|Why are there so many infants in this homeschooling logo? Curious!|
(Updated with reader Elise's comment and my response below)
I have been curious about homeschooling lately. I have always been pretty certain that I do not have the temperament for it, because even though I always loved spending time exploring with my kids when they were younger - not to mention reading with them and amassing a book collection worthy of small library status - I knew that I lacked the organizational skills and the stick-to-it-iveness necessary for success. I have to admit, though, that some days the idea of sailing around the world with my partner and our kids - providing them with the best darn home-schooled education imaginable - is very tempting indeed!
|Actors portraying the Nifty family:|
citizens of the world!
Everyone knows that the homeschooling movement in the USA is dominated by religious fundamentalists - the movement was actually inspired by Rousas John Rushdoony, the Calvinist father of American Christian Reconstructionism - but I happen to know at least one secular homeschooler (Hi Jenn!) so it has to be at least hypothetically possible that not everything connected to homeschooling would have to be drenched in the blood of Jesus.
|Yikes! Website banner for Homeschooling Books.com|
Education in the shadow of the cross? That is just creepy.
Perusing the google search page again, I typed in homeschool textbooks to see how easy it might be to find books and materials to support a homeschooling curriculum as suggested on the website. At the top of the search results was Homeschooling Books. I clicked on it only to discover that it was obviously geared toward the Christian homeschooling community in spite of its deceptively bland website name and description.
Homeschool Supercenter!) looked much more promising. Their textbook menu included specifically Christian resources and texts, of course, since the majority of homeschooling families are homeschooling for explicitly religious reasons. But at the top of the menu - even before the undoubtedly more popular Christian resources - were several categories of secular textbooks!
Feeling delighted that the second most referred site on the google search for homeschool textbooks offered resources for secular homeschooling, I clicked on the secular science tab and voilà! A little intermediary page of full curricula packages popped up. On it, not one real science package was featured, but prominently displayed on the top line was "Apologia", a creationist vomitus of Biblical mythology and anti-education, wrapped up in a fancy package with a SCIENCE label slapped on it.
I have news for the Homeschool Supercenter: creationism is not science. Calling it science does not make it science. Slapping on a SCIENCE label not only will not make that creationist dreck science, but it is false advertising as well.
|8th edition of a creationist textbook|
It must be interesting - not to mention a constant training ground for investigative skills - for secular homeschoolers to avoid the traps that appear to have been laid for them by the Christian homeschool movement. Presenting religious mythology in sciency-looking packages and hiding religious dogma in sciency-sounding language in textbooks and materials is the sneaky tactic used by the religious right to trick people into buying that garbage. If they are really lucky, they hope that people will buy into the nonsense, too, thus fulfilling the greater goal of the religious education strategy, which is to deny children a full education - especially denying them an understanding of the scientific method, free thought and skeptical critical thinking skills - thus keeping them ignorant, fearful followers of the teachings of their church.
Parents are free, of course, to deny their children a full education. In fact, it appears that millions have decided to do just that. Encouraged by anecdotal data which point to superior performance of homeschoolers compared to public school educated children, many homeschool parents are rightly proud of what their children - and they - are able to achieve. But those "statistics"* hide the complete story. Standardized tests can only test what children can regurgitate under less than ideal conditions, not how well-devloped their critical thinking skills have become. There is no way to know whether they have been taught to simply memorize actual scientific theories (which they are told are lies) for testing purposes, while being taught that religious mythology is the actual truth which they must believe or face eternal damnation.
|Christian homeschooling websites often post|
optimistic - and totally fabricated - charts like this.
The Christian homeschooling movement continues to grow. According to hopeful Christian homeschooling websites (quickly google** "homeschooling statistics" or similar), it will continue to grow a lot. I wonder if secular homeschooling is likewise growing? I am going to keep my eye on this topic because it is related to some other things I am working on about education and the power of the religious right.
Meanwhile, however, I will just keep dreaming!
*My own informal search on the internet for a source of this type of "statistic" report outside the homeschool community turned up zilch. All of the charts and diagrams showing homeschooling superiority that filled pages of goggle** search results came from homeschooling websites and blogs.
** I accidentally typed "goggle" instead of "google", but really, I did sort of goggle at it, too.
There is a short string of old comments below the original Hmm...Homeschooling post which I won't republish here. If you are interested in reading what a Christian apologist has to say, then you can read it here.
The reason why I am reposting the essay now is to post an unexpected new comment which arrived back in January. It took me several days to notice the new comment on a much older post, but when I did I was pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful effort that the reader had given to it.
I was knee-deep in other projects through most of the winter, so it took me awhile to get back to this topic and to reply to the comment, which I think deserved an equally thoughtful reply. Thank you for your patience, Elise, and thank you again for an excellent contribution!
Here is Elise's comment and my response: