Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Christian homeschooling essentially "a massive, well-oiled machine of ideology that is churning out soldiers for the culture war."

Courtesy of Raw Story:  

Several decades ago, political activists on the religious right began to put together an “ideology machine”. Home schooling was a big part of the plan. The idea was to breed and “train up” an army of culture warriors. We now are faced with the consequences of their actions, some of which are quite disturbing. 

According to the Department of Education, the home schooling student population doubled in between 1999 and 2007, to 1.5 million students, and there is reason to think the growth has continued. Though families opt to home school for many different reasons, a large part of the growth has come from Christian fundamentalist sects. Children in that first wave are now old enough to talk about their experiences. In many cases, what they have to say is quite alarming. 

“The Christian home school subculture isn’t a children-first movement. It is, for all intents and purposes, an ideology-first movement. There is a massive, well-oiled machine of ideology that is churning out soldiers for the culture war. Home schooling is both the breeding ground – literally, when you consider the Quiverfull concept – and the training ground for this machinery. I say this as someone who was raised in that world.” 

Too frequently, Stollar says, the consequences of putting ideology over children include anxiety, depression, distrust of authority, and issues around sexuality. This is evident from the testimonials that appear on Home schoolers Anonymous, the website that Stollar established, along with several partners. 

Stollar’s own home schooling experience started off well. But over time, as his family became immersed in the world of Christian home schooling, his “education” became less straightforward and more ideological. “I particularly remember my science curriculum,” he says. “We used It Couldn’t Just Happen, which wasn’t really a science textbook. It was really just an apologetics textbook which taught students cliché refutations of evolutionism.” 

Many parents start off home schooling with the intention of inculcating their children in a mainstream form of Christianity. However, as many HA bloggers report, it is easy to get sucked into the vortex of fundamentalist home schooling because extremists have cornered the market – running the conventions, publishing the curricula, setting up the blogs. 

As HA blogger Julie Ann Smith, a Washington state mother of seven, says: 

“If you are the average Christian home schooler with no agenda, and you have the choice between attending a secular home schooling convention and a Christian one, chances are you’ll choose the Christian convention. But they only allow certain speakers who follow their agenda. So you have no clue. What you don’t realize is that they are being run by Christian Reconstructionists.”

I know that whenever I touch on this subject I irritate a rather vocal part of my audience who are homeschooling their own children and feel immediately on the defensive whenever I bring up how homeschooling is being used by Fundamentalists to bypass more secular lessons plans in favor of those that help to indoctrinate their children more fully into their faith.

So I will apologize ahead of time for those who I might offend. However it is important to face the reality, that despite your experiences, there is definitely a vast subculture that is completely not interested in getting the best education available for their child but instead with controlling the information available to them for as long as possible.

And remember I speak from experience as my ex-wife used homeschooling and Christian textbooks to drive a wedge between my daughter and I. Fortunately for me my kid is a genius, and all it took was for her to read "Origin of Species" and she was deprogrammed virtually overnight. (Though I must say her animosity toward Catholics, who were vilified by members of her church, took a little longer to overcome.)

So I am interested in hearing about the experiences of some of you who home school. My experience with my daughter was horrible, and my interactions with home schooled children while I was coaching gymnastics left me less than impressed, so I would be interested to learn of the positive side as well as if there appears to be more of a focus on religion now than when some of you first started.

27 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:05 PM

    Is there any wonder why distrust of arrogant, out-of-touch media is at an all-time high? During today’s Benghazi hearings, the Washington Post actually tweeted: “Who's tweeting about Benghazi? Rich, middle-aged men and Chick-fil-A lovers.” This would be the same Washington Post that broke the story on Watergate. Now they just mock concerned Americans who want answers to why four brave Americans died, including two distinguished vets. And the Obama administration asks, “What does it matter?”

    - Sarah Palin

    Poor foaming at the mouth Sarah didn't get her jollies as she thought she might today. It was a collective yawn except on Fox and even now they are quickly shifting away from the train wreck of an embarrassment the GOP showed today with their Hillary/Barack witch hunt. She must be stamping her nasty, smelly little feet with indignation on this one.

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    1. Anonymous4:33 PM

      The Washington Post is as conservative as it gets Sarah. Give it up and cut back on your meds. Might also be a time when you look up how many similar attacks have occurred in this country and in other countries in the last 30 years. Shocking hmmmm? The U.S. is a small country on a very big planet. You really should travel more. Better yet, try living for a while outside the U.S. and your little compounds and see how the rest of the world really views us. It is truly fascinating.

