughter out of kindergarten. We don’t want our kids to learn the subtle lessons of socialization that are being taught in the hallways of elementary school. On top of that, parents who worry about the socialization (meaning being able to get along with others) of home schooled kids should talk to some home schooling families and learn how much interaction actually takes place for the majority of them. (There are obviously those who are seeking isolation, but they’re the exception.)

    I believe that there is much benefit that can be had from a system of public education, but it requires a very strong parental influence to counteract the negative side effects that will naturally creep into a centralized education system. because of the benefits of scale and access I have long argued against the home-school-only mentality that many home schoolers adopt. What we need is education choice. We need a mix of public, private, and home schools to provide the real, valuable variety that our society can thrive on.

  25. Jeff T.
    December 8, 2008 at 1:45 pm #

    You know how I feel about this post, Connor. :)

  26. Mark N.
    December 8, 2008 at 1:51 pm #

    Read http://www.mises.org/books/education-nock.pdf

    You should find it quite interesting. Mr. Nock states that our current educational system is founded on some rather large fallacies: equality (that all men are educable), democracy (in reality, it is not those who vote that rule, but those who own), and that “good government and a generally wholesome public order are conditioned upon having a literate citizenry” (for evidence that the ability to read really doesn’t automatically aid in the educational process, “one has but to look at our large literate population, to remark its intellectual interests, the general furniture of its mind, as these are revealed by what it reads; by the colossal, the unconscionable, volume of garbage annually shot upon the public from the presses of the country, largely in the form of newspapers and periodicals”).

    The whole this is 160 pages long, but it is a very quick read.

  27. Trent
    December 8, 2008 at 2:29 pm #

    I’m sorry, but these comments are so full of exaggeration it really makes for a funny read. Many people make the mistake of arguing something using the tactics that Connor and many of the comments are. I’ll give you an example, God’s Army (the movie). I hated it, why? Because they jammed all the weird/bad things that could go wrong in an entire mission (area) and jammed it into one apartment. When you jam all that could go wrong in 18 years of education into one comment or post of course it will look bad!

    But really, break your education down into something that is day to day. I am not even arguing whether you should homeschool or not, but that the comments here about how terrible public schools are just silly. No more silly than those against homeschooling all children. 90%+ of my schooling involved subjects that had little to no opportunity for any “socialization”. Algebra, physics, calculus, PE, grammar, CAD design, shop, etc. Yes, you have a few teachers that will ask you to read a book, or opine on something you disagree about, but overall it is just Xs and Os.

    And another puzzling thing Connor, is your comments on becoming educated after college. That you realized so many things you were being taught were wrong. This is where you ignore the vast majority of professions where there is a hard line of what is correct. You are focusing on philosophy, economics, history, and government because that is what you like. These subjects are also extremely subjective. And of course those aren’t taught well at public schools. My parents just basically told us to ignore them. However, accounting is accounting, calculus is calculus, physics is physics. Was your math socialized? Your grammar?

    I separate and always have separated education into three categories. Vocational, social, and religious. In my opinion, I like schools to provide the vocational education, parents the social education, and parents and church the religious. I agree, schools have strayed too far into providing social education, which they aren’t well equipped to provide, but as a parent it isn’t difficult to help your kids realize the difference. My entire extended family on one side (very large) are all home schooled, and so I have a good grasp on the problems in general. Outside many other reasons you have outlined before Connor, our country is going to struggle because of lack of vocational expertise (hard sciences, complex math) and very few parents are able to do this effectively at home. Yes, there are exceptions, but as for the 50+ cousins I have, it is a huge problem, and they have struggled much more in college and work because of it.

    Anyway, basically, as a general rule I believe public school is good for the general populace. For those parents that are equipped and willing to though, home schooling can be a great tool. I don’t think home schooling should be discouraged at all, but lets cut out all this hyperbole. It just makes everyone sound crazy.

  28. Connor
    December 8, 2008 at 2:37 pm #

    Excellent points, Trent. Regarding the socialized mathematics and the like, I think that those subjects (which I do generally exclude from these types of analyses) fall under the category of “crappy” education (as opposed to socialized). They’re not necessarily being corrupted by personal agendas, but instead are become subject to an ever-lowering standard of rigor and expectation.

    So I guess in some fields you have an infusion of the public social agenda, and in others you have a degrading level of academic diligence. Taken in the aggregate, things certainly don’t seem to have worked well in the modern American educational institutions.

  29. David
    December 8, 2008 at 2:47 pm #

    Trent,

    I like your differentiations between social, vocational and religious education. On the other hand, we need to realize that “socialization” takes place outside the classroom at least as much as inside the classrooms of “social” subjects.

  30. Connor
    December 8, 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    Very good point, David. John Taylor Gatto discuses this in his book Dumbing Us Down, arguing that the very structure of public schooling (bite sized (~50 minute) classes, lumped together with peers of your age, etc.) fosters a socialized environment regardless of what’s being taught.

  31. Carissa
    December 8, 2008 at 3:24 pm #

    “socialization” takes place outside the classroom at least as much as inside

    Right on. In my experience I would say even more than inside. Usually there are social class structures, labels, bullying, pressure to fit in (or stand out)… This “socialization experience” can sure take away from getting a good education. Of course this situation isn’t exclusive to a school setting, but sometimes I wonder if spending SO MUCH time day after day in prescribed peer groups exacerbates it.

