Quoting Quiverfull: Learning Chores More Important Than Education?

Quoting Quiverfull: Learning Chores More Important Than Education? March 9, 2017

quotingquiverfullby Mary Pride from Homeschool World – The Joy of Chores

Editor’s note: Mary starts off her article with the story of what sounds to me more like the typical homeschooling families I knew, with mom bemoaning to dad that just doing the household chores with the children took up the entire day and she never got around to academic teaching. While making sure your child knows how to cook a simple meal, do their own laundry and sew on a button before they leave your home that does not give one a pass on academic subjects. It’s not more important. Some of us manage to teach those skills while we work and our children go to school outside of the home. This shouldn’t be so hard as she wants to make it. Like so much of Quiverfull this is not an either or situation like they claim it is.

Well, you might not have accomplished great things academically, but take heart, because you were teaching your children priceless real-life skills that not every kid today knows.

You might find this unbelievable, but I have heard of children who do not even know how to use a can opener or to measure with teaspoons!

While today we don’t live in the “Little House on the Prairie” world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, we still need some practical skills. We might not have to track and snare rabbits, but it should be possible to track and snare an open can of beans. Cooking, baking, cleaning, gardening, basic health care, basic car care, and much more are all necessary for comfortable existence in today’s world… even though they are not covered in any academic curriculum!

In other words, chores are curriculum. And kids need to learn to do them.

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders, cultural enforcers and those that seek to keep women submitted to men and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull and Spiritual Abuse honestly and thoughtfully.

moreRead more about Mary Pride:

Mary Pride Denies Founding the Quiverfull Movement

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Hannah

    I was never really ‘taught’ any of that, I just observed my mum doing it and picked it up. My mum can’t sew at all, while I can sew buttons back on and repair rips and seams or zips that have come unraveled (badly, but you don’t see the ugly bits, I just need to practice!) On the other hand, she can knit and I cannot.

    Practical life skills are different to academic studies, but neither is more valid than the other, and there is overlap. Things like reading, writing and basic maths are life skills, you won’t go very far without them! And actually cooking, baking, sewing and basic healthcare are taught in schools, at least they are in the UK.

  • Nea

    I can teach a kid to use a can opener in 5 seconds.

    It takes longer to teach the same kid to read, write, and “do sums.” And they’re not going to impress a future employer (or educate a future child) with their l33t can opener skillz.

    Sometimes I really wonder about this emphasis on how hard it is to learn basic life skills. I keep reading about fundie girls who are working hard into their teens and 20s to learn how to cook/clean/sew/etc — stuff that I mastered between public school and running around the neighborhood with my friends.

  • Nea

    We have no healthcare in the US schools and need it, considering our health system. Cooking etc was part of “home ec,” which was phased out as sexist (only girls cooked, only boys got shop and learned to make things.)

  • Hannah

    The healthcare was really basic stuff in PHSE and some science lessons, but it was there, (with the caveat of phone an ambulance if things are really bad.)

    I don’t understand getting rid of home economics because it’s sexist, surely better to get boys to do it too than get rid of it entirely? I did both the home economics stuff and the metalwork and woodwork stuff at school, (as did my mum in the 1980s.) Why did they think boys don’t need to know how to cook and sew? (Sometimes I see people my age and younger who think sewing is ‘girly’ which drives me mad. The tailors on Saville Row would disagree.) Knowing basic clothing repairs is a very useful skill, and you can use that skill to customise clothes and make costumes.

  • SAO

    The “learning” she mentions could be learned from scratch by a teen in a month or two, with books. Learning 3 years worth of middle school math will take the teen at least a year, if not 3, if he works hard, is bright, and has help.

    The real issue is that a quiverful mother has more babies and toddlers than she can care for and needs help with these chores and has no time and no skills to be a teacher.

    So, rather than telling overwhelmed mothers that public school is the answer, they say education isn’t important. It is. The median salary for someone without an HS diploma (a homeschooling diploma doesn’t count) is under $24,000, which puts a family of 4 under the poverty line and a single person not much above it. Median, of course means half of all people without a HS diploma earn less than 24,000. In short, a poor education pretty much ensures that your children live in poverty.

  • SAO

    First aid is useful and should be taught in schools. Every health class curriculum I’ve seen covers the importance of a healthy diet, not smoking, doing drugs or unsafe sex. As well as not drinking to excess.

    Beyond that, if you have a problem, you should see a doctor. It’s ridiculous that decent healthcare has become unaffordable for many.

