Why people make fun of homeschoolers

Please allow me to “go off” for just a few moments.

I’ll try not to be mean or sarcastic, but this really bothers me.

Let me back up: the other day, we received a PSA (Public Service Announcement) to run on the church’s radio station. As soon as it was dropped off at the office, I took it back to the radio room to record it. You see, we require that all PSAs be submitted in writing: that way we can just go read them into the computer, and as long as we clock in at 30 seconds everything’s great. Occasionally I may have to cut a PSA a little bit or slow down the pace of my words to fill the 30 seconds, but in general I’ve gotten the hang of things so that I can record a 30 second spot with no trouble.

All right. So I went into the radio room with this PSA which was from a local Christian Homeschooling Group. I turned on the computer and started to record the spot. I got halfway through the first sentence when I said, into the microphone, “I can’t read the rest of this! This is atrocious!” (Don’t worry, I wasn’t on the air: I was just recording the spot into the computer.) I got out the old red pen (I always have a red pen) and went to work on the spot. I had to rewrite the entire thing. I spent twenty minutes making this 30 second spot intelligible.

I left the original copy at the office, on purpose, because I knew I would take it apart sentence by sentence if I had it in front of me. A short summary will have to suffice:

Lack of subject-verb agreement
Improper verb tenses
Pronouns with no antecedents
Unbalanced sentences
Parallel structure that wasn’t parallel
Vagueness (I know you’re wondering how one paragraph can be both redundant and vague, but they managed to pull it off.)

I showed the copy to the secretary. Her response was, “And these people are teaching their own children?” Exactly.

Folks, putting “Christian” at the front of a title (as in a “Christian Homeschooling Group”) doesn’t mean what follows can be crappy. A Christian education should not be a substandard education. Christian music shouldn’t be sucky music. Christian art shouldn’t be schlock or kitsch.

I get the impression that some people in this group (and I have attended meetings of this group, so don’t think I’m entirely on the outside looking in) think that what makes a math curriculum a good one is if there’s a Bible verse next to every problem. Teaching your children the alphabet by saying, “A — All have sinned” does not make your children’s education better than a child who is in a public school, nor does it necessarily make his education more “Christian”: it only makes it more smarmy and pietistic. Christian education is excellent education, because all truth is God’s truth. God created our children’s minds: allowing those minds to atrophy by not feeding them is just as un-Christian as letting your children starve by not feeding their bodies.

There’s a T-shirt with a picture of a trailer on it. On top of the trailer is a TV roof antenna. The T-shirt says “Homskoold”. That PSA that was delivered to our station the other day is an example of why that stereotype exists. What’s really sad is, there are lots of really, really great homeschooling parents. Their children are excelling. The parents are excelling, because they are learning new things every day as they prepare to teach their children. The “A — All have sinned” people are giving the rest of the homeschooling families a bad name. And since they insist on tarring this brand of education with the epithet “Christian”, they are giving Christians a bad name too.

So, am I saying that only a Ph.D. is qualified to homeschool his/her children? Not at all. But before you teach, learn. If you don’t know whether it’s “should have went” or “should have gone”, learn. Look it up. If you don’t know whether to say “It is I” or “It is me”, or if you can’t remember if it’s “For you and I” or “For you and me”, find out. Before you teach your children, find out.

What’s really sad and scary is, I don’t think a lot of these parents care to get it right. A good education for their children is not their goal. Keeping them out of “the evil public schools” is the goal.

Yes, yes, I know there are substandard teachers out there too. I had some of them. I had a history teacher in the eleventh grade who taught us about World War Eleven and James Oggulleethrop (Oglethorpe) and the Battle of Lexington and Corncod. She also taught us about those famous tribes of the ancient Americas: the Inkers, the Mayors, and the Ack-tez. She counted off on a test one time when she had asked us to name all the oceans and she put five blanks on the test. Naturally, I left one blank. She said I’d missed the Antarctic Ocean. I didn’t argue.

She had tenure. Fortunately, by the eleventh grade most of us were good enough readers to decipher what she was trying to teach us. And we had parents who could set us straight at home. But what happens when the parent is the only voice of authority in the child’s life?

There are people who want children to have a superior education. These people are concerned with getting it right. We call these people teachers. Some of these teachers are teachers by profession. Others are parents who have trained themselves to be teachers to develop their children’s minds to their fullest potential.

Those who are not concerned with getting it right should delegate this job to someone who is.


About revjatb

I am a father of six who is trying to do his best! My interests are varied. I have one blog, KnowTea, that is primarily focused on liturgy and worship and another one, Bengtsson's Baking, that is about, well, baking! I hope you enjoy both of them, and if you have any questions, please contact me!
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9 Responses to Why people make fun of homeschoolers

  1. Kay DeFreese says:

    Did you keep a copy of the original PSA? I’d like to see it.

  2. Brad says:

    “…those famous tribes of the ancient Americas: the Inkers, the Mayors, and the Ack-tez….” THE ACK-TEZ!!!!!

