Monday, April 28, 2008

There are many reasons to homeschool

Watcher engages in homeschool bashing with the post 57 Stupid Reasons to Homeschool. Watcher seems particularly down on Fundamentalist Christian Homeschoolers and doesn't even seem to realize there are many secular and inclusive homeschoolers today.

First there is the same old tired socialization bugaboo.

The biggest one, obviously, is socialization. Yes, I know homeschoolers have friends. Yes, I know there are activities they can join, but playing with other kids on weekends doesn't begin to match the same kind of cooperation learned by being around them in a structured environment 5 days a week.

Most of the activities homeschoolers engage in involve more then weekends. Here is another edutard who assumes that homeschoolers sit at home all day, nothing could be further from the truth. We belong to recreational soccer teams, robotics teams, scouts, church groups, homeschool groups, 4-H the list is endless. Many homeschoolers join homeschool co-ops, others take art history classes at local museums, science labs at local colleges that have classes especially for homeschoolers the list of opportunities for homeschoolers to socialize is endless.

Next he takes issue with this

Public schools can destroy your children’s self-esteem, destroy their ability to read, strangle their love of learning, put them in
physical and moral danger, and wreck their future.
Uh, yeah, I'm gonna need a cite for that. "Put them in physical and mortal danger?" Is he serious? Anyway, here's a sampling of the points to this crazy agenda. (Again, not all the reasons on this list are bad, but some are truly warped. Those are the ones I've gone into here).

Apparently Watcher doesn't watch the news much. Go here for a depressingly long list of school shootings. They have 56 listed and that doesn't include the recent school shooting in Mobile, AL March 6, 2008. "Mobile County Spokesperson Nancy Pierce addressed the media this morning after 18 year old Jajuan Holmes shot himself in the Davidson High School Gymnasium. "

Then there is the bullying, and the beatings, among other things. I don't think anyone in their right mind would believe that students today are not in "physical and mortal danger" from their fellow classmates. The scary thing is you have no way of knowing what public school is going to be the scene of the next tragedy. You can't blame any parent for trying to minimize the danger their child is in as much as possible.

* A commenter pointed out that the original quote says moral danger. I personally don't see kids being in any moral danger in the public schools. I do see plenty of physical danger to worry about.

5. Be totally aware of the state and progress of your child’s education.
Now that sounds innocuous enough. And it truly may be, but I still get this feeling like it's included here because Laura and Joel want to watch their kids like hawks, so they never have to worry about learning things their parents don't want them to. Again: STIFLING.

The majority of parents want to be totally aware of the state and progress of their child’s education. I can't tell you how many public school parents have expressed frustration to me because they didn't know their child was struggling in a subject until it was too late to bring the grade up. This isn't meant to be stifling as Watcher maintains, but rather a tool for ensuring your child has mastered the material taught.

9. Make learning fun.
As if that were possible! And don't you think teachers try to do this as much as they can?

The sad thing here is that Watcher doesn't think learning can be fun. This is more of an indictment against public schools then anything a homeschooler could have written. And yes public school teachers do try to make learning fun but with large class sizes, discipline issues, worries over testing, NCLB and other mandates their attempts to make learning fun get harder and harder. I am proud to say I have fostered a LOVE of LEARNING in my children and that we do find LEARNING FUN!

10. Make learning as “experiential” as you want
You mean like performing science experiments in a lab? Which, unfortunately, most houses don't have, but public schools do?

This shows how behind the times Watcher is. We have a very nice microscope here at the house. We have also done dissecting. But for those homeschoolers who don't want to tackle these things at home or want to add to what they do at home, colleges are offering all sorts of science labs for homeschoolers. Other homeschoolers are forming co-ops and banding together to buy lab equipment. Perhaps Watcher should take his own advice, "Why don't you do some research before you start accusing people of things? "

13. Teach your child without any “assumed limitations.” Teach multiple languages, develop one skill or subject—the sky’s the limit.