  32. Trent
    December 8, 2008 at 3:31 pm #

    Connor,

    I completely agree that standards are getting lower and lower. It is one of the reasons I took AP level classes, since at this point AP classes are what normal classes should be. Overall, there isn’t a perfect solution. I have looked at private schools around, and they teach way more “social classes” than a public school. While they might be “closer” to my values, I would rather most of that be left out of the schools altogether. I disagree with members of the church on many of these matters as much as those outside. And at home, I do not feel adequate to teach a 12-18 year old advanced physics. I’m not telling anyone what is best for them, but as a general populace there isn’t an awesome alternative. Ideally I would like the public system to provide high standard core subjects (english, math, science, reading), and the rest (history, government, philosophy, etc) left up to parents and/or elective buy-in classes (art, history etc), a la carte if you will. However, we have gone the other direction instead, providing fewer high standard core classes, and providing more low standard fluff classes you don’t even get to choose.

    One thing I want to bring up for discussion is what you think about the discrepancy for our worldwide standing in colleges vs our elementary education. Having served a mission in Ukraine I can tell you a few things. Elementary education in other countries is MUCH more difficult than ours. HOWEVER, our colleges and universities are MUCH more difficult than theirs. I think it is why you see so many college dropouts here now and it is increasing every year. The transition is just too big of a jump. In many ways our secondary education market is a hybrid public/private system, where there are subsidies etc, but there is very much a competitive atmosphere and much of the money comes from alumni/donors. Would something like this work for our elementary education?

  33. Carissa
    December 8, 2008 at 4:02 pm #

    And at home, I do not feel adequate to teach a 12-18 year old advanced physics

    Trent- Are you familiar with the concept of self-teaching? Here is an excerpt from Dr. Arthur Robinson on the subject:

    While the subject matter, can be mastered with or without a teacher, the student who masters it without a teacher learns something more. He learns to teach himself. Then, when he continues into physics, chemistry, and biology— which are studied in their own special language, the language of mathematics—he is able to teach these subjects to himself regardless of whether or not a teacher with the necessary specialized knowledge is present. Also, he is able to make use of much higher-quality texts – texts written for adults.

    He often calls parent or teacher interference a “crutch” to the learning process. His children were homeschooled by him (a single work-at-home parent) and have done very well academically. It may not work for everyone but it’s a path that some have succeeded on. Just an idea since you are looking for solutions :)

  34. vontrapp
    December 8, 2008 at 5:04 pm #

    Homeschooling isn’t always simply parents teaching their children out of their own knowledge. In fact I would say that’s hardly ever the case. There are homeschooling solutions where the student studies a well defined curriculum at home, some of these are even accredited. I was homeschooled under a curriculum called “American School.” Texts were delivered in the mail, along with tests and quizes and such that would then be sent in for grading. Homeschooling doesn’t have to be just for really smart parents.

  35. Trent
    December 8, 2008 at 5:32 pm #

    I agree that there is self teaching, and that you don’t have to be a genius in everything for it to work in many cases. However, I just don’t agree that it is the best alternative with many of the different subjects, ESPECIALLY when you get into the latter grades of elementary education. I believe very strongly in teacher/student interaction. The Savior and the church uses it in almost everything we do. The MTC has teachers for the missionaries, not just all self study, though that is highly encouraged. I personally used school as a catalyst for my education, most of which was done from a massive amount of reading I did outside of organized schooling. And when I say I don’t feel adequate to teach physics, it isn’t because I don’t understand it, but I definitely don’t know how to teach it. I have a degree in computer science like Connor and I have taken advanced physics. However, it comes back to me believing strongly in a need for a teacher/student situation, and I don’t think I am the best suited for that for many subjects and situations. It is simply a philosophical difference on the method of teaching we find appropriate. I don’t see anything wrong with others wanting to home school, I just don’t want to with my family, and it isn’t out of laziness etc.

  36. loquaciousmomma
    December 8, 2008 at 5:53 pm #

    Carissa- Nope!!!! :-)

    Trent= I am not sure if you are referring to my comments as being exaggerated or not, but I am speaking from experience. I started complaining about the time schools wasted on other things when my now 17yo daughter was in third grade. Weekly visits by the psychologist to classes, environmental education, etc. all took precious time away from actual teaching of history, math, reading, language arts, etc.

    My 12yo complained last year that teachers would introduce a new concept and repeat it ad nauseum for a week, boring her out of her mind and teaching her to be intellectually lazy. (She is now being home-schooled) I spoke with a woman who was my 17yo’s algebra teacher when she was in 7th grade who quit teaching because she couldn’t really teach in the current system. She told a story about her daughter who was elementary age and having trouble with a math concept, she asked her mom about it and her mom taught it to her in a way she understood. The next day she went to school and told her teacher that her mom had helped her, the teacher scolded her and told her not to brag!

    Public schools can work with very involved parents, and some homeschooling after school to ensure proper thought processes.

    I am grateful to have the privilege of homeschooling for now. I hope it will be that way until all of my children are done!

  37. Carborendum
    December 8, 2008 at 8:38 pm #

    Daniel, you rebutted my statement on homeschooled children’s test scores being higher:

    The testing is mandatory in public schools. Not for home schools, where parents can decide to give the tests or not.

    In both California and Colorado (the states in which I’ve homeschooled) testing IS MANDATORY. This is the only way the board of education agreed to allow homeschooling at all.

    Additionally, I mentioned college entrance exams (in which I lump the ACT and SAT). Universities won’t take an application seriously unless it has an ACT or SAT score accompanying it. And obviously, if a college has an entrance exam, it is mandatory.

  38. Dara
    December 9, 2008 at 7:03 am #

    From my anecdotal experience, many of my homeschooled acquaintances were homeschooled by their parents due to religious beliefs.

