About Me: Are You Part of the Homeschooling Movement?

Question: So how did you get involved in the home schooling movement? I home schooled some, saw a lot of positive out of it. Unfortunately, I also met home school parents who didn’t do a good job.

Answer: The short answer is, No. At least not in the sense of a movement that is organized. I think many people believe a movement isn’t a real movement until there are some non-profits involved, hiring lobbyists to give the movement ‘a voice’ in Washington. That’s not a movement. A movement is something where a huge number of people end up doing the same thing without the need for mailing lists, newsletters, calling trees and fundraising campaigns.

IF we are using the later term, then yes, I am part of the homeschooling movement. And I got into it by simply not forcing my kids to attend their local public school.

I didn’t get involved in the “movement” so much, as I just decided to become an involved parent. We decided to be involved in the raising AND education of our children. We decided early on that one of us was going to stay home when we had children, and as it turned out, I was self-employed in a business that was not conducive to a steady income and my wife was. Choice made.

While the kids were growing up, I used my skills to develop a web based and user-group based homeschooling network http://www.ihen.org. I also joined a few other, like-minded parents to found http://www.indianahomeschoolers.com. For about a decade now, we’ve supported, helped, networked with other parents who need help with their homeschooling. We’ve (collectively) answered literally thousands of questions and pointed thousands of people in the right directions, finding co-ops, internet resources, hard resources (like museums, libraries, etc.) and generally Helped Hoosiers Homeschool. In fact, that’s our motto: Helping Hoosiers Homeschool since the turn of the century.

Are we a movement? Nah. We’re a project. A work in progress. We aren’t so much a “movement” as we are a simple networking hub for information and ideas about alternatives to public, state schooling.

So, am I a part of the movement? I suppose so. But it’s not like I have a fancy placard on the wall making it official.

Now… What About Those Other People?

The end of your question reflects a condition I like to refer to as: TOPS (Those Other People Syndrome).

If I can encourage you to think outside of the box a little, I would like for you to think deeply about your last two sentences.

You say you experienced a lot of positive things. Were those experiences more positive than you might have experienced with a public school? If so, then isn’t that the entire point of having the freedom to choose the educational paths for your family? You did great! Kids are great! Life is good!

But you say it’s unfortunate that (in your opinion) there were some parents who weren’t doing a good job homeschooling their own kids.

First… so what? Does the fact that (in your opinion) some people don’t do such a good job, impugn the entire enterprise? (I ask that because there are a surprising number of people who believe that a few bad apples should indite the entire barrel.)

Here is where I would like for everyone to do a little deeper thinking: If that is the case — bad homeschoolers make homeschooling an undesirable lifestyle for everyone — then what are we to do with other failing things? What about failing government schools? Bad teachers? Uninvolved and neglectful parents? Are not they just as, if not more, influential and destructive to the lives of children?

And what about those parents who are just plain bad? They send their kids to public schools because it’s convenient to not have to care for your own children 24/7, they don’t have to take responsibility for the kids’ education — and it’s free. The State Schools teach the kids next to nothing in a values-free vacuum, because they believe that kids that don’t learn things just don’t have involved parents. The kids don’t get any instruction at home, so  in essence, we have millions of kids being raised by government schools adopting Lord of the Flies philosophies and nurtured by the media culture. The kids are screwed until they can leave home and make a mess of their lives all on their own.

It’s at this point where we can easily tell which young adults were homeschooled and which went to public institutions. And I can say without doubt that the worst homeschooler I’ve met has never been worse than the best public schooler I’ve met. See, I don’t judge the parents; I judge the fruit (once it has matured.)

Are the bad parents doing a good job? Can we more easily point to those families on the street and say, “I’m worried about the way they’re raising their kids.” Sure we can.

But we don’t. Do we. So why the scrutiny on homeschoolers… who are most likely sitting quietly in a library, reading or researching or doing something relatively useful with their lives, with some involved guidance from their parents?

