When I Write about Homeschooling…

Just over a year ago, I almost stopped blogging. I received such negativity in response to a blog post I had written that blogging ceased to be fun. I very nearly quit, and was only able to enjoy blogging again by changing my approach to handling comment threads. What was the post I wrote that generated such a response? It was a post in I wrote about my struggles to overcome the the serious socialization problems I faced as a result of having been homeschooled. 

Something else happened after that post, though. While homeschool advocates denied my experience, I also received emails from other young people who had been homeschooled. They thanked me for giving voice to their experiences. They thanked me for letting them know they weren’t the only ones with these experiences. They thanked me for speaking out. Still, it was a long time after that first post before I dared to criticize homeschooling on this blog again. The response I had gotten on that post was too triggering for me to dare repeating too soon. I still don’t write about homeschooling very often, in large part because of this. 

When I write about homeschooling, I am often accused of assuming that all homeschoolers are conservative Christians, of thinking all homeschoolers isolate and indoctrinate, of painting all homeschoolers with one brush and not realizing that they are a diverse lot, and of wanting to see homeschooling banned. I do not understand this. This happened again after last week’s post on homeschooling, so I went back and reread everything I have written on homeschooling, wondering if I wasn’t being nuanced or clear enough. To be honest, doing this left me only more confused. Allow me to quote myself. 

From that original post on socialization:

Am I arguing that no one should ever homeschool? Not necessarily. I don’t know every situation, and every family is different. I would not presume to speak for every family. What I am arguing is that parents who homeschool need to take the socialization question seriously rather than laughing it off. They need to be aware of the potential socialization problems their children may face and take steps to mitigate them. Most of all, homeschool parents need to understand what socialization is and why it is important, and they need to be fully aware of what they are doing when they remove their children from the public schools.

From my main homeschooling page:

Homeschoolers are a diverse lot. Some homeschool for religious reasons, others for secular reasons. Some homeschooled children have a good deal of social interaction, others very little. Some get a first rate education, others suffer from educational neglect. Some use curricula and workbooks, others “unschool.” Some see homeschooling as a temporary option, others see it as a lifestyle.

The “Christian homeschool movement” is made up of those who homeschool in order to ensure that their children will hold specific religious beliefs and in the hope that their offspring will change America’s future direction. These homeschoolers use religious textbooks and limit their interaction to other like-minded families. Some educate well while others don’t, but all tend to see homeschooling as a requirement rather than an option.

While most of my criticism is aimed toward the Christian homeschool movement and the way focuses on isolating (aka “sheltering”) and indoctrinating (aka “teaching God’s truth”), I also have some critiques of homeschooling in general. I want my daughter to have teachers who are trained in their subject matter and in how to teach, I want her to have the same socialization experience as other children, and I see involvement in our local schools as part of my civic duty.

From a post last spring:

Because I see drawbacks to homeschooling and intend to send my children to public school, I am often painted as “anti-homeschooling.” But I don’t really see myself like that. In fact, I have never ruled out the possibility of homeschooling at some point in the future. After all, if public schooling somehow goes horrifically wrong for my young daughter, I will look at what other educational options were available – private school, charter school, homeschool.

As I raise my children I will continue to see homeschooling as an option, but only as one option among many and as an option that, like any option, has drawbacks and pitfalls alongside its pluses. And if that makes me “anti-homeschooling,” I will wear the label proudly.

And from my post last week:

Note that Jones is discussing and referring to what I generally call “the Christian homeschool movement.” There are families who pull a child out, generally for a few years at most, because she’s being bullied, or because he’s having behavioral issues, or because they’re bright and are being held back educationally, but these are not the homeschoolers Jones is talking about, and they’re not the ones I am generally talking about when I talk about homeschooling either. Jones is talking about the Christians, generally evangelicals, fundamentalists, or conservative Catholics, who pull their children out in an effort to teach them “God’s truth” away from “the influences of the world.”

My post on socialization wasn’t actually the first thing I’d written about homeschooling. In one early post on homeschooling I wrote this:

Am I saying that homeschooling is, then, wrong, or that no one should homeschool? No, not at all! I’ve seen many families where homeschooling is an absolutely wonderful thing, with happy, healthy, well-adjusted children. What I am saying is that homeschooling facilitates abuse by giving parents the ability to isolate their children and control their education in highly problematic ways. Homeschoolers need to be willing to admit this problem and address it rather than simply seeing any critique of homeschooling as a monumental threat.

After some push back in the comments on this post, I wrote a followup post:

I am not calling for making homeschooling illegal, both because that is impractical in today’s political climate and because I have seen families who do do it well. I would, however, make four points: First, we need to be aware that homeschooling is perfectly suited to be a cover for abuse. Second, we need to discuss realistic ways to regulate homeschooling in order to ensure that every child gets the education he or she deserves. Third, I think that even in families who do not abuse homeschooling, children can grow up feeling different from their peers in unpleasant ways. And fourth, I think we need to return the focus to the public schools rather than abandoning them.

Sometime later I wrote a post in which I said the following:

I don’t have a problem with homeschooling. I am perfectly aware that homeschooling can work well for many families, and that homeschooling can be freeing and can open new avenues to learning. I think every family should decide for itself what educational option is best for it, and that homeschooling is a perfectly valid option.

I DO have a problem with homeschooling being used to isolate children from other points of view (aka “shelter”), or to mis-educate children by only giving them one side of every argument (aka “teach God’s truth”). I have a problem with parents using homeschooling to control their children and stifle them. I have a problem with homeschoolers’ frequent objections to regulation of any sort (the government regulates public schools and private schools to make sure children meet basic educational requirements, and homeschoolers shouldn’t be exempt). I have a problem with the idea that homeschooling is some sort of perfect panacea that has no problems, risks, or drawbacks. I also have a problem with the idea that public schools are evil or completely broken, and that homeschooling is the best option for everyone, rather than just one of an array of educational options available to a given family.

I am honestly baffled that criticizing homeschooling brings on the response it does. It’s like my words go through some sort of filter and end up shredded.

The reality is that I have never advocated banning homeschooling. Further, I am and always have been completely aware that there are a variety of different types of homeschoolers. It’s just that I personally think that being homeschooled did me more harm than good, I see homeschooling as a mixed bag in terms of outcome, and I have some fundamental concerns about how it affects the role of civic institutions in our society. As a result, I feel very strongly about placing my children in public school. But there is a difference between criticizing something and wanting to ban it, and a difference between not wanting to participate in something and wanting to prohibit other people from doing it.

This really shouldn’t be that complicated.

