That was then.
I've lived in a small town in central Minnesota since 1986, earning an honest living. My kids went to the government school - until they passed sixth grade. Then my wife and I gave them a choice. They could go through the next six years of school in the government system, or be home schooled.
They chose home schooling.
Exposing Kids to New Ideas? Looks Good on PaperAbout Jesus being a "wine-guzzling vagrant?" That description skates on the ragged edge of fact - and is part of the message in a high school's reading list. I know the excuses: we should expose kids to many points of view, in order to expand their minds.
I think that looks good on paper - but isn't always a good idea, in my opinion. 'Exposing kids to many points of view' starts looking dicey, when something really dubious gets on the reading list. Like white supremacist literature.
Given the dominant culture's views, that's not gonna happen in America - for good reason, I think.
The "wine-guzzling vagrant" thing, though? That's part of the reason I home schooled my kids.
Home Schooling: What 'Everybody Knows' isn't Necessarily SoIf you read the papers, you may 'know' what kind of people home school their kids.
In some circles, 'everybody knows' that those home schooling people over there want to keep their kids ignorant of science and things like that.
A government statistic says so. Sort of.
I discussed this before. (March 6, 2010)
The 'government statistic' is legit - but doesn't mean what the AP seems to think.
"...Mule's precocious daughter Elizabeth excels at science and has been studying tarantulas since she was 5. But she watched Elizabeth's excitement turn to confusion when they reached the evolution section of the book from Apologia Educational Ministries, which disputed Charles Darwin's theory.I wrote this before, but don't think it hurts to make the point again:another topic.
" 'I thought she was going to have a coronary,' Mule said of her daughter, who is now 16 and taking college courses in Houston. 'She's like, "This is not true!" '
"Christian-based materials dominate a growing home-school education market that encompasses more than 1.5 million students in the U.S. And for most home-school parents, a Bible-based version of the Earth's creation is exactly what they want. Federal statistics from 2007 show 83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children 'religious or moral instruction.'..."
If Not to Wallow in Self-Righteous Ignorance, Why Home School?Because my wife and I decided to let our children avoid the government's high school experience, we pay for their education - at the government school - that they don't attend - and we also pay for the instructional materials we use, here at home.
That's what we get for not marching in cognitive lockstep with America's dominant culture. Maybe it's 'not fair:' but that's not the point. My wife and I home school our children because we are at odds with some aspects of America's dominant culture.
I do not think it would be a good idea to expose my kids to government schools, after the elementary grades - and they agree.
Remember, I said that my wife and I are at odds with some aspects of America's dominant culture. In other ways, we're fairly 'normal.'
For example, American culture is, or was, gung-ho on being productive. So am I. Getting pieces of paper that say you've warmed a seat for so many years in some school also seems to be considered highly important, too. I'm a trifle less convinced that having a piece of paper makes me smart, and that's yet another topic.
But, since results count in America: a little of 'where are they now,' about my surviving kids.
- The oldest is a commercial artist/cartoonist
- Our second-oldest graduated with a music degree from Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota
- The third is a writer
- The fourth is 14, and
- Will apply for A+ certification as soon as his photo ID comes through
- Is currently the family's subject expert for information technology
Two of my children died before they had to worry about school: and that's yet again another topic.
As for why I'd rather not have my kids be indoctrinated and become nice, conformist little Americans: dominant-culture style?
Like I said, I've done time in academia, and was a teacher for a while. I've seen the system from the inside. I'm also a practicing Catholic, which makes me part of a counter-culture.
I thought my kids stood a better chance out of the system, than in it.
Do We Want Our Kids to Get 'Social' Experiences?I realize that I deprived my children of being 'socialized.' Can't say that I feel guilty about that. Even here, in central Minnesota, the state has been sending drug-sniffing dogs up periodically, to check the school parking lots.
Why Home School? Consider the AlternativeMy wife and I home school because we take our kids' "religious and moral instruction" seriously, and aren't terribly impressed with some of America's social mores.
But we had an alternative: we could have set them loose in the government school, and hoped for the best.
For the record, I do not think the local school system is all that bad. We've got a pretty good school system, actually. On the other hand, it is in America, and is required by law to conform to a number of standards.
"Standards" are good, right?
That depends on what the standards are.
This recurring news item is another reason why I'm not inclined to 'hope for the best.'
The names are different each time, but the pattern doesn't change all that much:
"Parents Pull Son Out of New Hampshire School Over Assigned Book That Refers to Jesus as 'Wine-Guzzling Vagrant and Socialist' "It's not always "Nickle and Dimed...;" the state isn't always New Hampshire; and the family's name is different each time. The pattern, though: a government school system undercutting a family's religious and moral beliefs? That's what keeps cropping up.
Diane Macedo, FoxNews.com (December 6, 2010)
"A New Hampshire couple has pulled their son out of his local high school after the teen was assigned a book that refers to Jesus Christ as a 'wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist.'
"Aimee Taylor says her oldest son, 16-year-old Jordan Henderson, was required to read 'Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America,' this fall for Bedford High School's personal finance class.
"The book is a first-person account of author Barbara Ehrenreich's attempts to make ends meet while working minimum wage jobs in Florida, Maine and Minnesota.
"But in addition to taking aim at the idea of the American Dream, and arguing for a higher minimum wage, Taylor says Ehrenreich also takes aim at Christians and other groups in the book and uses foul language -- all of which made Jordan unhappy...."
Bottom line? I think my wife and I are responsible for handling our children's "religious and moral instruction." I also am of the impression that the job is easier, if we don't expose them to government indoctrination.
Then there's the matter of "tolerance," real and imagined. And that's still another topic - for another post.
- "School District Celebrates Religious Freedom Day: By Banning Bibles"
(July 1, 2010)
- "'To Infinity, and Beyond' - And a Plug for Home Schooling"
(June 21, 2010)
- "Home Schooling: Students Miss the 'Socialization' "
(May 28, 2010)
- "Home Schooling: It May Not be What You Think"
(May 20, 2010)
- "Home Schooling, Religious and Moral Instruction, and American Culture"
(March 6, 2010)
- "Parents Pull Son Out of New Hampshire School Over Assigned Book That Refers to Jesus as 'Wine-Guzzling Vagrant and Socialist' "
Diane Macedo, FoxNews.com (December 6, 2010)