Homeschool Victim Blaming

Yesterday I posted about a young woman I know—Sarah—who was homeschooled, and wasn’t taught science. She credited her mother’s failure to cover science as part of her homeschool education to the lack of accountability for homeschoolers in her state—a state with no oversight of homeschoolers whatsoever. Here is what one of the commenters—a homeschool parent—had to say in the comments section of that post:

There’s no reason an adult, such as this young woman, cannot self educate herself in science or any other subject, that she feels she is laking. She needs to recognize that “parent blaming” will not allow her to grow as a person. Does she even use science in the world she finds herself in? What about the accountability of herself to do something about what she feels she missed out on?

And:

If she had a passion for science, she would know it. When our kids are passionate about things, they ask a million questions, they research, they experiment, they explore. A person chooses how involved they want to be in their own educational awareness, and of their lives. She seems to be looking for someone to blame. Did she ask her mother to do some science, did she pursue the subject at the library, did she ask a million questions? Or any?

First, how can someone know they have a passion for a subject unless they have exposure to it? This is why public schools try to offer students a broad overview of a variety of subjects—so that students can gain a basic working knowledge in a breadth of subjects and learn what it is they enjoy. Believe it or note, people don’t automatically know what they do and do not like without trying thing.

Second, a child of eight or fourteen is not old enough to know what she does or does not need to know for life, and she’s also not old enough to be responsible for teaching herself each subject. There is a reason that children are not independent and allowed to make all of their own decisions in life, and that is because they are not yet prepared for that responsibility. Just as parents should not limit children’s freedom arbitrarily, even so there are times when parents must limit children’s freedom in fulfillment of their parental responsibilities—and times when parents must provide direction and structure.

As I’ve talked about in earlier posts, parents have a responsibility to bring their children to their majority prepared to be a responsible and independent adult. Part of that is education. Most parents fulfill this responsibility by sending their children to school and then making sure they do their homework and study. Homeschool parents fulfill this responsibility by teaching their children themselves. But that responsibility is there either way, and parents who shirk that responsibility are violating children’s right to an education.

Third, the homeschool parent who left those comments is engaging in victim blaming. Rather than admitting that yes, Sarah’s mother should have taught her science, she is instead blaming Sarah for not teaching herself or at the very least for not nagging her mother to teach her. This goes back to what I said earlier—as a child and even as a teen, Sarah wasn’t mature enough to have the responsibility for educating herself or for making sure her mother educated her. That was Sarah’s mother’s responsibility, a responsibility she took on when she chose to have a child.

Ever since Homeschoolers Anonymous got off the ground, some homeschool parents have responded by saying that people like Sarah, who dare to off criticism of their homeschool experience, are bitter, or engaging in parent blaming, and that they need to just move on with their lives. These sorts of statements are attempts at silencing people. They also miss the point—if we talk about our experiences we engage in healing and help others, who may have felt alone, heal as well, and if we talk about our experiences maybe we can work toward change, change that will ensure that future homeschooled children will have better experiences. And I’m not just talking about oversight, either, I’m also talking about prospective homeschool parents learning from the mistakes of previous homeschool parents.

The interesting thing is that even as homeschool parents like the one quoted here blame homeschooled children like Sarah for their limited educational experiences, they would never blame a public school student’s academic failure on the student rather than on the school or the teachers. They would never say “that student should just have taken some initiative and taught herself.” They would never say “the problem isn’t the public schools, it’s kids who don’t ask their teachers to teach them and kids who don’t study hard on their own.” Nope. Apparently the public schools have all the responsibility while homeschool parents have none.

As for me, I reject this logic and I refuse to be silenced.

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.

  • http://lanahobbs.wordpress.com/ lana hobbs

    I think that if I wanna learn science, now that I’m 25, I CAN teach myself and fill in the gaps. But it doesn’t change the fact that there were gaps in my education.
    Now I’m 25, I can get talk therapy to deal with things like bipolar disorder but it doesn’t make it okay for my parents to shame me for emotions instead of getting help for me or teaching me coping techniques. I have the power to move on with my life but I do feel the need to condemn what is wrong and try to stop other parents from doing it.

    • LHD

      You said what I was trying to say a lot better, lol.

      • http://lanahobbs.wordpress.com/ lana hobbs

        Haha, thanks :)

    • Jayn

      Not to mention that those things are easier to do when you’re not busy dealing with work and bills. Childhood is a time when parents should be teaching children what they need to know to be self-sufficient, before they have to deal with the additional pressures of adult responsibilities.

      • http://lanahobbs.wordpress.com/ lana hobbs

        Absolutely! I’m privileged enough to be a stay at home mom and it’s still tough to fit in my ‘hobbies’ of learning things. Of course, I was a big sister homeschooling so sometimes that interrupted my schoolwork, but at least I had fewer responsibilities than full time mommying.