#makehomeschoolsafe and Michigan's HB 4498
More Blatant Hypocrisy from Chris Jeub
HSLDA on those "Radically Atheistic" Public Schools
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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • KarenH

    I’m glad you didn’t stop blogging. I’ve been following your blog for about 7 months now and you’ve given me great insights into a part of the Christian culture that until last spring, I wasn’t truly aware of. It makes it easier to be a liberal Christian and speak to non-Christians who don’t understand that modern Christianity is rapidly cleaving in two. It also makes it easier for me, from within, to see how and why it’s happening.

    I do, however, have long years of experience in on-line communities that deal with other issues in the so-called Mommy Wars. There are a number of classic “trigger” subjects: spanking, breast feeding, etc. Homeschooling is not only caught in the Mommy Wars, but the Christian Civil War, too. Hardly surprising, then, that it’s a particularly short-trigger topic. (Which sounds all wise and shit, but since I can’t really offer up a solution for it, it’s not really worth the traditional 2 cents, is it?) My sympathies. And my gratitude for your courage in continuing to write and blog.

    You are a help, even if you don’t see it.

    • Emily

      I think KarenH identifies the issue: it’s a polarizing topic and people used to staunchly defending their decision (pro or anti) are ready to pull out their big guns when there’s even a hint of non-full-support for their decision. Your position of critically examining the positives and negatives and leaving it as a personal, highly nuanced family decision flies in the face of most of the homeschooling discourse and most people don’t have a lot of experience engaging with that. Keep pushing the conversation forward. I think you’re upcoming series by guest writers who were homeschooled will be helpful because a range of voices will help explain what you’re trying to show.

  • Caramello

    I’ve always been astonished by the response you got to your homeschooling posts, as I never had any trouble understanding your balanced and qualified discussion. Should have spoken up with words of support earlier!

  • Charlesbartley

    Do you know your Myers Briggs type? Both my wife and I are INFJs and I think you might be similar. To be INFJ in part means you are in an endless quest for the right nuance, the right expression, the right clarification and it *always* seems to go right over other people’s heads. The people you most wanted to ‘get’ the nuance of your argument miss it completly and take away the thing that you were trying not to say. Sigh.

    I am very glad that you kept blogging. I found you about 2 months before you left blogspot. You have done some powerful pieces since then. Thank you.

    • J-Rex

      It seems to me that she’s being very clear. She wouldn’t have to keep searching for the right nuance or clarification if people would just read what she wrote and respond to that instead of getting angry over what they think she wrote.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/ Daniel Fincke

      you are in an endless quest for the right nuance, the right expression, the right clarification and it *always* seems to go right over other people’s heads. The people you most wanted to ‘get’ the nuance of your argument miss it completly and take away the thing that you were trying not to say. Sigh.

      Wow. This is my life.

  • sara maimon

    I had such a terrible experience in school that I idealized homeschooling…. good to have another perspective for when I need to make that decision for my own kids

  • sara maimon

    I did look at that original post; and much of the criticism seems reasonable to me.

    • sara maimon

      i meant criticism of your post.

      • RowanVT

        Care to detail how and why, especially with all the qualifiers she presented?

    • Nell Webbish

      No, it’s not.

      (The above post was refuted using the standard application of the “Assertions made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” law.)

  • sara maimon

    btw if you would have gone to a super strict fundamentalist parochial school like I did, you would have been just as lost at college. I definitely was. Still am socially lost in the world. so I tend to see the religous and “sheltering” aspect as more severe than the “home” aspect.

    • machintelligence

      Religious fundamentalism seems to depend, on large part, on the enforced ignorance of the young and the willful ignorance of the adults. There may also be a genetic component, as the authoritarian personality type is easily sucked in to religion.

    • Rosa

      Yeah, and also some kids who have super-restrictive parents don’t get most of the socialization at regular public or academically inclined private schools, either. Some kids blossom at school with no support from home, and some need to have parents actively helping them learn social skills and supporting their efforts. Though at least the schooled kids who do learn social skills easily get to practice them outside the bubble at an earlier age than Libby Anne did.

      It’s the separatist attitutude that hurts kids. There’s no appropriate way to have a relationship with people you’re taught are doing the devil’s work, really.

  • Cldg

    I’m guessing people send the really vicious stuff directly by email.

  • Cass_m

    l too am glad you’ve kept blogging. I enjoy reading how you balance your family (parental and own) and how you are bringing your kids. I don’t find your thought on home schooling negative, just neutral. I have known families who home school and ensuring group activities for socializing is very important for them.

    And yes, some people are putting your thoughts thru a mangle filter then replying.

  • http://complicatedfeelingsabout.wordpress.com Katherine

    I read a lot of feminist blogs, and they have the same kinds of problems. While some people offer solid criticisms of arguments made based on logic, there are a whole lot of (comment) conversation that make it seem as if the commenter never even read the post. So the blog will say “women should have as many opportunities as men have” and a commenter while say “so you’re saying all men should be castrated! you’re just as bad as the misogynists!”
    Honestly, I think it’s an issue of being on the internet, or maybe even just of living in the world. People who think you are wrong will want to see you as unreasonable, so that is what they go for. I say if you have already made yourself clear in your post (and it looks and looked to me like you really did) the only thing to do is to try not to engage with the people who are purposely ignoring that.

    As for those that claim that you are advocating banning homeschooling – perhaps some of these are the people who would like to see anything they don’t like made illegal, and so cannot fathom how you could want any lifestyle other than the one you live to be allowed? I’m sure that isn’t all of them, but I can’t help but think that for people who go “gross gay people! gay marriage should be illegal!” it might be a quick jump from “homeschooling didn’t work for me” to “homeschooling should be banned!”

    keep up the good work.

    • ewok_wrangler

      > Honestly, I think it’s an issue of being on the internet, or maybe even just of living in the world.

      Stop with the first clause. Internet comments differ from real-world responses in a number of ways that all lead to harsh, knee-jerk judgements. I think it is not only that the internet commenter speaks from a position of sheltered anonymity, and speaks to a stream of text, not a person. I think that if the Libby Anne were lecturing in a hall and the commenters were the audience, they literally would not think of the same responses: they would hear at least some of the nuances because they were hearing a human voice and seeing a human face. And if they did leap to a conclusion about what the speaker before them said, they would find some way to temper their expression of their objection because they were saying it to another person, in front of other persons.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia lucrezaborgia


        This is why I find it important to use the same user name everywhere and always identify myself as much as possible. If anything, people who finally meet me IRL say I talk just like I type -_-

      • Rosa

        having occasionally suggested, among real life homeschoolers, that homeschooling CAN sometimes be used as a cover for abuse?

        I think in this one there’s no mediating effect of knowing someone face to face.

      • Sarah

        No, having just completed my first ever on-line class, I think I can exclude the internet as the cause of the bad comprehension. I think the bad comprehension has been there all along (look at the current discussion over the common core standards), it’s the internet allowing us to see exactly how little some people understand written arguments. Whereas in conversation you might say “Homeschooling can be done well, but it can be used as a tool to isolate the children of fundies” and someone might hear”homeschooling is evil” and either bite their tongue or respond with some innocuous pleasantry, in written communication you will actually see how badly they misunderstand, and becase you’re speaking to more people, you’re more likely to hit one who’s not shy to speak out.