    Personally, I grew up in the public education system and completely went against the grain. I did feel like I was being prodded and molded, but I fought it and turned out to be a free-thinking, intelligent adult.

  39. Clumpy
    December 9, 2008 at 1:36 pm #

    Dara, if I’d had the views and character I have now, for better or worse, back in High School, I probably would have been suspended on a regular basis or at least been an enemy of most of the teachers.

    I’ve never heard a group of people whine so much about nine-month, workyears, seven-hour-a-day workdays with a half-dozen breaks a day and no standards once you’re tenured. Teachers can put a movie on and leave whenever they want, show up fifteen minutes late with instructions on the blackboard, say incorrect things without being disciplined or even be so detached and lazy that they mainly serve as a funnel for an unending series of worksheets. Then they complain about 45K a year salaries, which when multiplied by 1.3333 to account for nine-month workyears is closer to 60K a year, one-third over again what my dad makes at the post office for knowing every zip code and standing at a counter eight-and-a-half hours a day, working every Saturday he can.

    Good teachers who teach people to think might be underpaid (and there are more than a few), but the rest are no unsung heroes. They’ve been in an isolated, delusional system for so long that they’ve forgotten what it is to work.

  40. Daniel
    December 9, 2008 at 5:44 pm #

    Carb @ 37:

    Interesting about CO and CA. Okay, then, do we have any stats about how students in those states compare?

    Remember, in order to be valid, we’d need to see a direct comparison from those two groups (public and home) where all the students have been tested. Do you know of a link, by chance? I had a look, but my Google-fu is weak right now.

    SAT and ACT scores are no help because people that take them have decided to go to uni, and that brings in self-selection bias again.

  41. Carborendum
    December 10, 2008 at 1:14 pm #

    Daniel,

    1) I think you are pulling at straws about finding the stats on testing for those states. I understand where you’re coming from. But just in a short search I found four other states that require mandatory testing. I don’t know why it has been so hard to track down. My point is that unless you can find differently, most states require testing.

    In addition, can you really say that if we do indeed prove that most states require testing that you will agree that apparently homeschooling does work? No, you’ll find some other reason to believe that the testing was skewed.

    2) I need clarification on your comment about self-selection bias with SAT and ACT scores. The way I see it, a bunch of students take the test. Some homeschooled, others private, others public. When separating the scores out by this demographic, we find that the homeschoolers average better than the others. I’m not seeing the bias. You’ll have to spell it out for me. — after all I’m a product of public schools.

  42. Carborendum
    December 10, 2008 at 2:30 pm #

    Here’s the breakdown of testing requirements.

    10 states don’t require public schooling.
    13 states require notifying the school district or board.
    The remaining 27 states at least require testing. Many require the state to approve the cirriculum and reports (daily to monthly).

    Of the 23 states that don’t require testing, local districts often take it upon themselves to require testing. These are being fought out in court. I could not find data on how many of these there are.

    California is one of the states that don’t require testing (my surprise) but require notification. I happened to live in a district where they wanted to have my school aged child tested.

    They skated a thin line on mail fraud. Because they used phrases like “Required under State Authority” etc. to make it seem like it was a state law. But thinking back on it, they never actually said it was required by state law.

    Politicians.

    Anyway, Daniel, the reason I don’t believe you will accept these stats as vindication that it is not so rare for parents to have the skill sets to teach properly is that it is counter-intuitive to think so.

    I should know. It was a hard sell to me. My wife and I were engaged for a long time and we had three years before we had our first child. All that time, she tried selling it to me. I refused. But eventually, I had to admit certain statistics were legitimate, certain facts were facts. And if such was the case, I had a hard time outright rejecting it. So, we now homeschool.

    At the same time, I still believe there are some who REALLY shouldn’t be homeschooling. And there are many, like myself, who had a very profitable public school experience.
    There are simply too many variables in all forums that make it unwise to pronounce summary judgement.

    That is why I believe the REAL QUESTION goes back to the title of this article. Let me restate:

    At what point does the State’s judgement override Parent’s natural rights to raise a child?

  43. Daniel
    December 10, 2008 at 4:28 pm #

    In addition, can you really say that if we do indeed prove that most states require testing that you will agree that apparently homeschooling does work?

    If we can find some stats where homeschoolers and public schoolers are compared on an equal basis, and the homeschool kids come out ahead, I really will change my mind. I just don’t know where to look.

    No, you’ll find some other reason to believe that the testing was skewed.

    Well… yeah, I will try and find flaws in it, because that’s what a scientist does. You have to control for bias and make sure of what the stats are really telling you. I’m tough, but fair.

    I don’t care if I’m wrong. I actually love it when people show me where I’m factually wrong, because then I don’t have to believe that wrong thing anymore.

    On the SAT/ACT: Self-selection bias comes in because those people have chosen to take the test. That might tell us some interesting things about takers of the test, but we’re only looking at the top end, so we couldn’t make any generalisations about [public|home] schoolers as a whole, which is what I’m interested in.

  44. Carborendum
    December 10, 2008 at 5:20 pm #

    OK. I can see where you are coming from on the self-selection. But I still see it differently. There are two levels of your claim here.

    1) self-selection indicates that the test takers choose themselves into a group. Well, that isn’t really as valid a point. Either you were homeschooled or public schooled. True there are some who had some of both. But how often does that happen? Acutally, I don’t know. I just imagine it would be a low percent.

    2) As a sample of the higher end students (in your eyes) we may be biasing the sample. But what are we biasing?