What "assumed limitations?" My schools had all kinds of extracurriculars and gifted and talented programs that kids could participate in. From first through third grade, there were three different levels of reading group.

Unfortunately all public schools are not created equal. Public schools vary not only from state to state but from district to district. Just because one public school has something doesn't mean they all do.

16. Avoid educational “labeling”

Does this mean, if your kid has ADD, you can happily pretend that he doesn't? It's fun what you can do when there are none of those pesky "experts" around to tell you things you'd rather not hear!

This one doesn't apply to my family, but I am going to tackle it anyway. I know homescoolers who have chosen to homeschool because their child had a learning disability and would have been labeled and stuck in a special education class. They don't 'pretend' the disability doesn't exist but their child isn't singled out as 'different'. A sure way to get picked on in public schools. The current vogue these days is to to put the learning disabled student in regular classrooms but send them to 'special education' classes for certain subjects. This seems a good idea on the surface as in former days those stuck in 'special education' classes often were taught less advanced subjects then those children in regular classes and were kept separate from the 'other' kids for their entire public school sojourn, but one of the flaws is the bullying they endure from the 'other' kids they are now classmates with.

19. Allow your child to do, think, discuss, and explore in ways not possible in a rigid classroom setting.
Yeah? then why do so many pro-homeschooling fundies want to quash this so badly?

Watcher is making an assumption here, where is the evidence to back this assertion up?

20. Constant positive reinforcement and gentle correction. No abusive words or actions that scar your child’s psyche.
Bullshit. Teachers spend years learning corrective discipline techniques. A good teacher can easily be better at positive reinforcement than most parents.

Yeah right. That's why we read about all the public school teachers male & female having sex with students, physically abusing students & verbally abusing students ( Many adults mention past incidences of verbal abuse by the teacher as the most overwhelming negative experience in their lives. The present study examined (1) the course and stability of verbal abuse by the teacher from kindergarten through grade 4 and (2) the link between verbal abuse by the teacher and children's behavioral, emotional, and academic adjustment.).

22. Develop your child’s life skills such as cooking, cleaning, and organizing that are easily learned with the additional time spent at home.

Ah, I see. We won't waste no time with all that book-learnin'! We's got to teach our kids how to be house slaves!

What an ignorant statement from Watcher. I don't know of any homeschooling parent who short changes their child academically in order to teach them life skills. On the other hand I know numerous public school graduates who are unable to make change or balance a checkbook. Why? because they didn't learn it in public school and their parents perhaps assuming they did learn it in public school failed to teach them. Besides academics children need life skills in order to survive. Some things all children should know how to do cook, clean, do laundry, put gas in the car, change a tire, change the oil, make change, balance a check book, manage money. Why? because when they are out on their own they need these skills.

26. Never have your child beat up by a bully. Teach self-defense skills that will enable him (her) to deal with any situation, but not until he (she) is mature enough to handle the emotional aspects of confrontation.

What confrontations? You're keeping him chained up in the basement, remember? He'll never have to deal with being beaten up!(Oh yeah, and what about girls? Don't they need to learn self-defense also?)

I doubt Joel Turtel intended to exclude girls from the self-defense lessons, but it gets tiresome having to type him/her, he/she so ignoramuses won't accuse you of excluding one sex or another. Again Watcher assumes homeschoolers don't interact with others, to the contrary homeschoolers often have public school children, private school children and other homeschooled children as friends. And Gosh Watcher I don't even have a basement.

33. Develop your child’s imagination and teach diverse problem-solving skills, instead of one institutionalized method of thinking.

Have you two idiots ever actually been in a public school?

I graduated from the public school system. In the majority of my classes imagination and diverse problem solving skills were not utilized. In fact rote memorization seemed to be the preferred method of teaching.

34. Unlimited possibilities for extra curricular activities that interest your child.

Woo-ee! That sounds like a lot of fun! All kinds of clubs and activities that give you the opportunity to hang out with the same three people! Your parents and your little brother!

