When Christian Homeschooling Violates Title IX

Bill Gothard has long been big in Christian homeschooling circles. Thanks to Jeri Loftland, I was recently pointed to a website on which Gothard lays out some of his ideas concerning education. I’m going to quote Gothard’s list and then pull out a select few items for further discussion. So without further ado, on to Gothard’s “Advanced Seminar Session 16: Successful Education.”

  • The ultimate goal of education is not to produce a degree, but to produce many godly generations.
  • God charges parents and grandparents, not teachers, with the responsibility to train their sons and daughters.
  • God established the home, not the school, as the primary learning center; the school and church must be recognized as extensions of it.
  • The most destructive force in school is peer dependence, and parents must constantly work to protect their children from it.
  • God wants the priorities of every family to be built around daily engrafting of Scripture, rather than accumulating man’s knowledge.
  • The ability of sons and daughters to stand alone is the result not of rules, but of principles thyat assure a superior way of life.
  • When knowledge is learned before godly character, it produces pride and arrogance.
  • Parents who teach sons and daughters at home must be accountable to a local church (Christian school and the government).
  • Sons and daughters thrive with appropriate responsibility, and it is God’s goal that they be mature in their youth.
  • God gave boys and girls differing aptitudes; when children are taught together, boys are programmed for failure.
  • When schools group children by ages, older examples are cut off and rebels usually rise to leadership.
  • When the Bible is separated from courses, the contents come under the control of human reasoning.
  • True socializing takes place not in the arbitrary groupings of school, but in the real world of children-to-adult relationships.
  • Valuable learning time is lost in school; two hours of home teaching is equivalent to six hours of school teaching.
  • The key to effective education is not just a trained teacher and a professional curriculum, but a concerned parent and a motivated child.
  • God has set a limitation on learning; thus, academic freedom is no justification for studying the details of evil.

Okay then, now to take some point by point.

  • When knowledge is learned before godly character, it produces pride and arrogance.

Or in other words, providing your children with academic instruction should take backseat to building their character. And yes, I’ve heard of this used to justify educational neglect. Who cares if the kid doesn’t know algebra? What matters is that the kid has a good godly character!

  • Sons and daughters thrive with appropriate responsibility, and it is God’s goal that they be mature in their youth.

This one is used to justify relying on teenage daughters for the family’s cooking, cleaning, and childcare responsibilities all the while interpreting any bit of nonconformity as “rebellion” and a lack of maturity. Teenage years? Who needs those? Best to jump straight to being hired help—with no pay, of course.

  • God gave boys and girls differing aptitudes; when children are taught together, boys are programmed for failure.

If anyone had doubts about whether there are actually Christian homeschool leaders who devalue the education of girls, look no further. In case you were wondering, in Gothard’s worlds girls have an aptitude for cooking and childcare and boys have aptitude for math and science.

  • When the Bible is separated from courses, the contents come under the control of human reasoning.

And this is why there are “biblical math” textbooks for homeschooled kids. You think I’m kidding? I’m not. The basic argument is that any learning that is not grounded in the Bible is an evil and temptation to be avoided.

  • True socializing takes place not in the arbitrary groupings of school, but in the real world of children-to-adult relationships.

This one is used to justify kids not having too many friends, or much social time with friends. Because what kid needs friends their age when they can just be friends with the adults in their lives, right? Having friends your own age is totally overrated! Or, you know, not.

  • God has set a limitation on learning; thus, academic freedom is no justification for studying the details of evil.

This one’s easy. It’s used to justify not actually learning about the arguments made by your opponents. Because, you know, if you actually studied evolution, like for real and not just through the distortion of creationist literature, you would be studying “the details of evil”!

Did I mention that Gothard has a pretty wide hearing in Christian homeschooling circles? I grew up on the outskirts of Gothard’s ideas, but my family still picked up some of them—umbrella of authority, anyone? Others in my circle attended Gothard seminars either in person or via video. These ideas aren’t fringe in Christian homeschooling, and Gothard is not the only one to hold or spread them, either. And yes, this should make you nervous.

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  • lara

    Posts like this make it so much more obvious why homeschooling didn’t work for us. We went in just looking to provide a good educational experience to an advaced child. We never bought into the religious aspect. As the years went by, it became harder and harder to find rigorous textbooks (oy yes, religious math, religious science, religious revisitionist history…) And the bullying. So many talk about the bullying in public schools. I can tell you my son was habitually bullied while homeschooled for being Catholic, for celebrating Halloween, for reading Harry Potter, for agreeing with equal rights for women. Each bullet point was a reminder why shaking and nervous, I finally walked into our local school and enrolled my son.

    • Abby Normal

      This is a really good point–the wingnut element in homeschooling makes it harder for the moderate homeschoolers out there. My mom ran into the same thing with her homeschool group–no outright bullying, but she was viewed as “the weird one” by the other moms because she thought it was important that my sisters (gasp!) learn advanced math, and let my sister take dance lessons at a (gasp!) regular studio instead of the watered-down “liturgical ballet” that everyone else did.

      Being a “normal person” while homeschooling isn’t impossible, but it is tricky.

      • attackfish

        “liturgical ballet? *headdesk*

      • Abby Normal

        Oh, yeah, it’s a thing.

        From what I saw if it, it involves using ballet-like movements to dance to Christian music while wearing ankle-length skirts. (If you ever watch the Christmas concert at the Mormon Tavernacle, they do something similar.)

        From what I could tell, no one learns any hard stuff, like going en pointe.

      • trinity91

        As a former dancer I just want to point out that saving one’s child from en pointe is not inherently a bad thing. No dance schools tell young girls about the years of damage they are doing to their bodies. My feet are a permanently gnarled mess because of pointe. I won’t be letting my daughters do that to themselves without knowing full well what the consequences will be.

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

        Huh. I never did go en pointe (quit dancing before that because we moved), but the studio made sure we all saw a dancer’s feet and warned us that was a consequence of it. They also didn’t let us go en pointe until age 10 at a minimum, and I think I was going to be held back for weak ankles.

      • http://repost-this-image.tumblr.com The_L1985

        Age ten?! But your feet are still growing then!

      • trinity91

        yeah my completely secular studio did not explain what exactly this would do to your feet. I was 11 when I started en pointe. During another dancing competition I had twisted my ankle really badly. When the hospital did an xray my foot was also in it. I had 12 stress fractures that they could see in that xray.

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

        Ouch.

      • Abby Normal

        Oh, I know. At my sister’sstudio she was only allowed to go en pointe aroundjunior or senior year, and that was after passing an exam. My sister-in-law dancesprofessionally and her feet are a hot mess.

      • attackfish

        This. Teaching girls en pointe before adulthood is cruel. If you’re going to have permanently damaged feet from something preventable, it should at least be your decision that it’s worth it. However, plenty of secular ballet schools for children go nowhere near it until teen years at least.

      • http://repost-this-image.tumblr.com The_L1985

        Every time I read about what’s necessary to do en pointe, and how badly things can go wrong, I am grateful I quit taking ballet lessons at 12. Yes, it’s beautiful, and it was great exercise, but I’m not tough enough to risk things that would break my toes and ankles if I did them the slightest little bit wrong.

      • Lyric

        From what I could tell, no one learns any hard stuff, like going en pointe.

        Well, they’d better not. Those dresses sound like a huge tripping hazard. I think the safest thing would be a sort of modified ballroom dance deal with a few added ballet moves.

        Come to think of it—why aren’t they just using ballroom dance?

      • attackfish

        It might involve touching?

      • Lyric

        Good point.

      • Saraquill

        How to they not tangle in skirts that long?

      • Hilary

        Hey, there’s Torah Yoga, that’s also a thing. The senior cantor at my temple is into it.

        http://torahyoga.com/page1-what-how-content.htm

        I’m always careful to remind myself when coming across some Christian thing that seems incredibly tacky or unbelievable, we’re the people who created the language for tchotchkes, kitchy, and schmaltzy.

      • attackfish

        *shudders* Around here in Alabama, we have a lot of Christian yoga, and just wow, no. Yoga actually comes from a religious and spiritual tradition. It’s astonishingly culturally appropriative to incorporate it into Judaism or Christianity. It’s like a Christian sedar. No, no, no.

      • TLC

        I was just going to ask Hilary about this. I was taught that yoga is a form of Hindu worship and therefore, you can’t make it “Christian.” Or “torah”, either, I guess. True?

      • attackfish

        Well, secular yoga, at least the physical part, so I guess they take the physical part of yoga ans then add in their own religion? Ugh, no.

      • Hilary

        I did include a link, since it’s not something I’ve been much involved it. From what I can tell, it’s stretches and poses with Jewish concepts involved.

      • Stev84

        In the middle ages there was a respected and widespread tradition of Christian mysticism. Monks and nuns did things like meditation and asceticism to achieve altered states of mind and receive what they believed where visions from god.

      • attackfish

        Having one’s own mystical tradition is no excuse for trying to co-opt someone else’s. Christianity and Judaism have long neglected their own strains of mysticism, and stealing those of Hinduism is no solution now.