    On the one hand, homeschooling places emphasis on learning and achievement, not necessarily getting a diploma or alphabet soup after your name. Thus there are many who don’t NEED a degree for their profession that will just choose not to persue one. If they really want to take a course, they can often take single courses without the same level of scrutiny as a full time student.

    On the other hand. If we have the top end students from public school vs. the top end of home schoolers, I see this as a fair comparison. Not all public schoolers are REQUIRED to take the ACT/SAT. Many in my high school did not because they knew they weren’t going to college.

    As far as the other research, you have to WANT to learn more. The only reason why I came around was because my wife kept giving me more information. I had to come up with data on the other side to contradict her. It took three or four years before I finally accepted it. We spent the time and energy because this was a central point to raising our family.

    I’m not going to spend that kind of energy here. And, you a public? educator, will probably not be interested enough to spend that energy either.

  45. Daniel
    December 10, 2008 at 5:31 pm #

    Well, look, Carb, you’re making a claim here that homeschoolers perform equal to or better than public schoolers on standardised tests. Can you give me some kind of a link to back your claim up? I really am interested — I hadn’t suspected that was true. If there isn’t such a link, it doesn’t matter; maybe the real issue is (as you say) when it’s okay to override a parent’s judgement reagrding their own child. But I think it’s worth checking.

    If we have the top end students from public school vs. the top end of home schoolers, I see this as a fair comparison.

    Yes, a fair comparison of the test takers, but not of [public|home] schoolers as a whole, which is what we’re talking about.

  46. Carissa
    December 10, 2008 at 6:17 pm #

    Daniel- earlier you said:

    This does not mean parents should try to do it themselves. Only a small proportion of parents are capable of doing it well.

    You do realize that (in general) the only parents who are willing to commit to taking on the massive job that is homeschooling, are the ones who are reasonably sure they are “capable of doing it well” or at least doing better than their alternatives.

    Since you enjoy being scientific, where is your evidence that only a small proportion are capable? Four years ago I would have certainly considered myself incompetent, but determination and hard work can go a long way when you are committed to something. Not to mention the multitude of resources and information that is readily available to nearly everyone.

    I’m not trying to make the case that every parent would do a good job. It takes a whole lot of effort and commitment and our culture sure doesn’t encourage parents to take on that role. I just tend to believe the old cliche- where there’s a will there’s a way. I think the will is the key.

    I think the existing statistics on homeschoolers prove that it’s reasonably possible for a student to excel academically and socially in absence of the standard classroom/certified teacher environment. They don’t need to prove that homeschooling overall is better than any other type of schooling. The fact that success is possible and moderately likely is enough. It’s an individual choice and lifestyle and it’s working out quite well for (millions now) of people. If you don’t like the idea, don’t do it. But try to give up your prejudices and have an open mind. Homeschooling is whatever it’s made to be.

  47. Daniel
    December 10, 2008 at 7:03 pm #

    Okay, I’ve got an open mind. Now could someone please give me some stats on performance?

    Though I’m still skeptical of an ordinary parent’s ability to teach high school-level bio, chem, physics, mathematics, and (yes) linguistics. I’d prefer that my kids learn from someone who’s done the work in that area. Most people who haven’t done this come into the field with some obviously wrong notions, just because people don’t have instincts in those areas.

  48. designated conservative
    December 10, 2008 at 7:48 pm #

    Daniel: “Though I’m still skeptical of an ordinary parent’s ability to teach high school-level bio, chem, physics, mathematics, and (yes) linguistics.”

    Daniel, you aren’t looking at homeschooling with an open mind – if you were you wouldn’t have said this. Homeschooling is not “school at home” and a student’s parent is not likely to be their only teacher.

    My own kids have been taught by a variety of people (including their parents and grandparents) at various times. We have used YMCA classes, a homeschool co-operative program, private and public school events and activities, library and community programs, 4-H programs, tutoring, apprenticeships, etc., etc. to provide learning opportunities to suit each child’s particular needs and interests at the time.

    Most recently we have had kids learning French, Journalism, Government, Public Speaking, and Science, along with a great season of swimming competitions.

    It is not only possible to successfully teach foreign languages, sciences, math, and other subjects that may be outside of the parents’ expertise in this way, it is relatively easy in comparison to dealing with the crap that comes with attendance at a public high school these days.

  49. Carborendum
    December 10, 2008 at 8:47 pm #

    I said I wasn’t going to spend the time and energy trying to convince you. This is the kind of debate that is so even (in my mind) that I researched a mountain of studies and data to see how even it was. –As Carissa said, that should be enough.

    Then it took me years to come to a conlcusion that the choices were about even. In the end, it was a personal choice that my wife and I made for what would work best for us.

    This is why I stated earlier that I believe in having options. But let them be real options.

    I will submit this one thing for thought (The interpretation of which is anyone’s option):

    I have had three categories of responses when I tell people I’m a homeschooler.

    1) I was thinking about that myself.–These people tell me they are really worried about the state of society these days. They also worry about the quality of school district in which they live. It is these two issues that will weigh on the balance more than most other issues to determine whether they go through with it or not.

    2) “But what about . . . ”
    3) “Hey, if you can do it, more power to you.”

    As you can see, #2 presupposes that we are ignorant to even try this. We obviously haven’t thought it through or researched it enough.

    Response #3 at least gives us the benefit of the doubt. It assumes we have at least the abilities of a civil servant.