Homeschoolers are easy targets because they’re not doing things the way the rest of the Sheeple do, and that makes the Sheeple nervous.

The point is: at the end of the day, there isn’t much we can do about how people raise and educate their children, can we? We can’t conduct junk food raids on the homes of fat parents with fat kids (yet) and we can’t conduct “educational neglect” raids on the homes of homeschooling families (mostly because most public schools are doing much worse at that teaching thing.)

Fact is: Homeschooling families are always “suspect” and under suspicion for somehow harming their own children by doing something so out of the ordinary as RAISING THEM. Why is that? Please think about it a bit.

If there is one thing, dear reader, you come away with after reading this post, I hope you begin believing that it’s more important to watch out for the people who are REALLY affecting, abusing, indoctrinating our children and stop worrying about how parents — you’ve seen or heard about — are raising and educating their children. Here’s another motto I’ve used for years:

All Parents are Educators. What are you teaching YOUR children?

And THAT is what I do. I help people make progress and think for themselves and stop worrying about Those Other People by busting a few myths. If this is something you call a “movement” — to that I say, “Whatever. I’m in.”


33 thoughts on “About Me: Are You Part of the Homeschooling Movement?

  1. So much good in this post but I challenge you to defend or retract this:
    “And I can say without doubt that the worst homeschooler I’ve met has never been worse than the best public schooler I’ve met. ”

    You have never met good ps parents better than outright abusive and/or fringe-of reason homeschooler? Hard to believe, and simply unnecessary to go this far to make your legit point imo.

    1. So there was so much good and “legit” to the post, but this one obviously subjective point sticks in your craw?

      It’s a subjective, observational statement, JJ!

      I also didn’t say there weren’t brilliant and perfectly wonderful people out there who went to public school.

      Really… retract it? To what end? A little hyperbole just ruins the entire good and legitimate points for you?

      How about this: Point out some of the “so much good in this post” so my ego will be sufficiently inflated to the point where I can agree that my hyperbole is superfluous.

      Always good to hear from you JJ!

  2. Hmm – so subjectively, you actually did mean to say you see the BEST (brilliant wonderful) pser as no better than the WORST (abusive fringe monster) hser.

    That’s imply superfluous; it negates the rest of a pretty persuasive case. BUt I guess as a homeschooler it makes me automatically great, so perhaps I shouldn’t complain!

  3. interesting debate — I haven’t met any abusive homeschoolers, I’ve only read about them in the papers and those are usually criminally negligent parents who have pulled their kids out of school and were then trumpeted as homeschoolers (but always with a space or a hyphen between home and school) by the press.

    Anyway, since Ben specifically says that “he’s met” I could see how the statement might be true if his experience is like mine.

    I came to this blog from Benjamin’s posts on Linda Dobson’s FB. Your writing reminds me of Gatto and I love Gatto so I’ll be bookmarking this blog!

    I don’t know if Sheeple is original to you but it’s the first time I’ve seen the term. Love it.

  4. Tell you what, JJ… I’ll retract whatever you find objectionable about the ONE sentence, if you spend a few minutes describing the “pretty persuasive [part of the] post” that my comment supposedly negated.

    Otherwise… your comments just come off as jerking my chain because you can use bigger words than I do.

    Love ya, bye-bye!

  5. Marjorie: Welcome to the blog, and thanks for the compliments. :-) Yes, my comment that JJ finds so distasteful and so much so, it actually acted like a neutron bomb, effecting (or is it affecting…JJ?) the entire piece.

    I only know of homeschoolers whom I have met. The only ones I know of that are ‘bad’ or even ‘abusive’ are those that I have either read about or worse, heard about from people who just “know” that most homeschoolers are great, but what about “those other people” who just don’t seem to look and act right?

    It’s always a friend of a friend said this and such.