  • Karen

    I also take issue with the question “does she even use science in her everyday life“. Science requires the application of critical analysis and reason to acquire new knowledge and understanding of the world. These skills are transferable to all aspects of life, regardless of how `science-y` they may be, and so is extremely relevant to everyday life. This includes things like parenting effectively, problem solving day-to-day issues such as figuring out why your dishwasher isn`t working, and interactions with others. Science isn`t just chemistry and physics, but ecology, psychology, and anthropology, to name just a few other disciplines. But perhaps the thought of an aware and questioning child is frightening to the parent, as these skills would undermine the insulated and narrow world they have crafted for their children.

  • LL

    The person leaving that comment is out of touch with what happens in homeschool families that adhere to fundamentalist thinking. 1. Asking questions is only allowed within certain limits. 2. Reading material is strictly controlled. Often times asking a question was quickly equated with my lack of faith, which would cause me to spend time trying to draw closer and trust more in God instead of asking more questions. When an outsider would ask me about science, I would quickly refer to church-printed-materials, and would say “of course I have studied science”. How would I have ever known that the science I was studying was full of falsely presented logic? School teaches us to think, analyze data, and understand information (hopefully). But my church and home environment taught me to only look at the world through a single lens.

    • AnotherOne

      They also seem to be out of touch with what happens in homeschool families that are poor and overwhelmed. Many of the times that I timidly ventured to ask my (chronically depressed, insanely stressed-out) mom for help in my “schooling,” I either got pushed aside because she was dealing with more pressing concerns or screamed at. So no, I never got any science education to speak of, either.

    • Mogg

      I’m glad you raised that point. Questioning is very much discouraged in certain religious circles. People, both children and adults, can be trained to stop types of thought that may lead to doubting the “headship” of their father or pastor or elders or whatever it is, including and especially that particularly disruptive and dangerous type of thought, questioning.

    • Kevin S.

      That’s what I thought when I read the quoted comment in the post. It seems like a homeschool parent, who has tried to take more control of their child’s life than most parents, also wants to blame the child for not being self sufficient. A perfect Catch 22.

      • Sally

        Well said.

  • LHD

    I somewhat agree with the victim problem. I do not want to excuse the system, and I think these conversations are important so we can change the next generation, but at the end of the day, we cannot change where we came from but only where we go from here. Americans are blessed with more adult education opportunities, community colleges, state schools, etc., and largely these are funded. But even if not, we can make more money working at Walmart then most of my friends in Asia make in 20 years living in a house smaller than a trailer home. If more Americans realized this, there would be more proactive people. But again, I do think these homeschool conversations are important to change the future, and I think admitting we were hurt is the first step to healing. Unfortunately there is always the danger of bring stuck there and becoming the martyr for the rest of our lives. That’s a pitfall I actively try to avoid.

    • Sally

      I think that’s important for those who feel they missed a lot in childhood. And you and others who were homeschooled are the people to say so — and probably an army of therapists. But those of us (referring to myself and the original commenter and others) who were homeschooling parents have no business telling kids who feel/know they missed out that that is invalid. If withholding a well-rounded education isn’t bad enough, denying it and blaming the student for it, imo, compounds that injustice.

      • LHD

        I agree totally. I think we should tell stories. They are worth hearing. Nothing can be changed if we don’t share, and you can’t heal if you can’t admit that you were hurt. There is a place for these times.

    • Astraea Adrasteia

      Seriously, your example is Walmart? The company well-known for its labor abuses and discriminatory practices, where you can work full time and still not have enough money to eat? Yes, it’s objectively more money than many people in other parts of the world make – but costs for basic necessities are correspondingly higher here. Just because it’s less bad, doesn’t mean that it’s a good situation for people who are in it.

      • LHD

        You missed my point. There is always an excuse for our problems. If you don’t want to work at Wal-mart, don’t. If you choose to work in the suppressive environment, it’s your choice. That said, I totally don’t have a problem with more Wal-mart regulations, and do think we should proactively seek justice. I do think we have an obligation to under-paid Americans, but we also have a job to ourselves to set boundaries and not take on the victim role. It’s the same with homeschool abuse. I was homeschooled, and my family was very dysfunctional. I do tell my story, but at the end of the day, I can’t change where I came from, only where I go for here.

        My friends overseas never owned and many have never driven a vehicle. Almost no one has air condition or hot water. I am not saying I agree with Walmart for not paying their employees more, or that Wal-mart should not increase their wages so people can have a better standard of living. They should, I am saying that what we deem necessities (a car instead of a bicycle or shooter, or electricity, or food other than rice and beans or the vegetables we grow in our front yard, or sleeping in our own individual bedrooms as opposed to a loft shared by ten people and no bathroom even in the house) is a luxury in some places in the world. When I play games with other children over there, food door prizes like just noodles always are taken before toys…even by little children. It is shocking that what we consider poor meal I(a package of noodle soup) is a luxurious meal there…and they work 10 and 12 hour days in 100 degree heat for their rice. (yes, Wal-Mart’s hands are NOT clean there. I would love to see them out of business, but Wal-Mart’s wages to US workers is better, even if it’s still at the poverty level.)

        I am sure some Americans live the way of the people in the poor areas of Asia and don’t have cars and electricity. I know a family like that. But it is in much smaller numbers, and with more opportunities here to work our way up. Honestly even their middle class college educated job won’t afford them a regular house and an automobile they can afford. They have to start their own companies to get out. The fact that we have college education that does give us a loop out of poverty is once again, a luxury.