      • AnotherOne

        Well, to be fair, the mystical traditions have been feeding off each other for centuries. Throughout the medieval period there was immense cross-fertilization of mystical ideas between the Abrahamic faiths, and influences from East and South Asian religious traditions came in as well. There’s no such thing as a religious tradition that doesn’t “steal” from the others. Yeah, I think Christian “yoga” and similar things are stupid and hokey, but hey, religions aren’t diametrically sealed (thankfully!). People tend to adopt practices that have meaning for them, and then do mental gymnastics to harmonize it with their perceptions of what their religious beliefs require. It’s been going on since forever.

      • attackfish

        The mingling of religious belief and practice that you’re speaking of is very different than it is now. The systems of power that have put Christianity, and to a far lesser extent, the other two Abrahamic faiths in a position of privilege over other religions had not yet been built. Colonization had not yet happened. The systematic attempts by white Christians to put an end to heathen practices had not yet occurred. it’s no longer an equal intermingling of culture, and there is no spiritual growth to be found in ransacking the traditions of another people. As a Jew, I am deeply pained when Christians celebrate Jewish holidays and lay claim over them, because I know they feel a sense of ownership over my traditions, and it reminds me of how they have tried to wipe my people out for those traditions. Many Hindus have spoken about feeling a similar sense of violation when they see their own religious traditions appropriated. It’s not hokey, it’s hurtful.

      • David S.

        So because some Christians have tried to wipe out the Jews, you believe you have the right to dictate to other Christians how they practice their religion.

      • attackfish

        If one year they’re telling each other we drink the blood of Christian babies for passover, and the next, they’re holding passover themselves and instructing on its meaning? You bet I’m going to tell them they can fuck right off.

        Christianity has a long history with treating Jews like their senile grandparents, mocking or worse us for our traditions and then taking them for themselves and acting like they’re something cute for Christians to play at.

      • attackfish

        Three things: 1)Never tell the oppressed what is and isn’t oppression. 2) The exchange is not equal because of history. When Christians do yoga and Indians make movies, it is not the natural process of cultural diffusion, but the remnants of a colonial power structure. Assimilation into a powerful culture is different from appropriation from a less powerful one. 3)it’s often the very same Christians who try to erase my culture by ignoring the cultural and religious differences between Christians and Jews to claim us all the same, and exhort me to convert to save my soul, a lesser crime than genocide, but still an act of aggression towards me and mine, who then want to hold Christian sedars.

      • David S.

        Never tell the oppressed what is and isn’t oppression. Then what about the Palestinians? Should the Israeli Jews and Palestinians have an Oppression Olympics, or should we accept that suffering doesn’t not necessarily equal morality and the oppressed are not necessarily more just then anyone else?

      • attackfish

        Don’t assume that just because I’m Jewish that I support anything the Israeli government does, or that I do not understand just how horrific and inhumane it is. If you seek to compare me asserting that Christians as a group should not appropriate Jewish customs, nor Jews as well as Christians appropriate the traditions of Eastern, African, or Indigenous faiths because of a history of oppression, I never asserted that I hold every Christian responsible for what has been done to my people, just that I expect them not to contribute to it, just as I seek not to continue to oppress others that society grants less power than I. Nor have I suggested playing oppression Olympics. That is a game no one wins, and you know it. I never asked you to believe that suffering equals morality, only to shut the fuck up and listen when someone says they are hurting.

      • smrnda

        My gripe on Jewish appropriation is the whole “Judaism is legalism” thing; it’s an antisemitic stereotype of a Judaism that’s not connected to reality at all.

        I also get tired when Christians told me that thanks to Jesus, we didn’t have to go on killing animals or our sins.

      • attackfish

        This is the stuff that makes me gibber with rage…

        Though we are seriously the religion of lawyers. Only we’re allowed to say that, though.

      • smrnda

        I actually tend to think Christianity, as far as I can tell, is the most legalistic religion on the planet. It’s not just actions that are good or bad – you’re only allowed maybe 3 permissible emotions.

      • attackfish

        There’s an interesting distinction here, Judaism isn’t especially legalistic, but it’s very law-like. The Torah is the law as written, and then the Talmuds (yes, there’s more than one) work like case law and precedent, and rabbis argue back and forth on issues. The difference is that Judaism has room for disagreement. When Christians disagree, they found a new denomination. When Jews disagree, they just disagree. So it’s really hard to force a uniform code of thought and behavior on such a group. Also, Judaism holds no feeling to be immoral. Gaze lustfully on someone all you want, be furious at someone all you want, just don’t cheat on your spouse or punch someone out.

      • David S.

        I’ve never really understood this. Why shouldn’t we take what’s best from the world’s cultures? Do what you want with your own life and culture, but I don’t see why it’s okay to get upset when others emulate parts of other cultures that they consider valuable. Some people can watch Hollywood movies and play cricket and still be a Hindu; others can do yoga and still be a Christian.

      • attackfish

        See below. The politics of culture, assimilation, and appropriation are complicated by power, coercion and history.

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

        There is a big difference between “this Hindu practice is very neat and useful and can teach me a lot, so I shall partake in it” and “this Hindu practice is very neat and useful and can teach me a lot, so I shall steal it and erase its origins and pretend it’s mine”.

      • attackfish

        Also, the people who participate in things like Christian yoga are often the same ones who shame Hindus for practicing their faith.It can make seeing their Christian yoga a little hard to take, I’m sure.

      • David S.

        There’s no reason why one should adapt something you’re borrowing from another culture to make it fit, and if there is, we can lay a crore of charges against India who have consistently copied things from the West and adapted them to taste. Bollywood has stolen the movie industry and “erased its origins” and “pretended” it’s Indian … and I don’t see why anyone should make a fuss about that.

      • attackfish

        Remember what I said about power and coercion complicating matters? Take note.

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

        On top of what attackfish said, no one in India is saying American movies are wrong or evil. American Christians often say that Hinduism is wrong or evil, yet appropriate its mystical traditions and whitewash where they came from. There is a very big difference.

      • David S.

        Yes, actually people in India are saying American movies are wrong and evil. I’m not sure how you can imagine that India doesn’t have people complaining about Saw and American Pie and lumping the rest of American movies in with them.

        Christianity and Hinduism and several other religions are mutually inconsistent; at best one of them is right. I don’t see, however, where American Christians spend much time saying that Hinduism is evil. It seems to be confined to a marginal fringe.

        I do not believe in whitewashing where ideas come from. But I think quite few don’t know where yoga comes from, and I don’t think in the great exchange of ideas that location of origin is the most important thing.

      • smrnda

        “Evil” and “shitty” are not the same thing. I don’t think Indian audiences or filmmakers think those movies are evil, just shitty.

      • David S.

        Saw is gore porn; American Pie is a sex comedy where adolescents get rewarded with premarital sex. I pretty sure both of them have been condemned by groups worldwide as evil or in similar terms of moral opprobrium, as opposed to complaints about quality like “shitty”.

      • smrnda

        There’s a difference between a moral criticism that could apply equally to something from your own culture (if there existed Indian gore porn, I’m sure that an Indian critic who found Saw amoral would extend the same judgment) and a criticism that’s based on the idea that the culture that produced the artifact is morally deficient.

        In terms of borrowing from other cultures, it’s a lot like being polite where it’s hard to make explicit rules that cover every case, but we still feel like some behaviors are more polite/more rude than others.

      • Antigone10

        Are there any Hindus who can clear this up for me? I read that modern yoga poses are mostly recent innovations. Is it a practice of the religion, or does anyone know of any solid sources of information on Hinduism that would clear it up?

      • smrnda

        It depends on how you do it.

        Let’s take films that reference other films. Even if you’re taking films from within the same culture, sometimes it’s clever, other times it’s just unoriginal, desperate, pretentious or excessive.

      • http://repost-this-image.tumblr.com The_L1985

        I’m cringing at that. There are things that make me proud of the state where I grew up. Christian yoga is definitely not one of those things.

      • Mogg

        That would be why someone has invented a Christian version – so that Christians can practice it without being in danger from having to risk their minds and spirits with any of those dangerous, satanic Buddhist philosophies. This is seriously why my mother flipped her lid when as a child I discovered some yoga stretches in my brownie guide book, and also wouldn’t consider any of us doing karate classes even though dad was keenly into it – he wasn’t a Christian at the time.

      • attackfish

        This “It’s evil unless we do it” mentality is so incredibly toxic.

      • Hilary

        I wasn’t intending to start something, just point out that even if liturgical ballet sounds ridiculous, everybody has something. But there is a difference between ridiculous from within you own tradition and ridiculous mixing with someone else’s tradition.

    • Sally

      I’m so sorry this happened to you. It’s really sad that some of the most “Christian” homeschool groups can be so unchristian.

    • attackfish

      This is why every time my mom tired to convince me to homeschool (for my own safety, public school was a very abusive environment for me, but I had this weird idea that if I left it was letting the bullies win) she always said we could never do a co-op or homeschooling circle, because they were full of people like that.