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    2. Anonymous5:05 PM

      Here's what she's yipping about:

      Who’s tweeting about Benghazi? Rich, middle-aged men and Chick-fil-A lovers

      Thousands of people have tweeted on the #Benghazi hashtag since the September attack, helping disseminate, and even steer, the divisive political narrative of what happened that night.

      Thanks to Demographics Pro, a Twitter analysis firm, we have some vague idea of who’s tweeting the most: According to their report, #Benghazi tweeters are 58.3% male, with an average age of 52.6 years and a median income of $61,800 (“within the top 20 percent of overall Twitter distribution,” the report adds).

      The tweeters are also overwhelmingly white and married, according to Demographics Pro; they also like Chick-fil-A and Walmart — two brands most often associated with conservatives.

      Demographics Pro is run by Schmap, a private social data and consumer profiling firm, and describes itself as a marriage of Nielsen and Twitter.

      According to Topsy, another analytics service, more than 67,000 tweets have been sent with the hashtag in the past month alone.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/05/08/the-benghazi-hearing-live-blog/?hpid=z2#liveblog-entry-39984

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  2. One thing to remember: some parents *think* they alone get to determine who their kids turn out to be. Authoritarian parents often unwittingly turn their kids against the very ideas that they try to force upon them. I'm a good example of that myself. I was raised in an ultra-authoritarian household and had Mormonism violently forced upon me. I couldn't get out of that religion fast enough when I turned 18. Try as they may, a lot of these assholes are going to see their attempts to stupidify their kids end in ways they never foresaw.

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  3. Anonymous3:34 PM

    I know a family that christian home schools 4 kids. The next to oldest child should be reading at a 5th grade level, however he reads at barely a second grade level. The mother takes the "tests" for him and the other siblings.

    These children simply will not be able to function in a this world, whether it be secular or religious. Many simply do not receive an education and have no hope of finding jobs or attending institutes of higher learning, unless those christian colleges such as Liberty and Bob Jones take anyone, even those who can't even begin to fathom the material on the SAT.

    I guess they'll all grow up to be preachers?

    I think in the very near future we're going to see a lot of christian homeschooled kids becoming adults that live off of welfare and food stamps. They will proclaim to be "judged" by the educational system and by the workforce due to their christian homeschooling background, however, they simply can't compete with children both in America and in emerging countries that value education above all else and have the smarts to succeed in this very competitive world.

    On top of that, they'll be breeding like rabbits because abstinence simply does not work. So, lets all look forward to overbreeding, undereducated homeschooled christians whining about how the world has left them behind.

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    1. Anonymous3:53 PM

      THIS. People comment on 'uneducated welfare moochers' (to paraphrase, of course), but the majority of those on welfare are white children.

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    2. Anonymous8:56 PM

      Well 3:34, the same thing happens with these PUBLIC cyber schools and online higher ed courses - parents (and others - some paid) take exams for the student or do the work.
      See K-12 and Connections Academy and Western Governors University to start. There is no accountability, no verification. BTW, both Connections and WGU are owned or run by Pearson Education Corp. Hmmmmm......

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  4. Anonymous3:45 PM

    Is Home-Schooling in Tri-pp's future? None of the Palins qualify as a teacher. He will learn to say,"I hate Obama", and "Grandpa Todd is a Pimp". Also, "Where are all of my Cousins Aunt Willow"?

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    1. Anonymous8:57 PM

      There are NO qualifications necessary for homeschool teaching in most states - not even a GED.

      Delete
  5. Anonymous4:06 PM

    I am sorry to shout from the top of my lungs, that this is a VERY dangerous situation we have gotten ourselves into. We are raising a whole generation of anaphabets as it pertains to education. We are raising a whole generation of total nincompoops that have the knowledge of maybe 15th century monks - IF that much. This is VERY dangerous, especially taken in conjunction with our modern technologies.
    Wether we like it or not, the US is still a world power, and we will continue to be one. These religious fanatics will be the ones who are masters of our future technologies, and, unfortunately, it is not just in our country where they are this validly rabid about religion, and thus, my prediction is, within the next at the most 50 years, we will have WWIII, which will be the end of the world as we know it. (Just like those end-of-times-fanatics want)
    There is nothing that can stop this machine, since there is simply NOTHING our gubmint can and will do to force equal education standards on every child. It is too late for that. (I am saying that as a former home school mom, but as a secular one, not as a religious freak one. I made sure that our daughter got AT LEAST the same education like public schooled kids, but then we went above and beyond that, and now we have a very successful MBA graduate from a major University. ;)

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    1. Anonymous5:00 PM

      As a teacher, I am very skeptical of homeschooling, simply because there are so many people doing it badly.