Poor Watcher just can't get it through that numb skull that homeschoolers hang out with a variety of diverse people not just their family or other homeschoolers.

37. Avoid traditional school “group activities” that may leave one student doing all the work or ruining it for everyone else.

You know, the point of group projects is so that kids who don't have cooperative skills can learn them. All this would do is make sure the kids never learn.

Really as a product of the public school system I can assure you no one in my high school learned cooperative skills from all those stupid group projects. What we did learn 1.) If you don't want to do the work you don't have to do anything. The students who actually care about their grades will do the work for you. You'll still get an A 2.) The teacher doesn't care that only two of the students in the group did any of the work the whole group gets the same grade no matter how much or how little effort they put into the project. 3.) Make sure you have some smart students in your group so they will do all the work and you'll get an A and 4.) If you are one of the smart students be prepared to do everything yourself. Even if student X promises to do _______ more then likely he/she won't and unless you are willing to settle for a bad grade you need to have ______ done yourself just in case.

45. To make sure your child doesn’t end up graduating without knowing how to read or knowing other basic skills, due to educational failings of your local schools.

I went to public school and I can read just fine, you arrogant prick.

The sad fact is too many public school graduates do graduate without being able to read or knowing other basic skills. See John Stossel's "Stupid In America".

49. To easily pass on your unique heritage or language to your child.
Now, at first, this actually sounds somewhat reasonable (as long as you discount the fact that you can do this whether the kid's in school or not). Passing on your heritage is important, especially if you're a minority. That was my thought at first. And then I started to consider the source. These jackasses don't care about minorities! Knowing what I know, this comment is probably a veiled swipe from the usual racist ideology; the one that thinks Spanish is invading our pure, white, English-speaking nation through schools.

There Watcher goes making assumptions. Watcher for your information many minorities homeschool.

There are many reasons to homeschool. Some are shared by the majority of homeschoolers and other are unique to the individual homeschooling family. Parents who choose to make the commitment of time and money to homeschool their children should be supported not criticized by the Watchers of this world.


  1. I have to come in defense of Watcher. He's not really trying to be offensive to regular homeschoolers. Fundie homeschoolers are a problem and that's just facts. Perhaps if they'd spend less time indoctrinating and more time educating, there wouldn't be a problem. I agree with Watcher as well that their reasoning is stupid, that list says it all.

    Watcher isn't beyond educating and calling him names is not going to win him over. To be honest, Watcher doesn't have to be won over. He sees the value of homeschooling in certain situations. He and I may not always agree on which situations, but we don't know that as we've never had an extensive conversation about it. I tell him where he may be wrong (as I just did on his post) and if he'd like to initiate a dialogue then he knows (I hope) that I'm open.

    You need to realize his comments are not directed to homeschooling, but to FUNDIES homeschooling and their irrational approach to it. He's not even talking about religious homeschooling, but FUNDIE homeschooling. I hope you appreciate the difference. I don't blame him, I agree on nearly every point and I'm a homeschooling mom of 5. All homeschooling is not equal and we'd be just as guilty as public schools if we all refused to recognize those that will cause us problems. Too many fundie kids grow up showing ignorance of proper scientific method or only know history as biblical and we will all see crackdowns on our ability to homeschool. As long as it's successful, we have a base to fight any unreasonable demands. But too many failures based on one group of homeschoolers and we'd have a much harder battle.

  2. Jales, the problem with allowing anyone to decide that one group, in this case the Fundies doesn't have the right to homeschool based on their beliefs is that pretty soon someone will decide you don't have the right to homeschool because you don't believe the exact same things they do.

    Do I agree with the Fundies decision not to teach evolution. No, of course I don't. But then many public schools especially in the South still teach intelligent design or skip evolution entirely to avoid the controversy. As the parents yes, I do believe the Fundies should get to decide what their children learn.

