Homeschooling as a protest movement

Responding to an earlier opinion column, Should evolution be taught in school?, Kalamazoo Gazette reader Lawrence Kapture throws out some thoughts on home education.

Homeschooling is essentially a protest movement. Regardless of motivation, homeschoolers believe public schools are unable to prepare their children to live in the world.  mlive.com

Perhaps for some.  Or perhaps it was at one time.  Or perhaps we are falsely perceived by a public who only hears from us when we are protesting a proposed law.

I am full of criticisms of public education, as are many of my fellow homeschoolers.  But then that is hardly unique to homeschoolers.  We didn’t write “Nation at Risk,” or “Why Johnny Can’t Read.”  Our measly 2% of the population hardly influenced President George Bush, Sr. to bill himself as “the education president.”  And I know his son wasn’t listening to us when he drafted No Child Left Behind.  Education has been a bit of a battle ground for some time, and homeschooling is only one (very small) part of that public conversation.

Being critical is not a protest movement.

Supporting reform is not a protest movement.

Choosing an alternative is not a protest movement.

It is only a protest movement if our decision to homeschool is directed at what is going on in public schools.  Like an organized boycott, a sit-in or march of some sort.  I can only speak for myself, but I did not choose to home educate because of what is going on in the public schools.  I chose to home educate because of the virtues inherent in this form of education.

Some people garden as an act of protest.  Most of us, however, just prefer the taste of homegrown produce or enjoy the hobby for its own rewards.  It is the same with home education.

Unfortunately, what homeschooling can do is isolate children from the market of ideas, especially when it comes to biological science. There is a large amount of fringe literature published by religious groups that support the claims of creationists while providing no real information about the vast field of evolutionary biology.  Ibid.

There is a large amount of fringe literature available on any topic imaginable and you don’t need to be a homeschooler to find it.  I do find it interesting that we’re talking about the “market of ideas” in public school, although by and large there is only one idea presented, taught and tested.  And that isn’t exclusive to the whole evolution debate.  There isn’t enough time to present anything like a marketplace of ideas with testing looming overhead, and all the baggage students bring with them to school.

And again, this isn’t about homeschooling.  We only account for approximately 2% of the population.  Yet according to a recent Gallup poll, only 39% of Americans say they believe in the theory of evolution, 25% do not and 36% don’t have an opinion.  Education was a factor in the beliefs, as was church attendance. Surprisingly, a poll in Britain revealed that only 25% of Briton’s thought the theory of evolution was “definitely true.”  This isn’t even an American issue.

If I were concerned about Americans’ lack of knowledge regarding Darwin and his theory, I would look first at why people are graduating high school…public high school…without this knowledge long before I’d jump on the homeschoolers.

Homeschooling allows families to isolate their children from good information by providing them only with information that is comfortable with their own biases.  Ibid.

The potential is there.  The potential is there anywhere someone has control over the curriculum.  Should that control come from the state or the parent?  What about when parents disagree?  What about when students disagree with the content that is being taught them?  One of the more interesting questions in one of my ethics courses dealt with this very debate.

The question was whether it was ethical to pass a student who demonstrated a knowledge of evolutionary theory that surpassed the course requirements, but who didn’t believe it.

There is a fundamental question about control here, but it isn’t about homeschooling.  We are just a bit of a catalyst for the discussion.

Like homeschooling is a protest against public schools, creationism is a protest against anything that opposes a literal interpretation of the Bible. When it comes to the origins of life, creationism is not a scientifically educated movement.  Ibid.

Kapture never supported his assertion that homeschooling is a protest movement against the schools, and now he’s claiming that creationsim is a protest as well.  It isn’t.  It is simply a belief.  One that existed prior to Darwin and prior to his predecessors who had already begun to look at the world outside a religious worldview.

Back in February, academics and scientists across Europe got together in Germany to discuss difficulties regarding the acceptance of evolution.  Some fear these lingering beliefs in creation are a danger to scientific thought in this country and the Western world in general.  I don’t exactly buy that, but our schools’ ability to graduate students who can scarcely read just might.


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67 Comments on "Homeschooling as a protest movement"

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Dana
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I found it interesting that Kapture devoted four paragraphs of his argument to homeschooling. When I went back to the original column, I couldn’t find reference to it. I read it twice before using the browser search function to find where it was mentioned.

It was in the author’s bio. He is a homeschooled senior. And it looks like he is taking part in the “marketplace of ideas” by participating in this debate to me.

Mrs. C
Guest
We started homeschooling because of abuse in public schools! I will continue to blog for those children we “left behind.” But as to the evolution thing, I just want to be told UP FRONT that that’s what the children are studying. (That is actually a VERY BIG problem in public schools.) With older children I have no problem with it when it’s done respectfully. If the test contains info on the theory of evolution, but makes no requirement that the children espouse the theory, I’m content with that. I remember on one of those parent nights that tucked into the… Read more »
Beth/Mom2TwoVikings
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You touched on something I hadn’t put into words for myself yet – I probably never would have considered homeschooling if government schools would allow more than one opinion on things…and I’m a former public school teacher!

They called Christians intolerant but I have no problem with my kids learning about evolution IF they also get to hear about creation as well.