        In the Atlantic article about the new standards they had an example of a class of tenth graders not understand the word ” although”. In my college class responses were often so off the mark that you couldn’t tell which response matched with which dscussion question. And things which seem obvious to average people were over the heads of my fellow students. For example, they thought the movie about the last Apollo mission finding aliens was a documentary. I’m not being sarcastic or over the top. I have noticed a lot of people don’t understand analogies.

    • abra1

      I agree that the jump from asserting that homeschooling is prone to abuse and fails children in very particular ways to homeschooling should be illegal speaks much more about what many of those who are pro-homeschooling want to do regarding things they don’t like than anything Libby Anne said or didn’t say.

  • http://mymusingcorner.wordpress.com Lana

    With you all the way. As homeschoolers, we were taught to be defensive if someone criticized homeschooling, so the negative response is not surprising. As an adult, I am able to see both the good and the bad. The close control, indoctrination, and the legalism was a huge disadvantage. The fact that my entire world, including my friends, were also sheltered was also a disadvantage. It meant that coming out of that bubble in college was painful and downright embarrassing. If that doesn’t fit someone else experience, great, but don’t deny mine.

    And for the advantages, I can list plenty there too. But I’m not going to deny the crud it brought along with it because of how my parents chose to homeschool, and you are dead on about socialization.

    • machintelligence

      The close control, indoctrination, and the legalism was a huge disadvantage. The fact that my entire world, including my friends, were also sheltered was also a disadvantage.

      A lot of the folks who home school their children do not see those as bugs, but rather as features.

      • Anat

        I think often this becomes a case of parent-offspring conflict of interests. :)

  • http://thechurchproject.me Tracey

    I find your blogging to be rational and intelligible. You are always really clear and what’s more, you listen to rational disagreement and open yourself to change. I came here the first time because I followed a link to that abortion arguments #ed list. I waited for you to post about adoption intending to respond, then leave. While waiting I read new posts and found they were always well-thought out, well-written and often pertinent to my own religious exploration project. I’ve been reading your blog almost every day.

    It seems like some people just don’t listen well. I guess that goes for written word too. You type “homeschooling can have some problems” and they read “homeschooling is evil and must be destroyed!” You have been more than clear. You just somehow attracted a lot of non-listeners.

  • Eric D Red

    Don’t stop blogging! Although I don’t remember the original posts, your excerpts show that you really did show that it isn’t a one-dimensional issue. However, there are those who really can’t understand a nuanced view. And it isn’t surprising that those who take a religious view to home schooling think that way. No matter how much explanation and qualification you give, it will be filtered out and your message will come out as an attack to something that is a matter of identity to them.

    I have to say that your ability to show the nuance and shades of grey is a big point in your favour. There are some, even in the freethought/atheist/skeptic communities who fail to keep that in mind.

    So only one comment that has a small nuance of negative towards your blogging; thicken your skin. When you skewer sacred cows, especially of those who can’t see anything beyond a divine view of meright/youwrong, you’re going to get negative feedback. If you don’t, it’s either because your delivery bland platitudes (pointless) or you’re working in an echo chamber (pointless). With your background, you’ve clearly attracted attention of those who are or have been affected.

    Blogging: You’re doing it RIGHT. Hopefully the rest of us can have your back.

  • http://mymusingcorner.wordpress.com Lana

    Just read your socialization posts. You are dead on. I still liked the positive aspects of homeschooling, but totally, I was not socialized even though I had a lot of friends growing up. College was both painful and embarrassing in that respect.

  • J-Rex

    At least now you don’t have to take the time to respond to them. You can just link to this and wait till they’ve actually read what you’ve written before they criticize you.

    • Christine

      Sounds like she’s be waiting forever. They aren’t reading what she really writes when it doesn’t require them to follow a link. Extra work? Not going to happen.

  • smrnda

    I’ve read your blog since before you were on patheos, and nowhere did I get the impression that you were anti-homechooling; you were just trying to explain that there are some huge potential disadvantages, and that many people who homeschool don’t take them seriously.

    On socialization, whether or not a child has been socialized effectively probably depends a lot on what type of adult situations the child is likely to enter. Rigid fundamentalists aren’t socializing their kids for being in the world at large, but only for making them capable of socializing within the fundamentalist subculture, and part of this is probably making sure the kids don’t have the ability to socialize outside of that subculture. It’s like having an island fortress, and making sure nobody can escape by making sure nobody learns how to swim.

    • Anat

      Also depends on the personality of the parents, the children, and how much awareness there is to the limitations caused by the above. I’m naturally introverted. If I can avoid company I do. But having been normally socialized I do reasonably OK when I am around people. If I were to homeschool my daughter my natural inclination would cause me to isolate her and she’d have had very few opportunities to socialize as a result – unless I made an effort to go outside my comfort zone deliberately in order to provide her with social opportunities, even ones I wouldn’t normally appreciate.

      (And it doesn’t help that in our part of suburbia meeting people outside of organized activities takes effort. I can’t count the number of times I took her to the park during summer break to find it empty.)

  • Uly

    When you comment on other people’s parenting choices, no matter how careful you are, some people will interpret it as a personal attack. Some people will even look at talking about your own choices as an attack, especially if they often find themselves having to defend their choices because they aren’t that common.

    Apologizing repeatedly doesn’t help. If anything, it makes it sound like you have something to be sorry for.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia lucrezaborgia

    Socialization can be an issue even if one isn’t homeschooled. As a young child (and in my eyes), I had very limited contact with other children until my family moved into a house in a neighborhood with kids when I was in 5th grade. Before that time, we lived above my dad’s auto-shop in a warehouse district. The time spent in school wasn’t enough for me to socialize with children. I saw adults as my peers and, looking back, I think that was a very bad thing. So when I hear certain homeschooling advocates talk about how their children are socialized by adults, I inwardly cringe and remember myself as a child. A friend of mine is having that issue with her daughter now who is in pre-school. She will be 5 in February and she considers adults to be her friends. Now, she is an extremely articulate child and can easily carry on a conversation with an adult, but she has extreme difficulty relating to children her own age!

    Being socialized by adults is not a good thing for a child and school hours alone aren’t enough either for some children. I didn’t learn how to have healthy interpersonal-relationships until I moved into that neighborhood where I could go play with children after school. It doesn’t even need to be a nice suburb as we moved to an apartment block area where I had access to other children as well.