    Liberals are all to willing to champion the right of minorities to pass on their cultural beliefs. Well guess what the Fundies also have the RIGHT to pass their cultural beliefs on to their children. Just because you don't like someones beliefs doesn't give you the right to say they can't pass them on to their children.

    And the Fundies are as entitled to their reasons for homeschooling as everyone else. We don't have to agree with them, but we should respect them.

  3. Alright - 57 shootings over 13 years, for an average of a little over 4 per year, spread out over the entire world. That's 57 more shootings than anyone would like to have happened, but its not like every schoolchild faces running into a gunman on every single day of school, in every school in existence. I would argue that very few, if any, parents of schoolchildren in my hometown believe they are placing their kids in physical danger by sending them to the public schools each day. I don't recall a single instance from my hometown where anyone was in physical danger at school.

    Your argument about parents not being able to track their child's progress fails, as public schools continue to add ways to check on all aspects of your child's life at school. At this point in time, there seem two be two major reasons that parents have no idea of their child's progress: 1)They don't want to know, or 2)they can't be bothered to find out.

    As for making learning fun, I attended a high school at which current enrollment more than doubles the number of students the school was originally built for, and yet every single teacher I knew there fostered a love of learning in myself and in a majority of my fellow students.

    Your point about public schools differing even within cities is well taken. I realize that my comments above are my own experiences, and not necessarily an accurate view of public schooling as a whole. However, you should take this point in mind as well; just because some public schools are horrible doesn't mean they all are.

  4. I see what you're saying...I just do see the problems as well. You're right in that if we don't stand up for their right to educate because of their beliefs, then we stomp on our own eventually. However, I'm not for denying them their right to homeschool, but denying them the right to NOT teach subjects that are needed. I took my kids OUT of school because I live in the south and there's too much religion in schools. I think education requirements should be about the facts. No liberal agenda, no conservative agenda. Simply the facts. Reading, writing, math, science. Anything else should be extra. I think the fundies should have to teach proper science or be considered derelict in their duties. Then if they want to skip humanities or the existence of gays, that's fine. I don't like it, but that's their concern. However, when their kids go to college without the proper knowledge it's a blow to their child and to us as homeschoolers. We have enough detractors without fundies sending out kids with substandard education and then insisting they get treated equally to my children who were properly educated. And this is what they do in their religious schools. Isn't there a court case currently because Berkley will not accept a religious schools "science" coursebook? Berkley doesn't want to lower it's standards, but the school is suing to make them do so. Isn't the horrible school standards part of why we homeschool NOW? I don't think I'm equipped to homeschool college!

    I don't care if the fundies say "Well we have to tell you about this, but it's all by a bunch of devil worshippers", just so long as they teach the facts. They can believe scientists everywhere are commanded by satan and it's rubbish, but at least they can compete in the workforce and the rest of us don't have to lower our standards. Also, since the requirements would be based on factual information only, then there should be no opening to be told we have to teach about religion or homosexuality if we don't want to. Though I don't see why you wouldn't...

    I guess you could say that the only problem I have is science. If they don't want to teach about society, that's their business. If they don't want to teach diversity,their business. But when it comes to evolution..c'mon, it's not debatable. Proof has to trump. It's like teaching your kids to write in Klingon only and then expecting the college to accept that as English credit. I'll accept as a foreign language (albeit dubiously), but I won't accept it to turn in your English papers.

  5. Your argument about parents not being able to track their child's progress fails, as public schools continue to add ways to check on all aspects of your child's life at school. At this point in time, there seem two be two major reasons that parents have no idea of their child's progress: 1)They don't want to know, or 2)they can't be bothered to find out.--seth

    This comment is so wrong. I was an inconvenience when I tried to find out what my kid was learning, I was "interfering" when I tried to find out what I could do at home to help at school. I was full out told to "dumb down" my child. When my child was in head start I was a volunteer parent, even to driving to out of town meetings as our district representative. In the 4 schools following, I had all of the above. The only time the school wanted my input was financially for parties. Discussing my child's problems were blown off, trying to be an active volunteer in the classrooms I was informed we don't need them, my right to sit in on classes if necessary was trampled. My "problem" children turned out to have a problem schools. The ONLY information I've ever had (since Headstart) came through my children. When I requested the records on my oldest to have them tested, I was given so much runaround I had to threaten to get a lawyer.

