19 Mar 2012

The serious and sensible post

Last week I posted a link to this article on A Peaceful Day's facebook page, and unleashed an angry beast.

If you're a follower and you haven't yet seen the replies, pop over there and have a read. My friend, Ganeida posted her thoughts on her blog, as did Books for Breakfast after lying awake half the night. Other friends relinked from their own pages. And nobody was very happy with the author of the article. By contrast, the majority of the commenters on the original article were pretty riled as well, but the vast majority of those commenters agree with the author's comments.

So what are they up in arms about? Are we right? Are they? Are their points on both sides? Can we learn something from this article? In fear and great trepidation of causing rifts between us that may never be mended, I'd like to take a closer look at this article and what it's trying to say. If that's okay with you.

So, let's start at the very beginning, shall we?
In recent weeks, home schooling has received nationwide attention because of (United States) Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s home-schooling family. Though Santorum paints a rosy picture of home schooling in the United States, and calls attention to the “responsibility” all parents have to take their children’s education into their own hands, he fails to acknowledge the very real potential for educational neglect among some home-schooling families – neglect that has been taking place for decades, and continues to this day.
Okay, so the aim of the author, Kristin Rawls, is to establish that it is possible that some homeschool parents might be neglecting their children's education. She doesn't say all homeschool parents does she - she says that there is a potential that it might happen. Right? She then goes on to assert that it does happen, and in fact, has been happening for decades.

Do you agree with her here? I do. I agree that there is a potential for educational neglect amongst homeschooling families. I have never seen it happen, but I agree that it is possible.

Okay, back to the article. As evidence to support her position, Rawls looks toward the homeschooling community that she is familiar with - the conservative Christian homeschooling group often referred to as 'Quiverfull' families that she spent time with in her adolescence. Is this a valid choice? Of course it is. If the author is to be believed, it is through her contact with this group that she became aware of what she refers to as 'gross educational neglect.' It's a pretty scary phrase, isn't it?

Rawls describes it further as:
...an overly politicized education with huge gaps, for example, in American history, evolution or sexuality... home-schoolers who were barely literate when they graduated, or whose math and science education had never extended much past middle school.
Now we can agree or disagree with Rawl's definition of 'gross educational neglect' here - teaching maths and science to the end of 8th grade doesn't sound too terrible to me - but remember that her article is alleging that it is possible that some homeschool parents might be neglecting their children's education, and I will admit that, baring some learning difficulty, being barely literate at graduation would be something of a concern to most people.

Now let's have a look at a scary story. And it is scary, believe me.
Take Vyckie Garrison, an ex-Quiverfull mother of seven who, in 2008, enrolled her six school-age children in public school after 18 years of teaching them at home. Garrison, who started the No Longer Quivering blog, says her near-constant pregnancies – which tended to result either in miscarriages or life-threatening deliveries – took a toll on her body and depleted her energy. She wasn’t able to devote enough time and energy to home schooling to ensure a quality education for each child. And she says the lack of regulation in Nebraska, where the family lived, “allowed us to get away with some really shoddy home schooling for a lot of years.”

“I’ll admit it,” she confesses. “Because I was so overwhelmed with my life… It was a real struggle to do the basics, so it didn’t take long for my kids to fall far behind. One of my daughters could not read at 11 years old.”

At the time, Garrison was taking parenting advice from Quiverfull leaders who deemphasized academic achievement in favor of family values. She remembers one Quiverfull leader saying, “If they can do mathematics perfectly but they have no morals, you have failed them.”...

...“We became so isolated because the Quiverfull lifestyle was so overwhelming we didn’t have time or energy for socialization. So the only people we knew were exactly like us. We were told that the whole point of public school was to dumb down the children and turn them into compliant workers – to brainwash them and indoctrinate them into this godless way of thinking.”

Garrison believes that homeschooling has become so popular with fundamentalist Christians because, “there is an atmosphere of real terror among some evangelicals. They are horrified by the fact that Obama is president, and they see the New Atheist movement as a vocal, in-your-face threat....
Okay, there's lots to say here about whether maths skills are more or less important than family values and morals, and I hope you all know that I would choose the latter every time, but it sounds to me that Vyckie Garrison is guilty of exactly what she implies - an inability to educate her children to an acceptable minimal standard. I agree with Rawls that this is an example of a parent who neglected her children's education. It also pains me to admit that Garrison is right when she says that the lack of regulation in her home state allowed her "to get away with some really shoddy home schooling..."