      • LHD

        I guess what I am saying is that there is a lot of injustice that needs to be changed and we should change it….I am the last person to say we need to keep Wal-Mart in business as it stands. America has much work to do. But in the meantime we as individuals have the choice on where to go from here.

      • AnotherOne

        I think what you’re saying is important, Lana, and I agree. Like you, I’ve seen people in other places in very desperate circumstances. That doesn’t erase the pain and difficulties of my childhood, but it has helped me keep things in perspective and to be grateful for the many opportunities I *do* have.

      • LHD

        No, it does not ease the pain, nor does it get us off the hook for not doing our part to make the world a better place. But it does give us a reason to move forward and make the world a better place. lol

      • LHD

        I am wondering why someone dislikes a comment about making the world a better place, lol.

      • Maryjane

        So what are you trying to say? That compared to some countries the U.S. has a higher standard of living? Or that Americans should be more grateful? That still doesn’t ease the burden of poverty for the working class poor, or those on disability or welfare. And sure, I suppose that ultimately it’s a person’s choice where to work or to work at all, except for the disabled. But for some people the choices that they are offered are all unacceptable. Hmmm.. walmart or McDonald’s? Or maybe Taco bell? Not having an acceptable education limits people, and when I say acceptable yes, I mean secular because in the non religious world a secular well rounded education is paramount! Otherwise unless one wants to be a soldier for Jesus, fast food or retail are your choices. Homeschooled kids have every right to point to their teachers when they were never exposed to elementary subject matter such as science or history. Saying that a person can advance his/her education as an adult does NOT excuse this fact! And yeah, sure, get an education while working two jobs.,

      • Guest

        MaryJane, I was homeschooled. The only thing my parents really taught me was math. We did not real literature (other than missionary books). I didn’t learn to write, and I spent all of my elementary years not actually reading. So in fact, I am one of those who has a story to tell, but I decided that I wasn’t going to stay stuck there. So I printed articles off the internet and studied the writing form and taught myself to write. I studied reading comprehension and went to a reading comprehension school and learned to read at a really advanced level. What I am saying is that yes, Americans have the opportunity to get out of their stink. And I am saying that yes, we should still tell our stories. I refuse to see this as an either/or scenario.

        BTW, I have been making less than $1000 a month for the last three years…usually significantly less, as in $400 a month. I spent half of last year living in a tent. I rode a motorcycle, not a car. And I don’t have the luxury of a car….if I got a car right now, it would take away all the freedoms I do have because my money would go into car expenses. So I am grateful for things like bicycles, remembering that one of my friends takes a bicycle 20 minutes to work everyday to support 18 other people (I’m not making this story up) on the $5 a day he makes…sadly they are still hungry.

        I’ve done a lot with my little money, but it was with creativity and with the good will of others, not because I actually had the money to do a bunch. I actually know what it’s like to not have much money, and my family was upper poor class growing up (but with middle class education; homeschool for some reason kept us behind until I grew tired of my mom telling me I was not smart like boys. Yes, she actually said that.) But I don’t know the hardships of people overseas. I only witnessed them.

        Admittedly I haven’t walked everyone’s shoes, so please forgive me if I’m being insensitive. I know some people have ten kids to support and no education whatsoever, so yea, it can suck sometimes. Normally I weep with those who weep and don’t bring this part into the discussion. But the topic of this post spoke to me, so I said something. But I forget before I speak– this is a sacred cow. I should have kept my mouth shut.

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

        Lana, I think people got touchy for two reasons. First, no one said that Sarah couldn’t still educate herself. She can, and I think that’s something we all agree on. Second, the entire point of the post was to point out the problem with victim blaming and you started your post with words that sounded affirming of the victim blamer’s statements. I know you and I figured that’s not want you meant, but not everyone knows you. So given the topic of the post and the content of your comment, people read you as supporting the victim blaming.

      • LHD

        Yea you are right. I was not clear. Sadly that’s the problem with the written form…it’s so difficult to communicate on written form, and sometimes I just want to pull the internet plug forever because of it. I definitely do NOT want to keep people from telling their stories. And to the original Sarah post, I totally agree that we need more accountability for homeschool families just as we need more social welfare for the poor.

      • Maryjane

        O.K. you taught yourself and put yourself in a better place. Great! I too live on very little money. I too do not have a car, which for me is no hardship because I don’t technically NEED one. But I CHOOSE to live this way. My childhood was horrific, but I am a very willful, spirited being. Good for me, I did fine and even earned a B.A. However I also recognize that there are some who do not possess such a strong will and life will beat them down. It’s really HARD for many people to elevate themselves. And sometimes people come to realizations about themselves and their life a little late. That was all the point I am trying to make. Understand this is only my opinion, nothing more. Don’t apologize for your thoughts, don’t say you should have kept your mouth shut. I apologize to you if my comments were too strong or offensive. I know I am blunt sometimes.