  • Zeldacat

    Odd that she mentions Laura Ingalls Wilder, because her parents were very much for their daughters getting good educations. Chores were important to keep the family going, yes, but school was just as or more important.

    I wonder if she’s even read the books. Or perhaps that would distract her from scrubbing the bathroom.

  • Saraquill

    It may also have to do with budget cuts, overtesting and denigrating some subjects in favor of others. My high school did not believe in non STEM, non AP classes.

  • Anonyme

    I laughed when I saw “baking cookies, cakes, and pies” being on the list of life skills. Now, I love all those things but sweet, sweet poison isn’t essential to life. In theory.

  • Anonyme

    I think my cat could learn to use a can opener if he had opposable thumbs.

  • Trellia

    Especially since Laura became a teacher and lived away from home during the week at sixteen.

  • SAO

    Laura became a teacher at 16 because her family needed the money. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the live-off-the-land idea. Many of the people who do it don’t make a living at it, except when they are getting paid for writing books and giving speeches about it.

  • Sandpirate

    Our local schools still have home ec, it’s called something different though. It is an elective and not mandatory though. Our son signed up in 9th grade because he thought they would be making lots of food, they didn’t. He still liked it though, it was an easy class for him.

  • BlueVibe

    Lady, I can cook a decent meal, clean most things, and sew on a button (actually, I’m a fair hand at altering patterns for fit and make most of my own clothing, and I’m teaching myself drafting) . . . and I also have a full-time job. One that requires a college degree. I’ve been doing laundry since I was big enough to help shovel damp clothes into the dryer.

    OF COURSE kids need life skills, but if teaching them this stuff is taking up so much time you “don’t have time” to teach academics, you’re either not very good at them yourself or you’re using them to avoid schoolwork. Or both.

  • BlueVibe

    Mine DEFINITELY could. They’re very food-motivated.

    But, yes, I think the emphasis on how hard it is to do these things sounds like they’re trying to convince themselves . . . maybe that if these things are so “hard”, they’re more worthy? Maybe if you convince people that drudgery is not only hard work physically but hard work intellectually, they’ll probably be more skeptical of things that actually are hard work intellecutally, like education.

  • Mel

    DItto for the school systems I worked in – which was unfortunate.

    The number of US citizens who have completed a bachelors degree has been at 30-40% for decades. The main difference between now compared to 1940 is that women and minorities are earning some percentage of the degrees.

    In an attempt to get students into the best jobs possible, districts were told to scrap vocational classes and double-down on academic track work that leads to college.

    IMHO, all this did was disadvantage students who had career goals that were non-college based – auto tech, welding, becoming a chef, health care jobs before an RN etc, – while not doing that much for the college track kids either.

  • Nea

    …and therefore is dependent upon the church. You’re not describing a bug, you’re describing a feature.

  • Nea

    Or make them feel that the hard work is “worth it” as opposed to sucking up energy that could be used doing something better.

  • Nea

    I sliced my thumb once after the emergency health care places had shut for the night. Going to the ER because it wouldn’t stop bleeding cost me ~$600 and I’ve got insurance.

    Having butterfly bandages, sterile wash, and gauze on hand and knowing how to use them would have saved me hundreds, literally.

  • Nea


  • Nea

    If you teach the kids to read, they can follow the instructions on how to make chocolate chip cookies off the back of the chip package, I’m just sayin’…

  • Friend

    Guess what! Liberals’ kids don’t do dishes! Or maybe kids are like liberals, or vice versa. From the link: “Also, those of us with a ‘progressive’ or ‘liberal’ background may feel some guilt about making kids work. (And no kid on earth has ever wanted
    to do the dishes, night after night, for ‘fun’!)”

    I just love it when the Holy Among Us put out these nutty caricatures.

  • Friend

    Give a child a cookie, and he will eat for a day. Teach a child to bake, and he will make his own empty calories for a lifetime.

  • Friend

    Laura’s mother [Edited to say this was Almonzo’s mother] made and sold top-quality butter that dealers took to the big city. The income was important.

    Laura’s first job was as a seamstress. The income helped her family and also established her self-confidence and independence.

    Laura later worked as a teacher, as Trellia points out below. She did this on the basis of being an outstanding student. As I recall, she had to do some recitations in front of local adults (men!) to make the transition from student to teacher.

  • Rachel

    It’s interesting, because I remember in my IFB church they really emphasized that us girls need to be spending all our time learning how to cook/sew on a button/clean, and even at age 13 I would think “But I already know how to do all that…” I wonder if it’s because they don’t get the chance to be independent.