But is Vyckie an isolated case or not?
Just how common are stories like Vyckie Garrison’s? Unfortunately, it’s hard to know. The federal government only maintains very broad demographic statistics about home-schoolers in this country; federal data only keeps track of what kinds of people are home schooling and why. You can find plenty of information about home-schoolers according to race, family income or highest education obtained by the parents. But as regards neglect related to home schooling? The government cannot tell you — and there is no systematic state-by-state record of the percentage of truancy convictions (possibly the best measure of educational neglect at present) that involve home-schooling families versus those involving enrolled students and/or their parents.

Capturing that kind of data is essential to understanding the scope of this problem, but getting real numbers will always be complicated by the fact that many home-schooling families choose not to comply with the law by submitting to state home-school regulations, or even report their home-school activity to the state. While it’s possible that some forget, others intentionally fail to report because they fear too much government intervention in their lives. For many conservative Christians, this is a key aspect of their decision not to report.
Okay, folks, is she right? Regardless of whether or not you, yourself, submit to your State Government's homeschool regulations, and why, we must acknowledge that many homeschooling families chose not to register their kids because they object to too much government control of their lives and families.

I will not enter into an argument here over the validity of this position, but for the purposes of this article, Rawls is correct when she says that as a consequence, it is hard to know how prevalent situations like the Garrison's are, and that often anecdotal reports are all you will get. We are happy when the families showcase homeschooling in a positive light; unhappy when they don't, but really most articles on homeschooling use this method of reporting for just the same reason.

Homeschooled Erika Diegel Martin says that her youngest brother ceased his formal education at the age of 12, when she left home and was no longer available to teach him herself. Is this acceptable? Of course not!

Rawls writes about another family with children that " are functionally illiterate. Their 18-year-old daughter can read, but can barely write a paragraph… and the education goes significantly downhill from there. Her youngest brother, almost 11, has barely learned to read.” Excluding learning difficulties, is this alright? I don't think so.

Rawls admits that not all homeschoolers are this way, and describes one mother that meets up with her expectations:
Maria Hoffman Goeller is one of those. A lifelong family friend, Goeller is a home-school graduate raised in a conservative Christian home, where she never lagged behind in academics. Now she has a son with special needs in the California public school system but educates two other school-age children at home. “Part of the reason we home-school is because I’m choosing what worldview or what subjects I want to introduce my child to,” she says. But she understand the limits of her own skill, which is why she placed her special-needs son in public school. “While I can teach my children reading, writing and arithmetic, I am not trained in special education,” she says. “I want my child to have the best education he can get, which at this time is public school.”

Though she considers herself conservative, Goeller does not demonize public schools as some families do. And contrary to stereotypes about Christian home-schoolers, Goeller is adamant that she will not sacrifice academic rigor, or shield her children from views different from her own. In fact, she says she would welcome more opportunities for them to interact with public school students, for example, in sports and even in certain classes now and then.

Certainly, Goeller is not alone in the care and thoughtfulness she takes with her children’s home-school education. But in light of what Garrison, Diegel Martin and Palmer tell me, it seems irresponsible to assert, as many home-schooling parents do, that home-schooling neglect is just a fringe element in the homeschooling world. And getting a straight answer about the scope of the problem from people who champion the cause is difficult at best.
Are we with her here? Kristin Rawls is saying that she has gone some way towards showing that home-schooling neglect occurs and that it's not just a fringe element. Can she say that when the only families apart from Goeller's that she has described are Quiverfull families? I say not, because these families are in themselves fringe elements in the homeschooling movement, and even then many of them are marvellous examples of home educating. Rather less common here in Australia than in America, I only know two families that would self identify with this group. One, a family of ten children, volunteers every Thursday at Sovereign Hill Pioneer Village. They have a liberal education covering the subjects we all cover. Often during the year the family piles into their adapted bus and they travel around Australia. The education these parents provide their children is remarkable in its breadth and scope. I don't know the other family so well, but what I do know is that both the mother and father are committed to providing the best possible education they can to their young family.

So Rawls says educational neglect has the potential to be quite widespread amongst homeschoolers. I don't think that she has established this to a satisfactory extent because she has looked at such a select group. I do however agree with her that the potential for it to occur is there. And before we go on to the rest of the article, which is on what she thinks we should do about this, let's just have a bit of a look at our responsibilities as homeschooling parents.