    OH.GOSH.I’M.LAUGHING.MY.HINY.OFF!! (esp. when I’m picturing this teacher having the accee-uhnt of Tina-the-Alamo-tourguide)

  3. ChuckM says:

    AMEN! The other problem I’ve seen is how legalistic some “A – All have sinned” homeschoolers can be regarding the public schools. If memory serves, even some reformed theologians have said or implied “It is a sin to send your child to public school.” Why? Because it is public? Tell that to a single mom who has to work just to keep food on the table! You know, good public schools do exist. Bad private Christian schools do exist. Not all parents are suited for homeschooling, either by inclination or by talent. We are duty-bound to do the best we can for our children, not follow a one-size-fits-all formula for being a Christian family.

  4. Me-cow says:

    Corncod! Viva!

  5. PaulB says:

    Amen and Amen! Sadly, many in our circles have replaced the centrality of the gospel for the centrality of the homeschool. You should read some of the comments on the PCA byFaith forum. They recently had a homeschool/Christian vs. public school debate. It mostly degenerated into “this is what we do and here’s why we’re right” kind of discussion instead of reasoned debate.

    I think of Daniel and his friends who had no choice but to be educated in a truly non-Christian Babylonian environment. They managed to excel and do “ten times” better than their classmates while studying the Babylonian curriculum.

    Sometimes, as Chuck has noted, God puts us in circumstances where public education is the only option. If we fear that the public school will steal the hearts of our children away from the Lord, then we’ve totally abandoned our theology. God holds the hearts of us and our children. Why do Reformed folk have no problem believing that regeneration is a work of God’s Spirit but think the sanctification of our kids is TOTALLY left up to us? Seems to me God has promised to finish what he starts (Phil.1:6) We can remain committed to Christ’s Church, godly families, family worship, and the means of grace even when our kids are at the neigborhood school. Imagine that!

    Enough of my rant– though I was just getting warmed up.

  6. I know many homeschool parents now. (Some of which are former publc school educators that got tired of the push to teach to the tests, or they got fed up that their special needs child was not getting the type of attention that was needed.) I am all for homeschooling under the correct conditions:

    1.) The parent doing the homeschooling has the intelligence and ability to homeschool.
    2.) The parents find adequate socializtion activities outside of the home for the children.

    As a former elementary school teacher, I can tell many stories of parents who tried homeschooling and then handed them over to me to clean up the mess.

    One lady, who sounds like she could’ve been the one that wrote the PSA, had a meltdown when she found out I let students select their own books for silent sustained reading. Her child was in second grade and below a kindergarten reading level. She insisted that he only be allowed to read the KJV of the Bible during this time. I tried to be flexible. I told her that I would be glad if he read picture books of Bible stories, or listened to read alongs on cassettes. She had the audacity to label me “A Cupcake Baked by the Devil.” There was no dealing with this woman. It went from there to having the child sit out when we read Fairy Tales aloud. This lady even brought the Eagle Forum Ladies to the school to protest my reading instruction.

    Another case involved a homeschooled child that would not do any classwork. He replied, “I want to draw and listen to the pretty classical music.” His mom declared that he was just too bright, and that I didn’t know how to deal with someone as brilliant as him.

    The last case involves a Muslim homeschooled child, that refused to sit at a table with the “infidel muslim girls who refused to cover their heads.” I included him in the conference I had with his mom. During the conference he commanded, “Woman be silent.” (That flew all over me, and I forced him to apologize to his mother for being disrespectful.) He never came back to my classroom.

    Unfortunately, these are the types of stories that people in public education see. They only see the homeschool experiements that didn’t work. It only makes sense that intense one-on-one or small group instruction would be better for a child. It is those fringe folks that give the practice a bad name.

  7. RevJATB says:

    Thanks, Mark. I always wondered where that “Cupcake Baked by the Devil” came from on your online profile. 🙂

    Yes, there was a woman in our church back in B’ham many years ago who would not read any kind of fiction to her children, because that would be “telling them lies.” She also would not read to them from Bible story books. She would only read to them straight from the Bible. Never mind that Jesus did the bulk of his teaching through stories: fictional stories at that. Reckon she thinks Jesus was “telling lies”?

    Your “cupcake” story also reminds me of a parent who would not allow her children to attend the Fall Festival which our church’s preschool held each year. The children were allowed to dress up as anything non-frightening (no ghosts, vampires, etc.), and it was essentially a Halloween party, but we didn’t call it that as a concession to those who have/had qualms about “Halloween”. This mom said her children would not be present the day of the Fall Festival, because “Halloween is the Devil’s birthday.” Where do people get this stuff?

  8. ashley says:

    My sixth grade teacher at a lab school here in town told us that we had to always remember to put the jackets back on our floppy disks so they wouldn’t catch a computer virus!

  9. well, i sure am glad that is a lab school – she isn’t there anymore I hope. I was seriously considering that school. HA!

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