The World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling, Part 4

I’ve been reading a book called Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling (Beacon Press, August, 2009) by Robert Kunzman. The book is a look at six Christian families and how they homeschool their children. Not every family fits the stereotype I know I have in my mind. Some are impressive; others leave much to be desired.

In the following passage, the author asks one father about the isolation his children face at home. How can they be “salt and light to the world” if they’re not mixing with other children on a regular basis? The father responds:

Roger pauses for a moment as he considers his response. “If the public school was a neutral ground,” he says, “I could agree with it. But public schools are not a neutral ground; public school is the enemy.”

“So the deck is too stacked?”

“The deck is absolutely stacked,” he says with conviction. “I mean, me sending my kid there is like them sending their kid to me. Do you think they’d be willing to do that? I don’t think so. The public education system, in general, is teaching exactly the opposite of what I believe. And they expect me to put my kid into their hands for the better part of every day? How silly. Now they start sending their kids to me—”

I chuckle at the offer… (p. 154)


  • Matto the Hun

    I like the nebulous “them” he refers to that send their kids to public schools. Just what is wrapped up in “them” exactly.

  • Siamang

    Brown people.

  • Claudia

    Actually, he put it quite persuasively. Granted, I’m probably going to be on the opposite side as him in terms of 99% of issues, but I can see where he’s coming from.

    I’d wager that if every school my child had an option to be in was a Bible-thumping, creationism teaching, abstinence only circus, I’d very seriously consider homeschooling. Now, that isn’t to say I would take my child out of school just because it was somewhat conservative, but if it was extreme I would.

    From his probably extreme standpoint, just normal schooling must seem outlandishly secular and liberal, as offensive to him as a fundamentalist school would be to me. So though I wish he didn’t have the stance he does, I can appreciate his argument.

  • http://www.rationalitynow.com Dan Gilbert

    Good point, Claudia. I would to that, too, especially at a younger age. High school age, I might reconsider. Depends on how “extreme” it was. :-)

  • Pustulio

    Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs but not their own facts. This guy’s problem is that the he doesn’t believe the facts.

  • Shannon

    I guess all fundamentalist Christians don’t think the same on this. I saw a show once (gah, like 10 years ago, sorry, I don’t know what) that had a segment on child preachers. There was one child who went to a public school but before school every day he stood just outside the yard screaming fire and brimstone. His parents (and he) believed that being in the world was better because then you can convert others.

    I guess the fundamentalist homeschoolers are of the opinion that children shouldn’t be trying to convert others because they aren’t yet solid in their own faith? So shelter them during childhood and then when they are grown they go out in the world and preach the word? (well, the men. The women usually don’t). I’ve seen this sentiment online among some (very few) atheist parents too. That young children are too young to be exposed to religious woo, so shelter them from it until they are firmly atheist and ready to stand up to it.

    If you want your child to only know and believe one particular viewpoint, without question, then you make sure to only surround your child with people who think the same way you do. That’s why I say I’m not raising my kids to be atheists, I’m raising them to think for themselves. So we hang with whoever is nice and fun, no matter what they believe.

  • Ron in Houston

    For better or worse, one advantage to Christian love of homeschooling is that it has given folks an opt out of mandatory public education.

    I started “homeschooling” my oldest kid in his junior year by enrolling him in a junior college. It works much better for him and not having to deal with asinine administrators is worth the extra cost to me.

  • littlejohn

    To what extent should parents be allowed to decide what their children learn? Studying the Bible and little else may seem important to the parents, but surely it is objectively true that learning the read, write and do arithmetic without a calculator are more useful in the real world, where the kids will eventually wind up. I know a woman who is homeschooling her brood despite lacking any education beyond high school. She’s very religious of course, and means well, but I’m afraid her children will eventually find themselves in a frightening world for which they are utterly unprepared. The boy will become a hick preacher and the girls will become hick preachers’ wives. It’s all so sadly predictable.

  • trixr4kids

    “Write These Laws on Your Children”–anybody else think of Kafka?

    *shudder*

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    The public education system, in general, is teaching exactly the opposite of what I believe.