    I've heard teachers complain about the active parent. Not about the one who organizes the class parties, but the one who cares about their kids' education. In my experience schools actively discourage any parental participation past the class party. I've heard teachers complain as I was walking up about other parents who wanted detailed information about their kids (more than "they are passing/failing") because those parents took too long at the parent/teacher interviews. Made me smile knowing I was fixing to do the same.

  6. Seth, I never said there were not ANY decent public schools or that public school aren't the best choice for some parents.

    In fact the Ocean Springs Public Schools, The D'Iberville Public Schools and the Gulfport Public Schools are all excellent schools in my area. Unfortunately I live in the uniformed enslaved Jackson County Public School District. I choose not to send my children to an inferior school. And it's a shame that for my children to attend a decent public school I would have had to move from a home I love, even though the D'Iberville Public Schools are actually closer to me then the Jackson County Public School my children would have been forced to attend if we didn't homeschool.

    The point about school shootings is they can happen in ANY school. I am sure that many of the people that have experienced the tragedy of a school shooting "Never thought it could happen at their school". It's a valid concern and should be addressed instead of being dismissed as ridiculous by Watcher.

    I am sure with some parents 1)They don't want to know, or 2)they can't be bothered to find out. are the case. But one of my friends whose children attend public school can not get any information from one of her children's teachers. She calls, the teacher. The teacher says the child is doing fine. Then the child receives a C or D on their report card. Needless to say the Mother doesn't consider this "doing fine". And this is in spite of the fact that all the child's grades are suppose to be available for the parent to view online. The teacher either says she didn't have time to record the grades or that they didn't do any graded work for the week. You can see why the Mother might be a tad miffed. And yes, this is just one teacher (My friend isn't the only one who has complained about her). The other teachers do put everything online like they are suppose to. But my point was that being aware of your child's progress isn't STIFFLING like Watcher said, but part of being a good parent rather your child goes to a public school, a private school or you homeschool.

    I had some excellent public school teachers I also had some REALLY ABUSIVE ones. When my children attended public school they had some excellent teachers. In fact my eldest son's 4th grade teacher is the one that suggested I homeschool. She had tried to get my child promoted due to the fact he already knew all the material and it was only the beginning of the year. The school board refused to consider it (supposedly because they were concerned about socialization) even though his teacher (who actually knew him) recommended it. They told her they didn't approve of promoting kids no matter how academically advanced they were.

    My point all along is that parents are best equipped to decide what the best educational choice is for their child public school, private school or homeschool and they should be supported in whatever decision they make. Not ridiculed by people like Watcher.

  7. I honestly don't see why the Fundies don't get on board with theistic evolution. They seemed determined to stuff their GOD in a box and keep him there. How dare he create the world in a different way then they decided he should.

    But the problem with forcing people to teach what you view as "THE TRUTH" is who gets to decide what the truth is?

    Heaven forbid but what if a FUNDIE got control of the public schools and decided CREATIONISM was THE TRUTH and that ALL CHILDREN, including homeschooled children must be taught creationism? Scary isn't it.

    Also I fail to see why homeschoolers should be held to different standards then private schools.

    I do think colleges should have the right to determine what they will and will not accept. Any homeschool, public school or private school would have to teach what _____ college deemed acceptable for their students to be accepted there. No special treatment for anyone.

  8. That's kind of why I like a fact based public education or educational requirements. Science is pretty clear. This is my conclusion. Don't believe me? Here's my scientific method, here's my resources, now you do it. Creationism is debatable. There is NO proof at all. However, evolution has facts to stand on that leads us to this conclusion.

    It'd be great if I could teach my kids that 3x+4y=32 when it actually equals 104 since I'm so bad at math. However, I have a feeling that if I was to instruct math in this fashion I'd end up in trouble somewhere. Perhaps someone would report my kids for neglect and upon testing it'd be found that I was neglecting a proper education. Something deemed as a right in our country. In my state that will cause you some serious trouble. I don't see why proper science gets a free pass there in regards to fundies. It's not considered the truth as if we all just agreed this is how it was, there are proofs, research, bones...all kinds of evidence. That's fact based.

    And I agree with you. I don't understand how knowing how their god could have made the world is going against him. Seems to me a better understanding of their god's creation could lead to a better understanding of their god. Perhaps that's what they are afraid of.

  9. Thanks, jales and Seth. Much of what you said is the same as what I said. Although for the record, jales, I probably DO agree with most of the reasons you have for homeschooling :)

    Alasandra, you start right out the gate with this:

    "Watcher seems particularly down on Fundamentalist Christian Homeschoolers and doesn't even seem to realize there are many secular and inclusive homeschoolers today."

    Even though I wrote a LONG diatribe specifically outlining that I was complaining about fundies. Of course there are many good reasons to homeschool, but you didn't read the subtext in the article I was picking apart. It's clearly pro-fundie, regardless of how it sounds on the surface.

    There are too many comments by Laura and Joel that indicate to me that homeschooling, to them, is to keep a 3-foot leash on your kids and never let them grow, except in ways they want them to.

    Again, homeschooling by itself is universally neither bad nor good. It's necessary in some cases, and horrific in others. I can't possibly emphasize this more: regular, plain old homeschooling=good. Fundies trying to shelter children from everything in the world=very bad.

  10. Jales,
    Apparently being a Young Earth Creationist doesn't prevent you from getting a PhD from the University of Rhode Island.

    Watcher, I am glad to hear that you think some homeschooling is good. We would probably agree on more then we disagree on. However I do think Fundies have the right to pass on their beliefs to their children. We don't have to agree with their beliefs or their reasons for homeschooling but we should respect them.

  11. That's exactly what I want. He doesn't have to believe in it, but he did the work according to the scientific method.He still doesn't believe it (though how he acclomplished that one takes a disturbing lack of thought), but he does have to use the scientific method with proofs and evidence. He can't just say "cuz the godz says so". Obviously he also didn't expect to get credit for that kind of shoddy work. I ask no more than that of the many fundies who DON'T teach their children evolution.

  12. Yikes. As a product of NYC public schools, as a Hispanic, and as a ten year homeschooling veteran, I take great offense to many of the accusations of Watcher. When you must resort to name-calling instead of intelligent debate of the issue, you appear as nothing more than a loud-mouthed bully. I met many of these in my years in school, and my children have even met their share without going to school.

    Respect is what is needed on all sides of the school decision. I do not take it personally if someone decides to go to school. I don't even take offense to others teaching their children intelligent design. There is room enough in my world for all types. The issue for me is freedom. I have a right to teach my children. If they are thriving in my care, if I am complying with my state's regulations, why should I be forced to remove them to an unacceptable classroom situation? I did not begin to enjoy learning until I reached college. I am happy that my children are interested in learning and feel comfortable around people of all ages. That is why I am homeschooling.

    Oh gosh. Sorry for ranting on your comments Alasandra. Thought provoking post, as usual.

  13. Um . . .

    10. Make learning as “experiential” as you want

    You mean like performing science experiments in a lab? Which, unfortunately, most houses don't have, but public schools do?

    "Experiential" is not the same thing as "experimental."

    "Experiential" means "using experiences."

    "Experimental" means "trying novel things" (or, as Watcher asks, "performing scientific experiments."



  14. Jen, I am not sure which word Watcher meant as he used the word “experiential” but then asked about science experiments.

    I am assuming it was a misspelling or word misuse on his part as I copied it directly from Watcher's post.


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