    I had the opportunity to talk to my high school English teacher (who was one of a handful of GOOD teachers that I had in public school). When I told him I was a homeschooler, he asked, not about socialization, but about our ability to cover advanced subjects like chemistry, physics, & biology. I told him that I’m an engineer and my wife is a biologist. His fears ceased immediately.

    Why? Is high school SO difficult that it takes people who are specialists to teach it? I didn’t think so when I was in school. And I still don’t think so.

  50. Carborendum
    December 10, 2008 at 8:51 pm #

    PS. It is my personal experience that MOST of the time:

    Those who most vociferously and forcefully object and warn against homeschooling are the ones who are the most ignorant individuals. The ones who are most open-minded in this issue are usually pretty capable, thinking, educated people.

    But there have been a few (like myself, and I might include Daniel) who were capable etc. but just hadn’t done the research to realize,”Hey, I guess it isn’t so bad.”

  51. Carissa
    December 11, 2008 at 9:06 am #

    Daniel-

    I’d prefer that my kids learn from someone who’s done the work in that area.

    Me too. Like the ones who are so experienced and knowledgeable that they author a book on the subject :)

    You know how every public school student has all those textbooks? When you or I were in school, did we actually learn directly from the textbook, or did the teacher have to translate the information from the textbook into a lesson for us to understand? The textbook usually becomes a backseat rarely-used reference. A source for homework problems, maybe. To me, this teaches a student to take a passive role in his education instead of an active. “Wait for someone to explain things to you… you need an expert to teach you.”

    If a student had the right skills, couldn’t he just bypass the teacher (for the most part) and glean the knowledge for himself? What would this take? A solid foundation in reading mechanics, reading comprehension and vocabulary. A desire to learn and progress. A teacher (or tutor) to hold him accountable, ensure work is being done, point out any mistakes (there are teacher guides for this) and point the student in the right direction for information. The most important job of a teacher (in my eyes) is teaching learning skills and inspiring a desire to know.

    I feel that my job is to prepare them enough so that in a few years my children will be reading autobiographies to learn about historical characters along with their original works (instead of watered-down third-party sources). How empowering would it feel to know that you could pick up Principia and learn for yourself straight from the brain of Isaac Newton? That is what I want for my children. Independent thinkers who have the necessary tools and confidence to go out and learn anything they desire.

    So my job is to teach them the skills and give them sources of information. I don’t need to be an expert. The expertise is in the books already. I just need to be there to guide, set a good example, and consistently hold accountable.

    You will probably find the most stats at HSLDA. Specifically here and here Check out the very left side of the page under Featured Studies for more research.

  52. Brennan
    December 11, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    Another point to think about is does public education really train us for secondary education? Seems like high school and college are two different worlds. I was even in all the college prep courses…. NOTHING like the classes I take now. I think homeschooling most reflects this preparation, self motivation, self learning, and self discipline. None of which I acquired in high school.

    Not only that but I knew I was not going to go to a four year college right out of high school. I was smart enough to figure out that a community college does not have entry requirements…. except for a GED.. Which I have, barely :)

    So in my mind, public education trains us to fail, trains us to rely on someone else and to not think for yourself.

  53. Jema
    December 11, 2008 at 2:58 pm #

    For those homeschooling– or those interested– check out the Robinson Curriculum. That’s the system I prefer.

  54. Carissa
    December 11, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    We purchased the RC a few years ago and are using it. The story behind it is amazing to me. I also love the ideas in The Well-Trained Mind.

  55. Alexa
    December 11, 2008 at 9:10 pm #

    I’d prefer that my kids learn from someone who’s done the work in that area.

    That’s one of the beautiful things about homeschooling, actually. As a parent, I decide who teaches my child. It doesn’t have to be me, and it certainly doesn’t have to be the high school football coach who got badgered into teaching chem/phys this year. As designated conservative mentioned @ 48, the number of resources and possible teachers is nearly endless. For example, my sister-in-law is HSing her five kids ages three to nine. Instead of learning about about insects out of a book, a state park ranger gave them a presentation about macroinvertibrates found in the park streams and then they actually went to a field site, got in the water, and dug out some bugs themselves. My husband was HSed, too, and when he needed coursework beyond what he, his mom, or their HSing network could handle, he just enrolled at the community college.

    Really, the expertise found at your average high school is rather limited. I don’t say that to knock the teachers, because I, as several other commenters also asserted, had some simply superior teachers who knew their stuff, loved teaching, and loved the kids they taught. But I went to college with the intention of becoming a high school math teacher, and when I looked at the miniscule number of actual math classes required to get a math teaching degree, I decided if I really wanted to know anything about math, I’d better get a math degree instead.

    Just for some background, I actually had a good/great public school experience, but as is apparent from what I hear from friends with school-aged children, things are changing in public schools. In some ways, I understand it. Many of the strict protocols I hear about (assigned seating at lunch, for example) seem essential for keeping order with the high student/teacher ratios that exist in many places. Schools are under severe pressure to produce results, so they’re giving more and more homework to kids younger and younger. (Personally, I think this is like trying to make a newborn stand up to ensure she becomes a star athlete. More and more work is not the answer.)

    Okay, I’ve got an open mind. Now could someone please give me some stats on performance?

    I could ask the same thing of you. What makes you so sure HSing isn’t at least as viable as PSing? Your own anecdotal evidence, from what you mentioned @ 16. How about giving the rest of us some of that science you favor so highly? And I mean that in a nice way.