Because like it or not, we do have responsibilities, and despite what many of us would like to believe, education is a right of Australian children. Yes, not a privilege, a right.

In December 1990 Australia signed up to a United Nations declaration known as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC). It represents a set of rights to which nearly every government in the world is a signatory. Here's part of what Article 28 of the declaration says about education:

3. States Parties shall promote and encourage international cooperation in matters relating to education, in particular with a view to contributing to the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy throughout the world and facilitating access to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.
If we chose to home school our children, then we have an obligation to ensure that they are actually educated in such a way as to eliminate ignorance and illiteracy and to facilitate access to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods. (Are Charlotte Mason methods modern?!!)

A mother like Vyckie Garrison failed in her duty to her children. So did Erika Diegel Martin's parents. And so do we if we don't intentionally teach our kids. This is not to say that unschooling is not a viable method of homeschooling, provided the kids actually learn something. It also does not imply that a child who is home educated might not have a learning difficulty and struggle to be able to read at 11 or write a paragraph at 18. No matter where they are educated some children will struggle. Some kids are dyslexic. Some kids are on the autistic spectrum or have ADHD or some other problem that makes learning hard.

It also doesn't mean that we have to teach our children from 9.00 am to 3.30 pm Monday - Friday with an hour for lunch. Some weeks it is impossible to get much done at all. After the flood last year, Jemimah had almost no schooling for more than a month. Some kids will have time off when mum has a new baby or is in a darkened room suffering from a migraine, or receives chemotherapy for cancer. Altered circumstances are okay for a season provided that the children receive enough teaching over enough years to call it an education. Vyckie Garrison's admission that she was unable to devote enough time to her children to provide even the basics is not enough.

Our obligations here are not absolved by whether or not Government schools live up to their side of the bargain. We all know horror stories of children who fall through the gaps and leave school illiterate at 18. We point our fingers at the abysmal literacy rates amongst indigenous Australians. Our schools are not perfect. But whether or not they do a good job of educating the majority of Australia's children, we as homeschool parents must ensure that we do a good job of educating our own.

All children have a right to a decent education - one that teaches maths, to read and write and to provide them with basic skills for life. To fail to provide this is to deprive children of something that is difficult to justify as a matter or personal or religious freedom.

Kirstin Rawl's solution to the 'gross educational neglect' that she sees amongst homeschoolers is more oversight, a suggestion that will cause many of us to see red.

Rachel Goldberg, a secular home-schooling mother from Charlotte, North Carolina, holds beliefs similar to those of many of us when she says:
“I don’t think there should be any regulation of home schooling,” she says. “I’m not a libertarian or a conspiracy theorist, but I am fiercely protective of my kids and my choices about how to raise them. It’s none of the government’s business how I teach them. Just as I wouldn’t want the state to require me to submit menu plans and quarterly nutritional assessments (even though I believe nutrition is vitally important), I don’t want the state to require curricula plans, portfolios, etc.”
This statement will also ring true to many of us:
(Maria Hoffman Goeller)... is always on the alert, she says, for any government mandate that might try to determine “what I can and cannot teach.”
I think that the parents that Rawls describes in this article have failed their children, but equally well, many schools are failing too. She is right that some children are homeschooled without appropriate governmental regulation, as well, but have the children who are under their control in schools been any more visible? What about the one-third of Australia’s Indigenous students who do not have the adequate skills and knowledge in reading and literacy to meet real-life challenges? Where is the oversight of these students? What about their rights?

I'm sure that along with most parents, most homeschoolers will vigorously defend our right to educate our children as we see fit. We defend our right to teach them what we believe to be true and our right to teach them as we want. But we don't have a right to neglect our children. We have an obligation to provide them with the best education that we can provide. We need someone to spend enough time with them on enough days in enough years to ensure that they learn to read and write. Our kids need to learn science and history and maths and geography and languages. And whether that education is at school or at home, I agree with Kirsten Rawls that gross educational neglect is totally unacceptable. It's just a shame that she tars all homeschoolers with her same brush.
Of course there are parents who are qualified to teach their children at home, and who do an excellent job of it. And there are children who excel in home-schooling environments. These families may well constitute a majority of home-schoolers. But this does not mean that all children do so well, and just as public schools are obligated to educate children who fall behind, so are parents who opt out of the system.