    Bluntly, I’ve been spending some time in a local public school of late, and based on my EXPERIENCE… I would much rather be in a room with a bunch of homeschooled kids of all ages (and their parents ever-present) than in a room full of middle-schoolers with only a few parents and several teachers trying to maintain prison quality security.

    Come again soon!

  6. In this case it’s “affecting”. . . ;-)

    I really do agree with you about homeschooling not being a movement as much as a family-by-family form of positive deviance, that is, usually positive for the family and definitely positive for society, in how homeschooling cumulatively “affects” society. ;-)

    I also think you and I agree that homeschooling has positive effects (yes, e-ffect is correct here, annoying isn’t it?) on Schooling. Not that we have an obligation to make school better or support schooling except as the law req

    Not to jerk your chain but because I hope to persuade you as a smart guy,

  7. Oh hello, it popped back up in unfinished splendor, sorry. I was just going to add that we’re all different in this unMovement but what we have in common is that the further homeschoolers get from Schooling yet the better our kids learn and contribute to communities as they grow into their adult lives, the less we need to worry about fighting with School and the more we can begin to give School condescending advice. ;-)

    1. Yes… great goals and dreams. It’s just that with no real change or reform of the current monopoly schooling paradigm in site, and the added insult and injury of “homeschoolers” being listed on the official DHS list of potential domestic terrorist, I don’t think we’re going to be in a position to be giving advice (condescending or otherwise) to anyone.

      We can keep trying to move away from schoolishness, but that won’t mean a thing, if another crisis or emergency of some sort crops up that necessitates the compartmentalization of government services, like schooling.

  8. Intriguing, whatever does it mean? I have movie plots popping to mind:

    if another crisis or emergency of some sort crops up that necessitates the compartmentalization of government services, like schooling.

    1. Terrorist attacks on public schools come to mind, but I suppose that would drive people AWAY from the schools.

      How about this? Something happens and for some reason, everyone is called to come to their local schools. Special inoculation or something. What if there are a significant number of homeschooler-types who, for reasons we all have heard, decide to stay away?

      Are they going to “round ’em up?” Maybe not. They won’t have to. There will be sufficient numbers of publicly schooled sheeple who will gladly “out” the homeschoolers who didn’t do what they were told.

      In this (admittedly far flung) scenario, where might YOU stand? Might you be the one that says, “Well, Ben… you should just do what you’re told to do. It’s for your own good.”

      Or would you be right there with me, asserting that individual rights and liberty trumps the tyrannical whims of the collective?

      If we wait for these “movie plots” to become reality, it will be too late.

  9. Is that what you meant by “compartmentalization of government services like schooling” — emergency roundups that happen to take place at schools because they are public but have nothing to do with actual education?

    I thought your School Beast concerns were all educational, about academic freedom specifically. But even if you also see schools as some sleeper cell embedding in a not-free government, some conspiratorial arm of totalitarianism waiting to be activated in extreme emergency, I don’t get that either — schools are used now in non-education ways both in regular community life (polling sites and playgrounds, e.g.) and in emergency services (storm shelters.) It’s never been compulsory or oppressive and indeed the problems have been not having enough space to serve everyone who shows up voluntarily, rather than the opposite.

    1. I’ll beg out of the “schools as concentration camps” discussion because you’re right, it just isn’t plausible. But what I DO believe plausible, is the turning of public schools into outpatient orphanages, or Welfare Schools.

      The point at which more money is spent on the welfare of students than the education of same, will be the point at which we will be told that not supporting public schools (with our taxes) is tantamount to child abuse.

  10. A good movie-thriller type book to read for more variations on this plot might be “Darwin’s Radio” and its sequel, “Darwin’s Children.”

    We’re having a real crisis down here in the Gulf right now. It could be we’ve literally destroyed the planet in the name of a political ideology. We’ll see. But the government isn’t exactly using it as some opportunity to enslave children’s minds through the schools. This true global emergency is pretty much being treated as business as usual and having nothing to do with our educational failures. I of course disagree but nevertheless don’t think great thinking can be forced. You have to want it.