    • Seeker

      We homeschooled for only 4 years (high school) because the private school and the public school were not able to meet our child’s needs and wouldn’t work with us and the college our child went to half-time. My child also struggled with being excluded from the homeschool social group for being allowed to watch tv, go to movies, and for holding mainstream ideas. We didn’t ever reveal our reality-based views of science; that would have been the kiss-of-death. We gritted our teeth and endured because our state requires all homeschooling to be supervised by a church–there is no secular homeschooling allowed.

      • attackfish

        We gritted our teeth and endured because our state requires all homeschooling to be supervised by a church–there is no secular homeschooling allowed.

        Oh my God. What state, may I ask, so that I never move there?

      • Seeker

        Precisely. Even if a family is Christian but belongs to a mainstream, moderate church, they must also join whatever church in their area has the homeschool “umbrella”. Even if a family is, say, Methodist, it’s a culture shock having to put up with a fundagelical homeschool group. It’s downright offensive for non-Christians to have to do this.

      • attackfish

        Actually, tell me which state so I can move there and sue on first amendment grounds.

  • http://yllommormon.blogspot.com/ aletha

    Isn’t this the guy who isn’t married or has kids? Why should people listen to him when he talks about what children need??

  • Trollface McGee

    That seminar should be retitled “Techniques by people who know nothing about child development or education who want your kids to grow up poor and uneducated so they will buy these materials for their many kids and we will continue to profit.”

    “The ultimate goal of education is not to produce a degree, but to produce many godly generations.”
    Um.. that doesn’t require much..education – if it does, then rabbits are among the most educated of mammals.

    “God charges parents and grandparents, not teachers, with the responsibility to train their sons and daughters.”
    God also gives us a brain so we can have the common sense to realise that someone with years of education in a subject matter and educational techniques will be better equipped to teach.

    “God established the home, not the school, as the primary learning center; the school and church must be recognized as extensions of it”
    There’s nothing in the Bible condemning schools or mandating homeschooling. The only verses I’ve ever seen regard a child’s religious instruction which I think most agree should be done in the home.

    “God wants the priorities of every family to be built around daily engrafting of Scripture, rather than accumulating man’s knowledge.”
    We’re all going to live in magic Bible land where daily prayer will pay your rent and build buildings that don’t collapse and do surgery without error.

    “The ability of sons and daughters to stand alone is the result not of rules, but of principles thyat assure a superior way of life”
    Unless those are fundie rules.

    “When knowledge is learned before godly character, it produces pride and arrogance.”
    Knowledge is clearly bad – knowledge leads to people realising that there are other ways of living and calling people on their crap.

    “Parents who teach sons and daughters at home must be accountable to a local church (Christian school and the government).”
    Teh gubmint? Aren’t these the same people who fight government oversight of anything?

    “Sons and daughters thrive with appropriate responsibility, and it is God’s goal that they be mature in their youth.”
    Appropriate – developmentally appropriate – not becoming de facto parents and homekeepers at the age of 12.

    “God gave boys and girls differing aptitudes; when children are taught together, boys are programmed for failure.”
    Because education only matters for boys. Also it isn’t true but I guess when you think knowledge is a bad thing, truth doesn’t matter either.

    “When schools group children by ages, older examples are cut off and rebels usually rise to leadership.”
    Yeah, democracy is clearly inferior to monarchy and tyranny.

    “When the Bible is separated from courses, the contents come under the control of human reasoning.”
    Who needs silly human reasoning. It’s much better to live according to standards set 2,000 years ago as interpreted by self-serving ministers like Gothard.

    “True socializing takes place not in the arbitrary groupings of school, but in the real world of children-to-adult relationships.”
    Lack of peer relationships is very developmentally damaging for children.

    “Valuable learning time is lost in school; two hours of home teaching is equivalent to six hours of school teaching.”
    Because Jesus magic.

    “The key to effective education is not just a trained teacher and a professional curriculum, but a concerned parent and a motivated child.”
    Who needs something that has been developed over thousands of years by millions of professionals.

    “God has set a limitation on learning; thus, academic freedom is no justification for studying the details of evil.”
    Actually, lots of professions require you to study the details of evil (real evil, not teh gheys and teh wimmins).

    • Jayn

      “Um.. that doesn’t require much..education – if it does, then rabbits are among the most educated of mammals.”

      Well, that would explain why Saint Peter was a rabbit. (Dammit South Park…)

      • phantomreader42

        But how do you explain Paul being a walrus?

      • Hilary

        Goo goo ga choo.

      • Hilary

        I’m sorry, it was the rabbits that created a train wreck of associations, but if they are the most educated of mammals just doin’ what comes naturally . . . you’re right, who needs school?

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1R1-oRO6RY

      • attackfish

        Actually, this is a common mistake, but the most learned of all God’s creatures is the bacterium.

    • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

      My interpretation is that the reference to “Christian school and government” is that the church should fill that role, i.e. Gothard wants the power to enforce his wingnuttery on others.

  • Jayn

    True socializing takes place not in the arbitrary groupings of school, but in the real world of children-to-adult relationships.

    *headdeskheaddeskheaddesk*

    If this were true I’d be way better at social interactions than I am. Child-child relationships and adult-adult relationships are between relative peers–child-adult relationships are not. Though I suppose they’re not really interested in letting their kids even have any peers, so maybe this is a feature, not a bug.

    • attackfish

      This, so much this. I was bullied very badly by children my own age in school because of my disability, but many of my teachers loved me. Guess who I grew up talking to? Somehow this didn’t make me good at socializing with my peers now that I’m an adult.

      • brbr2424

        School is much better for kids with disabilities and all kids now. There is more awareness, thankfully.

      • attackfish

        I’m not that long out of school. Many of the teachers and staff who aided my tormentors have since been promoted. Most are still working. I’m skeptical.

      • http://autistscorner.blogspot.com Thalestris

        I dunno, it varies a LOT. I’m about 30, and I had mostly good experiences in school, but plenty of people my age and younger have stories that will make your hair stand on end.

        Google “restraint and seclusion” for one indication of how things are not necessarily better for children with disabilities now.

    • luckyducky

      So, my take on this is gritting my teeth over helicopter parent peers… the ones that are there and involved in everything their child does. While I know spending time with your children and showing interest in what your child does is good and valuable, inserting yourself into every aspect of your child’s life is… not good. Different thinking and somewhat different outcomes but still not so much teaching your child how to relate to others.

      I read to my children, talk with them, involve them in what I am doing (cooking, projects, etc.) but I don’t play with them much… and I did feel guilty about that because I wasn’t down on the floor pretending or regularly cheering my way through Candyland and Chutes and Ladder (I’ve played but not weekly). I talked to my mom about it and she reminded me that that she and my dad rarely (if ever) played with us like that. They were available if we needed/wanted them but pretty much left my sib and I to our own devices when it came to play. And I think this is a good thing — we had every opportunity to pretend, negotiate, etc. without having to conform to what a grown-up thought we should be/do.

      Not that I think a parent who enjoys playing more directly with their child is doing something wrong — just that I didn’t miss it and I think it is important that kids have some grown-up-free time. Of course, my children (20 mo apart) have built-in playmates. I don’t have an only or children at widely different developmental stage.

      • Nancy Shrew

        Yeah, I think if my mom had started butting in every time I played Barbies or something (either by myself or with friends) I would have been like, “Mom, I love you, but can you please leave me alone?”.

    • smrnda

      My peer interactions were way more important to me than my family ones, and continue to be to this day. The whole ‘Wow! Look how great these kids do with interacting with grown ups!’ forgets that grown-ups don’t have peer relationship with kids; especially within this subculture, it’s all about the kids spouting the right ideological mantras for adult approval.

      • Hilary

        I agree with you calling out the subculture part of power imbalance between kids and adults. I think the importance of peer vs family interactions really depends. I was bullied early in grade school and my mom stood up for me, so in high school as much as I liked having friends, if it came down to my moms values or my peers, I’d pick my family. I never forgot that other kids hurt me but my parents tried to protect me, so even as a teenager I was clear about who had my best interests in mind. But like I said, it all depends on the individual situations.

      • TLC

        And you know what? Now that I’m an adult, I’ve been bullied by several family members — including a sister who used to teach anti-bullying programs. So I far prefer the company of my peers. But all of this is as an adult, so maybe the age difference doesn’t mean as much.

      • Hilary

        Like I said, it all depends on the individual people involved. I’ve got people in my family I don’t bother associating with either.

      • smrnda

        I wish I was more surprised that an adult who teaches anti-bullying can be a bully to a family member, but it just seems typical of hypocrisy. I think people piss and shit on family members since they can get away with it. I found when I was young was that my family could treat me shitty, and I was stuck with them, but that with friends, you can always leave if you don’t get treated right.

      • TLC

        I learned many years ago that sometimes your family of origin isn’t the best one for you. When that happens, find a new one among your friends. This is what I have done. I still see them, but as little as possible. Don’t think you’re “stuck” with yours.

      • Nancy Shrew

        Consider the oft misunderstood cliche “Blood is thicker than water.” Its true meaning is actually the opposite of what is popularly believed.

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

        Oh aye. My husband and I believe very strongly that friends are the family you choose.

        We both have good relations with most of our family, but we don’t consider them more or less important than our friends. They’re all our family, and the family members we don’t get along with (it’s much stronger than ‘don’t get along with’, but that’s private details) are blood relatives, but they aren’t family like that.