  1. I am going to come at this from a different angle, as a researcher. No one knows the quality of homeschooling or if it produces better results to traditional school,as there has been no comprehensive longitudinal study conducted. Most comments, such as in the article are based on one or two examples, that is not enough to prove anything statistically. A longitudinal study would need to be undertaken, following children through both forms of schooling to determine educational outcomes, without this, it is all one off examples. Also, without a benchmarch, what you consider good quality homeschooling, may not be to someone else. I have attempted to research homeschooling and have run into all sorts of problems such as websites set up by homeschooling lobby groups, these have a bias. Until it is measured without bias, we will not know the level of education being undertaken and how it compared to traditional education.

  2. Totally agree, Joluise. It would be a fascinating study. I wonder whether anyone is doing longitudinal studies like this?

  3. So pleased you took that "Clear Thinking" subject. It shows. xo

  4. Great post, Jeanne. Must say I agree with you - we have an obligation to give our children the best education we can. Every homeschool parent I've met (admittedly a small sample!) is trying to do that.
    Agree with Ruby, too.

    p.s. the link to the FB comments redirects to Saturday's blog post.

  5. What I mostly objected to in the article is the fact that she did jump from this one ultra conservative group to home schoolers in general. There is a very large home schooling group where I live, and not one fits that stereotype. Most began hs because they saw a lack in the public school education and felt that they could do a better job because of the teacher to student ratio. So it is educational concerns that prompted their choices, not religious concerns. I would not too strongly object to some form of oversight as a means of accountability, but I don't have any confidence in the ability of our government to keep such an oversight small, minimal, and simple. I believe that oversight, once established, would be about more than just making sure kids are learning the basics. I believe control of what we can and can't teach would be taken out of the parents hands.

    BTW Jeanne, great post. I think I was too angry to look at it objectively.

  6. Great post!

    What bothers me the most about articles like these is my own reaction to it. It always sends me into my doubt spiral where I worry about how the education we provide at home stacks up against what is being provided in our neighborhood school (which everyone assures me is top-notch.). Frankly, I'm very grateful for the mandated state testing that we do every year. The results are available only to me, not the state or the school district, and it helps me track where we are in relation to everyone else. I think there is a difference between control and accountability.

    I wish that the author had drawn from a wider pool of homeschoolers before painting her portrait. Like you said, she pointed to the fringe of the fringe to make her case for educational neglect.

  7. Two points: The first is for Jo. In QLD registered homeschoolers like Ruby & I have our kids assessed at the beginning of every year. Many of these children also do the NAPLAN. Star is one child but she is grade 12 & tested in the 99th percentil in both Vocab & comprehension ~ well above average. [The less said about her math the better☺] The stats are there but they are often hard to access. The BSDE tracks it's students. I know from the last lot of their stats I saw BSDE homeschoolers were scoring 20% above either state or private schools. Whether the umbrellas make these figures public I do not know but certainly distance schooling has been round a very long time.

    My 2nd point is for Jeanne ~ & it will be no surprise to you that I do not agree that education is a right ~ no matter what is written on a bit of paper nor by whom. Rhetoric is a disease that covers many sins. lol We can go round the world & dare I suggest the majority of children do not even get the bare minimum of an education? So much for the fancy rhetoric signed by so many countries! The fact is it isn't honoured. Girls are less likely to be educated than boys where education is available. Our Aboriginal communities are a National disgrace. Love the theory. In theory I would agree but the reality is very different. If you have recieved any sort of education you are more priveleged than many in this world.

    And because I don't see education as a right I land in a somewhat different place about what our obligations are as parents. Frankly the failure to instil morals in the present generation is going to require a very high price before we are done. Optimely morality & education should go hand in hand ~but we seem to be garnering neither in some quarters.

    Question ~ because I'm curious: I know a family with 2 homeschooled girls who cannot read, write or do math to what I would consider a satisfactory standard. The girls were accepted at the conservatorium at tender ages & have gone on to make their living in music. Did their parents fail in their obligations?

  8. Ooops. I said that there is a large homeschooling group in our area and none of them fit the stereotype. What I meant to say is that none of them that I know fit the stereotype.

    And one more thing. If the writer of the article could have been a fly on the wall during any one of our playdates, art classes, etc. since I became a mother (and that's a whole lot of meetings), she would have come away with the impression that we are obsessed with cirriculum, books, music, art, and generally the education of our children. I'm not saying that those families are not out there, but as you said, they are on the fringe of homeschooling, not mainstreem. Of course that is my opinion based on the homeschoolers I've been in contact with.