    Working for a park’s after-school program, I greatly appreciated one homeschooling mom who dropped her kids off every day to socialize with the school kids. Unfortunately, she was seen as the outcast of the local homeschooling group. A group whose children never interacted with anyone outside of their group. It was as if they feared being contaminated by those ordinary school children.

    • smrnda

      I had this same problem when I was young, and I realized my ‘ability to socialize with adults’ wasn’t really a sign of great maturity on my part, but just that all my interactions fell into two categories – either I was interacting with family where I would have done fine if I’d been pretty deficient socially, or else I’d been interacting with adults who were strangers where ‘being polite’ meant everything. I thought I was going to be ‘more mature’ than other kids, but I also realized that I hadn’t figured out how to have fun, and that my ostensible ability to interact with adults was just that they enjoyed a Q and A with a kid who had lots of knowledge. Basically, it’s like being socialized where you can do well in job interviews and nothing else.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia lucrezaborgia

        LOL…I typically do excellent at interviews.

  • Landon

    As inane as the phrase “haters gonna hate” may be, it really brings up a good point. I’ve seen people attacked for expressing every point of view there is, including – and I kid you not – that the earth is round, that it’s good that murder is illegal, and that learning a foreign language takes time and effort. You would think these things would be uncontroversial, but they are not, at least if you broaden your reference class enough.

    The simple, awful truth of the communication revolution that the Internet has wrought is that it can bring one person’s words to EVERY crazy person out there, and those crazy people can respond. Can, and will. As terrible as it may sound, you just have to narrow your reference class. I know you want to be fair, to respond to your critics intelligently and compassionately (in short, to be better than they are to you). However, there is – or rather, must be – an epistemic social contract, and when people flagrantly violate it, you need to, you must for the sake of your own ability to reason, exclude them from the epistemic community. Reasoning, getting at the truth, is a social process, and just as engaging with trolls can destroy a productive discourse, listening to and treating as rational people who put your words through the shredder (nice image, btw) can literally undermine your ability to reason effectively.

    I know that none of this makes getting those kinds of emails any more fun, nor does advising it help you actually figure out HOW to “put them out of your mind.” But, to echo so many others in this thread, the problem IS them, and NOT you. Haters gonna hate. There is literally nothing you can assert that will not draw a crazy response once your readership gets big enough.

    It’s a permutation of a lesson I learned while teaching – no matter how hard you try, no matter how clear you are, no matter how much help you offer, some students will somehow manage not to master the material. It sucks and knowing this shouldn’t, strictly speaking, make it easier to deal with, but somehow, really absorbing it does help in some weird way. Really internalizing that this is not somehow your fault, or your responsibility to “fix,” is liberating. Do the best job you can, and forget the crazies. Haters gonna hate.

    Finally, I am glad – for those of us who would like to remain in the rational community – that you are still blogging. Thank you.

  • Hilary


    I enjoy your blog the most of the Patheos atheist portal. You’ve got a fascinating window on the rightwing Christian world, I think what you did about abrotion is brilliant, I hope you did read the book I recomended, and what you said about homeschooling have the potiential for abuse as well as success seems like basic common sense to me. I’m an introvert who gets bored shitless over girly stuff, dating, makeup, clothes, boys, blah blah blah. But I’m not a sports tomboy either and I hate loud, repetitive noises so most popular music will drive me out of a room. Yeah, socialization, oh that was fun. I might homeschool if I have to, but I’m considering adopting out of foster care so that has a whole different set of issues. I would *deffinatly* homeschool a child being socially abused at school, or bored, but I would include socialization with the rest of the world.


    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Thanks. :-) I am in the process of reading the book you recommended – I bought it over Thanksgiving break – and my oh my, it’s REALLY good. It’s going to be one of those that actually fundamentally changes the way I approach relationships!

  • Holly

    I, also, am very glad you did not quit blogging. I only just found you a few weeks ago.

    There are always going to be defensive people and when it becomes personal to them, they get louder. It’s not about rational behavior, but fending off those who they feel are attacking them. Of course, it’s silly, but hey, there are people you simply look at and nod.

  • Hilary

    Oh good, I’m so glad you like it. Her other books are equally good, Dance of Anger and Dance of Intimacy. I hope you see why I think she would be a great foil to Debi Pearl. It would be interesting to put the two of them in the same room together. I’d never heard about the Pearls before, (they’re not household names with liberal Jews) but from what I’ve read from your blog I wonder if she isn’t somewhere in the autism spectrum. Maybe not diagnosibly so, clinically, but she seems so formulaic about relationships it’s like she can’t understand real emotions or feelings, or real complex human psychology. And what she can’t recognize or undrestand doesn’t exist, so all she can do is refer to a list of rules about human interaction. It’s like she treats relationships as algebra: if one person does X, enter their actions into an equation regarding relative social status, your response is Y. Theres no need to consider the unique complexity of the indivual person, or the surrounding situation, overall environment or past history.

    Or this is a common part of the Christian subculture she’s from? I’m used to liberal Christians, UCC type, and fairly non-dogmatic Catholic familiy, so for me it’s like reading about an alien sci-fi culture. She’d be great in a novel, but she’s not, she’s real and real people try to follow her advice, with real hurt and real families.

    Anyway, I hope you had a good weekend. I look forward to whatever you have next.


    • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

      As someone on the autism spectrum, don’t be insulting. A tendency to reduce complex things to simple equations seems to be common human behaviour, regardless of neurology. And it’s not hard to understand why–it means one doesn’t have to think as hard, especially when one also conveniently forgets/ignores situations that don’t fit neatly with the preferred algorithm. Which makes the amount of mental effort often given towards trying to rationalise a particular stance seem kind of laughable, actually.

      • Hilary

        Sorry about that – thanks for calling me on it. I’m not sure what to call it, or how, but there’s something about the level of cognitive dissonence in her that is baffling, beyond just that I think her idea’s are terrible. I couldn’t think of any other way to express the condition of being totally unable to gauge another persons emotions or reasons, or have any empathy for another’s experiance. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been spared any sustained contact with religious fundamentalists in my life.

        It’s also occured to me that she’s a psychopath, in the technical sense that she can read and manipulate emotions but not feel or understand them. Come to think of it, that is how she’s telling women to relate to men – read, control and manipulate their emotions but not try and relate to them as an individual person. But perhaps it’s best not to try and psychoanalyize her over someone else blogging through her book.

        Again, thanks for calling me on a poor analegy.


    • http://mymusingcorner.wordpress.com Lana

      As someone who grew up in this movement, I can say she gets power and strokes for being this way, and it keeps her going. Its irrational, but she breathes in this kind of world.

    • http://autistscorner.blogspot.com Lindsay

      Hi, Hilary.

      Jayn already said what I was going to say at first, but I still have something to add. My experience of growing up autistic, and knowing from a very young age that I was autistic, actually led me to be especially cautious about making inferences about other people because I knew they were very, very different from me. The usual exercise of putting oneself in the other person’s shoes usually didn’t work for that reason. So I would most definitely not be thinking I had the answer to everyone’s problems with their marriage! (Unless I knew the person super-well).