      • LHD

        No, MaryJane, you are right, and that is why I apologized if I came across as insensitive to the poor. It *is* hard. I have bad days where I sometimes cry about how I will get out of my stink, too, and then I get regenerized and back to work on my plan, knowing this is temporary. My point was also not to justify the current working-class system in America. I am for more welfare, so that more families can get an eduation. We definitely need to help them out more.

        The car situation needs work too. I could get the car, but the gas is so expensive compared to scooters, not to mention the car repairs. I could get one, but all my freedoms that I enjoy would go into the car. I hope someday they make cars that dont’ take gas (and don’t cost $50,000 to get one of those), and then I think more people could afford to drive. But then maybe the answer is a more green bus system like Europe has….probably good for the environment. I am about to move somewhere with a bus system. We will see how that goes.

      • Maryjane

        That’s my mode of transportation. I walk, take the bus and occasionally I’ll call a cab. I’ve had my share of cars both new and old and I really don’t need one. I haven’t had a car in four years this time. I went another few years without a car awhile back, but hey I’m good with it. I too enjoy the freedom of spending my money on other things. I prefer a pint of gelato to a gallon of gas anyday! But for those who do need a car and can’t afford one like families with small children, well, you know my feelings on that already. I love my life right now and have not the need, nor the desire to change anything…for now.

        I wish you luck and once again, please understand I did not mean to disrespect you.

      • LizBert

        I think being able to live a decent life without a car is very location dependent. I live in a rural western state and around here it can be nearly impossible to survive without a car. Especially in the smaller communities where many folks live at or near poverty. When the nearest grocery store other than the local convenience store is 40-100 miles away and the doctor is the same distance, it is incredibly hard to live without a car. And a bicycle or motorcycle don’t cut it when at least six months out of the year there is snow on the ground with temperatures averaging 20 degrees F.

        Also, living abroad can really skew your idea of what is a living wage. My friend has spent several years living in Latin American countries with much lower average wages than the US. She told me that she once talked with a friend there about wages and he was amazed at how much money she made at home, but when they broke it down he had more disposable income than he did.

        Where I live, which isn’t a high cost of living region, $400/month likely won’t even rent you a loft apartment, let alone a 2 bedroom if you have children. The cost of food in the US and Europe is much, much, higher than in Latin American and some Asian countries, a bus ride in many cities will cost you $2-$3 one way and that adds up if that’s how you go to work, health insurance can easily cost $200/month for an individual, in most American cities you have to pay for things like water and sewage treatment, the list goes on. I’m not trying to demean the struggles of people in developing nations, but they are in fact different from the struggles of the poor in places like the US. Telling people to go to work for Wal-Mart and be happy that they’re not living in a country with worse poverty doesn’t fix the problems that we have here.

      • JoannaDW

        Thank you for this. It’s rarely possible to accurately compare the struggles of people in different nations because much of the time, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. The variables differ too much to make an accurate comparison. For example, Brazil is considered a developing nation and the standard of living there is not as high as in the US. On the other hand, in Brazil, healthcare is considered a right. That does not mean it is always easy or cheap to obtain, especially for the poor, but the mentality is still head and shoulders what can be said about the US.

        My point is that I take a dim view of people who take other people’s struggles and use them to feel better about themselves. The poor do not exist for your edification.

      • brbr2424

        What you have done is admirable. You can’t base a cure to a problem only on the people who survived.

      • JoannaDW

        ” But I forget before I speak– this is a sacred cow. I should have kept my mouth shut.”

        Dead give-away for fake apology. What you’re basically saying is, “Sorry for any offense. You obviously are too sensitive about this issue to discuss this rationally like I am.” It’s pretty transparent.

        Oh, and depending on the good will of others? No way to live, and we have no business advocating it. After all, what happens when there is no good will or it runs out?

      • The_L1985

        You had internet access as a child. A lot of Americans still don’t. You were lucky in a way that many Americans aren’t.

      • brbr2424

        Agreed, Walmart only works if you are a student living at home or a person whose spouse’s income can support the family. Anyone who relies on Walmart for their income is taking one step forward and two steps back every day of their life.Falling further and further behind financially, The Waltons make huge profit by not paying a living wage and they rely on state and federal government to subsidize their workers. On top of that they contribute to ALEC, famous for the shoot any black person who makes you uncomfortable laws, that got rammed through sleepy state legislatures.

  • JA

    “”The interesting thing is that even as homeschool parents like the one
    quoted here blame homeschooled children like Sarah for their limited
    educational experiences, they would never blame a public school
    student’s academic failure on the student rather than on the school or
    the teachers. They would never say “that student should just have taken
    some initiative and taught herself.” They would never say “the problem
    isn’t the public schools, it’s kids who don’t ask their teachers to
    teach them and kids who don’t study hard on their own.” Nope. Apparently
    the public schools have all the responsibility while homeschool parents
    have none.”"

    This.

    • Sally

      We all have to stop blaming others. Teachers often blame their students’ parents when the kids fail.

      • Sophie

        And parents blame the teachers when their kids fail. A teacher friend of mine has been verbally abused by parents when she didn’t give their child the grade they expected. She has also been offered bribes to give children better marks. We live in a blaming culture and it really needs to stop.