      • brbr2424

        Why were you forced to choose in high school. As moms, one of our jobs is letting go and letting our children live life.

      • Hilary

        I wasn’t forced, my mom worked hard for me to have a social life. Sometimes harder then me, she’s an extrovert and I’m an introvert. But in the face of any peer pressure to do something I didn’t want to, I never forgot who had my back.

    • smrnda

      My response : “true socialization happens when hunter-gatherers forage for berries. This whole ‘civilization’ thing is arbitrary.” I mean, this is the whole fallacy that some social arrangements are valid and authentic and others are artificial.

    • TheCarolineEntity

      For me in that circle, the balance of power between adults and peers made a huge difference. I couldn’t talk to my parents like I would my peers, because they’d always have a final answer and they’d cut you short if you said anything wrong. And most of the other adults I socialized with were other homeschool parents and church leaders, so the same goes for them. It was only around a few people my own age that I could try out some of my less-than-orthodox (ie, honest) ideas.

      • Alice

        YES! It was so wonderful when I started college, and I could have real discussions with people instead of discussions always turning into lectures.

  • http://aaatheist.wordpress.com/ AAAtheist

    Thank you again, Libby, for your detailed analysis of the mindset behind a philosophy I find completely alienating.

    [Bill Gothard] “… The ultimate goal of education is not to produce a degree, but to produce many godly generations. …”

    Or, in other words, produce generations of ignorant citizens that believe Christianity is the remedy that will solve the world’s problems. Gothard and other fundy leaders would be oligarchs in that world; their followers would be deluded, distracted minions (and future voters).

    [Libby Anne] “… These ideas aren’t fringe in Christian homeschooling, and Gothard is not the only one to hold or spread them, either. And yes, this should make you nervous.”

    I am sufficiently unnerved.

    • TLC

      From Bill Gothard’s bio on his website:

      “Bill Gothard received his B.A. (1957) and M.A. (1961) degrees from Wheaton College and, a Ph.D. (2004) degree from Louisiana Baptist University.”

      Um, so I guess it was OK for him to get his education.

      • https://aaatheist.blog AAAtheist

        Nice catch, TLC! ; – )

        Oh, sweet, sweet irony! How delicious and tasty you are!

      • Hilary

        A BA in 1957 – back when the world was perfect, America was the most powerful nation in the world and could do no wrong, men and women knew their places, all children were respectful, brown skinned people where happy in their places and hadn’t gotten all uppity, and homos didn’t exist.
        Oh, wait a minute . . .
        I’d make some crack about ‘no wonder he wants to freeze the world to go back to that time’ but I know white, Christian men who are also from that time who have adapted fairly well, so I won’t stereotype. This guy just has issues.

      • Sally

        Thank you for looking this up. This is exactly what I was thinking. It’s not even, “I’ve got mine, heck with you.” It’s, “I’ve got mine, don’t let your children get theirs.” Wheaton College is a fairly open-minded school where my mom was taught about theistic evolution (which is real evolution with the spin that God started it off- as opposed to intelligent design which is just repackaged creationism/Genesis story). When I asked her around age 10 how Adam and Eve and evolution could both be true, she told me what she was told at Wheaton. In other words, believe evolution (and give God the credit). I mention that just to point out, for anyone who doesn’t know, that Gothard’s years at Wheaton should have helped him become a open-minded balanced Christian, imo. Instead, it sounds like he’s really gone off the rails.

      • Sally

        I guess to be fair, Wheaton may have been more conservative in the late 50s. My mom graduated in the early 60s. Still, the environment that would allow clear thinking about evolution when she was there didn’t just appear from nowhere.

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    It may be contrary to title IX. I see it as also contrary to Christianity.

    Back in my religious days, I used to say “God gave us brains; he intended us to use them.” Much of what happens in home schooling seems to be contrary to that principle.

    • Sally

      “Much of what happens in home schooling seems to be contrary to that principle.”
      Coming from both the non-sectarian homeschooling world and having spent many years on the homeschooling forum of a rich, literature-based Christian curriculum, I think we have to qualify this statement with by saying, “Much of what happens in *some* homeschooling circles seems to be contrary to that principle.” I stopped homeschooling at some point, and I have my concerns about the movement and the individual children in various types of circles, but I can vouch for the fact that not all homeschool families want their kids to follow anything like what Gathard says, let alone have even heard this type of teaching.

      • Baby_Raptor

        No offense, but can we please stop with this “We’re not all like that” whine?

        We know. We hear it every single time one of these posts comes up.

        But the posts aren’t discussing all homeschooling, nor does Libby claim that what she says applies to every single family who homeschools. Thus the discussions that happen in the comments aren’t talking about every single home educating family.

        The constant “We’re not all like that” posts are off topic, derailing and frankly kind of old. They don’t add anything to the discussion, and if you’re taking offense to what’s being said, you’re reading something that’s not really there.

      • Sally

        You know what, I actually agree with you! I’ve actually been noticing it in a little different terms- like if someone uses the wrong word. I recently used the word “lame” and got corrected for insulting handicapped people. I wasn’t up for an argument, so I just said OK and intend to try to avoid the term. But I’m seeing it with all kinds of terms. It’s like you have to so carefully word your reply that no matter what you say, someone will find some way to correct something.
        The reason I started the post you’re replying to was actually to try to head off someone who comes in here for the first time who homeschools and goes all nuts and derails the conversation. Given that was my goal, I probably should have worded my post more as agreement than correcting.
        I think you make an excellent point. Yes, let’s stop the whining posts which nit-pick everyone’s word choices. There are ways to “model” better word choices without constantly calling out every less-than-ideal way of phrasing things.

      • Sally

        Nit-picking my own post:

        ” everyone’s word choices”
        I actually don’t mean “everyone;” I mean “occasionally some.”

      • AnotherOne

        You are a very gracious person, Sally.

      • http://mandassassin.blogspot.com mandassassin

        …Except that you don’t get to decide whether members of a marginalized group that you aren’t part of (or even one you are part of, really) find something hurtful. I’m all for a little benefit of the doubt in terms of phrasing, and, on the other side, being conscientious with how we put things. It’s important to realize that we may be misunderstood on the internet because we didn’t put things quite right.
        This is, however, an entirely different thing than using words that have a history of oppression behind them. When you use words like “lame” and “handicapped” you are associating me (and people like me) with things that are viewed negatively, are less-than. You don’t have the right to tell me that I can’t be hurt by that, or that asking you to avoid language that implicitly looks down on me is “whining” or “nit-pick[ing]”. Yes, being aware of potentially hurtful language can be an effort – but isn’t it worth a second’s more brain work to avoid hurting others? Is it really that hard to learn “disabled” or “people with disabilities”? Is it asking too much that you listen when we tell you something is hurtful, and try not to do that again?

      • attackfish

        Thank you for saying this. I remember neither whining nor nit-picking, but simply asking politely. It’s strange to hear my request characterized that way now.

      • Sally

        I should have been honest with you when the original exchange took place. For that I do apologize.

      • Sally

        To both mandassassin and attackfish: I realize that by referencing the exchange about “lame” which took place in another thread, I’m opening that back up for discussion. So I will clarify. When I used the word lame in the other thread, I did not use it in any way to reference or demean disabled people. Words have meaning, but the context gives their meaning. I was using definition 2 in Webster’s dictionary.

        http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lame

        It was like if I had said “lame duck president.” I’m not going to try and find the original comment, but it was something like, “That excuse is really lame.”
        If I have to be called out for demeaning disabled people when using the term lame in a way that has a different definition, then it’s just not worth it to me to post. I want to be able to express myself without being constantly corrected for word choices. In fact, I’ve also just been called out for using the term “handicapped” when referring to disabled people Handicapped is a proper term. It is used respectfully in our society. Handicapped parking comes to mind as an example.

      • attackfish

        Since the second meaning came from the first, that’s disingenuous. “Gay” has come to mean “boring”, and yet we still recognize that use as offensive. Lame, retarded, and other disability related epithets are the same.

        Handicapped is an odd one. There is a popular false etymology that “handicapped” comes from “hand and cap” as in cap in hand, or begging. Many people found the association insulting, and so the word has fallen out of use in disabled circles. Though false, the etymology is still widely believed. However, a good policy is always to use the term that the closest disabled person to you asks you to use, since how we label ourselves is so important.

      • Sally

        That’s how language works in many cases. Context changes meanings by shades until eventually you have different meanings of the same word. I don’t think it’s reasonable to call out someone for using meaning 2 as if it were meaning 1. As far as the people nearest to me, they both use the term “handicapped” freely. How can I know whether it’s OK to use the term on this forum without polling everyone first? Yet I have been called out on that term in this exchange. My friend who is handicapped uses the term “lame,” the way I did originally (definition 2). My mom doesn’t because people from her generation don’t say “sucks,” “excellent,” “lame,” and “awesome” the way people my age do.

        That said, I originally said I would avoid the term (on this forum) and I will stick with that.