    And as far as socialization goes, strangely enough, that’s one thing that actually swayed me the the Hsing side. My HSed husband came out of his schooling functioning far better socially than I did. He spent his days socializing with people of all ages in all situations, while I spent a majority of my time learning how to function in a social/cultural system that ceased to exist for me after graduation. He had a much better grasp of mature social conventions than I did and I frankly had to scramble to play catch-up. I understand why PS does what it does, but that doesn’t mean it’s solely for the benefit of the child. Logistics are most certainly at work.

  56. Yin
    December 12, 2008 at 9:07 am #

    I will add onto Alexa’s comment and say that some of the most well-adjusted and mature children I’ve met have been home schooled. Able to carry on full conversations with adults, articulate, intelligent, etc. It’s very impressive.

    Although, I’ve also run into those people who were home schooled, and they’re probably the ones that give it the poor socialization stigma. In that case it’s frightening.

    I guess it all depends on how it’s done. The potential for incredible socialization or less than adequate socialization is there either way, right?

  57. Angilee
    December 12, 2008 at 4:34 pm #

    Wow, a post just for me :)

    And Carissa! How nice to see you here! Where have I been all this time?

    I don’t know why the burden of proof is always on the homeschooler. Why do we need science to back up homeschooling? Where is the science to say that this modern compulsory public school trip we are currently on is better than the way people were educated for centuries? I’m open minded, too. Somebody, show me the stats to prove why public schooling is better than homeschooling. Then I will decide that public school might be a real option. After all, I’m open minded. Until then, I will remain undecided and unbiased and continue homeschooling.

    What is all this about “Show me the Science, then I will bow down”? Ridiculous. Just the kind of pedantic mindset that gave us modern compulsory public schooling in the first place.

  58. Josh Williams
    December 12, 2008 at 8:55 pm #

    Fact. Children learn nearly all of their basic social skills and behaviors, between the ages of 1 – 4 !

    (After 5 y/o, new sets of social skills/behaviors become increasingly difficult to learn, while dysfunctional behaviors become increasingly difficult to abandon.)

    Any Schooling, at least in the traditional academic sense, comes far to late to have a great effect on socialization.

    If the idea that public schools are a catalyst for socialization were true, then public schools ought to be a panacea for almost all social problems. (For example: delinquency, violence and abuse, addiction, underachievement, poverty, bullying, risky sexuality, underage pregnancy, relationship failure, etc at al.)If Dewey’s thinking were true, public schools ought to be able to drastically reduce or eliminate these problems. (Dewey and his contemporaries weren’t idiots, but science knew next to nothing about early brain development at the time)

    The truth is, schools have been fighting a losing battle against social problems ever since John Dewey’s day. Schools were never the problem, nor the solution.

    (Reminds me of the song from West Side Story: “Dear Officer Krupke.” )

    The root of most social problems is the “generational” problem of poor parents producing more poor parents. Or in other words, poor early parenting producing more poor early parenting.)

    The truth is, if you teach a child excellent social skill in their very first years, they will tend to excel no matter what their environment at school is like.

  59. Angilee
    December 13, 2008 at 2:40 pm #

    One of my concerns with the idea of socialization in school is – who is it supposed to be good for? Society or the individual? I think when parents find out I homeschool and they ask me, “What about socialization?”, they imagine that this idea of socialization is something good for the individual. Where they’ve heard this term and what it means to them I’m not really sure. I imagine to most parents who ask this question, “socialization” means “making my kid fit in and not be a weird dork”.

    It can’t be that they mean school will make their children civilized, and that without school their kids will be drooling savages. Do we really imagine that kids can’t learn to get along and interact with other kids unless they go to school? Our modern idea of school is totally new on the earth. People learned to get along just fine growing up on farms and in towns where they interacted in real life rather than school. So surely parents don’t expect that their kids will be uncivilized if they socialize outside school rather than in school. Right?

    So if socialization in school is good for the individual, how does it work? Why? What makes it superior to socialization outside of school – in private classes, churches, neighborhoods, stores, parks, homes, etc.? Because school is where the cool kids are?

    If the argument for public school is that it is good for society – which appears to be the main argument from Daniel – then I can see why socialization in school is important. It makes total sense that individuals being compelled to be socialized in public institutions would be good for a particular kind of society. But – why should we care? I didn’t have children so that the USA could compete with China. I’m not raising my children in the hopes of them being instrumental in raising the GDP.

    So I’m still not really sure what is supposed to be good about socialization in school. I hear about it all the time as a homeschooling mother dealing with non-homeschoolers. My answer to “What about socialization?” is “What about it?” Will someone who thinks socialization in school is important please explain why?

  60. Jeff T.
    December 13, 2008 at 4:53 pm #

    Angilee,

    Thanks for your comments!

  61. Carborendum
    December 14, 2008 at 3:21 pm #

    Angilee,

    This is why socialization in school is so important, and why you need to prove as a homeschooler that your child is getting proper socialization:

    Parents are incapable of doing ANYTHING without GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION. Therefore, if you try to bunk the system and do things yourself like able bodied parents have done for centuries, then obviously, there is something wrong with you.

    When my parents (against homeschool) met my in-laws (among the pioneering families to create acceptance for homeschooling) for the first time, they had all sorts of strange ideas of what to expect (none of which were true).

    After the first meeting, my father made a statement. “They are some backwards thinking people. And their kids were so socially awkward.”

    My response: “Backwards? What do you mean by awkward?”

    “Oh, they just were.”

    “Like what?”

    “Just trust me, they were.”

    “How?”

    “They just were.”

    You can’t reason with this.

  62. Carissa
    December 14, 2008 at 7:34 pm #

    Oh I can relate to that. Except with my parents AND in-laws.

    (hi Angilee!)