      • Sally

        Right, it’s not like *not blaming* means we do nothing. *Not blaming* should mean we problem-solve instead. That’s the difference, imo, between taking and giving responsibility and taking (or giving) blame.

      • Sophie

        You are very right, there is a difference. In a culture where people take responsibility for their actions, using the example of a child with bad grades, the parents might realise that they need to actually help the child with his/her homework and the teacher might make the decision to give the child more individual attention. Instead of them both blaming the other. Sometimes I think people just haven’t grown out of habit of blaming from childhood, as most young children will try to pin the blame on someone else once they work out there are consequences to their actions.

      • Sally

        And while we all, I think, agree that it’s ridiculous to blame the hsed child in the given scenerio, there are times when a good part of the responsibility is on the child to step up. It can be complicated. Is the child unmotivated/not learning because there’s a hidden disability, because there’s depression, because they need more help, because they need someone to hold them accountable? It all has to be considered. What the underlying cause is will dictate the solution and what portion of the solution comes from each party, including the child. But like we’re saying, the key is problem-solving, not passing blame.

      • Sophie

        I think often children should be held accountable for their learning but everyone else gets the blame instead. The classic example would the bright but lazy child (which would be me!) who coasts through school until they hit the point where that strategy fails. I had a lot of teachers who had predicted that this would happen, and by calling me on my behaviour they helped me change. It wasn’t early enough to help me get great marks, but at least I got the grades I needed for university. It took me until my second attempt at university to work out how to structure my time properly so revision and coursework were easier, but I know I owe my success to those teachers. If my teachers had just blamed my parents, I doubt I would have gone back to university after burning out on my first attempt (which was less about academics and more about a lot of bad things happening in quick succession – my dad nearly died, I got my heart broken, I miscarried at 11 weeks and then I broke my arm very badly and couldn’t sit my exams plus there was my ongoing battle with depression that I was losing.)

      • The_L1985

        I wish somebody had said that to me without yelling at me. :( When I was in high school, my dad yelled at me about how “This is GARBAGE!!” and “You’re not even TRYING! How STUPID are you?!” because my grades that year had plummeted–to a 92. Nobody bothered to explain anything to me about how to study, of how to take good notes. I was just told I needed to study harder and take better notes.

        I had to learn all that stuff trial-and-error in college, and it took me 6 years after graduating HS to get a BS in math.

      • Sophie

        I think if it had just been down to my mother then I wouldn’t have even finished school, I was lucky enough to have teachers who thought I could do better. I find it very frustrating that many people have no idea how difficult the skills of revising or writing good notes are for some people – they are certainly not skills that come naturally for most of us. And unfortunately they are not one size fits all skills, how you revise or what style of note-taking will help you really comes down to what sort of learner you are.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Sooo much this, indeed.

  • Sally

    I left a comment on that original thread in the last few hours. Since the conversation is moving to this thread, I’m going to repost it.

    “She needs to recognize that ‘parent blaming’ will not allow her to grow as a person. Does she even use science in the world she finds herself in?”

    As a former hsing parent, these two sentences really bother me.

    “Parent blaming”? I don’t think I or any other hsing parents deserve any special position not to be blamed for our choices for our children. With rights come responsibility. We take the credit when it goes well; we need to take the blame when it doesn’t. If we make “parent blaming” a bad thing, then we can’t really problem-solve. Who has the power to solve the issues in the parent-child homeschooling model?

    The science question – that just scares me. Who doesn’t use science in the world in which we find ourselves? Can we (small groups of individuals) live without any understanding of science? Of course, if we’re surrounded by people who do and we rely on them. But is the only person who deserves to understand science someone who is going into that field? I use science all the time – not as a scientist – but as a modern person experiencing the world myself and with my kids. (And others have pointed out the irony of expecting only those going into science to need to study it, because how would someone know they wanted to go into science unless they were exposed to it?) [Added now:] How else do avoid being duped by pseudo-science, magic pills, anacdotal evidence, ridiculous claims that none-the-less tempt me, and on and on. If I don’t understand how a scientific study works, how do I recognize the difference between false claims and real ones? How do I navigate a serious illness? And what of the fascinating content of science?

    If you want to argue for the good of hsing, please don’t try to do so by telling people who are skeptical that the parents in charge are not to blame when things go wrong, and don’t argue against studying things like science and higher level math. These arguments just reinforce the skepticism.

  • Amethyst Marie

    It bothers me that some people think people have no use for science in their everyday lives if they aren’t working in STEM fields. Everyone needs a basic understanding of biology, chemistry, and the scientific method to decode the health scare articles, blog posts, and memes that hit the internet at a rate of approximately 1 trillion per second.

    • smrnda

      Totally true. You cannot make good decisions about your own health without understanding science.

      There also are people who use science and maths every day. Every day I use calculus based statistics, probability, and a bunch of other types of maths. If I hadn’t started studying these things at an early enough age, I wouldn’t be doing this.

      • NeaDods

        Anyone who followed the debacle of the political polls and the “corrected” polls this last American election ought to have a sudden and healthy interest in how statistics really work!

