Some thoughts for homeschooling parents

You can’t build up immunity to a disease by never experiencing it.

I hear a lot of people around these parts vowing to homeschool their kids because of this that or the other public schools are doing–usually something related to modern liberal politics. They’re afraid of their kids learning about gay marriage, or social justice, or something similar, so they decide that the solution is just to keep the kids at home where they can learn without the agenda.

Now, to be clear, I have nothing against homeschooling–all of the evidence and studies I’ve seen on the subject indicate that it is a perfectly fine way to educate a kid, so long as the parents are mentally healthy, not-abusive, etc. If you happen to live in an area where there aren’t a lot of other people around, then you might want to consider conventional schools just because your neighborhood makes it difficult to associate with other humans, but otherwise, I see homeschooling as just another method of educating a kid. If your goal is merely to provide your kid with the best education possible, this post is not for you.

However, if your goal in homeschooling is to prevent your kid from learning about broad social trends, political ideologies, or ideas you don’t like, anecdotal evidence suggests you will fail.

Your kid will grow up, they will leave the house, and then they will learn about all of the stuff everyone else believes. If everyone out there believes X, and your kid is even remotely neurologically normal, then your kid will learn about X and start believing it.

Remember, the vast majority of normal people pick up their ideas and beliefs from the other people around them. This is not a bug. This is a very important ability. Other people are treasure troves of useful information about how to stay alive and not die. Imitating others is how you learned to talk, which things are good to eat, and how to behave in new situations. If you’re standing near a road with your friend, and they suddenly jump back, it’s in your interest to jump back, too.

Inability to properly imitate others is extremely problematic and one of the basic symptoms of autism.

So, like I said, if your kids are remotely normal, they will pick up the values of the dominant culture upon exposure. And then they will decide that you were a looney nutcase.

I’m going to talk about the personal experiences of 5 people I know who were homeschooled by conservative Christians. I’m not cherry-picking; they are all the homeschooled people I know.

One went to Bible college, got pregnant, dropped out, and got married. This person still professes Christian faith, but believes far more in materialism.

The second dropped out of college, became a die-hard SJW, and changed genders. I doubt they are still Christian, and they regard their parents’ faith as a cult.

Third completed college, but has become a die-hard SJW. Has a very dim view of conservative Christianity. No children.

Fourth became an atheist liberal who believes in gay marriage and abortion.

Fifth became a die-hard SJW who hates conservative Christianity, thinks their parents were culty, and makes pornography.

If you want an in-depth look at how this happens, I recommend the webcomic Dumbing of Age.

What happened?

In all of these cases, the parents homeschooled to keep their kids isolated from certain ideas, ideologies, or behaviors. The kids graduated with very little experience of the world. They did not have a thorough understanding of how the world works, the philosophies out there, and why, exactly, their parents disagreed.

As a result, when exposed to the meme-viruses of the world, they get infected. They have no defenses.

In my experience, the vast majority of conservatives cannot articulate a coherent explanation for their beliefs, and do not attempt to explain their underlying reasoning to their kids. Many of them, I suspect, simply believe as they do because of habit, convenience, or because everyone else in their area does. Liberalism, by contrast, has put a lot of effort into making arguments against conservative beliefs.

For example, let’s take gay marriage. Common conservative arguments against gay marriage are “Ew! Gay people are gross!” “God says homosexuality is a sin,” and “The purpose of marriage is to make children.”

Liberals have all sorts of counter-arguments, like, “Ellen DeGeneres isn’t icky,” “Separation of Church and State,” and “But we let infertile people get married.”

In short, if it is really important to you that your kid think gay marriage is a bad idea, you’d better have a better, more coherent argument than that. Same for everything else in your memeplex/ideology/worldview–up to and including the existence of god. You might think your proof for the existence of god is pretty solid, but most of the people your kids will be associating with will probably think rather little of your proofs.

If you can’t explain your ideology and rigorously support it, showing your kids that your explanations of how the world works is better than the dominant ones, then you’d be better off just letting your kid go to public school and then doing your best to defend any objections to the curriculum when they come up. Your kids might think you’re kind of weird (just as I thought my parents were kind of weird in the early 90s for defending the use of aerosols/CFCs and not being concerned about the hole in the ozone layer), but they won’t hate you or think you’re a loon.

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20 thoughts on “Some thoughts for homeschooling parents

  1. It is also somewhat necessary to give people a path. You don’t, on the one hand, advocate against having sex outside of marriage, but on the other, encourage everyone to wait until after college to get married.

    There’s also the economic aspect of things, where most Christians (or Churchians, for how many of these people are for real?) seem incapable of grasping that providing for a future is necessary. Children need to be able to grow up, see a path before them via which they can actually live, and be persuaded that that life is of better quality than the one our current corporate/government complex is willing to give to us in return for our constant exploitation.

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  2. As a result, when exposed to the meme-viruses of the world, they get infected. They have no defenses.

    In my experience, the vast majority of conservatives cannot articulate a coherent explanation for their beliefs

    Usually kids get more indoctrinated by going to a pubic school, not less.

