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RightNation.US: Math or Morals: A Bad Homeschool Parent Exposes Why Homeschooling is Bad - RightNation.US

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I deal constantly with the superior attitudes of those who look down on homeschoolers. No matter how many times we explain how our kids are perfectly socialized and educated, we get the same questions about it from the same people. It really gets old.

Now, Salon takes smug condescension to new heights:

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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.”


Sweet Meteor of Death! So because you're terrible at homeschooling, everyone else is? How in the world could she be so overwhelmed with her life if she's at home teaching the kids? Did she have a business to run? What was getting in the way? Every homeschooling organization I've ever been involved with stresses the fact that school comes first. You can't routinely put non-school activities or obligations before school. Otherwise, there's no point to it. It also sounds like this lady's group was a bit on the incompetent side:

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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.”

The implication, she says, was that, “if they’re not doing so well academically, well, then they can catch up on that later. It’s not such a big deal. It was a really convenient way of thinking for me because I wasn’t able to keep up anyway.”


Well, actually, no. I agree with the statement that morals are better than math all other things being equal. And since I don't have a context for why her leader said that, I'm not going to assume it was his or her incompetence that made this woman such a horrible teacher. This Garrison lady, as she herself admits, used this statement as an excuse to give academics a short shrift. It's like she was a helpless victim of...her own incompetence and laziness.

Know what's awesome about that, though? Only seven kids got a poor education instead of twenty or more like when a public school teacher is a lazy sack of crap.

So, what was she doing homeschooling in the first place?

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“We were convinced that it would be better for our kids not to have an education than to be educated to become humanists or atheists and to reject God,” Garrison says. “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.”


What the heck was this lifestyle? Were they farming* by day and fighting crime by night? I can't imagine what could have possibly made it impossible for them to get together with other families when they have no school schedule to worry about or a job to go to. Unless maybe there was this electronic device the kids refer to as a "T.V." that might have gotten in the way. Or perhaps one of those futuristic "computers" hooked up to that there interweb. Yeah, I can easily imagine that. Garrison, I'll bet you dollars to do-nuts, was a box lady. "Shut up, kids! Mamma's posting a scathing review of the latest denim skirt collection at the Dress Barn!"

As per usual with articles like this, it's complete anecdotal gibberish:

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Given the scarcity of numbers on this issue, the best one can hope for at this point is anecdotal information about the problem. But because home schooling is such a highly politicized issue, it is often difficult to get a clear sense of what is happening from home-schooling parents themselves. And because many parents see themselves as advocates of home schooling, they are not always very eager to discuss potential gaps in home-schooling education.

Luckily, more than a few adult home-school graduates are eager to talk. And as I talk to more and more people who recount first-person stories of home-school-related neglect, it becomes hard to write off what home-school advocates would call “exceptions” simply as fringe outliers.


It shouldn't become hard because no matter how many anecdotes you come across, you still don't have enough information to know what you're talking about. There are millions of homeschool families. For you to conclude anything, you're going to have to do some real research, not just a few minutes of googling or emailing.

But that's not about to stop our intrepid Kristin Rawls. She continues to mine the same homeschool group for more informative stories that obviously represent the homeschooling norm. Data is evidently for those whose lifestyle is slow paced and leisurely enough to do research.

I could go on fisking this thing, but you get the picture. Writers like Kristin Rawls operate completely outside of of any historical context. Homeschooling has always been an acceptable alternative to public schooling and has always produced exceptional leaders from the Puritans of Massachusetts to Abraham Lincoln to Tim Tebow. When public schools were locally controlled and reflected the values of the people of that community, they made homeschooling less of a necessity. As public education centralizes and reflects the philosophies of liberal politicians and education professionals, homeschooling becomes more of a necessity for those of us who don't assume that our kids are any of their concern.

Having said all that, there's a great deal of room for improvement among homeschoolers. I also have a few anecdotes I could tell about homeschooled kids knowing next to nothing. But it wouldn't prove anything. If critics of homeschooling had a shred of honesty, they would stop and imagine saying what they're saying about public schools--for which we have plenty of data.

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*Turns out they kinda were farmers because they wanted to live off the grid. Uh, aren't they more like pre-Amish than typical homeschoolers then?