      Being autistic has heightened, not eradicated, my awareness that other people are different from me.

      • Hilary

        Thanks for your insight. I really wasn’t trying to be insulting, just reaching for some way to get a thought across and made a bad analagy. I’ll be more careful in the future.


  • Sarah Jane

    I am not surprised that you’ve faced such bitter criticism, although I am sorry that it’s affected you so strongly. Whether or not blogging should always be “fun,” it certainly shouldn’t make you feel unsafe or questioning your ability to communicate.

    Teaching at a conservative Christian college, I had the opportunity to interact with a lot of students who had been homeschooled. In many ways I found them to be a pretty diverse group. They ranged from extreme conservatives to fledgling liberals, from outgoing and well-adjusted to extreme social awkwardness, and from academic brilliance to real intellectual poverty. But for all their differences, one thing the homeschoolers nearly ALL had in common was a powerful instinct to defend homeschooling to the death. I also observed that those students who had been fairly sheltered (whether through homeschooling, private Christian schools, etc.) often had a very difficult time being respectful when confronted with an idea or opinion that disagreed with their existing beliefs.

    Regardless, as I think many other posters have noted, the problem here is not the clarity of your writing. I’m sure it’s not enjoyable, but the fact that your angriest critics are attacking things you never said is an indicator that they CAN’T find fault with what you actually did say — even if they really, really didn’t enjoy hearing you say it.

    • Emily

      There’s something about years of being a homeschooled kid and having strangers quiz you on states and capitals, multiplication tables, etc. that brings out the strong “defending homeschooling” instinct you identify. A sociological concept called stereotype threat is at work here — some homeschoolers feel the need to disprove the stereotypes that society ascribes to them as individuals. Also, the quiz questions and the desire to defend homeschooling are really kids mounting defenses against attacks on Mom. Not really situations I think third graders deserve to be put in by adults.

      • Sarah Jane

        Stereotype threat! Thank you, I was not familiar with that term but it makes perfect sense. As, unfortunately, does the feeling that any attack on homeschooling is a personal attack on the family that has made some pretty significant sacrifices to provide their kids with a homeschool education. :S

      • http://kathrynbrightbill.com Ryn

        As a kid whose parents started homeschooling back when almost nobody had heard of it, I found myself being quizzed by random strangers more times than I can count. Even in first or second grade, I’d be minding my own business at the library and have strangers come up to me and ask me why I wasn’t in school and then start quizzing me about homeschooling. No six year old should be asked by adults to defend the educational decision that their parents made, but that’s what random adults would try and make me do. When you spend much of your childhood being forced by strangers to defend your education, it’s hard to look at the broader homeschooling community objectively. If you’ve been defending your education your whole life, it can make you more than a little touchy.

        Oh well, I’m pretty sure that now I’m the apostate homeschooler, what with turning out to be the liberal lesbian activist type, well, either that or I just layered stereotypes on top of other stereotypes.

  • Sarah Jane

    Hilary, a formulaic approach to relationships (and, really, all of life) is VERY prevalent within conservative/evangelical circles. Male-female relationships in particular are very rigid and rule-oriented: the strong emphasis on gender roles leads to a lot of sweeping generalizations about all women or all men. While most conservative leaders are not quite as extreme as the Pearls, and while there are relationship books with better writing than Debi’s, the idea that any wife of any husband could follow a simple script to improve her marriage is pretty much unquestioned.

    • Hilary

      I see that, but it still seems like Debi is just missing something, I can’t put my finger on it. But then I’ve only read what Libby Anne has posted so that’s not much to judge on. It makes me very, very grateful to be raised a liberal Jew, but to be fair I know ultra-Orthodox fundamentalist Jews can be just as bad. I remember reading somewhere that the liberal part of one religion can get along better with the liberal part of a different religion then the conservative part of the same religion. IE a liberal Jew can get along better with a liberal Christian then an Orthodox Jew, while a fundamentalist Christian has a worldview closer to that of an ultra-Orthodox Jew then a liberal Christian.



      • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia lucrezaborgia

        I could say she’s missing half a brain but that would be mean…as to her writing in general here is a link to To Train Up a Child: http://av.morethanalive.com/images/large/TTUAC.pdf

        You can see here how her and Michael’s philosophy is so warped and it starts from birth.

      • Landon

        What she’s missing is any sense that the individuals have to work out their happiness for themselves, that there are general guidelines (don’t be assholes to each other) but no specific hard-and-fast rules, no formulae. This is because she comes from a culture obsessed with specificity, which is a legacy of the works-not-grace theological bent of her specific stripe of fundamentalism. The 60s and 70s were all about rediscovering the individual in American culture, and that’s a revolution her particular religious culture seeks to reverse. They can’t allow for individuality, for the idea that there are happiness is a problem that can’t be solved by rote application of a formula, because that would produce inconceivable cognitive dissonance with the fact that they believe that the problem of sin, the core of salvation itself, is a problem that is worked out by rote application of a formula, by following rules, by abnegation of the self.

      • http://AztecQueen2000.blogspot.com AztecQueen2000

        As someone who became Orthodox Jewish in adulthood, I’d have to say Hilary’s comment was spot-on. And it’s heartbreaking.
        Incidentally, I homeschool my kids. The alternative is a single-gender, single-religion environment where “excellent secular studies” can be defined as down to and including “functional literacy upon graduation and little else.”

      • Hilary


        I do know the difference between Modern Orthodox, very observant but still interacting with the world, and ultra-orthodox, black hat fundies. But I’m Reform, patrilinial mixed marriage until my mother converted when I was 18, and I exchanged life vows under my fathers tallit as a huppah with a woman I met at a Catholic College, who had converted two years earlier. Both of her parents had been liberal protestant ministers, UCC and Presbyterian. I have chatted with 5-6 friends after Torah study and realized I was the only one with any Jewish parents at all. I am constantly surprised at how many people I meet at my temple who choose Judaism for no other reason then they love it. No spouse, no partner at their side at the mikvah, just a pure spiritual choice. So I’d rather work with someone from the United Church of Christ then an ultra-frum background. But if a Modern O. Jew was willing to work with me, I’d give them a chance.

        I read somewhere that after the Holocaust there were so many Jewish souls so brutally murdered with unfinished business that they needed to come back somehow. Only there weren’t enough Jewish babies born for all of them so they started being born into non-Jewish families. From personal experiance, that’s not outside the realm of impossibility.

        Anyway, I hope you are happy ahnd doing well with your place in Judaism, and Happy Hanukah!