      There are some circumstances where homeschooling is the best choice AND where the parents are qualified and committed to doing it properly. Obviously, you fall into that category, based on the success of your daughter.

      Unfortunately, many of the families who are choosing that route are the very families whose children SHOULD be exposed to the real world, and whose parents are woefully unqualified to teach anything to anyone.

      The world is rapidly and increasingly becoming more and more technology-based, and most jobs will eventually require the ability to choose the appropriate technology as well as the skills to use it. Being exposed only to Bible-based history and 'science' will doom this generation of children to failure. The opportunities to make a living from praying are very few and far between!

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    2. Anonymous5:42 PM

      I totally agree with you. I am privileged to have been quite qualified to that job, especially since it was my daughter who requested it. When I went to our local school district, asking about the legality of home schooling as well as for potential help, they LITERALLY told me: "If you trust the drunk down the street with educating your daughter, more power to you. We will not interfere, as long as you make sure she is 'officially' being schooled THREE HOURS/day(!), 170 days/year. Do keep a record of attendance."
      Needless to say, I was quite flabbergasted by that, but that made me more determined to do the best I could for my child. Especially also for the fact that they equated THREE hours/day homeschooling being equal to the seven to eight hours kids had to spend if they went to 'regular' school... (Not to mention the drunk, LOL!)

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  6. hedgewytch4:23 PM

    I am around many of these types. At best these children are bewildered by the "outside" world. They are woefully unprepared for any kind of serious college or high paying - skilled job. And at worst, they are extremely defensive, aggressive and have a huge persecution complex.

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  7. This isn't a home schooling topic, but I came across this today in reference to "abstinence only" brainwashing.

    http://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/my-big-virginity-mistake?akid=10410.208881.ZatLm8&rd=1&src=newsletter836553&t=6

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  8. Anonymous6:43 PM

    A friend of mine who's a children's librarian has many, many stories about the home schoolers who come in with their parents to check out books. The kids fall into two camps: those who go crazy because they aren't used to being in public places with strangers, and the scared-out-of-their-wits kids whose authoritarian parents regiment their every move, even when looking at books or playing on the children's room computer.
    Many of these parents are not qualified to teach any subject beyond third grade, and they fool themselves into thinking that dividing the work -- so-and-so will study physics and then teach it to all the homeschoolers in town -- will really suffice.
    The ineffable snobbery and elitism of this movement may do the most harm.
    Parents convince their children that they're superior to the poor slobs who go to public school (which the parents are damaging by refusing to increase the schools' funding). Just as snobby as the progeny in private schools -- but at least most of them are getting some sort of education, as well as socialization.
    Give these kids another decade or so, when mom and dad aren't the alpha and omega of their worlds, and what will happen? The kids who went off to school and toughed it out with other children, who dealt with different teachers, with new and challenging information, will be better prepared to become real citizens in a real community. Without parental guidance, how will those homeschoolers think for themselves?

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    1. Anonymous9:05 PM

      You are demonstrating your ignorance of education and homeschooling.

      The lockstep of chronological age peers is one that happens NOWHERE else but school. Not insports (many talented kids "play up" and some undersized kids "play down" for safety reasons) not in a job (I loved watching the wet behind the ears new hires try to talk to the elderly CEO or her secretary ad burble their way to embarrassment because , unlike homeschoolers, they hadn't been exposed to different age groups) not the armed forces, not their community, not college, with all its non-traditional students. NEVER, ever such artificial peer groups again.

      And school is preparation for what? you were saying?

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    2. Anonymous4:23 AM

      What are you rambling on about? My kids went to public schools. As a trained teacher, I supplemented when needed (my son could footnote in third grade because I required him to cite his sources.) Our two kids were both National Merit Scholars who went to great colleges and excelled. They had lots of interaction with different ages at church and with their beloved grandparents. They got along with their peers. They were in music groups and excelled at singing and their instruments. They are now married with kids and one is a chemical engineer and the other an attorney. You were saying???

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    3. Anonymous4:42 AM

      The difference is in the development stage.
      It is better for kids to socialize and learn with children their own age.

      This in no way prevents them from interacting with other age groups, so you don't need to be in such a froth about it.

      When people are adults, then the developmental disparities should be far less, so the analogy of the military or in the work force doesn't apply.

      Teaching is a skill and an art and is best done by those who have been trained to do it.
      Very few parents have this type of training and while there are some terrible teachers, the only thing worse would be a parent who thinks they know what they don't know, "teaching" their kids to believe only what their limited world-view allows.