    1. The amount of oil at its maximum assumed output in the ocean is about the same as one drop of oil in a completely filled bathtub.

      Granted, there will be damage, just like in AK with the Valdeze. The cries of the end of the world were a little exaggerated then too. It took less than 10 years to come back to normal (mostly with mother nature’s help) not the decades and generations that were predicted.

      How you can surmise that we might “destroy the planet” with a straight face, amazes me.

      And what “political ideology” are you talking about? Is it the one that requires that no outside help be used whatsoever? Is it the one that requires that we regulate oil production to the point of extinction? Or the rules that make it so impossible to drill on land, that we have to go further out in deep water?

  11. What political ideology? We could call it socializing resources and risk while privatizing profits, I guess.

    As for endangering the planet, I’ve probably been reading different reports than you have and as neither of us are oil and gas specialists, I guess we can only hope and fear but not know how fast the likelihood is increasing, that this thing can’t be stopped at all, that there will be multiple fractures in the planet that cause it to just spew essentially forever? Or whether there will be another catastrophe to follow. what we do know is that it’s no finite spill from a tanker. It’s literally an uncontrollable crack in the planet.

    1. I call the ideology Progressivism. Never heard of what YOU say “we” could call it. Progressivism is anti-capitalist, which is why Liberals tend to gravitate to it. Republican Progressives gravitate to it for different reasons. All in all, they both work both sides of the Progressive ideology to meet the goals of the likes of W. Wilson and FDR and others throughout history.

      It involves more control, bigger government, and central control. We don’t call it Communism in this country (yet) because it’s still not palatable for people to believe that Communism is the answer to all our problems.

      If neither of us are oil specialists… can we at least agree that we’re THINKERS? Hope and fear is for losers who have no hope.

      Did you know that there have been tarballs rolling up on to beaches for centuries? (i.e. Before offshore drilling.) Do you know how much “pollution” was dumped into the atmosphere from the last volcano that covered Europe and stopped air travel? Think for yourself and figure out how many cars will have to run for 24 hours a day for how many years to do the same spewing. Then THINK, don’t FEAR.

      You said we could literally have destroyed the planet because of a political ideology. Please be more specific and don’t blow this off as “we’re not experts.” What ideology lead to the potential destruction of the planet? How did it happen, and how will the planet be destroyed?

    2. Oh… on the “spilling forever” into the ocean thing… Uh… I’m no scientist, but wasn’t it thought at one time, that “fossil fuels” are a FINITE resource? Weren’t we supposed to run out of oil by now or soon?

      Has that estimate been revised? I mean… it seems like we’re finding oil all over the place. Just not “allowed” to drill for it because of “environmental concerns” — you know, the things that other non-capitalist countries don’t even think about. For them it’s just drill, drill, drill.

      Maybe ELF should open up shop in Venezuela or Mexico or Saudi Arabia?

  12. We agree on this, I think:
    But what I DO believe plausible, is the turning of public schools into outpatient orphanages, or Welfare Schools.

    I’d say we’re pretty far down that road already, even. How does that move from education to general social services make them more of a threat to education freedom though? That’s the part I keep missing when we spar. ;-)

    1. I think our varied definitions of “educational freedom” are too varied to nail down. For example: I might say I believe we all have a God given, unalienable right to educational autonomy. Much like we have a right to free speech. It’s something that can not be given or abridged by a government or another individual. It just is. Someone else (not you in this case, I assume, but someone else I’ve spoken with recently) might say that we all have a “right to an education.”

      While some might think we’re talking about the same thing, upon further discussions they would find we are probably miles apart, philosophically and politically.

      Statists believe that everyone should be GIVEN an education… free and at the expense and CONTROL of government. There is no such right. Therefore, compulsory “education” (which is really simply compulsory attendance) is wrong… in my opinion.