  9. Jeanne, I really like this post! I love your thoughtfulness here.

    I have a few thoughts to add into the mix here, if you don't mind.

    1. In the state of California there is no "oversight" for private education of any kind. At least, there is none *required* by the law, unless a formal complaint has been lodged. Legally, homeschoolers are very small, private schools. Now I know that homeschool and private school are in many ways two different animals, but what I want to point out is that our private schools *easily* excel most public schools, without any oversight at all. In addition, all public schools have rigorous, stringent oversight and red tape, and if you talk to teachers they feel like they are drowning in that sea of bureaucracy. They feel they cannot do their jobs. And the schools are often failing, producing kids who are stupider with each generation. My point here is that the idea that "oversight" fixes *anything* is mythological.

    2. I'd say that very few families fit the Quiverfull stereotypes that were mentioned in the article, though I'm not sure that was true back in the 80s when I was growing up and homeschooling was rare. Even the families I know with lots of children, though, are very serious about the education they give their children--they are very much like the families you mentioned in your post.

    3. Having a child who doesn't read until age 8 or age 11 isn't necessarily a sign that homeschooling is a big threat or failure. I have taught a number of children to read over the years (not all my own, mind you), and the span of ages at which it all came together for them is truly remarkable. I think we used to be more accepting of children's individual paces.

    4. One of the things I have noticed locally is that moms who have a hard time keeping up and getting it done are trying to recreate the public school classroom in their homes. That is a recipe for failure! And they are so overwhelmed. When we begin to explain simple things, like narration or dictation in place of the grind of book reports and spelling tests, there is a sigh of relief, the education in the home improves, while the time required to do it greatly diminishes. Of course, these things would improve public education, as well. :)

    5.Finally, there are lazy parents and there are abusive parents, true. (This article is basically a twist on the old premise of "all homeschoolers are secretly abusing their children" which always interviewed or pointed to a fringe and then drew a broad generalization. It's a tired formula.) But I think that *most* parents love their children and are truly seeking what they think is best for them. They will make mistakes (because ALL schools and educational projects make mistakes), but a child's education lies within the *family's* sphere of authority, not the government's. Many states in our Union acknowledge this within the states' own constitutions.

  10. It's important to remember that this is aimed at ultra-right Christian extremists in the USA. People who seek to isolate their children to keep them in the faith at all costs. Their goal in "homeschooling" is religious and political indoctrination.

    I also commented on this piece at my blog and will say that responsible homeschoolers have nothing to fear in annual testing or similar regulation.

  11. I felt that the original article you were answering Jeanne, followed a typical pattern that Satan loves.

    Take a bit of truth, get people on side, then slip in the lies or distortion.

    In this case she is taking a legitimate concern and stirring her readers into a frenzy of fear with the insinuation that ALL homeschool parents might be failing their kids.

    Like you I agreed that there is cause for some concern, but she did not provide adequate balance. A few sentences at the end of all those horror stories are NOT enough balance.

  12. PS I love it when you get involved in the conversation. It makes it so friendly and I like hearing what you think of what we say. :)

  13. Ganeida - it would be intersting if the scores were published by type of education.

    This is an interesting bit of US reseach -it would be good if it became a longitudital study to watch the changes.

  14. Daughter of Eve, I wish I could get embedded comments to work on my blog - it would make it much easier to reply!

    I couple of things then to begin with - to Ganeida - Why were the two girls at the Con borderline illiterate? If it was poor teaching then yes, I believe that someone failed these girls. They may be able to earn a living thanks to their God-given talent of music, but they will always need to pay an inordinate proportion of it to professionals to manage their affairs for them...or marry men to do it for them! There may be other reasons, though. Are there?

    Lijke you, I agree that sadly education is not a right in many developing countries. I believe that in Australia it is.

    To Brandy, I agree that skills come at different times to different children. People talk of their kids catching the 'reading bug'. To me that is the time that reading 'clicks' and becomes easy. It can happen at any time through 'school' I think. Often later for boys than girls.

    Speaking of oversight, we have none in our State, although we no have to register. I personally like it that way, although if I could get access to the NAPLAN and have it marked, I would be interested. As it is I administer the tests and mark them myself, which works quite well. I am very glad I don't need to prepare screeds of paperwork like some States do.

    To all of you - thank you for your insightful comments. I have found them fascinating.

  15. I totally missed this on your facebook page as I have been trying to spend less time on facebook and I haven't read the original article you are discussing here but despite it's very generalised statements about a certain group of people it actually highlghts some of the reasons I chose to stop homeshcooling. I knew that at a high school level I simply couldn't provide my son with the scope and breadth of education I wanted him to have, particularly in areas like maths where he struggles and it's one of my weakest points as well.

    I miss home schooling and the quality family time it allowed, but I have a very bright boy who wants to make his mark in the world as a scientist or inventor and if I can't give him the kind of education he needs to go onto further study and achieve that dream then I will have failed him even if he has fabulous morals and values.

    I have nothing against public school if the local one suits a persons needs, our local high school doesn't. It's one of the roughest in Western Sydney and not where I would send my special needs child, but had we lived closer to a different school he may have gone to a public school. It all depends on what is best in each family's situation, for some it is public school for some it is private school, for some it is home schooling. To tar everyone who makes the same choice with the same brush is terrible journalism and not an authoritative article at all.

    Good on you for opening up discussion about it, very brave of you :-)

  16. Jeanne, you can get preparation booklets for the NAPLAN tests. I saw them in the PO a few days ago. I only flicked through, but perhaps you could use them as a type of diagnostic?

  17. Jo: I know the stats I saw were comparative ~ BSDE is a state umbrella using the state curriculum so I found the comparision both fair & interesting because the kids were studying the same things at the same time at the same level as their school counterparts. I have no idea how you would get your hands on them. the school issued the stats in a newsletter after one lot of NAPLAN ~ prob the last we did with them.

    Jeanne: I believe the girls had to practise their music 6~8 hours a day in order to qualify for the Con ~ which obviously left little time over for anything else. Whether this is right or wrong is not really the point IMO; I believe it was the parents' right to educate their girls as they saw fit ~ & they are not a burden on the tax~payer's purse. I am not sure how well they have remedied their education as adults.

    I also know music is highly demanding. ONe of our biggest hurdles is I have to battle Star for her time because she is putting in 4~5+ hours a day. That is not me driving her. I get what is left over of her time & attention. Less of an issue as I believe Star has a solid foundation under her & knows what she wants & is prepared to work for it. The thing is I don't believe anyone has the right to dictate to either of us what Star should or should not be studying ~ & certainly not at this level. The government does though. *sigh* & then bleats about the result!

  18. PS: I believe I did warn you that if you gave me an idea I could build up a head of steam in no time. See! ☺ This is the result. I can go on forever. lol

  19. Yes, but at earlier levels Star did learn to read and write and even do basic arithmetic (wink). Why didn't those girls' parents teach their kids the basics? To me that is inexcusable. I do not agree that parents have a right to teach what they want if they do not cover the basics of education. I also believe that the Con should not accept entry level university students who cannot do these same basics.

  20. But Jeanne, what constitutes the basics?

    I would say that they can read, write, and be competant in basic mathematics (+-x/).

    But the government just adds and adds and adds and adds until basic is no longer basic.

    So what IS the basics, and who should decide?

  21. When people use one or two examples to form an opinion have a weak argument. We know the US public schools have been churning out students who can't read for decades, with not a lot of action taken. To make a fair argument, show me the percentage of homeschool kids who can't read compared to the percentage of public schooled kids who can't read.

    In our state of Washington, many homeschool kids graduate with well over the number of credits required AND an associates degree, equal to two years of college. Not a bad accomplishment for a 17 or 18 year old kid.

    Don't think I saw the author talking about the six year old who just won the national spelling bee. Yea, she was dun teached at home. Don't think she talked about the national geography champion, another kid who dun learned all he does did knows at home.

    Don't bother fussing at myself's inability to read and right, I went to publick skul.

  22. Okay, what constitutes the basics of a good education, girls? It is different for Christians than secular educationalists, of course...

  23. Ahh...there's the rub! We're already splitting!

    How is it different Jeanne?
    Is it different in what we learn or how we learn it?

    See I would see the three R's as the basics (as I mentioned above). But HOW I teach my children to read, write and cipher will be with a different attitude and worldview than a secular humanist.

