Thursday, July 12, 2007

Why We Homeschool - Part 1

This is the first of my top ten reasons to homeschool. This has been on my mind lately as I've read various comments by critics of the homeschool phenomenon. Particularly vilified have been the "Christian" Homeschoolers who have been characterized as "part of a larger, and more sinister, agenda" equivalent to the Flat Earth Society or Holocaust deniers.

So, I'm taking the guess work out of it for the anti-homeschooling critics.

This is my agenda.


1) To promote moral development of my children

Most teens immersed in popular culture emerge from adolescence as little more than amoral pigs who feel "really good" about themselves regardless of their conduct. We actually teach our children to feel bad sometimes, as they learn and grow from their mistakes. This is called a conscience.

Popular culture maintains that it is not wrong to binge drink, drive drunk, use illegal drugs, cheat on exams, cheat on spouse, lie to their parents, have sex with multiple partners of either gender, or dismember your own gestating child. All actions are now morally equivalent with the notable exception of abiding by traditional standards which, of course, is just mean and hateful.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating the decline of civilization, here are a few statistics:

More than half (58%) of 12th graders report having been drunk at least once in their life. One fifth (20%) of 8th graders report having been drunk at least once in their life.*

During the last 30 days, 28.5% of high school students nationwide had ridden one or more times in a car or other vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol.*

Half (50%) of American young people have tried cigarettes by 12th grade.

Half of teens (50%) have tried an illicit drug by the time they finish high school.

Currently 46.8% of all high school students report they have had sexual intercourse

Nationwide, 14.3% of high school students had had sexual intercourse with four or more persons

A 1998 Harvard University study found that 42.7 percent of students had been binge drinking in the two weeks before they were surveyed,

71% of all high school students admit they cheated on an exam at least once in the past 12 months (45% said they did so two or more times);

92% lied to their parents in the past 12 months (79% said they did so two or more times); 78% lied to a teacher (58% two or more times); more than one in four (27%) said they would lie to get a job.

40% of males and 30% of females say they stole something from a store in the past 12 months.

In 2002, 34% of all teen pregnancies ended in abortion.


We don’t send our children to school because we don’t want our children to set their standards by a peer group. In addition, the machiavellian tactics crucial to achieve the pinnacle of adolescent popularity are not the type of socialization we value. My children need to know enough to protect themselves, but they do not need to be immersed in a poisonous environment five days week, week after week, year after year to function well in society.

Some children in school do successfully navigate in such treacherous surroundings, but they do not come out entirely unscathed. They become desensitized to destructive, yet popular attitudes and practices. I’m reminded of the poem by Alexander Pope which cautioned:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As, to be hated, needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.


Children naturally imitate what they see. We regulate contact with influences we don't want imitated. I do not want to give the impression that we are isolationists. As children mature and pass developmental stages, we broaden the scope to include discussions and analysis of more disparate perspectives.

We do not pretend our lifestyle is the only lifestyle or that others don't have convincing reasons for what they believe or how they choose to live. Ultimately, children will have to make their own choices. Our goal as homeschool parents is to teach our children how to discern where these choices ultimately will lead.

That's my agenda.

See Why We Homeschool - Part 2

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12 comments:

Mr. SQJ said...

great post... especially this:
"All actions are now morally equivalent with the notable exception of abiding by traditional standards which, of course, is just mean and hateful."

looking forward to the rest of the series!

kim said...

Here, Here!! Very well put. I, too, like the statement about "trendy" versus traditional standards. I was asked yesterday by a teenager in response to my statement, 'don't you think you are a little young to be pregnant?' She said, "What are you one of those religious fanatics? Everyone of my friends has a baby. I wanted one too."

Amy said...

AMEN!

Janine Cate said...

Don't get me started on the teen baby topic. It makes me crazy how selfish and self-absorbed these so called "mothers" act.

teacher of one said...

Excellent Post!
I cannot wait to read the next installment.

Eleanor Deakin said...

I couldn't agree more, and it has nothing to do with religion for me. Also looking forward to the rest of the series!


[Psst, Kim, it's "hear hear." ;)]

Eleanor Deakin said...

Thank you for the link on procrastination. That is exactly what I am trying to do lately, become a type C procrastinator! I feel like I'm on the right track after reading that, and less guilty about the dishes and laundry piling up.

Kim Anderson said...

"...the machiavellian tactics crucial to achieve the pinnacle of adolescent popularity are not the type of socialization we value."

Oh, yes! And now that our homeschooled children are beginning to hit college, they see the depredations wrecked by this socialization. Turns out that our "un-socialized" kids are the only ones their peers feel they can trust.

Sherry said...

"Children naturally imitate what they see."

Sadly, I've seen that even well-raised kids can fall into poor behavior if they are left with their peers.

Janine Cate said...

And it is not only children who fall into poor behavior if they hang out in the wrong crowd.

Anonymous said...

I found a link to your webpage and as a public high school social studies teacher, I found it quite interesting. Although your arguments are compelling--and I won't argue that there are appropriate times to homeschool--some of the WORST, socially maladjusted young people I have observed come from a homeschooling situation. These children are often overly attached to their parents and have an extremely hard time making friends, leaving home for college or maintaining relationships. The only reason I point this out is that, as an educator, I truly care about the future of our young people. I hope that many of your readers get the message that there are tons of public school teachers out there who work incredibly hard to make their students as successful as they want to be. We certainly aren't in it for the money! : )Just my two cents.

Janine Cate said...

First, thanks for your comment. I enjoy hearing from another perspective.

The public school system works as well as it does due to the extraordinary efforts of some dedicated teachers and involved parents. Public education/homeschooling is like anything else. Some are good, some are bad and some are ugly.

School dilutes parental influence. If the parents are not emotionally stable, that could be a very good thing. If the parents are high functioning, the children don't have a lot to gain and they have a lot to loose in an unpredictable system.

While a student sits in a classroom listening to a teacher struggle through a lesson with 30 kids on a multitude of different levels, a homeschool student can work through the same content in a fraction of the time.

While a student sits in a classroom listening to a lesson she doesn't understand, a homeschool child is at home getting one-on-one attention.

While a student in school defines his identity by a group of peers consisting entirely segregated by age and immaturity, a homeschooler interacts with a peer group made up of adults and children of all ages.

While parents with children in school spend very little time with their children, homeschooling families have time together.

Homeschooling is not for everyone, but most functioning families could provide a good education and avoid the waste of time-Lord of the Flies atmosphere that typifies institutional assembly-line teach to the test education.