    Translation: The public school system refuses to push the Christian religion on all students to appease me, it teaches actual science instead of Creationism, and it recognizes the fact that LGBT people are human beings too. I can’t allow my child to be exposed to thoughts that might taint the indoctrination I’m giving him at home–that might lead to independent thought rather than his being a carbon copy of me as I wish him to be.

  • Siamang

    From his probably extreme standpoint, just normal schooling must seem outlandishly secular and liberal, as offensive to him as a fundamentalist school would be to me. So though I wish he didn’t have the stance he does, I can appreciate his argument.

    But he lacks perspective.

    Only a very extreme personality sees a centrist, pluralistic, secular public institution as extremist.

    It’s not like the school is pumping atheism, or Islam, or Judaism into the kids 24/7. They just AREN’T teaching Jesus 24/7.

    I’d wager that if every school my child had an option to be in was a Bible-thumping, creationism teaching, abstinence only circus, I’d very seriously consider homeschooling.

    But that’s not analogous to what’s happening. To be analogous, then today’s public schools should be Bible-shredding, Dawkins-pushing, sex-orgies. In which case, I too would keep my kid out.

    The orgy thing is a joke, of course. But barring that, I WOULDN’T WANT my kid in some kind of a school for the children of atheists, just as I wouldn’t want her in a school just for any particular race or ethnic background.

    Pragmatic pluralism and easy-going centrism is the enemy of extremism. Because it shows very clearly that there is a viable rational alternative to hiding in a shack in the mountains and stocking up on ammo.

  • ChameleonDave

    To be analogous, then today’s public schools should be Bible-shredding, Dawkins-pushing, sex-orgies. In which case, I too would keep my kid out.

    Yeah. If schools were like that, they’d be too good for kids. I’d want in.

  • James Koran

    Here’s nuetral! I realize that this has been stated before ad nauseum, but maybe atheistic evolution should be taught in the churches if creationism is taught in the schools.

  • TheBob

    But that’s not analogous to what’s happening. To be analogous, then today’s public schools should be Bible-shredding, Dawkins-pushing, sex-orgies.

    Read some of the right-wing propaganda; they maintain almost exactly that. You would be absolutely astonished at the sort of insane ramblings that get taken seriously in that camp. Realize that this is a group for whom “end-of-life counseling” means “death panels” and the spectre of doctors being forced to perform abortions against their will looms large. (And yes, I’ve seen both allegations made concerning HR 3200, just in the past month.)

    To many of these people, if the school isn’t teaching Jesus, then it must be teaching something else – and the more the schools deny it, the more convinced these people are that the schools are just hiding their true agenda…so it must be really terrible!

    Because, of course, that’s the way they’d act. The idea that a school would say nothing at all about religion is just completely alien to them.

  • http://alliedatheistalliance.blogspot.com advertisinglies

    There is no such thing as atheistic evolution. Evolution is a scientific theory which has to do with speciation. It has nothing to do with religion, god, atheism, or anything of the like. I understand the point, but the association between evolution and theistic/atheistic belief bothers me because it’s an entirely assumptive logic jump. Evolution seems to threaten some people who are religious, but that doesn’t mean that it has anything to do with religion the same way evolution is generally accepted by atheists, but it has nothing to do with atheism.

  • http://irandomosity-veggiecrocker.blogspot.com/ Athena Holter-Mehren

    These people are given way too much control over young minds. I am a parent, so I feel as though I can say this. I understand the concept that these folks have the ultimate say over what goes into the heads of their children. However, I think that there should be national standards that are actually adhered to concerning the extent to which children are exposed to the outside world. After all, as someone else said, this is the one that they will ultimately have to function in of their own accord. It kills me to think of all of the special treatment these loons get because something is “against their religion”.

  • Jacob

    You forget one important fact when dissecting home school kids…

    Our schools are ranked as some of the lowest (not third world) schools in the world. The American school system is a disaster which is why many Christian and Athiest families are keeping kids at home. The logic is simple. One on one education with someone who loves them or one on thirty education with an underpaid teacher who has so much to deal with its nearly impossible to focus on the single child.


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