My Mind is Clean
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17 Comments On This Entry

Thanks. I enjoyed reading that. :)
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ilja, on 15 March 2012 - 09:16 PM, said:

Thanks. I enjoyed reading that. :)

I didn't enjoy reading the article. I hardly know where to begin with something like this. And I left out a bunch of stuff.

I particularly love the part about homeschool kids having large gaps in their knowledge of history. I nearly fell out of my uncomfortably cheap office chair when I read that. I would be willing to bet my left pinky toe (my favorite toe, btw) that this author is 100% unaware of the data regarding public school students' grasp of history.
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I r publik skooled anz itdint hert me nun.I gotz the deeplomas ta proof et. Homeskoolers izz a buncha biblethumpin' fundamentalists an'cultists whats dwant wanna azzsimiate anbeez part of society. Offto de indoctrinshun/reejamakshun camps wif em!

:tantrum:
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leftcoast, right winger, on 15 March 2012 - 09:24 PM, said:

I r publik skooled anz itdint hert me nun.I gotz the deeplomas ta proof et. Homeskoolers izz a buncha biblethumpin' fundamentalists an'cultists whats dwant wanna azzsimiate anbeez part of society. Offto de indoctrinshun/reejamakshun camps wif em!:tantrum:

Indeed. ;)
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Huh. We're up at 7:30 and we bust our butts til 2:00. It would make me crazy to not fill in that time with school stuff.
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The implication, she says, was that, “if they’re not doing so well academically, well, then they can catch up on that later. It’s not such a big deal. It was a really convenient way of thinking for me because I wasn’t able to keep up anyway.”


I strongly disagree with this lady's whole "they can catch up on it later" outlook. It's true only up to a point - a very small point.

The educational process takes time. Many things can only be learned if certain prerequisites have already been learned, and in many cases it takes time for those prerequisites to "sink in" and become habituated enough for the next learning steps to be possible.

Figuratively speaking, Miss today's lesson and tomorow's lesson isn't merely 2x as hard - it's actually 3x as hard because you've missed not only the lesson but the "sink in". Miss two days and it's not 4x but 9x.

There is some leeway on this, of course, but only so much. It's why most schools only allow a student to miss x number of days in a year. And there's room to accelerate or slow down in individual cases, but only within a range.

There's probably a term for this in educational theory.
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Adam Smithee, on 15 March 2012 - 11:20 PM, said:

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The implication, she says, was that, “if they’re not doing so well academically, well, then they can catch up on that later. It’s not such a big deal. It was a really convenient way of thinking for me because I wasn’t able to keep up anyway.”
I strongly disagree with this lady's whole "they can catch up on it later" outlook. It's true only up to a point - a very small point.The educational process takes time. Many things can only be learned if certain prerequisites have already been learned, and in many cases it takes time for those prerequisites to "sink in" and become habituated enough for the next learning steps to be possible. Figuratively speaking, Miss today's lesson and tomorow's lesson isn't merely 2x as hard - it's actually 3x as hard because you've missed not only the lesson but the "sink in". Miss two days and it's not 4x but 9x. There is some leeway on this, of course, but only so much. It's why most schools only allow a student to miss x number of days in a year. And there's room to accelerate or slow down in individual cases, but only within a range.There's probably a term for this in educational theory.

This lady was a lazy homeschool parent. I wouldn't put too much stock in her theory that the kids could catch up later.

There is, however, a subset of homeschool parents who do something called "unschooling" which is basically the same thing public schoolers call "constructivism". In both cases, the student or students are allowed to direct the learning process based on what they're ready to learn. There's no set pace or content for them to learn. Supposedly, once a kid is ready to read, he'll pick up a book and read it. I've heard that it works great, but I'm not going to do that with my kids at home or at work. In my experience, direct instruction works best with the largest number of kids. I do think there are kids who can learn perfectly well on their own with just the minimum direction from a teacher or parent. But those kids are few and far between.
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Bekisue, on 15 March 2012 - 10:22 PM, said:

Huh. We're up at 7:30 and we bust our butts til 2:00. It would make me crazy to not fill in that time with school stuff.