      • attackfish

        Yes, language changes. See what I wrote about the current use of the word “gay” which is directly analogous. As a Jewish person, I can still be offended when someone says they “Jewed someone down” despite the age of the phrase, and its established place in the language. So too can someone of Romani descent be angry about someone saying they were “gypped”. So too is the use of lame offensive, no matter how cemented into the language it has become.

        Use it until corrected, like I do, or look to what words are already being used on the forum. This applies to “disabled” which some people don’t like, because it makes us sound like we can’t do anything, or “with disabilities” which other disabled people don’t like, because they think it disguises systematic oppression. (It’s really complicated, okay?) Just show courtesy and empathy.

      • RachelS

        Amen to that. Don’t assume what terminology people prefer. And as importantly, don’t assume what terminology they DON’T prefer. I personally cringe at “people-first” usage for several reasons, but some people prefer it – it is not a universal thing no matter what some well-meaning non-disabled people think! And yes, I am disabled, so am all too familiar with the terminology warfare. *sigh*

      • http://mandassassin.blogspot.com mandassassin

        Oh, for goodness sake. You’re going to rules-lawyer me with dictionary definitions? Why do you think that “lame” came to mean “lacking desirable substance: weak, ineffectual”? Maybe because that’s how people with disabilities have been seen for centuries?
        Also, “handicapped” is an outdated legal term. Yes, it is sometimes still used for parking (a lot of parking is now, more appropriately, “disability parking” or “accessible parking”), but it is not respectful in the least. It likely comes from the phrase “hand i’ cap”, meaning begging or pitiful. I would like to reiterate: *you do not get to tell me, or other disabled folks, that “x” is perfectly respectful.*

        We are telling you that it is NOT. We are telling you that you are disrespecting us. There is no ambiguity here.

        If you don’t understand the history of terms or their relation to past oppression – and apparently can’t be bothered to look into them before assuming we just don’t understand how words work – you might consider doing some research. It took me less than five minutes to find this: http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/10/12/ableist-word-profile-lame/

  • Mel

    “Two hours of home-school teaching are equivalent to six hours of public schools”.
    Perhaps. With highly motivated students or parents who can plan everything in detail ahead of time, I think that could be true. Based on many of the CP/Q websites I’ve browsed, most families have to set up bare-bone schedules around the three R’s and an occasional unit project and hope for the best.

    • Sally

      In my experience with homeschooling for 8 years and frequenting a homeschooling forum, 2 hours is totally unrealistic. Maybe if you’re just cranking out workbook pages, maybe- maybe. But if you’re using a rich curriculum that has any hope of being rigorous and even slightly interesting, you can’t do it in less than 4 hours a day. We took about 5-6. Mind you, at the end of that time, there was no additional “homework.”
      Ah, maybe that’s how he’s getting his number. Two hours of teacher (parent) contact in homeschooling for every 6 hours in school. Don’t count the time where the child is completing any assignments in that ratio (because that can be compared to homework time). If that’s what he’s doing, then he’s discounting the fact that kids do work on assignments in school (the younger, the more time spent on work in class). Also he’s completely misleading homeschooling parents. The last thing on earth we need is a parent who tends towards rules and rigidity to expect their kids to complete a whole school day, assignments and all, in 2 hours because Bill Gothard said it was expected (and didn’t qualify his statement explaining exactly what is and is not included in that 2 hours)!

      • KarenJo12

        My older son’s public high school classes are about 90 minutes each. He has eight of them, four each on MWF and the other four on TTH. They spend almost all of those 90 minutes on instruction. That 2 hours might just barely work for elementary kids in very basic classes but its idiotic for high school kids in subjects like chemistry and geometry.

      • Sally

        My kids are in ps now too (for several years). Get this, our middle school has 9 classes a day, each 38 minutes long (2 days/week) or 43 minutes long (3 days/week). While there’s 3 minutes passing time, you still have to account for the logistics of settling in and packing up in each class. They’re really trying to pack it in (!) and keep those middle schoolers on their toes, but you’re not getting much quality instruction time out of each class doing it that way. I think the kids are getting at best a “mini-lesson” and then doing their real learning at home with their homework for some of those classes. My current middle schooler recognizes the incredible inefficiency and waste of time as compared to when we homeschooled, but he still prefers it because of the daily human contact with peers. Community is a powerful thing!

      • http://valuesfromscratch.blogspot.com/ Marian

        Wait… the classes change length depending on the day? Does the whole school day change length? That would be mega weird… or am I just not understanding what you mean by the schedule?

        Regardless, what I want to say about this is that learning to deal with inefficiency and bureaucracy can be a feature, not a bug, of public schooling. It’s much closer to what the real world is actually like. Sometimes at school you have to do something obnoxious, inefficient, or something that just plain doesn’t make sense. Guess what, sometimes you have to do that in the workplace, too. Sometimes you have teachers who are mean, or unfair, or play favorites. Sometimes you have bosses like that, too! Homeschooling often seems to me like an attempt to control everything and create a “perfect” environment… but you will never have that much control over your environment in “real life.”

      • Sally

        Ah, yes. There is a bonus 10th period 2 days a week. It’s a little class that has a super small class size (because every teacher in the building takes a group of students at this time) where they do activities which they hope will give the kids a sense of belonging in what is otherwise a very large school. It’s kind of a neat concept.

      • smrnda

        I find this is a problem with the home-school philosophy as well. I’m not for people becoming cogs in some sort of machine as adults, but the idea that every moment is designed to be a magical, nurturing and individualized experience is not training kids for life. Sometimes you’re just a number for a while, and though it’s not fun, it’s part of keeping civilization running.

        I also find that it reeks of classism, the sort of ‘my home-schooled kids will not be cogs in the machine like those inferior public school kids.’

      • Guest

        90 minutes! Yeesh. In college my ability to pay attention often waned after an hour, so I much preferred the 50-minute three day a week classes to the 75-minute two day a week ones. And the once-a-week long lab class about killed me (I mean, I made “B”, I think, but I loathed it). Then again, I never had longer classes than that in high school, either.

      • http://autistscorner.blogspot.com Thalestris

        My high school worked like that, too. (A little different, in that we alternated between one set of 90-minute classes on Monday and Wednesday and a different set of classes on Tuesday and Thursday, and Friday we went to all of our classes but each one was 45 minutes long).

        For everything except subjects I absolutely adored (and sometimes even then) or classes where you’re doing something like gym or art, 90 minutes was way too long.

        Even the teachers couldn’t always fill it.

  • John Kruger

    That was quite the link. Math works because of god. Wow.

    The most destructive force in school is peer dependence, and parents must constantly work to protect their children from it.

    True socializing takes place not in the arbitrary groupings of school, but in the real world of children-to-adult relationships.

    I have found that the most telling aspect of a cult is the degree to which it isolates inside members from outside members. This is very cult like. When we grow up, many of our relationships are with peers. If all our childhood relationships are with adults, we will be very unprepared for practically all healthy relationships that do not have an active power dynamic to them (which will hopefully be most of our relationships!).

    Clearly a lot of people are drawn to homeschooling to isolate and control their children. I am very concerned.

    • Sally

      And if the model for these child-adult relationships was treating the kids with respect, and included the child’s interests, and relating to each other with a sense of mutuality, at least it wouldn’t be all bad. But if the model is authoritarianism, seen but not heard, fear-based, switching kids for slightest infractions kind of stuff, how does the child learn how to relate- especially if the family doesn’t happen to have many kids? I have a relative who is a boy growing up in an extremely isolated family with a bunch of siblings, but he doesn’t have one boy sibling anywhere near his age.

      • John Kruger

        I think social interactions are one of the most important things kids learn at school. No child/adult relationship can really be on a peer to peer level, not completely.

        I only met one person that was home schooled while I grew up going to my local public school. There was not any religious motivation at all, as far as I know. I suspect it was mostly a hippy kind of anti-establishment thing. You could really tell how awkward she was in social settings, almost to the point of panic at times. I know a lot of home school parents are conscientious enough to get the kids out for social activities like organized sports and whatnot, but this poor girl was clearly neglected in that way.

        Humans are social animals, and depriving them of human contact can be really damaging, particularly in formative years.

      • Conuly

        Alternatively, it is entirely possible she was homeschooled because she had trouble learning social skills at school and was, say, being bullied.

      • attackfish

        This. The people I know who panic at social interaction all had very negative experiences with it. The people who were new at it were awkward and uncomfortable, yes, but less so than the bullied.

  • attackfish

    MATH WORKS BECAUSE GOD??? WHAT IS THIS?

    I’m a religious Jewish woman, and I got to say, what the ever loving F***? Religious people throughout the ages have looked at the world and seen that the God or Gods they believe in made it in a logical, rational way that they can study with human reason, and they saw human reason as a gift from the divine. Gothard is an insult to the entire concept of education, and the entire concept of religious education, for this alone.

    God gave boys and girls differing aptitudes; when children are taught together, boys are programmed for failure.