    • Sue Blue

      I’m an advocate of teaching critical thinking and logic skills from the very earliest grades. Even if a child doesn’t have an interest in science per se, he or she will definitely benefit from having the ability to think like a scientist in daily life, evaluate claims and positions logically, and make decisions based on reason.

    • Rosa

      The scientific method is a basic habit of thought that’s useful in every part of life. It’s not some separated knowledge subject. The whole “do you use science” is a really bizarre subject. “Why, no, I am surprised every morning when my feet stick to the floor without suction cups, because I don’t learn from evidence.”

  • Gillianren

    You have to find out that things even exist before you can know that you care about them. That’s so incredibly basic that I don’t know how anyone can miss it unless they’re doing it on purpose. No, I didn’t much care for the higher math I learned in high school, and I haven’t used it since. However, I knew people who discovered that they loved it, and if they’d never bothered studying anything above long division, how would they have known?

    And you know, I’ve never regretted taking my science classes, even when I didn’t use them, either. I’ve learned thinking skills that have come in handy. I’m better at determining truth from falsehood because of the science classes I took.

    Oh . . . right, that’s the problem.

  • LizBert

    I like the inconsistency of the home school parents like the commenter that you quoted. I wonder in what other areas of her children’s lives she applies these principles. I doubt that they only have to eat what they like and choose to make for themselves. I doubt that they are only taught about the Bible if that’s what they’re interested in.

    • travelerks

      Or allowed to not be taught about the Bible if they’re not interested in it!

  • Alice

    There’s also no need for you Christian parents to teach your children anything about the Bible. They can learn about it on their own when they’re 18. What? Why are you glaring at me?

  • Jolie

    This sound an awful lot like “People on welfare should simply pull themselves up by their own bootstraps; if they don’t, it’s obviously because they’re lazy, greedy scroungers”.

    • Bobo

      Lana stated several times that she thought welfare should be expanded so I’m not quite sure how you get that

    • Bobo

      Sorry, it looks like you were actually responding to the original poster and not Lana, I was confused for some reason

      • Jolie

        Looks like a reply to the OP to me right now… Perhaps Disqus got a case of the hiccups again :(

  • Saraquill

    Science classes, are also dependent on hands on work to supplement book learning. Doing science labs when entirely self-taught and on a child’s budget would be tricky at best.

  • JoannaDW

    I personally have no patience or sympathy for victim-blaming, and anyone who makes a comment like that on my blog is told to spin on a sharp knife. I don’t care if they “didn’t mean it that way” or if they were “well-intentioned” (which they usually are not, regardless of what they might claim). (By the way, I was not homeschooled, nor was I raised fundamentalist, so I have no axe to grind here). So what if other people have it worse? It’s precisely that “Don’t complain, be grateful, it could be worse” mentality that keeps people stuck and that enables abuse and exploitation to go on. And whenever I hear it, I hear an implied threat: “Don’t complain, because lots of people would gladly take your place and you’re going to quickly become one of those people that’s worse off.” It is possible to teach yourself lots of things and find alternatives if things don’t work out. Almost everyone, even the poorest of the poor, have *something* they can do for themselves, but this is far from a guarantee that it will work and that it won’t cost you dearly in the long run. Science is one of those things that you really can’t teach yourself and expect to make substantial gains in education OR employment in most cases. Lacking a basic science education, or any basic education, cripples most people. Even if you “make it,” you spend a lot of time and money catching up and possibly never getting to a destination that even remotely resembles a healthy, well-adjusted life or a decent standard of living.

    Anyone that tries to place blame on a child for the actions of a parent or teacher simply doesn’t understand what the role of an adult is or does not care. Even if you are an adult now, you were a child when this happened and you are victimized. Share your story, whoever you are and share it far and wide. Don’t listen to people tell you to look on the bright side, see your opportunities, etc. because they don’t really care about you. Otherwise they would actually stay on topic when commenting, for one thing, listen, and act on it. In reality, they are trying to stop a discussion that they don’t approve of and people who engage in that behavior should not be catered to.

  • Sunny

    Almost all of the kids I graduated with (our homeschooling program offered high school diplomas – it was highly suspect as I know people did not actually complete state requirements for graduation such as so many lab sciences and math up to at least Algebra 2) are artists, youth pastors, or carpenters. Whole lotta photographers (10? more?), many who majored in English or similar and are now working as retail managers or administrative assistants (these are smart people who really had no skills outside of language b/c their education was just reading all the time), even a burlesque dancer, etc. In much fewer number are the nurses (handful), accountants (one), engineers (one), other business degrees (2? 3?) – basically, few people with mainstream careers and even fewer who completed 4 year degrees in something other than the fine arts.

    Now, is that because they had a special “gifted artist” magnet? Or is because most of these families had a blue collar father and a mother who completed high school and maybe some college? Even the kids who had parents with degrees were known to have not completed state math and science requirements. The kids who had nearly zero in math and science education from parents who told them to just study what they like are making their way through life trying to either get hobbies or life within the church to pay the bills. Two are doing very well, but they would have with a normal education as well – the rest were put at a disadvantage by lackadaisical and neglectful parents. Yes, neglect. Akin to abuse.