    My mom worked part time (gasp), so she just didn’t have the time to be doing all the cooking and the cleaning. So we’ve been doing basic housework since we were kids, I’ve been cooking full meals since I was 13, and learning how to sew on a button took 5 minutes tops. Oh, and I’ve managed to get an education and have free time. Maybe if my mom didn’t work I wouldn’t be so independent–she wasn’t hovering over me all the time, so I had to learn how to do things right by myself.

  • Rachel

    Not to mention, nowadays food blogs are a big thing. I’ve found some creative cookie recipes that are huge hits at parties but are so simple to make, because there are people that actually make a living trying new recipes and posting it online. Any kind of dessert you want to make, some food blogger has made it easier for you.

  • gimpi1

    And Carrie became a printer and publisher, establishing and printing newspapers.

  • Nea

    Oh, I’m still refining my cooking and learning new recipes/skills/techniques.

    But I could feed the family basic food at age 8!

  • Nea

    Liberal kids don’t? My parents were guilty about making me learn basic life chores? What color is the sky in that reality?

    It’s all the more pointed because the post on Love Joy Feminism today is about how Libby Anne was told to go change a culture that she knew nothing practical about, just stereotypes and assumptions.

  • Nea

    Seriously, how hard is that to learn? How hard is that to *do*? I knew how to cook basic meals, sew a button, vaccum and dust by the age of 9. While attending public school and playing.

    And now I’m doing all of that while holding down a full time job. Only I know how to cook better and sew more – a sewing machine is a wonderful tool to understand when the local second hand store knocks an $80 Vera Bradley duffle down to $10 because one of the straps is loose!

  • AFo

    So obviously kids need to know how to do some chores. They also need to know how to read critically, do math, and understand history. Why is everything with these people a zero-sum game? And how do they explain “secular” families where both parents are likely working (or its a single-parent household) and the kids are in public school, yet the home is kept up and running? According to them, it shouldn’t be possible.

  • Julia Childress

    I can’t tell you how many resumes I’ve received that had the following listed under “Knowledge, Skills and Abilities”: Baking pies, darning socks, starting the washer and transferring clothes from washer to dryer, switching out vacuum cleaner bags, changing sheets and light bulbs. Oh, wait. Yes I can. Zero.

  • Friend

    My family was super conservative, and all they cared about was education for girls and boys alike. I was the rebel who wanted to grow vegetables and sew. Lots of things are practical, including math and hoeing.

  • Friend

    Liberals have taken over the resumes! Head for the hills!

  • oldbroad1

    I have to say, that the ONE thing the SC public school system has going for it, is the Vo-tech education they begin to offer in HS and their 2 yr tech college network. My older 3 kids went thru parochial schools and they stressed college prep above EVERYTHING. Fine for 2 of our 3 kids, but a disaster for my oldest. He definitely shouldn’t have wasted 2 years at an expensive Jesuit university, before he decided to enlist in the Army. It wasn’t until we had our 4th kid (surprise at 45!), did we discover this advantage over private schools. It’s worked out well for the youngest.

  • Allison the Great

    I get the feeling that a lot of these women have such a poor education, they don’t want to have to educate the kids. All of this stuff can be taught in a home economics class (which should be taught in high schools to both sexes!) .

  • Allison the Great

    What church can afford to support these dirt poor families?

  • Allison the Great

    And yet it happened in my home! *gasp*
    My mother worked nights when I was a kid. We did do chores (actually she made a game out of it) but we managed to go to school too. Imagine that!

  • BlueVibe

    All of it can be taught at home in far less time than these women claim to be devoting to it.

  • pagankitty

    As a homeschool alumni, who knows lots of other homeschool alumni, this is very true and very irritating. Every single family, including my own, valued chores above education. it’s some sort of weird point of pride. And I don’t understand it (“I set about to educate my own kid and while I didn’t do that, I did teach them how to load a washing machine”?? I don’t understand how someone can be proud of that)

  • Saraquill

    I thought Almanzo’s mom was the one with the super butter. Then again, I haven’t read the books since middle school.

    If I remember correctly, there was a portion on “On the Shores of Silver Lake” where Laura’s mom turned their residence into a boarding house. She really didn’t want to do it, and made the girls lock themselves in their bedroom every night, but it was still a business that she ran with little to no help from her husband.