Dana
Guest
I know we agree there, Julie. 🙂 And I guess I don’t really see that as protest any more than I see my refusal to ever eat at Jack in the Box as a protest. People died of food poisoning in Indiana, they were shut down, but lived on in bad jokes through my high school years. I was surprised to see them in other states when I left my secluded life in IN, but I still won’t eat there. Not exactly the same, but responding to a bad situation by removing yourself from it is not necessarily a protest… Read more »
Julie
Guest
I guess I did start homeschooling as a protest. I was protesting that the public school in our county was “out of options” for educating my child. They wanted to move her to a locked classroom for a year and then transition her to a “day treatment program.” This program was a 9-12th grade program that housed all the worst behaved children in the district. The program is unstructured and, in fact, only requires 6-hours of academics a week. Generally, the kids are across the street at a covered shelter smoking. Uh, no thanks ~ I am pretty upfront in… Read more »
Janel
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Oh where to begin… Yeah, I haven’t set in at any all night public school protest vigils either.

Luke Holzmann
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“I don’t exactly buy that, but our schools’ ability to graduate students who can scarcely read just might.”

Ouch. [smile]

~Luke

Lynn
Guest

re: “I have no problem with my kids learning about evolution IF they also get to hear about creation as well.”

I have no problem with my kids learning about astronomy IF they also get to hear about astrology as well.

JJ Ross
Guest

You left out part of the actual reality imo:

“Should that control come from the state or the parent?”

The real question is:
Should that control come from the State, the CHURCH or the parent?”

ChristineMM
Guest

RE: “There is a large amount of fringe literature available on any topic imaginable and you don’t need to be a homeschooler to find it.”

Love that.

Very good post.

Just as some use private education for their children as they think it is best and right (and they can afford it), so we homeschooling parents choose to home educate as we think it is right and best (for right now).

Those who criticize homeschoolers for not using public schools never criticize parents (including politicans who make education laws and take money from the NEA) for using private school. Why is that??

Crimson Wife
Guest

I was just about to bring up private schools when I see Christine beat me to the punch.

Why is it that government-school cheerleaders typically criticize home educators but at the same time give private school parents a free pass?

Dave
Guest
“If I were concerned about Americans’ lack of knowledge regarding Darwin and his theory, I would look first at why people are graduating high school…public high school…without this knowledge long before I’d jump on the homeschoolers.” Dawkins (among others) has complained that US public schools do not adequately teach evolution, and that public school science textbooks don’t present the most current thinking on evolution. That isn’t because of the influence of creationist parents; it’s because of the broken public education system. Myers says he doesn’t care whether most people believe in evolution; in fact, he thinks most people are too… Read more »
Lynn
Guest
Dave: “(The neglect of teachers to teach evolution) isn’t because of the influence of creationist parents; it’s because of the broken public education system.” It’s because the broken public education system caves to pressures of fundamentalist creationists. Look at what’s happening in Texas right now. I wonder how many of the state’s best educated kids will be yanked out of schools (to homeschool) by parents horrified by the ascendancy of fundamentalist-stocked school boards intent on substituting “Intelligent Design” and “Christian Nationalism” for real science and history. Those poor remaining children, “left-behind” for Dark Age educations. Maybe Texas will just secede… Read more »
Lynn
Guest

Mrs. C: “If there is a sizeable number of Christians in a given area who are offended by evolution teaching, the schools ought to be able to defer to the needs of those families through opt-out or opt-in.”

What if parents in my district are offended by, oh, native american history… or geometry?

And, have you looked at a recent list of “disputed” teachings by the Christian Apologist Industry lately? Gee, talk about a short school day.

Mrs. C
Guest

JJ, as much as I value discussion in public schools, I also think the local TAXPAYER should have a say-so in the curriculum. If there is a sizeable number of Christians in a given area who are offended by evolution teaching, the schools ought to be able to defer to the needs of those families through opt-out or opt-in. I don’t see where anyone’s rights are violated when evolution is *not* taught in the same way that a religious minorities rights would be if all the children were required to memorize chunks of the Westminster Catechism.

JMO

Mrs. C
Guest

religious minority’s

Yes, I has good grammer.

Crimson Wife
Guest
I grew up in Massachusetts in a town where there are hardly any Fundamentalists (the closest Protestant church not affiliated with a liberal mainline denomination was a 20 min drive away). Everyone I knew believed in evolution (either theistic or Darwinian) but I wouldn’t say that the topic was particularly well-taught at the government-run school I attended. The science teaching in general was on the weak side at the school- lots of rote memorization & multiple-choice tests, after which the information was mostly forgotten. I struggled at first when I got to college and started taking science classes that actually… Read more »
Dana
Guest

And look! 81 lesson plans on astrology for the public schools!

http://www.lessonplanet.com/search?keywords=astrology&rating=3

Dana
Guest
JJRoss, you said: The real question is: Should that control come from the State, the CHURCH or the parent?” But the church doesn’t have that kind of power. It can certainly be a point for organization. Something some atheists seem to want as well. If I disagree with the teachings of my church, I can leave and there are no national discussions about whether I am harming my children by removing them from a religious institution. People won’t accuse me of being a “church protester” or part of some lunatic fringe group who believes God can be found without a… Read more »
Mrs. C
Guest

But, Lynn… don’t you think the voters should decide what’s taught in the schools they fund? And if not, WHO should decide? Just askin’.