    I’ve got a lot of thoughts on this. This little bit of gender essentialist garbage has been used to justify so much crap, like gender segregated classrooms in public schools, where boys learn about math and science and adventure, and girls are asked to talk about how a “girl oriented” book made them feel, or like women staying home, while men work, because they don’t have the aptitude for a career, or men never learning to take care of themselves and their children, because well, boys just aren’t good at domestic stuff, or silencing girls in blended classrooms, because they scare the boys, or the boys aren’t participating enough, despite the fact that all of the studies done on the subject show that in nearly any classroom, boys get called on much more often and speak longer and with more perceived authority, This is what made a president of Harvard say that there are so few women in science and engineering because of a “different availability of aptitude at the high end” instead of looking at all of the ways women are told from girlhood that they aren’t good enough. It’s disgusting.

    Equally disgusting is that Gothard has programs for character education in prisons, especially women’s prisons, where he peddles female submission to a bunch of trapped, and emotionally vulnerable women trying to turn their lives around. He is scum.

    • Hilary

      If they think math only works because of God, lets not introduce them to gematria, they might get too many ideas and become even more crazy.

      • attackfish

        *snickers*

      • luckyducky

        Too late.

        I know a math teacher who tries to use math and the Bible to prove the existence of God. It was a tortuous — I am pretty decent at math and could not follow… he gets so wound up trying to SHOW people that most of us have learned to back.away.slowly. if the topic is even brushed up against.

      • Liz

        prove the existence of god… with…math? i don’t even know how that would begin to know how that would work, and i really don’t want to.

      • centaurie

        Try set theory and watch them slowly combust!

    • Limeade

      The education system was, for the most part, created by men for boys, and hasn’t changed much since girls were able to join in. In times past, saying that boys needed to be rambunctious and couldn’t sit still and learn would’ve been considered a huge insult. But we all know gender essentialism trumps facts!

      “Equally disgusting is that Gothard has programs for character education in prisons, especially women’s prisons, where he peddles female submission to a bunch of trapped, and emotionally vulnerable women trying to turn their lives around.”

      That is absolutely disgusting. I know free speech is important blah blah blah, but that kind of crap shouldn’t be allowed.

      • smrnda

        Free speech isn’t free when the audience is *literally* captive, behind bars.

      • attackfish

        You said it better than I could. We all have freedom of speech, not freedom to make people listen.

  • AnotherOne

    Yeah, my parents openly voiced concerns about–even disdain for–Gothard and his cult-like ways, but they believe every single one of those points above.

  • Sally

    About that link and the video. Two things: I’ve noticed there is a “woman-tone” that so many evangelical women use. It’s kind of a sweet, almost kindergarten teacher voice. I first noticed it on Focus on the Family when Dobson would have female guests… so many used this voice! In fact, it’s such a strong impression I have that recently when I was flipping stations in the car and came across the voice, I thought I had hit a Christian radio station (kind of unconscious). When I realized I hadn’t, I was absolutely shocked I was hearing a woman speak about something very secular. Weird. But I digress a bit…
    The main thing is, she’s claiming the fact that “math works” means God is holding the universe together as a covenant to us the way he keeps his covenants in the Bible. Ummm, has she read the Old Testament all the way through? It is largely made up of people dealing with the aftermath of the fact that the covenants are constantly broken. Ultimately they decide it’s because people break the covenants, not God. But the idea that we can trust math because God keeps his covenants in the Bible is like saying, “Math will work as long as people don’t screw up God’s plans.” It makes no sense. Obviously Christians believe God created the universe and math works as part of that creation. But every time you do a math problem and it works, God is keeping his covenant? What?

    • attackfish

      Oh god, the Evangelical woman voice. And I’m saying this as someone learning to be a pre-K teacher. That voice.

      • http://repost-this-image.tumblr.com The_L1985

        I remember that voice. There is a reason Dolores Umbridge made me gag the second she first opened her mouth in the 5th Harry Potter movie, and it wasn’t because I’d already read the book.

        Umbridge-voice is like nails on a chalkboard for me.

      • attackfish

        Ironically it’s the “oh no, you shouldn’t be reading Harry Potter dear, those books are from Satan,” voice.

    • eamonknight

      Wake me up, someone, when 2+2 starts working out to 5, or pi becomes 3.00. I mean with gay marriage and what-all, we’re constantly being warned that God’s going to get pissed and visit all sorts of mayhem on us…..

      Christian math: Platonic Idealism run amok.

      • smrnda

        As a mathematical formalist, I fully endorse this comment :-)

    • Monala

      I agree about that voice! I used to call it the “1950’s woman’s voice” because it seemed like whenever I watched a movie filmed in he ’50s, the women talked like that.

      • http://www.letterboxd.com/gillianren/ Gillianren

        Try imagining Katharine Hepburn or Barbara Stanwyck using that voice. Basically, just watch a better class of ’50s film.

      • Nancy Shrew

        I’d like to see Kate’s response, especially considering she was an atheist, though I imagine that even a staunch Republican like Barbara would have had a thing or two to say.

      • http://www.letterboxd.com/gillianren/ Gillianren

        After all, not all Republicans reject book learnin’, and Barbara made her career playing strong, independent women.

    • TLC

      Yep. Same voice as the FLDS women who are constantly being told to “keep sweet. Just as creepy and scary!

    • tulips

      The voice. Egads the voice. The smarmy passive aggressive sweet honey iced tea baby doll voice. I’m instantly suspicious when I hear it in a secular setting.

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

        Oh yes. That voice sends instant chills down my spine, and I never even had to interact much with people using it. It just means I’m about to be condescended to, probably lied to, certainly brushed off, and possibly socially ostracized. And that’s what I picked up from the margins!

      • Sally

        So interesting! The “I’m no threat to you” voice is actually also a signal that if you don’t think like me, I may treat you like an outsider. It really has a lot of depth!

      • therealramona

        THAT VOICE scares the hell out of me, and always has. Long before I could articulate that there was something creepy about it, I knew it portended disaster. Shudder.

      • http://repost-this-image.tumblr.com The_L1985

        As I mentioned in another post, I call it Umbridge-voice. Not only does she use that same tone in the movies, but…it just makes me cringe. I was conditioned from an early age to associate that tone with detention and/or “I’m telling your parents.”

      • tulips

        Maybe that’s why it worked so well in the book? Everyone already knew what that voice implied.

  • ako

    God wants the priorities of every family to be built around daily
    engrafting of Scripture, rather than accumulating man’s knowledge.

    In other words, fanaticism over knowledge.

    Parents who teach sons and daughters at home must be accountable to a local church (Christian school and the government).

    Because when you question whether a parent should be beating a child, the response is “How dare you challenge my rights over my property child?”, but when a parent wants to teach secular math, they need someone holding them “accountable” so kids don’t learn their times tables without the appropriate religious filter.

    God gave boys and girls differing aptitudes; when children are taught together, boys are programmed for failure.

    If boys achieve more academic success when girls are separated out, denied opportunities, and constantly told that they’re only a girl, therefore not capable of academic greatness, it’s proof of natural difference in aptitudes. If girls achieve more academic success when everyone’s in the same room being taught the same way, it’s proof schools are biased and boys are being horribly wronged.

    When schools group children by ages, older examples are cut off and rebels usually rise to leadership.

    Age separation is horrible and unnatural and will teach your kids stunted social skills, but gender separation is somehow awesome preparation for the real world.

    Valuable learning time is lost in school; two hours of home teaching is equivalent to six hours of school teaching.

    If you give your kids two hours a day of actual education, and they spend the rest of the day running around being unpaid laborers for you, don’t even worry about it! Homeschooling is magically so much more awesome that you never have to worry about their education being inferior just because there’s vastly less of it!

    God has set a limitation on learning; thus, academic freedom is no justification for studying the details of evil.

    Don’t think about the contradictory, illogical, or simply untrue bits of what I told you, or you’ll burn in Hell!

  • Dan F.

    having come from a “Christian homeschooling circle” I’ve never heard of the guy. His “points” are laughable although I can see some extremely conservative fundamentalist corners of the country nodding along in agreement. I would be careful about holding him/his thoughts up as typical or even a plurality amongst the homeschool community.

    • Rosa

      That’s amazing, because just from being homeschooler-adjacent, I’ve run into Gotthard’s stuff. People try to bring his character education & “what animal is your personality” stuff into workplaces and schools all the time. Though it’s only after I started reading about Gotthard here that I realized that was the source for some of it.

      • Liz

        oh my gosh, is that the book with the golden retriever and the lion and the beaver, and they go on an adventure and there’s like a peppermint river? And at the end you decide which animal is most like you? …or is that something completely different? :-p

      • Rosa

        i don’t remember a dog but there’s dfeinitely a lion and a beaver. We took some sort of animal-personality test as a team-building exercise at my last job and I discovered later it was a Gotthard “character building” thing.

        I’ve also discovered, tangentially from forwarding articles from this blog, that I know a couple people (Christian-schooled, not even homeschoolers) who did some level of IBLP when they were kids but their parents decided not to stick with it. There must have been a big recruiting drive back in the mid ’80s around here.