  • Leah

    Libby Anne, please continue blogging. Your posts are so insightful, thoughtful and respectful of others views, however you do not shy away from a strong point of view. You have offered me excellent advice in the past and I would hate to lose your blog as a reference point. In many instances, homeschooling is such an important and large part of parenting that people instantly tense and prepare for an attack. However, all of your posts indicate that while you had a very negative experience, you do not judge others. Many times I have encountered a parent that is quick on the defensive but it usually is because they are not 100% convinced their decision is the right one so they are justifying it to themselves. Thank you for your openness and again please continue blogging!

  • Gary Held

    A thoughtful post….thanks Libby. I think it comes down to this: Homeschooling as a _choice_, vs. Homeschooling as a _Cause_. My wife and I homeschooled our two eldest for a year, then we decided to put them in public school. To the friends we’d made in the homeschooling community over that year, we overnight become traitors to the Cause. They DIDN’T WANT homeschooling to be a _choice_ for us, because that would imply we also could entertain other choices.

  • http://allweathercyclist.blogspot.com/ JethroElfman

    Been here since the seminal abortion post last month, and I really like your blog. Your articles are well thought out and the writing quality presents your ideas clearly. That you can put out such volume and still write so well really impresses me. If you don’t end up in a journalism or similar writing career you are missing your calling.

    It is natural that the larger percentage of comments tend to be critical or negative. It seems superfluous to remark “Agree — Totally!!”. Even someone generally in agreement will need to find a contrarian stance on some point in order to add value to the discussion. You do it yourself. When you do a book review or critique of others’ blog entries, it is the majority of the time something that you disagree with. I would love to hear about what you read and liked too. For example, I’m currently reading “Emotional Vampires”, a humorous psychology book by Albert Bernstein. I’m finding plenty of great quotes and passages in it, and I read them at the dinner table to my wife and children. They regularly comment, “Yeah, I know someone like that”.

    I prefer hearing your take on politics and current social issues rather than the ongoing saga of Debi the giggling help meet.

    • http://mymusingcorner.wordpress.com Lana

      were you homeschooled? cuz I love the Debi Pearl bites. And anything else related to homeschooling stereotypes.

  • Mattir

    I’m another one who’s glad you didn’t quit blogging, and I’m a (gasp) homeschooler. The thing about talking about homeschooling is that you must must must have a very thick skin, since there are plenty of people on both sides of the argument who will call you names and deploy armies of strawmen in support of their particular point of view. It would be really really nice if homeschoolers could grasp that homeschooling is legal, it’s not going to become illegal, and that there are actually families and children for whom homeschooling is not the best option. Just like public schools are not going anywhere and there are families and children for whom public schools (or private schools) are not the best option.

  • Seda

    I hope you continue to blog about homeschooling. Every post of yours I have read on the subject has been very clear, to me, about your nuanced and informed opinions. As a parent whose children have been homeschooled, charter schooled, and are currently public schooled, I find your critiques of homeschooling incisive, wise, informative and thought-provoking. And, BTW, spot on. I have seen the problems and advantages of each educational system illustrated in the life of my own sons. And while the breadth and freedoms of homeschooling have given my kids some rich experiences and insights I don’t believe they could ever have gained in a public school setting, I am deeply valuing the remedial socialization my youngest son is gaining in public school, and the structure it’s providing for my eldest.

    I think the bottom line is what gives the individual child the widest and deepest education and experience in balance with the needs of and how those choices affect society as a whole. And you, Libby Anne, articulate that very well. Thank you for every one of your homeschooling posts. Please know that for every negative response you get, someone else is thinking, and very likely seeds are planted in the one who screams the loudest. That can only help their children – and our world.

  • Sara

    I just read your original article on socialization and found it quite interesting. I do homeschool, I will continue to homeschool and I believe it is what is best for my children. The longer I Homeschool, the more reasons I find to support my doing it and the harder it is for me to envision sending them back to public school. My oldest daughter is a much happier child and our family operates better because of this. However, I do realize that by choosing to do something different, we are BY DEFINITION doing something different. It seemed to me that was the point of this article. I have wondered more than once how hard it will be for her to fit it with “the masses” simply because she does not know what happened on Sponge Bob last night or what the latest Xbox game or song is. Refusing to acknowledge that there may be issues that arise from being different is just silly.

    We do NOT Homeschool for religious reasons. We have family and friends from many different religions, ethnicities, sexual preferences, political ideas and other backgrounds or viewpoints. We travel extensively and talk about many social issues. However, even with all of that, they still do not experience “normal’ things like getting shoved in line, going to a school assembly and listening to the principal speak, finding their spot in the 3rd grade pecking order, complaining about the PE coach, hiding under their desk for bomb drills, or going to school movie night. Some, I am glad for them to miss, some I am not. However, the fact is that YES, they are not just like everyone else. While “everyone else” is in school, we are travelling to Geneva to see UNICEF in action, driving through Sequoia to see amazing trees and then continuing through the farm areas in CA to see extreme poverty and horrible conditions for migrant children, going into NYC to see the opera, going to Europe to study the Middle ages or growing our own garden in science. A great education, absolutely. Just like all the other kids, absolutely not. Will they ever be made fun of, excluded, or feel different? Of course!

    Homeschooling can be wonderful. Homeschooling can be bad. I strongly support my right to do it but I also support the oversight required by my state (Florida) to prove we are doing our job. I think that as Homeschooling parents, who do this because we want the best for our kids, we do need to consider the fact that there will be issues that come up BECAUSE they are not just like all the other kids. That can be good and it can be bad, but YES people, there will be times that they MIGHT feel like they don’t fit in.

    I went to both private and public school but was extremely involved in horses. So, instead of hanging with the other kids at the mall, I was riding. Back at school, I didn’t know a lot of what they were talking about (bands, movies, clothes, etc.) and there were times I feel like I didn’t fit in. Luckily, I had the coping skills to understand why, I felt valuable in my unique skills and persona and would not have wanted to change anything. However, there is no denying that I was different. I’m sure everyone reading this has felt different at some point. It’s not about being different. Lots of people are different. It IS about exposing our children to as much of the world they live in as we can and giving them the skills to COPE when they face difficult situations. Why not take something from this person’s experience and make sure our kids have all of the skills they need. How can that be a bad thing?

  • Miriam

    There are a considerable number of people who can’t see their choices as valuable unless everyone else agrees. These people are really insecure about their own choices and go to great lengths to tear down anything that looks vaguely like disagreement, no matter how mild. I’d guess that’swhere your angrier commenters are coming from.

  • http://Love,Joy,Feminism Northstar

    Libby Anne,
    I’ve enjoyed your blog for a long time. As a homeschooler, an atheist and with family members who are hard-core born-agains, your blog has given me absolutely invaluable insight into the Evangelical mindset, and the minefields of growing up homeschooled. It’s compelling reading. Much of what you’ve written about homeschooling I can agree with, yet there are some things you say that still make me wince. Can I share without becoming one of the “bad guys?” I hope so. The problem is not so much the homeschooling criticisms — some of which are valid — but on some of the remedies solving those problems suggest.