    “Ew! Gay people are gross!” “God says homosexuality is a sin,” and “The purpose of marriage is to make children.”

    Liberal arguments tend to be even less sophisticated, ‘rich people have too much money’ ‘let’s spread the wealth’ ‘war is bad’ etc

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    • The amount of indoctrination kids receive in school is probably irrelevant because they are exposed to the exact same ideas as soon as they grow up and move out, and then they adopt them anyway, just like everyone else, except that they *also* decide that their parents were crazy and describe their upbringing as “basically a cult.”

      The Amish have a full society of people like themselves available for their kids to join when they grow up, so most of their kids do. They can see the connection between the way they were raised and an actual, viable lifestyle. Nothing similar exists for homeschooled kids, who leave home and must survive in conventional society.

      Most people understand their own morals intuitively, but do a bad job of explaining them to others. Homeschooling parents have to do an extra good job of this.

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  3. (just as I thought my parents were kind of weird in the early 90s for defending the use of aerosols/CFCs and not being concerned about the hole in the ozone layer)

    as it turns out they were right…

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  4. This hits the nail on the head. I was homeschooled for my entire life. I am now a 24-year old married woman. Thankfully, my parents did teach me how to think, logically evaluate things, and come to my own conclusions, so when I got married and moved out I didn’t dye my hair pink and turn atheist or anything crazy. Lol But I will say that because of their method of ultra conservative homeschooling, and the excessive sheltering that went along with it, I am still struggling to find balance in my life. I feel like the first 22 years of my life were almost completely wasted, for I spent most of my time in my house with few friends and miserably lonely. I sincerely believe homeschooling can be a great thing, IF done without the smothering umbrella of conservative Christian values to kill the experience. I would have had a great homeschooling experience, IF my parents had not tried to shelter me so much.

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    • It used to be easy. Your parents were farmers, so you grew up and became a farmer.

      Now your parents are… something or other, and you grow up to be… something. Maybe. If you can get a job. Eh, what kind of jobs can you get with a degree in “communications?” The system is opaque.

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      • That my darling is a shallow answer as if for most of folks profession really makes the man.

        Same with schooling. Only the truly brilliant and/ or stupid get degrees. Been that way for a long time

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      • Most people shouldn’t go to college, but they do, anyway. Then they think they are going to change the world with their degree in basketry studies. Then they discover that there are real bills out there that need to be paid, and they have no idea how to get that done.

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  5. This may be unfair, but…

    I was homeschooled, however my parents did a bunch of stuff way out of the norm. First, when we started we lived in one of the biggest cities in the world. There was just enough shelter to protect, but the world was never blocked out for me. My parents also literally never forced a point of view on me; I credit staying Christian through college with the fact that Christianity was never anything other than a choice that I made, maybe one of my first really “adult” decisions.

    Next, on education itself, my father, a military engineer, basically had the idea that only the Bible, language, and math were things that couldn’t be learned in a weekend. So we mastered the basics and didn’t feel the need to recreate a “normal” school but at home. On top of all this, my parents were also very sane CS Lewis, GK Chesterton style Christians; no teetotal propaganda, no semi-cultish practices.

    Here’s the unfair bit, I really don’t think most homeschoolers had this type of experience. Many parents really tried to force square pegs into round holes, or use homeschooling to get misbehaving kids to “act right”. A lot of what is understood to be “traditional” isn’t very traditional at all, it’s like a cartoon version of tradition with parental bullying.

    And about that hippie bullshit of “finding your own way”, EVERYONE finds their own way. You can make people do something for a while but you can’t control what they really think. So the minute a kid gets out from under he’ll go nuts. A lot of homeschooling for people is just a mirror image of the public schools; force something on a kid in a heartless way until you break him, and never let him think for himself, lest he think something “unapproved”(as if you could stop him).

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    • There are parents who homeschool with the intention of making their kids freer, stronger, and more competent, and parents who don’t. When things are truly done for the kid, with their best interests in mind, the kids tend to do well. When things are done with the parents’ interests in mind, the kids get damaged. (I often wonder, for example, why kids who have been subjected to severe bullying aren’t simply homeschooled, at least for a little while.)

      A lot of parents these days have their priorities inverted, and I’m including a lot of parents whose kids attend conventional schools.

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      • My oldest son was bullied in 6th grade, to the point of causing rather severe emotional and learning issues. Him being as smart as he is, he learned how to play the school and spent more time out of class than in it. I yanked him out for the first half of 7th grade. Put him in an online home school. He failed miserably (through no fault of his own) but it did give him the break he needed. Dropped him back a grade and put him in a new school halfway through 6th. He’s in 7th again now, doing better than I could have hoped for. During this time we also moved to a more rural setting, providing him a country life (chores and all) with more responsibility. I do believe, had I simply left him in school, he’d be much worse off by now, even with the move. There are many good points to home schooling kids. Ultimately, there has to be a reason and motivation behind, one that you can articulate to your kids so they understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. … Jason van

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    • lol good luck with that

      Successful societies reproduce themselves, finding your own way is rather new for the West, and like most modern social ideas, not working out very well

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