  24. Jeanne,
    From a different angle, I wouldn't even look at education as a choice between right or privilege. I see it from God's point of view, in that he has ordained parents to take the responsibility for it. It is a responsibility, not a right or privilege. Do we have a right to Salvation? Not at all. But we do have a responsibility to repent of our sins. Not enough room here to elaborate on that, so possible for you to not get what I am really saying - but said it anyway, lol. Questions - just because the two musical girls were not literate by a certain age, doesn't mean they will be for the rest of their lives - I could still take up a musical instrument now if I wanted to. Education does have to fall into the hands and minds of an individual at some stage. Next - I have known hs kids who could not read at age 11, but by age 13 were reading Bondage of the Will (Luther) and Lord of the Rings. :)

  25. Hi Jeanne, this has been a great post to read, the comments to have been very insightful. I personally feel that I have a responsibility to educate my children well. It is in fact my passion to do just that. It is also my passion to teach them right from wrong, to grow their love for Jesus, and to develop their individual talents. To be honest, this can be exhausting at times, but so rewarding too. Lots more to say, but I'll have to come back as it's dinner time here. Mel x

  26. Whew - I bet that post took a while to write! It is a great post and full of 'food for thought'.

    Great timing, actually - I have been wondering about this recently: If you felt called to homeschool, but were physically ill to the point of very little 'school work' getting done, what exactly are the 'basics'? Are academics more immportant than life skills, family, and the formation of character?

    I do believe as homeschool parents we have a moral obligation to prepare our children for the world 'out there', and this does include academics. But as to who decides exactly what is 'enough', that's another matter.

    I think I'll be mulling over this post for some time! Thankyou. :)

  27. Wow Jeanne! I'm so glad you did this s & s post! :) I loved reading it and all the comments too. Well, I don't have much to add as I'm just mulling it all over after reading Ganeida's post on it :)

  28. I wanted to reply to your question about whether a CM education is a modern education. I wholeheartedly think it is.

    To me, CM is about being exposed to IDEAS and taking the time to form a relationship with the idea, connect one idea to another, and, ultimately, having your own ideas that you are able to articulate clearly and share with the world....all the while continuing to being exposed to more ideas. We are not limited to the knowledge that was available to CM in her time, and I don't think she would want that for us. We can keep current and still use CM methods. (And the methods of habit training continue to be valuable, especially in an era that seems to eschew self-discipline and duty.)

    Fantastic response to the original article, Jeanne. You approached this in such a fair and thoughtful way, as I would expect from someone who admires the CM approach to learning. :)

  29. Linda, I have actually been there - I had a breakdown when my youngest was a baby. So I had 6 children aged 9 down to a few months old.

    For about 3 months we did pretty much nothing. Slowly, ever so slowly we added little bit by little bit until we built ourselves back up to full operation again. I would say it took about 2-3 years.

    I think that each family must weigh it up for themselves before God. In our case, our children were very young. In retrospect I realise that that period was necessary for them as well as for me to destress from an exceedingly stressful few years. In any case, they were able to get to 'grade level' quite swiftly afterwards (if you believe in that, I take it with a grain of salt myself).

    For us, our factors meant that it was possible (and in fact better because there was no way that I was in any state to get them to school). I was sleeping sleeping sleeping! And the kids got to be kids and play....

    So, it really depends on the individual situation. AND its the responsibility of the parents to make choices in the best interests of the children. Obviously some of the parents in this article didnt do that.

  30. Excellent post. Thank you for being well balanced and informative.

    Every Bed of Roses.

  31. Wow! Such an interesting post, Jeanne. I loved reading this and all the comments. You have given me a lot to think about. For us, we feel that since homeschooling is what God has led us to do, we must do it "heartily as to the Lord". This was an encouragement to me to keep on being consistent and putting effort into our learning!

  32. Mmm not sure. The author did target conservative Christian homeschoolers (I am not one ) and did not address as you said, the problems with schools and did not acknowledge the places where regulation of home schools is more rigorous ( as in where I live ) and some of the statistics that favourably compare home school and other schools. There is more than anecdotal evidence! Great post Jeanne!

  33. I have very grave concerns when we as individual nations are giving up our sovereignty to the United Nations! Scripture tells us to train our children in the way they should go, when we wake, when we work, and when we lie down. God has given us that responsibility. He has given it to all parents, not just homeschoolers. That means I answer to Him and not the UN.

    I believe we are at a tipping point in history. It is already playing out in the United States. God did not give the State the responsibility to raise my children, He gave it to me. Our constitution was written with the understanding of a "higher law". Unfortunately, through generations of public schooling, we have lost the understanding of this law. Now we are at a place where children are being taught that there is no absolute truth, science is truth, right and wrong are relative and it's okay as long as you don't hurt anyone. Those kids can read and write, so it's all good! I don't think so!!



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