    Yes on the problems with socializing. It exists; I don’t blow the issue off as so many homeschoolers do. Yet so much of a person’s ability to socialize is innate! I look at my two oldest daughters: one is more extroverted, able to talk easily with others and confident in her presentation. The second is extremely introverted and shy. No amount of putting her in social situations will make her anything but miserable. Two years separate them. So have I “socialized” them appropriately — or not?

    Testing and standards — MI has very lax standards WRT homeschoolers, but we don’t get much in the way of help, either. In fact, we are forbidden from picking up the “core” courses — you know, the very math and science classes we are supposed to need — from the public schools. But when I look at the lousy local results (last time I looked, only about 17% my daughters’ age were on level with science) from the local schools I don’t see why the school system should have any say in what I do. I can’t see that they are going to do any better. My oldest daughter is advanced; she started college at 14, taking the hard sciences and pulling “A”s. My second daughter is dealing with severe dyslexia; despite daily work, she’s way, way behind in her English skills. She can discuss Voltaire and Shakespeare, but she spells, punctuates and capitalizes like an illiterate. So have I succeeded in meeting standards — or failed?

    Who decides? Do they take kid #2 into the school and “remediate” her? Would it help? Or more likely cause a great deal of misery before failing anyway? One thing I am joyful about is that school hasn’t taken this shy, sensitive, artistic kid and made her suffer the torments of teasing and bullying because of her disability. She may be shy, but she knows she is smart and funny and capable.

    If daughter #2 goes to an arts high school in another year as she wishes, I know both her shyness and her difficulties with English are going to be laid at the fault of homeschooling, and my teeth are already set on edge waiting for it. What can I do? Take the first daughter, point to her and protest, “But homeschooling didn’t do that to HER!”

    And homeschooling as a “cover for abuse.” Hmm. The problem is, one must admit, abuse occurs in schooled families as well. Are homeschool families more prone to abuse than other families? I don’t know, but I don’t think so. What is the rate of abuse in both situations? What remedies are there for this abuse? Home visits? Are you (the universal “you”) ok with searches or checks by authorities in your own home to make sure you are not abusing your kids? Should it not be equally applied in both circumstances? The problem is, the remedy sounds worse than the problem, and at a certain point society has to assume people want to do the best by their kids while understanding that is not always going to be the case.

    And finally: indoctrination. Take the example of my homeschooling evangelical sibling. Her kids are wholly surrounded by Christian everything; and you can forget that evolution and old-earth business, too. I don’t agree with that myself, but you know, a whole lot of people wouldn’t agree with how I’m raising MY kids, either. My sis’ kids are dumb as hell when it comes to science, but a lot of their schooled contemporaries are, too. But otherwise, they’re smart, friendly, well-read kids, polite and not prone to a lot of peer-pressure type of acting out. In my view, that’s a fair trade for letting that family alone and letting them — and me, of course — do homeschooling the way we think is right.

    • GreenieWeenie

      I don’t know if you’ve considered this already but you might be interested in my experience with my (homeschooled through the beginning of high school) husband.

      My husband and his four siblings were home schooled for typical reasons. He and his older brother went to high school, however, in order to play sports (with the hopes of college scholarships). The younger three stayed home through high school.

      I definitely notice differences between my husband and me (public school all the way), and between he and his younger siblings. He and his brother both talk about not being able to shake the feeling of being an outsider, despite the fact that as top athletes they were obviously not social outcasts in high school. My husband is socially insecure…always self-conscious (even when he’s drunk and dancing! He is not someone who doesn’t know how to let loose). I think part of this is personality but I am convinced part of it is culture. His mother homeschooled partly to maintain a kind of image to the outside world and her kids are acutely aware of it. Even though my husband has nothing to do with that image, he retains the self consciousness and feelings of ostracization (“set apart” is how his mom would see it, I imagine).

      I also notice a difference between my husband and his younger siblings. Whatever his insecurities are, magnify it by ten among the younger ones. Again, they are not naturally introverted or socially awkward kids…they never were. But they are deeply insecure about their knowledge (jokes about school being craft-oriented). I never met people so completely unaware of so many cultural references…they simply never learned anything that their mother didnt already know and her life experience was limited. Like I said, the kids by and large know this. There is definitely an insensitivity to other cultures/life experiences/perspectives…it’s not overt or deliberate, but I notice it so much when I’m there. As a child of a truly multi-cultural society, I genuinely feel they have missed out on so much by having spent 95% their formative years around people who look like them, act like them and think like them (other family members and close community). Sure, they learned Spanish in high school…but they assume anyone who speaks it is a dark-skinned Mexican gardener. These kinds of assumptions are corrected by real life engagement and home school limits those opportunities. To compensate, homeschoolers have to reach out to other communities. They never really grasp that those communities form the fabric of our shared world–they simply see those communities as proximate to or existing in THEIR world.

      We are expats who live abroad and most work opportunities are linked to education. I have so many advantages over my husband in this area simply because he never had a classroom environment modeled to him before tenth grade. I could see homeschooling if my options were limited (e.g. only super expensive international schools available) but there’s no doubt in my mind that marginalizing your child–no matter what the reasons are and no matter how you try to make up for it–comes with a cost they’ll carry into adulthood.

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    Another 2 nuances is that many people, specially conservatives, think that if you are pro regulations is that you hate them. If you want to regulate business is that you hate corporations; if you want safety regulations, you hate …; if you want to regulate homeschooling, you hate homeschoolers; …

    And the “fair and balance” point. If you have written something that cast even the slightest negative light on homeschooling, you need to write a glowing review of it saying positive things about it the next post because you need to give both views equal space because if not you are being “unfair, biased, censoring them, a nazzi, …”.

  • http://sunniemomsblog.wordpress.com Susan Raber

    Here’s my feeble attempt to explain the passionate objections to your posts, from my perspective.

    If the only people with serious socialization issues where homeschoolers, I’d understand the reason for the debate. But isn’t “home education” that creates difficulty interacting with people who are different, lacking the ability to take criticism, handling yourself around large groups of people, or dealing with someone not liking you.

    Seen any old John Hughes movies lately? How about Glee, or any other modern show that claims to have captured the ‘high school experience’? Them shows ain’t exactly chock full of beautifully socialized kids, eh?

    Prisons and mental hospitals are full of people who graduated from public schools and public universities. Dare I attempt to make a case criticizing public education based on those statistics? Of course not, and you are welcome to beat me over the head with a shovel if I ever do such a thing.