What? No socialization? That's not healthy! ;)
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I knew a mom who kept her daughter home from school to take care of her little brothers. She dropped out in 9th grade. There are bad parents on both sides. what does that prove?
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Don't know history? I think the author means they don't know "social studies." That is true with my kids. We study history not social study mumbo jumbo.
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Mr. Naron, on 15 March 2012 - 11:55 PM, said:

Bekisue, on 15 March 2012 - 10:22 PM, said:

Huh. We're up at 7:30 and we bust our butts til 2:00. It would make me crazy to not fill in that time with school stuff.
What? No socialization? That's not healthy! ;)



I lock them in their prayer closet and the socialize with the Lord.
:noevil:







:nanner:
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Equusrider, on 16 March 2012 - 01:17 AM, said:

I knew a mom who kept her daughter home from school to take care of her little brothers. She dropped out in 9th grade. There are bad parents on both sides. what does that prove?



Exactly. But like I wrote, if a homeschool parent is lazy and incompetent, only her kids get the shaft. If it's a public school teacher, hundrends if not thousands of kids will be cheated.
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Bekisue, on 16 March 2012 - 07:40 AM, said:

Mr. Naron, on 15 March 2012 - 11:55 PM, said:

Bekisue, on 15 March 2012 - 10:22 PM, said:

Huh. We're up at 7:30 and we bust our butts til 2:00. It would make me crazy to not fill in that time with school stuff.
What? No socialization? That's not healthy! ;)
I lock them in their prayer closet and the socialize with the Lord. :noevil: :nanner:



Mine have their milking goats to hang out with. They butt heads sometimes, but usually they get along alright.
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I get that attitude a lot... "can you babysit, because we seem to have forgotten spring break is tomorrow and we haven't made any plans for our school-aged daughter, what with us being busy working parents and you being home with no schedule, I'm sure you won't mind and I'm sure you won't be bothered with my not even offering to pay you, since you were home anyways"... um... no... We don't do formal studies for much of the day, maybe three hours at the longest... but it's second grade... I can only stretch special sounds in phonics for so long and my daughter laughs at me if I try to explain her math for more than a few minutes... I caught her helping her fourth grade friend with what is basically algebra the other day (5 + x = 14)... she does those missing fact problems all the time, just doesn't see them as algebra... boy, there was no living with her for a couple hours after that :) There are lazy parents all over the place... for me, the lazy choice would be to push Katie out the front door every morning and let her walk across the street to school (we live directly across from the best elementary school in our district). Instead I spend time every day with lesson plans and supplies or driving her across town so she can participate in PE lunch and music classes with our little church school twice a week... I wish I could be lazy some days :)I hate that people will throw one family's failure up as an example proving homeschooling doesn't work... for each one of those examples I can pull out a hundred proving public schools are failing... in both cases, a lot hinges on that whole lazy parenting issue! For the record... we LOVE homeschooling.. and I may need to borrow Bekisue's closet idea :)
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bwana50, on 16 March 2012 - 10:44 AM, said:

I get that attitude a lot... "can you babysit, because we seem to have forgotten spring break is tomorrow and we haven't made any plans for our school-aged daughter, what with us being busy working parents and you being home with no schedule, I'm sure you won't mind and I'm sure you won't be bothered with my not even offering to pay you, since you were home anyways"... um... no... We don't do formal studies for much of the day, maybe three hours at the longest... but it's second grade... I can only stretch special sounds in phonics for so long and my daughter laughs at me if I try to explain her math for more than a few minutes... I caught her helping her fourth grade friend with what is basically algebra the other day (5 + x = 14)... she does those missing fact problems all the time, just doesn't see them as algebra... boy, there was no living with her for a couple hours after that :) There are lazy parents all over the place... for me, the lazy choice would be to push Katie out the front door every morning and let her walk across the street to school (we live directly across from the best elementary school in our district). Instead I spend time every day with lesson plans and supplies or driving her across town so she can participate in PE lunch and music classes with our little church school twice a week... I wish I could be lazy some days :)I hate that people will throw one family's failure up as an example proving homeschooling doesn't work... for each one of those examples I can pull out a hundred proving public schools are failing... in both cases, a lot hinges on that whole lazy parenting issue! For the record... we LOVE homeschooling.. and I may need to borrow Bekisue's closet idea :)



Didn't you notice? There were many stories from that one homeschool group. So many that they couldn't possibly be outliers!

;)
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Oh, silly me... a whole group messed up... unlike say, the teachers unions... duh... I'll go register Katie right now before I do any more damage :)
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Whether they are "homeschoolers" or not, parent are teaching their kids each and every day whether they realize it or not.

This particular "home school" mother has taught her kids to be irresponsible and lazy.

But then she would have taught them that even if they were in the liberal approved public school system.
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