    • Sunny

      I should say “Even *some* of the kids…” – there were families that took education very seriously. They were in the minority, as far as insuring a *full* education vs adequate or intensive in a few subjects, but they existed. The parents who had been limited to high school or junior college educations themselves, who really wanted their children to do better, enrolled their kids in lab sciences/math courses at a high school or junior college. They didn’t just expect their kid to learn by osmosis; they made sure someone who knew the subjects was available to help and guide.

  • anonymous

    As a former homeschooling parent, I agree with you completely. My kids had huge gaps in their education and it was completely my fault. My kids were sheltered and poorly socialized. They witnessed spousal abuse and were abused by their father. I stayed for too long and homeschooled for too long because the bible told me to. Both of my kids got involved with drugs. My younger son died from them at age 17. Christian homeschooling can be dangerous. Today I am remarried and, after a lot of years of intensive conversations, therapy and a good father figure in his life, my older son gets it and is learning to treat his girlfriend well. We are all atheists. I still carry the burden of what I did to my kids and that will never go away. I have asked my son’s forgiveness for his childhood and what he has missed – which is what that mother should have done as well.

    • Mishellie

      Thank you for your courage in sharing this story. I hope you can continue to mend your family and find peace.

    • Sally

      I’ll second that. And I hope when the time is right, that you and your son can also find the good things from his childhood, even if they’re few and far between.
      Thank you again for your courage.

    • Rosa

      I hope you’re healing and finding peace as well.

  • Bobo

    I’ve been reading this blog with interest for some time now but am new to commenting.

    I was home schooled myself and I definitely experienced educational neglect. After the age of eleven or so my education basically consisted of self directed reading. I suffered a great deal of anxiety about this as a teenager, and I was even more anxious about my younger siblings who got even less structure than I did.

    I don’t blame my parents exactly, because I understand where they were coming from. The value of homeschooling and perhaps more importantly the evils of public schools were articles of faith with them. Somehow they could not see or acknowledge when it was not working anymore. When my mother become too depressed and overwhelmed by seven kids and our off the grid lifestyle, somehow the possibility of sending us to school never came up.

    I don’t really blame them but of course they are responsible. I will never forget the guilt I felt about my younger siblings, as though it was my fault that their education was neglected. I turned my anger at my parents inward and turned it into self blame.

    I am the only one of my siblings who have gone to college so far. I had to do some remedial work and I got a late start. At twenty nine I am just finishing my undergrad degree.

    My educational weaknesses have not held me back but they have set me back, if that makes sense, and for some of my siblings the damage may be more severe.

    • NeaDods

      I think you’ve got a key point. People are being hung up on blame, which, I think is a legitimate thing to feel and say when you’ve been wronged, but which allows for pious moralizing about how blame holds you back and if you’re upset you’re choosing to be a victim, blah, blah, etc.

      Well, that approach avoids the key concept that whether the “b” word is used or not, the person with the power in the scenario is, as you put it so well, “of course, responsible.” And needs to take accept the responsibility for the result of their actions!

  • Conuly

    You know, I think “you’re just bitter/angry” has got to be my least favorite derailing tactic ever. It’s just so stupid! “You’re not allowed to talk about ways you were hurt, because you’re angry about them”? What, like people don’t have a right to be angry when they’re mistreated?

    • Sally

      I agree. I think “you sound bitter” is a way of invalidating what the person is “bitter” about. It’s actually an ad hominem attack and therefore fallacious.

      BTW, it might seem like we’re picking apart what one person said in another thread and it’s mean or unfair. But imo, this isn’t about what one commenter wrote. It’s how that comment represents a whole way of responding to young adults who were homeschooled poorly who are speaking out. Libby Anne’s post and our comments are a way of saying to all those who would blame the student, let’s be honest about where the responsibility lies, and make changes for those who still have a chance to benefit from those changes. -And let those who were hurt heal through honesty, not denial.

      • JoannaDW

        Also, we see a lot of, “OMG, what about teh poor Mooslim gurls who can’t drive cars?” Or we might hear “OMG starving people in Africa don’t have the luxury of worry about this stuff!” Or some other invocation of the appeal to worse problems fallacy.

        What I find most ironic about these kinds of derailing arguments is that nine times out of ten, they come from someone with some kind of privilege. Very rarely is an actual Muslim woman talking about sexist oppression in the Middle East, or an actual resident of the Third World talking about poverty there as opposed to poverty here. Usually, this person is someone from a background similar to ours, talking about issues that he knows nothing about. He simply invokes them to shame people into having discussions that he does not think should be allowed to happen. Basically, they’re saying that when there are worse problems, we have no right to have our discussion. (Let’s overlook the obvious question of who decides what’s considered a “worse problem,” a loaded assumption in itself.) It also overlooks the fact that most “real” problems start off as much smaller problems that were overlooked because no one took them seriously. And that the solution to any big problem is to fix the smaller problems that contribute to it.