    I suspect there are many people who are primarily worried about the kids “fitting in”. They wouldn’t want to verbalize this feeling because, of course, they know it would sound SO SHALLOW.

    I’ve even heard, “if your kids are homeschooled they’ll be so much smarter and they just wouldn’t be able to relate to other kids their age”.

    You know, honestly, this one might be a valid concern at our house. I’ve noticed that whenever my 8-year old is playing with his friends, all they seem to want to talk about is square roots, the scientific method… oh, and they just can’t get enough of that name-this-animal’s-genus-and-species game they made up the other day ;) Kids nowadays. It’s just too bad this inevitable intellectual gap will ruin all their fun.

  63. pJ
    December 14, 2008 at 10:31 pm #

    Oh, the horror stories….

    We have once-close relatives who initiated a black-ops campaign against homeschooling when our kids were all still young. It took several years before it came to the surface of our family relations and we became aware of it – several more before we truly understood the scope of their efforts.

    Their activity apparently included everything from surreptitious testing of the kids, spreading around stories among family and friends of “the way things really are”, and even reporting us to folks like the State School Superintendent’s Office, the local school district, and social services.

    These were once important people in our lives and our children’s lives. They could not see beyond their bias against homeschooling, and it cost them and us dearly. Awhile back they admitted that some of what they’d done was inappropriate. Unfortunately, at this point there is not much of a foundation left to build a new relationship and not much of an impetus to try.

    If I could offer one bit of advice to that skeptical or anti-homeschool relative it would be that it’s better to join them, because you can’t beat them – you will destroy what you hold most dear if you try. Join in and become and active participant (not just a spy or saboteur) in the child’s homeschool experience.

    You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Worse case? Your support will earn you the privilege of being able to offer occasional friendly advice to the homeschooling parents.

  64. terrymac
    March 8, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    Connor, thank you! This is one more reason to completely separate school and state.

    I find the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom to be a good read – just substitute “school” and “teacher” for “church” and “minister” — there are strong parallels for educational freedom today.

    If you think “it can’t happen”, it is already happening en masse in “developing” countries, which is why so many people from outside of America are doing so well in STEM professions – they are trained in private schools. Unlike America, average and poor people go to parent-funded free-market schools in many other countries.

    Bad government schools are a #firstworldproblem – in other countries, parents don’t tolerate bad schools; they take their kids to a parent-funded free-market un-regulated school, and they demand better results.

    For more, read James Tooley’s The Beautiful Tree

  65. outside the corridor
    April 22, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    I thought it was time a former teacher with a parent who was a beloved ‘teacher of the year’ and then a much-praised college professor (not LDS colleges/universities)–

    who homeschooled . . . spoke up.

    Several of our children were special needs, including one very high risk special needs child (pre-natal drug abuse, drug unknown, adopted)–

    I tried public school, because I believed that public schools would thrive if parents were involved–

    However, my highest risk child was one of my oldest, and when I sent him to school I ended up spending a lot of time in the classroom and dealing with recess and after-school ‘fallout’–

    I don’t need to go into detail; kids who have had pre-natal drug damage have enough struggles and challenges without being bullied, rejected, etc.–

    One of my other children close in age (also adopted) was extremely bright, so I took that child along; it was a constant juggling act–

    the teacher and I were good friends when my son was in first grade–

    and both she and his second grade teacher loved having my very bright child there; she learned along with the kids who were older (she wasn’t ready for school yet)–

    I spent most of my time tutoring other children whose cognitive issues were worse than those of my son–

    whose IQ just suddenly ‘stopped’ at age 9 and never went beyond that–

    but he was still doing all right in grade 1, in spite of his emotional/developmental/social issues–

    I spent all my time helping the children who taught my son the bad language he couldn’t drop once he got home–

    I tutored the children who had older siblings in jail; I tutored them, and they kicked my son on the schoolground when I wasn’t there–

    halfway through second grade the teacher told me that I was no longer needed in the classroom–

    but she complained that my son was being bullied, and he wasn’t dealing well with it–

    there was supposed to have been a ‘special’ class for him, but all the other children with problems were put into that class as well, and I had other children who needed me–

    when, at age 7 3/4 my son came home and said, “why can’t I just go back and be with Father in Heaven, mom?”–

    I went over to the school to talk with the teacher, principals, etc.–

    They were already overwhelmed; what could they do; I was a responsible parent; I wasn’t a single parent; I could deal with his problems–

    I made it to the outside of the chain link fence before I broke down in tears–

    and his first grade teacher saw me there, came outside the fence and said, “honey, take him home; you’re SO good at this; take him home; he won’t survive here”–

    We kept him out of jail. His life now that he is an adult is not easy; he has had disappointment after disappointment in his life, trial after trial, rejection after rejection–

    I can’t even begin.

    But those years when he was home with his siblings, feeling safe and loved, were heaven. Heaven. I wish I could go back.