    • Naomi

      Part of the reason you may have never heard of Gothard is that he discourages people from quoting him, telling them to quote the Bible instead (same thing, obviously). Also, he keeps a tight leash on the distribution of his materials avoiding the typical outlets like Christian bookstores. I know the first time I attended a homeschool curriculum fair in the early 1990s, I was a little shocked to see how low a profile IBLP/ATI had there–little to no presence if I remember correctly. BUT, I also think it’s impossible to deny his influence “in the water” so to speak when you look more closely at the logics and rhetoric of much of Christian conservatism/evangelical fundamentalism today. Of course who is to say what started with him and what started with others that he has merely re-packaged? Still, he has been hugely successful in maintaining his “man behind the curtain” approach in disseminating his ridiculous ideas. When you see pictures of the huge stadiums he filled with note-taking audiences during the 1970s and 1980s, you can begin to see how it would be possible for his ideas to take root in the minds of people who have become leaders in Christian conservatism today.

  • smrnda

    “God gave boys and girls differing aptitudes; when children are taught together, boys are programmed for failure.”
    If he left off the ‘aptitude’ bit, I’d assume he was saying that girls are a distraction to boys. But if you use the term ‘aptitude’ it sounds like all he’s saying is ‘when girls and boys are educated together, boys will do worse than girls.’ That’s a pretty anti-male statement, as if boys can’t learn unless they get their lessons spoon-fed to them. I know this does happen, but it has much more to do with teaching boys that it’s ‘more manly’ to skip school, screw around and mouth off rather than doing their homework.

    • Abby Normal

      Maybe it’s just me, but I read it as either 1) the material will be watered down so the girls can handle it or 2) evil feminist school teachers that were educated at godless secular schools tend to favor the girls and punish boys for normal boy behavior. I’ve seen that argument around before, anyway.

      • smrnda

        I would think that, but I read a few evangelical home-schooled books that argue (using unreliable pseudoscience) that when very young, girls (because of differences in development) get *slightly* ahead of boys and give them an inferiority complex in preschool (when no kids should be in school anyway, they should be at home becoming godly) that causes them to disengage, though boys *naturally* surpass girls in any area that isn’t associated with talking about feelings by the teenage years.

        I wish I could find the source on that.

      • Naomi

        Yes, I’d love to know about that source too if you do.

  • Alexis

    Pride? Arrogance? “When knowledge is learned before godly character, it produces pride and arrogance.” My impression of Gotherd is that he must have learned knowledge before godly character.

  • TLC

    This is one of those blog posts that once again makes me wonder, “Did these people ever read a Bible? Or understand Biblical times?”

    God charges parents and grandparents, not teachers, with the responsibility to train their sons and daughters.

    I am assuming that since Gothard’s session is about “Successful Education” and homeschooling, that “training” means “educating.” A quick search of the Bible (NLT) shows 105 references in the Gospels alone to “teacher,” and ALL of these refer to the “teachers of religious law” or to Jesus. Now the teachers of
    religious law may have been parents or grandparents, but Jesus was not. He was just God — does that count? And these “teachers of religious law” were obviously teaching more than just their own children or grandchildren.

    God established the home, not the school, as the primary learning center; the school and church must be recognized as extensions of it.

    Yes, children first learn at home. However, in Jesus’ time, children went to school at the synagogue at age 5 or 6. Their primary focus was learning the Torah, but the also learned reading, writing and languages for their studies.

    Another nonsensical point:

    God gave boys and girls differing aptitudes; when children are taught together, boys are programmed for failure.

    From Sara Mead, Education Sector (2006): “The real story is not bad news about boys doing worse; it’s good news about girls doing better. In fact, with a few exceptions, American boys are scoring higher and achieving more than they ever have before. But girls have just improved their performance on some measures even faster. As a result, girls have narrowed or even closed some academic gaps that previously favored boys, while other long-standing gaps that favored girls have widened, leading to the belief that boys are falling behind. ”

    So whether they’re taught together or apart, boys aren’t failing. Girls are doing better — probably something Gothard can’t handle.

    I also find the phrase “programmed for failure” interesting. If boys are supposed to be dominant and girls are supposed to submit to them, then how can being in the presence of these mere girls “program” boys to fail?

    Furthermore, does that mean Gothard tells homeschooling parents they have to teach boys and girls separately?

    • attackfish

      If boys are supposed to be dominant and girls are supposed to submit to
      them, then how can being in the presence of these mere girls “program”
      boys to fail?

      Well, none of those girls are submitting properly! Of course a boy will fail to learn while instinctively trying to show them their proper place!

    • smrnda

      Gothard would say “how dare you bring facts to the discussion! Only gender stereotypes allowed!”

  • Brightie

    “True socializing takes place not in the arbitrary groupings of school, but in the real world of children-to-adult relationships.”

    OK… That concept does sound familiar, from various places. And on purpose or accidentally, I ended up with more adults I thought of as friends than peers I thought of as friends when I was younger. It didn’t work, because it wasn’t two-way. If I was lucky we liked a few of the same books and movies and they thought my art was cute, so we had something to talk about. But they’d still go over my head, and I couldn’t understand their world like they pretended to understand mine.

  • Saraquill

    “Gothard’s worlds girls have an aptitude for cooking and childcare and boys have aptitude for math and science.”

    This kind of thinking rather ignores how much measurements, chemistry and physics apply to cooking. As for child care, having a decent knowledge of psychology certainly helps.

    Also, Gothard has a pretty low opinion of G-d, to believe that S/He can be thwarted with the concept of secular schooling.

    • Conuly

      These people think God is routinely thwarted by a thin layer of latex. Virgin birth? No big. Barrier method? Houston, we have a problem!

  • Val

    Wow. I homeschool my kids, and I am surprised at how wrong he is about the right way to homeschool! Yikes. Our ultimate goal is to produce *educated people*; wanting them to be honourable adults is why we discipline and instruct them, not why we homeschool. Right off the bat, we differ. I don’t think it is a good idea to use homeschooling as a tool to raise your kids to be Christians, because it can cause their education to suffer, and it can wind up pushing them away from the faith altogether. You can be Christian and also homeschool, and not mingle the two or use the schooling as an opportunity to pass on your faith… this is just my opinion, but I think it’s better for the kids to keep the two distinct.

    I also think it’s rather sexist to say that boys and girls learning together will make boys fail…that’s b.s. My two kids are only one grade level apart, so they take about half of their subjects as a joint class (art, social studies, French, music, and even reading now that they’re both reading well above their current grade levels). It has not made my son “fail” in any way to be learning alongside his sister. It’s good for both of them. I do think that public schools are set up in such a way that it can be more challenging for boys – they often have a much harder time sitting still and being quiet, and they need an outlet for all that energy, and when they aren’t able to burn it off the quality of their work can drop quite a bit. But that’s a totally separate problem than just working with girls. Unless he’s saying that the boys will be too distracted by the girls’ presence to concentrate…?

    One thing I think he’s almost right about, though, is socialization. Even if your child is in public school, you as his parent will be his primary source for proper socialization. His peers are all equally unsocialized so there is only so much he will learn from them. He will learn his manners and etiquette, how to navigate friendships/relationships, how to make choices and fix problems, most of his social skills from his parents and other adults in his life who know how to behave. The bulk of socialization is done by parents. It’s still a lousy excuse to use to justify socially isolating your kids though. They still need friends. My kids don’t hang out exclusively with other homeschooled kids – their best friend is a kid who lives a few blocks away who is in public school. And it’s been great for all of them.

  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    So, let’s take a look at these, shall we (warning: big post):

    The ultimate goal of education is not to produce a degree, but to produce many godly generations.

    That’s cuz Jaysus’ Cosmic Vacuum Cleaner is only set to “Moron”. Anything more won’t get sucked up during the Rapture.

    Anti-Intellectualism: 10

    God charges parents and grandparents, not teachers, with the responsibility to train their sons and daughters.

    It’s easier to control the parents than it is to control the children. Controlling the parents means controlling the children; controlling the parents means controlling all subsequent generations. Total control, nothing less, is the only thing acceptable.

    Centralized Control of the population: 9

    God established the home, not the school, as the primary learning
    center; the school and church must be recognized as extensions of it.

    Strong, centralized control over education. The only facts that you can learn are those facts that are cleared and acceptable by the State God.

    Anti-Intellectualism: 10
    Controlling information: 8

    The most destructive force in school is peer dependence, and parents must constantly work to protect their children from it.

    Again with the control. You control their lives, at all times. Complete and total control, no less. No room to grow, no room to experiment and learn unless God (Gothard) wants you to. They are bundled up tightly against the will of God, like a bundle of sticks against an ax.

    Centralized control over the population: 9

    God wants the priorities of every family to be built around daily
    engrafting of Scripture, rather than accumulating man’s knowledge.

    The most irritating things about people like him is that they know exactly what their little sky fairy is after. When a tornado hits a populate city, God’s punishing us. When a tornado flattens a Baptist church in Assend, Mississippi, God works in mysterious ways.

    Centralized control over the population: 9
    Anti-Intellectualism: 10
    Prioritizing the State above all other Personal Goals: 7

    The ability of sons and daughters to stand alone is the result not of
    rules, but of principles thyat assure a superior way of life.

    So the only principles that work, then, are their own. nobody else is capable of standing alone; and a replacement of “rules” with “principles” doesn’t mean there was any less control. In fact, I think that “rules” is a very adequate description, since no principled person would ever do this, or consider themselves or their way of life “superior”.