  • AFo

    It was the same for me. My parents both worked, although my mom was more local and had more flexible hours than my dad. My two siblings and I went to school, did sports, clubs, Honor society, etc, and still managed to help keep the house in shape. Still waiting for the other shoe to drop and to find out it was all because of Satan.

  • Zeldacat

    I think you’re right about the butter, but I would be surprised if IRL Laura’s mother didn’t sell things like eggs and butter given the chance.

    One other thing that occurred to me at work: the girls were homeschooled when there was no other option, but the minute they were within striking range of a school, off they went. Their mother had taught school herself, so you’d think she’d be qualified by the standards of the day to homeschool all the time, and was religious herself as a bonus.

    I wonder if any of the fundamentalist-type homeschoolers have noticed that, if they have read them and/or allowed the children to. And, if so, have they wondered…why.

  • Sarah S

    This dumbfounds me. I was home schooled for Junior and High School. And boy did my parents stress education. It was easy – Mom taught me from 8:00 (sharp) till 11:00, when she got ready for her part time job. Then I did homework. Chores. Fixed dinner a few nights a week. Went to my job other nights. Then met with Mom or Dad to cover anything that we still needed to go over.
    See how chores were a part of my life, and yet education was stressed? If you can’t do that, something is way out of balance in your life.
    And I can’t help but think part of it might be out of control fecundity combined with the idea that the woman must do it all with out help from her husband

  • Friend

    I stand corrected!

  • Nea

    Oh, it can’t afford to support them entirely, but it can throw,the occasional can of beans their way and call it providing.

  • Aimee Shulman

    My mother managed to teach us those things AND to give us excellent educations. But then she wasn’t raising us girls to be submissive babymakers nor the boys to be overbearing patriarch types. My parents subscribed in theory to the submission/headship stuff but for the most part they split things down the middle—dad earned the money, but mom ran the finances, for example. They raised us in a virtually genderless way, although the modesty garbage did unfortunately come into play when my sister and I hit puberty. Somehow, we all managed to learn basic life skills without having to sacrifice the quality or amount of education we got.

  • Aimee Shulman

    I grew up in a homeschooling community, and all the girls I knew could pretty much run the house without mom’s help (except for driving) by age 14-15. We could do everything, because our mothers had taught us how and/or we’d learned it on our own because we wanted or needed to. And the homeschool community I grew up in had very high academic standards—our co op was accredited by the state and authorized to hand out bona fide high school diplomas. Learning to run the house didn’t stop us learning academic subjects, nor vice versa. So it baffles me even more than it probably does you when I hear women—not girls, WOMEN—as old as their 20s talking about how haaaarrrdd it is to learn all the stuff you need to know to look after the house. They should have been able to do it 7-10 years ago! Especially since most of them have apparently been kept mewed up at home all their lives. What were they doing with their time? Did their parents just delay/drag out the learning process to infantilize them or something? Or did the quiverfull patriarchy upbringing instill learned helplessness in them, on purpose?

  • zizania

    Or a Canadian-style health care system. I’m so grateful for it whenever one of my umpteen immune system disorders starts clamouring for attention.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    super glue.
    Yes it’s not the ideal option, but for cuts on the fingers that won’t stop bleeding (I know from experience, bad luck with serrated bread knives and other sharp things) it will work better than layer upon layer of band-aids, gauze, bandages and whatnot. I keep some super glue in the kitchen myself. 😛
    Obviously the goal is to not get a cut at all, but in a pinch super glue will stop the copious bleeding fingers seem prone to do when sliced.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    When I was in college, I definitely encountered kids who didn’t even know how to do their own laundry. Mostly they were spoiled rich kids who’d just never been expected to learn to take care of themselves and while, to my knowledge, none were homeschooled, plenty had stay-at-home-moms, as is more common among affluent families that can subsist on one income. Kids entering early adulthood without basic skills has no connection to how they were educated or whether or not their mothers worked.

    These things just aren’t rocket science, okay? I don’t even recall being “taught” how to laundry per se. I think at some point, my parents just told me it was time to start doing it, gave me basic directions (they are not enormously complicated) and let me have at it. This process did not require a parent staying at home or me being pulled out of school! I don’t even remember it that well, or remember what age I was, because it was that trivial. I just remember that when I got to college, doing my own laundry was no big deal–and nor was it to the vast majority of my classmates. (If I had a particularly delicate, nice piece of clothing that I didn’t quite know how to handle, a call to my grandma, who was a master seamstress and knew everything there was to know about caring for various fabrics, did the trick. She loved when her grandkids called her for advice!)