    It is normal for a first year college student, or anyone encountering a new situation, to feel awkward, lost, and depressed. The first time I drove 65mph on highway I didn’t know if I was going to puke or faint, )but put me on a curvy country road in the mountains and I’ve got the pedal to the metal with one foot out the window). As a native West Virginian, I experienced a cultural disconnection when I visited my husband’s family in New Jersey- it wasn’t another state, it was another PLANET. I was a nervous wreck for months at my first job, having my first child, the first major event I organized, the first time we bought a house (also experienced the puke/faint feeling there too). There is no way any person is going to experience a life of comfort and joy 24/7/365. And what a bunch of weak and spineless losers we’d be if we never faced adversity, tackled a challenge, or stepped outside our comfort zone.

    The bottom line is that socialization is a nature and nurture problem, not an educational method problem.

    I agree completely that all educational methods have advantages and disadvantages, and should be a choice that parents approach with thorough research, meaningful thought, and honest consideration of their child’s strengths and weaknesses.

  • Mary

    Finally, I’ve found common ground with you. : ) I, too, believe that homeschoolers should take socialization seriously, but then, I also think private schoolers and public schoolers should as well.

    What I have seen in our homeschooling experiences (1 daughter in college; 1 in high school) is that our children need to figure out how to wrangle a number of social situations to have successful, long-lasting friendships and to flourish in small and large peer groups. Part of our homeschooling education “policy” has always been exposing, and at times, abandoning them to yukky, awkward situations. (Good socialization is never as gut-wrenching.) They learn. Discuss. Move on. (Believe me, mean girls exist everywhere, so those “why-did-she-say-that?” opportunities are abundant. Then, later, when socialization is defined more as mingling with those of the hairy legged variety then that presents a whole ‘nuther type of skill set. ; ) )

    That said, on many occasions, I’ve seen more than a fair number of the private/public schooled children who entered our circles who have been horribly socialized. The parents (note, I’m not blaming the schools) haven’t taken the time to address, or else pay attention to, the oversocialization that is going on with their child. These parents do not appear to look for opportunities for their children to de-compress or become reflective nor do they appear to try to combat the coarseness and ignorance of the playground and hallway. Intolerance is rampant with these oversocialized children. (I found that the more rigid the public school society the child moves in the more angry these children are when they encounter other children or teens who are different, i.e., homeschooled.)

    If socialization (whatever THAT looks like to each one of us) is a goal, then I think parents using any educational venue must accept the hard work needed to avoid oversocialization (more common in private/public schooling) or undersocialization (more common in homeschooling/small private schooling) as part and parcel of parenting and education.

  • http://pslibrary.com/ MrPopularSentiment

    So yeah, catching up on my blog reading in reverse order is not such a great idea, and now I feel bad for my comment in your “Once Upon a Time” post.

    It’s a touchy subject for me because I was brutalized in public school, and my teachers did nothing to help. I was denied an education, and I suffered some prety serious scars that I’m still – a decade after graduation – trying to work through. I don’t want that for my son. Maybe the schools here will somehow be different than all seven schools in three countries that I’ve been to. Maybe. But maybe not. And given that his personality is so similar to mine, I see him having the same issues that I had (and if he’s to be saved at all, it would only be because maybe I’ve learned a thing or two in my healing process that I can impart). But if the schools are as bad here and now as they were in my childhood, and if he runs into the same crap that I had to go through, I don’t have a lot of options. We couldn’t afford a really good private school that caters to introverts, so homeschooling is really our only option left.

    So when I read horror stories about homeschool, or posts about how homeschool kids come out all weird and messed up and that public school is way better, I get just a little terrified. And then I react.

    That’s why things like homeschooling (and vaccinations, and extended rear-facing car seats, and boobs vs formula, etc) are such hot button issues – we love our children, and the thought that we could be making the wrong choice on such important things hits us in a very primal spot – and hurts all the more because we’re already doubting ourselves.

  • A

    I really appreciate that you have written about the negative side to homeschooling because I know it takes a lot of guts. Growing up, I was angry at people who questioned homeschooling because that was my identity and their words hit too close to home. Reading your blog and other blogs has been really encouraging to me because it was the first time I knew other people understood what my childhood and teenage years were like. I’ve met other homeschoolers, but their experiences were very different from mine because they weren’t isolated and controlled to the same extreme that I was. It’s very possible I would have never left that house if a lady hadn’t intervened and convinced me that college wasn’t an impossible dream. Reading the posts about the connection between Christian patriarchy, fundamentalism, and homeschooling made a lot of sense to me. Reading other people’s experiences has really helped me understand my own experiences better, helped me find the courage to face the past, and given me hope that I can heal. Thank you so much.

  • Heather

    I’m so glad that you didn’t quit blogging! Reading your blog has helped me a great deal in sorting through my experiences growing up in the religious right. I’m sorry that people have gotten so nasty with you when you blog about homeschooling. I don’t understand it either. I completely get what you mean when you say that you’ve had a much more negative experience than positive and are therefor opting out of the option to homeschool – that’s exactly how I feel about church. My experience with religion was so overwhelmingly negative that the positive bits don’t seem worth it. Because I left the church so broken and unable to function as a normal young adult, my husband and I have decided that that is not something we want to expose our own children to. However, I get that not everyone has had that experience and I certainly wouldn’t push for banning church altogether. I really don’t understand how people take criticism of something as a call for banning it entirely. At this point in time, I intend to homeschool my children. I don’t think there is anything that you have said that is offensive. There ARE problems with homeshooling, just like there are with anything else. It’s important that socialization be addressed rather than just brushed off. Children need to socialize with people that aren’t in their own family. And I really don’t get this aversion to regulation. I want adequate state regulation because I want to be absolutely sure that my children are receiving the education that they deserve. I don’t want them to be worse off educationally than the children in public or private schools – what’s the point in even bothering with education if you’re not going to do a good job? Regulation helps assure that your children are, at a minimum, learning the things that other children their age are learning. How is that a bad thing? Anyway, keep doing your thing. People that want to be offended or that have some reason to be defensive aren’t going to change their minds and they’re going to keep throwing nonsensical arguments your way. But I think you’re doing a great thing here, and clearly so do a lot of others.

  • Sara

    Let me add my voice to those congratulating you on your even-handed, reasonable, and thoughtfully expressed sentiments on home schooling. I have toyed with the idea of spending some time home schooling my own future children (I live in a very rural area and have generous education to teach a child up until late high school). I appreciate hearing your own experience and how you analyze that experience. If home schooling ever came seriously on the table, I would take your advice quite seriously and I would take it with gratitude. Keep writing.

  • Kelsey

    I just found this blog and you have no idea how encouraging it is to me! I was home schooled K-8th and your original post on socialization just validated and helped explain so many feelings I have about it. My school aged child is in public school and trying to explain to my parents and friends who home school my reasoning has been difficult. Thanks for writing!