      The other, often overlooked, element is that there is more to education and growth as a human being than simply learning and testing.
      The concepts of trusting adult authority figures other than the parents and learning from other kids as well as with them, are powerful tools to make the child a productive, happy citizen when they grow up.

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  9. Anonymous7:34 PM

    Not all homeschooling parents have the children's welfare in mind.

    I do not know what percentage are doing it because they do not want to get up in the morning - or cannot establish authority in the home for the children to get up and off to school but those circumstances exist and I see it.

    Unfortunately, the homeschooled have a sector that is dealing with bipolar parents and now in more than one example I am seeing the malady in the offspring.

    Without medication and professional support for their mental disturbances no amount of parental focus on them will overcome the compromised mental challenges and society will be burdened with them throughout their lifetime. Homeschooling as a mechanism for this aberrant behavior is poor judgement.

    I witness it firsthand and it is a loss for the child victims of inept and challenged parents.

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  10. dlbvet8:04 PM

    Gryphen~
    I seriously doubt you could offend me if you tried. That being said, I've commented before about my homeschooling of my 6 yr old. It's done for a couple of reasons--the two schools available are 30 to 45 minutes away respectively and in the winter, roads are quite dangerous around here and we'll just leave it at that for now. This comment isn't about my reasons for homeschooling (I've already done that one).
    Rather, I wanted to comment on the scariness of what you reported. I was exposed to another homeschooling mom following a curriculum for her 10 yr old and 14 yr old from Oral Roberts University. I peeked at it. Every sentence had something do with the bible...for EVERY subject. I didn't even look at the science section (I was too afraid I wouldn't be able to hide my shocked expression).
    Needless to say, we are DEFINITELY not following any sort of Christian curriculum.
    My mother teaches at a school which provides classes for homeschooled students who are needing specific subjects. She sees a broad spectrum of homeschool kids. She raves about how some of them are so incredible...and then she'll comment on how some of them are so lacking.
    I think homeschooling can be judged just like public schools/teachers. I was incredibly fortunate to have a stellar public school education, from kindergarten to 12th grade. I had fantastic teachers all the way through. I was lucky. I think there are public school teachers who shouldn't be teaching (like the kindergarten teacher who kept yelling across the hall that she couldn't believe my daughter was so chunky, compared to my husband and me...or who then instructed her little charges that they should be very scared if Obama got elected cause he was going to take away their guns)...who do their own version of indoctrination.

    I think it is unfair to judge homeschooled children/parents and lump them all in to something bad. Just like it's unfair to criticize all public school teachers as imbeciles.

    I think bottom line the childrens' best interests should be what matters.

    That being said, it's certainly quite frightening to think of generations of children being taught that dinosaurs could be ridden by people with certain saddles since they all walked the earth at the same time. And that the bible is the absolute truth.

    Not sure if I made any sense here.

    I think I'm trying to say that all homeschooling isn't bad...but I'm sure I've said that before...and I'm sure you've heard that a bazillion times already.

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  11. Anonymous8:51 PM

    Actually, Gryphen, when I read just the title, I intended to thank you for specifying "Christian" Home Schoolers

    No complaints here. My own experience was that my forthrightness about atheism and even being a bit militantly anti-religious (as in outspoken on blogs) brought other secular homeschoolers (and some rational and cultural religious types) out to form our own group.

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    1. Anonymous7:58 AM

      One online group I belong to is a constant drumbeat of Christianity and right wingnuttiness. After one egregiously over-the-line post promoting a Neocon Fundagelical whackado, I spoke up and provided links from the guy's own site and said it would be worth finding out more about him...and I got my head handed to me for being "intolerant" and "not respecting the views" of some in the group. Apparently now citing someone's own website is too much reality for the Christian homeschoolers.

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  12. Anonymous4:16 AM

    Gryphen-
    We are about to take our 2 kids around the world on a sailboat and we have been left with no other option than to "home school".
    I can say with certainty that you are 100% correct in your assertions that the Home School movement is primarily about a low-intellect, pro-Christian agenda.
    In putting together a curriculum for them, I first went to more well known programs and was revolted by the out-dated, sexist, Creationist garbage that I found.
    There is one well respected school that even stated that there is no penalty for choosing to opt out of certain history or science segments if they do not agree with your faith.
    I don't care what they are providing, if refuting facts and science carries no penalty towards their certification, then they are simply a pay-to-play vehicle for the Christian extremists to gain credibility.
    We have ended up simply finding books and materials that will keep them up to grade level from their very progressive private school so that they don't have to suffer the association with this group of nuts.
    Our friends like to tease us about home-schooling,so I have simply asked everyone to refer to it as "Boat Schooling".
    We figure the kooks with the bibles and the arsenals aren't the yachting types. LOL

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  13. Anonymous4:20 AM

    Another prong of the religious right was to wheedle their way onto local school boards. This began about 20 years ago and has continued to date. When we lived in the Detroit suburbs our community had become quite polyglot with Asians and South Asians and Europeans. Lots of ethnicities and lots of religious backgrounds. The local school district did what it could to accommodate, acknowledge and appreciate cultural differences as well as similarities. But the relatively few (at the time) Christian fundamentalist adults made life increasingly difficult and school board meetings got more and more unpleasant for all.