    His life now is not what I would want for any of my beloved children, and I have found that, along with being adopted and dealing with the rejection of that with the drug damage . . . and being a member of a church which focuses on intelligence and conformity and rewards those who make right choices consistently–

    it’s been a nightmare for all of us; his siblings mourn for him all the time–

    but he’s alive, and we kept him out of jail; all those other little boys ended up in jail–

    I’m not saying that might not happen someday, but it’s been several decades, and it hasn’t happened–

    *knocking on wood, crossing fingers and calling prayer rolls*

    Let’s face it; this society doesn’t accept mediocrity or inferiority–

    I also kept him off drugs; all the cognitive psychologists who tested him said that drugs would do him no good (and he’s had enough problems with addictive behaviors, but not with that one at any rate)–

    but his teachers wanted him on drugs, because he would ‘stim’–anyone with special needs children doesn’t need to have that explained–

    Am I glad I homeschooled? I found out that my other children responded very well to being taught at home, and it was a highlight in this former teacher’s life . . . —

    the music, the games, the laughter, the making meals together and learning how to do so many things–

    in spite of his handicaps, my son is well liked ‘out there’ in the world and has a heart of gold–

    and my other children have not only been well-behaved, they have social skills that many of their peers do not have. They are not surly; they don’t mutter; they look at the people they talk to, they make friends with all ages; they talk easily to minorities and people of other religions–

    I didn’t do it for religious reasons either–even though I am LDS; I’m not necessarily a social conservative; I believe in different races and socioeconomic groups being together–

    one of our best homeschool family friends was a family of mixed race, and my children loved (most, not all, of my children are light-complected) playing with their black friends–

    never saw color–

    I don’t regret it; my children don’t regret it.

    Our public schools are too narrow; too much time is wasted (I know that from my time of teaching)–

    and the unique needs of each child’s intelligence are not taken into consideration; how can they be, when classrooms are so full?

    I don’t have the answer; I used to think home educators were really silly, odd people, but I am so grateful for my son’s first grade teacher who said, “take him home”–

    that first grade teacher had a special needs brother who had been adopted who died when he was young, and she said, “I wish my mom had taught him at home”–

    so . . . you never know–

    you’ve got a different perspective here now–

    I’m almost done; I have grandchildren, and I have one minor who is still being taught at home–been doing this now for 20 years–

    I’m tired, but I love my children, and those who are adopted have thanked me for taking the time to make our bonds tighter . . . it’s hard enough not being biological–

    and having that extra family time . . . that extra commitment from their parents has helped them feel more wanted and loved–

    That’s all I have to say. I believe in the individual, which is why I’m no longer a social conservative.

  66. terrymac
    April 22, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    Those who demand statistical “proof” will never be satisfied, at least in part because many of the differences between home education and enforced regimentation are not tested. As Outside the corridor mentioned, government schools have a really tough time with special needs.

    I’m a grandfather of nine; my two children were homeschooled, and my daughter is now homeschooling her five. I should be one of those “success stories” – I tested at the 12th grade level in 7th grade, skipped 8th grade, took AP courses, and so forth. I thought I was something of a “hot shot”, and by comparison to my fellow students, I wasn’t doing too badly.

    Yet, I was convinced that we could do even better. One of my grandsons is 10 years old now; he’s probably got similar math aptitudes. His math skills have been at the “18th grade equivalent” for three years already; he is studying algebra, trigonometry, and computer science. His mental math skills are astounding – and have been since he was only six years old.

    Children like this do not fit in any standard “first grade class”; even “gifted” classes don’t move at their pace. This is why 70% of boys with an IQ over 110 are doped-up – so they can stand the snail’s pace of the schools.

    At home, they have parents who are normally in the same ballpark, IQ-wise – who can keep up with a child who is racing 30% or 50% faster than the norm.

    More importantly, home education works without requiring intense Tiger Mom regimens. Instead of spending hours going to and from school, and hours keeping a seat warm, gifted students learn quickly and effortlessly at their own pace.

    They learn faster while spending less time. This gives them more time to relax, to enjoy life, to develop better social skills, to dive more deeply into their own special interests.

    If your child is not gifted, no worries! Home education tends to be closely tailored and individualized. Parents soon learn where the “weak spots” are, and which material is already “solid.” They focus on one and don’t waste time on the other. This efficient approach can rescue children from the backwaters of the “slow” classes.

  67. outside the corridor
    April 23, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    well, terrymac, it’s not just gifted children who suffer at school–

    I guess we agree, but I wanted to make it clear that my son’s IQ was WAY below 110; in fact, he tested just a few points too high for SSI–

    sadly, because of that, he got no help from any kind of special needs program as he got older, and he was ‘milked’ by universities, because his talents in other areas impressed them (music); he couldn’t handle the academic work to get a music degree, though his playing was VERY high quality, so after 3 school loans that he still has to pay, after dropping out of programs at the end of the semester with failures in all the academic classes and an A in the music production class–

    he’s now deeply in debt and has no education–

    he still plays his instruments (piano, sax, and organ when he can find a church with a pipe organ) 2-3 hours every day and works an under the table job at night–

    but kids whose IQ were three points lower than his . . . got technical training paid for and are living ‘productive’ lives–

    the disparity sometimes makes my head ache, and certainly my heart–

    the fact is that gifted kids are at least praised and admired in our culture; those with low IQs are the object of ridicule . . . and at best condescending kindness–

    but, yes, you are correct–

    how many gifted kids end up on the streets, though?

  68. outside the corridor
    April 23, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    and I was one of those ‘hot shot’ kids with a high IQ–

    raced through school; got out of college very young–

    and now I look at my son . . . who does not have my genes, and in the ‘next life’ I think he’s going to be WAY beyond me–

    our society/culture places WAY too much emphasis on ‘intelligence’–

    I’ve been humbled, believe me–

    my high IQ couldn’t save my son, not in this wretched culture–

  69. outside the corridor
    April 23, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Angilee, your words impress me–

    Thank you–

    the tug of war between the individual and society is ongoing–

    in every aspect of life/religion/health/*you name it*

  70. outside the corridor
    April 23, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    heh, heh, *blushing*

    I just realized that most of this discussion took place over 4 years ago–

    *chuckle*

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