    Centralized control over the population: 9
    Principles/Rules dictated by the State override personal freedom: 6
    Xenophobia, Racism, and Cultural Posturing: 5

    When knowledge is learned before godly character, it produces pride and arrogance.

    And there’s only one way to achieve a Godly character, and that’s by following these rules. And then he turns around and calls people who put knowledge above pursuit of some sky fairy arrogant and prideful. The only “good” knowledge is the knowledge that produces “godly” characters, capable of withstanding “bad” knowledge, where I get to define “good”, “godly”, and “bad”.

    Anti-Intellectualism: 10

    Parents who teach sons and daughters at home must be accountable to a local church (Christian school and the government).

    Really, I’ve got nothing to say here. You must be held accountable, regardless whether you think it’s a good idea or night, or you think it’s within your rights as a person to do otherwise.

    Centralized Control over the Population: 9
    Disregard for Human Rights: 4
    Principles/Rules dictated by the State override personal freedom: 6

    Sons and daughters thrive with appropriate responsibility, and it is God’s goal that they be mature in their youth.

    Again, they get to decide what’s “appropriate” and what “God’s goals” are. Grow ’em up so they can go serve in God’s military, and fight for God. And of course, the church is the only thing that can do these teachings, so you’re held accountable to them.

    Centralized Control over the Population: 9
    Disregard for Human Rights: 4
    Principles/Rules dictated by the State override personal freedom: 6

    God gave boys and girls differing aptitudes; when children are taught together, boys are programmed for failure.

    Where are the misanderists when you need them? Boys will automatically fail if taught with girls? Why?

    Rampant Sexism and strong Traditional Gender Roles: 3
    Centralized Control over the Population: 9

    When schools group children by ages, older examples are cut off and rebels usually rise to leadership.

    And heavens knows we can’t have them rising to leadership positions; that’s just bad. We don’t want rebellious leaders, we want leaders willingly submit themselves to the State God (oops, did it again…)

    Centralized Control over the Population: 9
    Willing suppression of Rebellion and “undesirables”: 2
    Worship of a strong leader: 1

    When the Bible is separated from courses, the contents come under the control of human reasoning.

    And we can’t have that. That’s terrible.

    Anti-Intellectualism: 10
    Controlling information: 8
    Re-writing facts and the Big Lie: 0

    True socializing takes place not in the arbitrary groupings of school, but in the real world of children-to-adult relationships.

    That way, the parents can control everything about their life a lot easier – it’s harder to know what they’re plotting when they’re by themselves with their “friends”, but when the parents are there, they know. They’re like cameras – they need to be everywhere, watching all the time, like Big Brother.

    Centralized control over the population: 9
    Controlling information: 8

    Valuable learning time is lost in school; two hours of home teaching is equivalent to six hours of school teaching.

    Completely unsourced bullshit; why am I not surprised? I’ll agree that a lot of time is lost in school; being a teacher, I know that first hand. However, I also know that there’s a hidden curriculum that students get exposed too, and even if I’m only able to spend 20 minutes teaching, that’s information they probably didn’t have before.

    Anti-Intellectualism: 10
    Centralized control over the population: 9
    Controlling information: 8

    The key to effective education is not just a trained teacher and a
    professional curriculum, but a concerned parent and a motivated child.

    Guess what? I agree with this 100%. Of everything on this list, it’s the only thing I agree with.

    God has set a limitation on learning; thus, academic freedom is no justification for studying the details of evil.

    Aaaaand we’re back to bullshit again. Notice how he singled out “academic freedom”. Also notice how they get to define what “details of evil” happen to be – I’ll bet anything the Theory of Evolution, Cosmology, BIg Bang theory, Tectonic Plate theory, Atomic Theory – any legitimate science, really – is on there. After all, the best science is the science that submits to the State and tells the State exactly what it wants to hear.

    ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM: 10
    Controlling information: 8
    Re-writing facts and the Big Lie: 0

    10: Anti-Intellectualism: A disdain for intellectuals and learning. Ideologically motivated sciences often get support lavished upon them by the State, but those that are deem insufficiently patriotic or undercutting the goal of the State are pushed out of business, professors teaching them arrested, and books espousing them burned.

    9: Centralized Control over the Population: There is only one State that everyone answers to; the police, the government, the military; they’re all extensions of the same apparatus that control the lives of the people living in the country.

    8: Controlling Information: The only information that can be allowed in the hands of the population is information that reinforces the command or worship of the State and the figure head at the top. Otherwise, it’s not useful, and is to be barred from the population. Propaganda only.

    7: Prioritizing the State above all other Personal Goals: The State is the most important feature in your life; everything you do is done for the interests of the State. If you’re not acting in the best interest of the State, you’re a traitor and a rebel who may very well be “disappeared”.

    6: Principles/Rules dictated by the State override personal freedom: The State gets to dictate what principles and rules you live by, and often times for most, these override their personal freedoms. Because the State knows what’s best for you, it’s in your best interest to follow the principles and rules the State devises. Or be vanished.

    5: Xenophobia, Racism, and Cultural Posturing: such cultures feel superior and endowed with special privileges as a result of their perceived closeness with the state. All outside cultures are contaminates; they only serve to weaken the existing superiority the State and the people therein exercise.

    4: Disregard for Human Rights: Individual rights often get subjected to the rule of the State, so it should be no surprise that human rights get pitched in the garbage bin, either. The State controls your life; you are an element of the State; that’s the full scope of your rights. Whatever the State wants.

    3: Rampant Sexism and strong Traditional Gender Roles: Societies in which women are educated and knowledgeable tend to be more egalitarian, and they tend to undermine the strength of the State. To the State, your only purpose as a woman is to have as many children, for the State to use, as possible. As such, the State enforces traditional gender roles and sexism runs rampant, along with an enhanced sense of Machismo that underscores the social order; men are doers, women exist. And the State is Male – the Fatherland.

    2: Willing suppression of Rebellion and “undesirables”: It’s necessary to act out against those who would attack the State because they a) weaken the State and b) can often times convince those people who aren’t totally swayed by the notion of being a stick in a bundle that this isn’t a good idea. As such, exposure to these people must be mitigated, regulated, and if at all possible, banned.

    1: Worship of a strong leader: A strong leader is necessary for the State; they are not an entity independent of the State, rather, they act in the absolute, unmitigated, best interests for the State. And with a strong, (masculine) hand on the Helm, the State is considered to be under good hands.

    0: Re-writing facts and the Big Lie: “A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth” – Lenin

    Now here’s an exercise: where I said State, go back and replace it with God. Tell me what difference it made.

    I don’t throw this word around lightly, but here it’s very accurate: these people are fucking fascists.

  • http://bodycrimes.wordpress.com/ Chloe Dawson

    I was reading on the train the other day, enjoying my book, when it struck me what an enormous intellectual achievement the development of writing was, that enabled us to tell each other stories and convey complex information with the use of scribbles. And on that we built civilisation. Use of the intellect i what makes us human. To pretend it doesn’t really matter, or that you can just ignore most of it, is wicked.

  • Nancy

    In the mid 1990’s, Bill Gothard had a medical school – so MEN (not women) with an interest in medicine could learn via apprenticeship without having to be exposed to pornography. (Having never been to medical school… is it true that early in med school, the students look at lots of pictures of naked bodies so they can be desensitized? And is this a *bad* thing? Do I really want my doc getting turned on by giving me a pap smear or pulling a tick off my upper thigh??)

    He also started the Oak Brook College of Law so that students could become lawyers the “right” way.

    There was also a midwifery program. There were random courses in things like drapery, upholstery, floral arranging, music, etc. “Counseling” seminars were simply further indoctrination in Bill’s philosophy of solving other people’s problems in 7 steps complete with diagrams… even though most of us students were in our teens and so sheltered that we didn’t have a CLUE how to fix other people’s lives even though Bill told us that we could do so. Ugh, what conceited, self-righteous, judgmental little robots we were trained to be!

    Bill’s “college” programs – TELOS at first, then Verity, now Embassy – are pretty much courses to study HIS OWN MATERIALS in greater detail. Brainwashing, anyone?!

    I was raised in ATI. I wasn’t interested in medicine or law or midwifery, and TELOS came out around the time I was marrying out of ATI, plus it was too expensive for my parents to have me do. To this day, I don’t have a college degree, and it’s really hurt me financially.

    According to Bill’s claim, employers should be falling over themselves to hire me, without my needing a degree, simply because of my Godly character and the “light of my eyes.” (Well, maybe not, since I’m a woman and my place is in the home… ’cause women should NEVER divorce their husbands even when they cheat & are abusive, and if a woman is widowed, then God and the church and her relatives will take care of her, if only she’ll get under some man’s authority. Or something like that.)

    • Nancy Shrew

      I doubt they show depictions of naked bodies in order to desensitize, I just doubt any anatomy books, diagrams, etc. contain illustrated Barbie bodies with fig leaves.

      • (((J_Enigma32)))

        Nah, there’s labeled arrow pointing towards an image where everything from the neck down is pixelated.