        I know someone in the Church who is constantly justifying the torture and murder of Muslims, as well as Christian theocracy and patriarchy because at least Christian men don’t force women to wear the BUUURRRQA! like those mean ol’ Saudi Arabians. When I tried to explain to him that very few Muslims women wear the full burqa and that most Middle Eastern countries are not nearly as restrictive as SA, it didn’t seem to penetrate. Again, it’s the same dynamic with homeschooling, neglect, and abuse. It seems like we can’t ever have a discussion about anything that doesn’t involve outright torture and murder of children, even when the irresponsibility of the parents is utterly responsible for ruining that child’s life in every other way.

  • Gail

    Beyond the ridiculousness of the complaints about parent-blaming, it sounds like those commenters want to suppress any negative talk about homeschooling practices, possibly that they are hoping their own kids will never say anything negative about their experiences.

    Even if Sarah can learn science now and move on with her life, talking about past experiences helps a lot of people. It might make others with similar pasts feel less alone, and it brings light to an issue that can be corrected. I have my own issues with my parents, not related to homeschooling but to mental illness going untreated. I do blame my parents for not noticing my symptoms, even though they were busy with work and health problems and finances. I do blame them for not creating an environment in which I felt I could tell them about the symptoms. I do blame them for taking me to a religious counselor who didn’t help me at all the one time I got up the courage to tell them. But when I talk about it, I’m not bringing it up because it feels good to blame them; I do it because it might help others with those issues feel less alone, it helps to destigmatize mental illness if more of us talk about it, and it might inspire parents to talk to their kids about mental illness or be on the lookout for symptoms. I think a lot of people who talk about their homeschooling experiences do so for similar reasons.

  • JoannaDW

    I realize that I’ve been quite the b**** on this thread, and I didn’t really set out to do that. I didn’t set out to comment on this thread at all, because it’s something that I have a tendency to lose control over. Overall, I would agree that it has to get dark for the stars to shine, that everyone has something to be thankful for, look forward to, and that they can use to improve their lives. It is also equally true that we all have something to complain about and that hinders us in life. When I read comments from homeschool parents blaming children for not fixing mistakes made *by the parents* when the person responsible was a *minor child,* I have to wonder how that makes sense and whose purpose is being served by that mentality. It’s a way to escape responsibility and to ensure that the unacceptable remains acceptable. You see this in all kinds of discussions and we just need to stop doing it. There’s a tendency to assume that if you’re talking about something that someone else considers trivial, then that person must not have experienced or seen a real problem. How do you know that? I have faced foreclosure, gone without food, and lots of things that most people would agree are “real” problems. But you know what? At the same time that I was facing those issues, I also complained when the night skate session got canceled at the local rink, when the grocery store was out of Nutella, when I didn’t get into the college that I want, when I could not longer afford flute lessons, etc. That’s because aspiration, pleasure, and all the things that enhance human life aren’t exclusive to the privileged. They are for everyone. The Bible isn’t exactly a popular book in these parts (understandably), but I think it’s appropriate to say that the poor do not live on bread alone. And that’s really what I think Homeschoolers Anonymous is trying to convey. Many of them have horrific homeschool stories, and many others have more run-of-the-mill, HS-gone-wrong stories. The important factor here isn’t how sensational and awful it is, but the extent to which a parent’s poor decisions affected the course of a child’s life and to what extend it could have been, and can be, avoided. Even if this person didn’t “need” science for her work, that might be because she never got a chance to pursue that work. It could be that her lack of science education meant thousands of dollars in loans for remedial classes so she could get an associates. Maybe she’s one of those unenviable people that is too rich for government assistance but not nearly rich enough to be really self-sustaining. We don’t know this, and it comes back to allowing conversations to happen rather than shutting them down. It means not speaking for other people.

  • Mary C

    Excellent rebuttal Libby Anne!

  • http://sopheliajapan.blogspot.jp/ Sophelia

    I have this argument with my parents all the time. I missed out on an education on certain subjects completely, notably math and science. I CAN’T just make up for 13 years (K to 12) of five days a week, all day learning as an adult. It’d be the equivalent of a full time job and I’d be eligible for long service leave before I was done catching up on everything I missed.

  • aim2misbehave

    I unfortunately encountered someone like this: They said that parents should have the unfettered right to homeschool their children, and not pay any school taxes because they weren’t using the school system. I pointed out that many children would go uneducated as a result of lazy and/or cheapskate parents, and could quite likely become adults who were illiterate and unable to even make change from a cash register drawer, thus making it impossible for them to get jobs, forcing them on welfare. This person’s argument was that the social safety net should just be reduced, to give these hypothetically uneducated children motivation to get a job and go to adult education classes when they turned 18. Never mind the question of how one was supposed to manage to earn enough money to pay for living expenses and tuition while still having the time to go to school… or the fact that this person genuinely had no understanding of the concept that when faced with life choices that looked like “trying to obtain and keep a job I’m not educated enough for” or “don’t eat this week”, then a lot of them will end up in a life of crime.

    • Anat

      Ah, the school of ‘beatings will continue until morale improves’! (Or perhaps beatings will continue until bootstraps are invented and used to pull oneself up by!)


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