    Cooking? Well, starting from age 9, my dad and grandma taught me how to make all the components of a full fried breakfast–eggs, grits, bacon, biscuits or pancakes, homefries etc. Those were generally the only meals I made entirely by myself when I was a kid besides pasta or something. Mostly, I just sous-chefed for my parents, especially for my dad, since, like all families we had to eat dinner so why not bring a kid or two on board? When I got to college and missed home-cooked food (the dining hall left something to be desired), I tried my luck in the dorm kitchenettes and was surprised at the results I kept getting. I hadn’t even realized that all those nights of chopping vegetables and watching my dad add spices to things had taught me how to cook! You can learn a lot just from participating–nobody needs to give up jobs or school.

    As for sewing on buttons? Yeah, nobody taught me that. One day a button fell off of something and I sewed it back on. Did I do it “right?” I still don’t know, but the button stayed on, didn’t look stupid, and functioned as a button ought, so I saw no need to change anything and haven’t since. 😛

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Seriously! How long does it take to teach a kid to do laundry in this day and age? We’re not talking washboards and tubs and baking soda here!

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    How to read and how to do basic fractions and measurements. Nobody taught me how to “measure with teaspoons,” I just knew how to measure and how to use a spoon. Putting those things together did not break my brain. lol. So yeah, combine that with the ability to read a recipe, and a desire for cookies and bingo! Not that hard!

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    To be fair, Pa Ingalls was particularly sucky at living off the land.

    Well, actually he wasn’t originally. They seemed to have a nice thing going in the Big Woods of Wisconsin with their little farm. Then he had to drag his family all over the entire goddamn Midwest and frontier, chasing some new scheme that never worked out, while the family struggled to subsist. Because the husband in the family is always the best decision-maker and leader, of course. 😛

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    I got home ec AND shop when I was in school in the US in 7th and 8th grade (ages 12 and 13). Boys and girls were all required to take both, so I think it depends on the district. Our system of local control of education in the US means that there is a lot of variety in curriculum from region to region. I have to say though, neither class was particularly good. I wish all students had to take both and that schools put effort and resources into making sure they were actually useful and comprehensive.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    His ‘wanderlust’ had a strong hold on him, but we’ll never know if it was largely due to losing the homestead for non-payment or whatever. 😛

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    Uh…we had a dishwasher when I was a kid, and there’s one in my home, so there is literally no reason to hand-wash anything that doesn’t *have* to be. Do they ever think that maybe it’s that ‘liberals’ simply have better jobs, that pay them enough money for conveniences like a dishwasher and have decided to have fewer children because kids are EXPENSIVE – when you’ve got many kids as opposed to one or two there will be even less money for things like sending them to sleep-over camp in the summer, music and/or dance lessons, youth sports (they need equipment!)…

    Wait, never mind I was mistaking these people for rational-thinking people. 😛

  • SAO

    The Ingalls’ cash income was from furs. At the beginning of the Little House in the Big Woods, it’s a day’s journey to the nearest house, at the end of the book, not many years later, the sound of axes ring everywhere and the woods are thin of game. In Silver Lake, Wilder writes, “only a few small fish were left in Plum Creek. Even the cottontail rabbits had been hunted until they were scarce” as the reason they left.

    Pa needed cash for plows, cloth, seeds, and other necessities. At no point in the books does Laura mention a barn full of wheat or cellars full of carrots or anything else to suggest they are making a surplus.

    I think that being a pioneer was a very hard life. My great, great-grandfather had a claim shanty in Kansas, not long after the Ingalls’s had to leave the Little House on the Prairie and my gggf had to chase cattle rustlers on his wedding day or he’d have had a catastrophic loss.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Quite a contrast with Laura Ingalls WIlder book on her husband’s childhood on a very prosperous farm.

  • SAO

    True, but Almanzo went to South Dakota to homestead. He was one of the younger sons, so I suspect that prosperous farm couldn’t support all the sons as adults and fathers of families. Laura and Almanzo had a fire that burned their house and Almanzo was crippled by an illness he never fully recovered from.

    I was rereading the Little House books as my daughter read them at the same time I read Guns, Germs and Steel. One was a microlevel look at the amazingly swift populating of the American continent. The other was the macrolevel. Very interesting to read them together.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I believe I read somewhere that the entire family came from upstate New York to the Dakotas eventually. Talk about bad luck, Laura and Manly sure had in the first ten years of marriage.