    Now we live in a very different part of the state - very white, generally Republican, largely Christian - and fairly rational until recently when the local Christian fundamentalists decided that their issue would be "bullying in the public schools." Recent local school policies of "zero tolerance for bullying, that reflect the opinion of the general population here, have been attacked again and again by Christian fundamentalists. I wonder whose side Christ would be on in these recent school board meetings. I think he would have dragged the fundamentalists out of the building and chastised them like the moneychangers of old.

    Quite of few children in this area are homeschooled also. I personally think that it is a very sad situation. These children are missing out on the chance to experience an education in an excellent school district. They interact mostly with other home-schooled children in very controlled environments: dancing classes, theatre groups, or in activities that the school district is forced to share with them. One commenter mentioned above that home-schooled children have more opportunities to meet older people. Huh? The problem, as I see it, is that they live in a bubble of their parents' making and the world is very different from that. Their parents remain too close to the situation to see the pitfalls. What a pity.

    When I was growing up kids got their religious education at Sunday school and their non-sectarian education in the public schools. The difference between then (fifty years ago) and now is that too many churches today think that it's okay to re-write history, reality and science. That unfortunately will produce a generation of incompetent citizens, even worse that the generation that relies on Fox News today.
    Beaglemom (Sorry for the rant; it's a subject that concerns me greatly.)

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  14. Anonymous4:33 AM

    We homeschooled our kids - our son to diploma, our daughter to 8th grade (she chose to go to high school to participate in activities that led her to a full scholarship to Penn State main campus, with room, board, tuition and a stipend). The learned science and evolution and math and all that. The only text books we ever used were for math, the rest was hands on (science projects, real books, more than 50 field trips a year to museums and such, etc.). Our kids also volunteered at a living history museum weekly, dressed in period costume, they were teaching colonial skills classes to 3rd and 4th graders on their own when they were 8 and 10. Our son served on a board for NASA reviewing articles for children's publications, he was pen pals with John Walsh and we went to Washington DC to see a live taping of Americas Most Wanted, our daughter took and taught figure skating lessons and played ice hockey (gym). Our kids were very active in the "outside" community and learned to interact with persons of all ages (rather than a peer group), they belonged to a 4H group and did multiple activities from showing animals, to dissecting frogs to 4h camp, etc. I could add and add.......... but there are many families we met along the way whose kids were severely sheltered in fundy families who spared no rod, ran their homes like prison camps, and taught ONLY literal Bible ideas. I remember seeing a 3 year old get spanked with a wooden spoon because she opened a kitchen drawer, got out a balloon, and had forgotten to ask. Every time she said "NO' because she didn't want spanked they said she'd get another whack. The little girl also happened to be deaf. I always regretted not calling children and youth, yet the mother was a teacher for disabled children, the father an er nurse... I am sure no one would have believed it. I still regret it, but I was young and didn't want to stir things up. We tried homeschool groups for a while but found that the Christian nuttyism was way too overboard for us so we just got involved in outside things. Our son now has a degree in journalism with minors in writing and philosophy. Our daughter has a vet tech cert and a nursing degree and works in elder care. Shes a mommy to a new baby, and hopes to homeschool later, but there will be no Bible lessons taught. We're all atheist, and figure if there is a god, he's probably and atheist too!

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  15. Anonymous4:43 AM

    PS Pennsylvania has very defined homeschool laws... all homeschoolers are required 180 days of school (6 hours). All subjects r required yearly, high schoolers are required to read 10 classic every year, etc. Plus, you have to hire a homeschool adviser ( a PA certified teacher who is also certified in homeschool eval) to approve your annual progress. Then the district has to approve the childs progress. Kids also have to take those fill in the dots tests in all uneven year grades.

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    1. Anonymous6:04 AM

      Alaska has absolutely no requirements for homeschooling. None. You can basically do whatever you want and nobody is going to make sure your child is learning anything at all. There's a test to pass for a HS diploma or a GED, but other than that, nothing.

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