      So maybe where we tussle, is in the minutia of compulsory schooling. I am emphatic in that it’s wrong, and should be done away with; while at the same time, I’m pragmatic that it does in fact exist, and must be dealt with.

      Maybe you (and I won’t put words in your mouth, but this is an observation on my part) might believe that compulsory schooling has its place in the world, and does some good, and should be supported for “some people” because maybe for them, there are no other choices.

      I say: “Get rid of it, and we’ll likely see “other choices” present themselves in good time.”

      1. Get rid of compulsory attendance laws and all forms of coerced indoctrination in public and private, so every person’s thoughts and feelings are in fact “free” from crowd control? I’m there! Not sure you would be though, because it will quickly bump into all that “parent rights” and “God-given” homeschooler rhetoric.

        IOW, the only honest agreement even among parents in the misnamed “homeschool movement” boils down to an uneasy truce between truths — every child’s mind matters so there’s something the matter! Re: public education policy, what WOULD Jesus do, or Ayn Rand, Martin Luther King Jr, Osama Bin Laden, John Holt to remake American education? I’ve spent decades studying and working to reconcile such conflicts, learning there is no agreement to be had, except around these edges where Ben and I now stand trying not to take each other out with our friendly fire: if every child’s mind matters, then something *is* the matter.

    2. As for the “social services” aspect of public schooling as we know it today, affecting “educational freedom” or simply homeschoolers in general….

      Read the posts on this blog about the Ft. Wayne women who were charged with a felony (reduced later) educational neglect, for not keeping attendance.

      It’s a long, involved story, and the women shouldn’t have been called “homeschoolers” anyway, as they were probably what I would call “ex-schoolers” who just wanted to get their kids out of a cycle of school punishments.

      At any rate: The women were charged, their kids thrown back in public schools, and the press got several days of “Homeschoolers are unaccountable and abusive and neglectful of their children because there are no real regulations and accountability structures in Indiana to make sure these kids don’t fall through he cracks” coverage.

      They are only still hitting the sheeple who are fed up and yank their kids out of school and don’t care about “schooling them.” But as soon as the number of those hit jobs begin to climb, we’re in trouble.

      1. You said: “Get rid of compulsory attendance laws and all forms of coerced indoctrination in public and private, so every person’s thoughts and feelings are in fact “free” from crowd control? I’m there!”

        So we agree on that one thing. I would only change it a little by just leaving it at “compulsory attendance laws” and not your murky world of “coerced indoctrination” — whatever that is. Since you invoked God, parents’ rights folks, civil rights leaders and even a terrorist… I guess you mean that everyone should be free from exposure to ALL coercion that would expose children to these things?

        Whatever… you really simply need to simplify and let (allow?) people to make do for themselves PRIVATELY.

      2. Not being of government doesn’t make anything automatically more free. (Back to BP, AIG, Halliburton and the health insurance companies, where a different kind of public group recently granted rights as “human” by SCOTUS, is terrorizing and tyrannizing me.)

        I invoked private individual humans who taught conflicting ideology larger than themselves and made non-state movements of them, including Jesus (even the Christian bible is clear on his humanity here on earth, whatever else is being taught from that book in various “private” churches, schools and homeschools.)

        The Queen’s speech at the UN yesterday was interesting, about how ordinary people had made a better world by throwing off wrong teachings and learning to get along better, but not just as competitors against each other. Something else you might chew on is this from Teachers College Record, about how institutions like schools (private or not) all try to “normalize” us when a real education should be about children resisting that, caring for one’s “self” in an identity-unique way.

      3. Link I mentioned will only be open a week or so, then it goes behind a subscriber wall:

        Care of the Self in a Context of Accountability
        by Michael G. Gunzenhauser — 2008

        This article is a part of a larger philosophical and empirical project by the author and collaborators to understand the ways in which
        high-stakes accountability policy fosters normalizing educational practices and concomitant resistance by educators and students.

    1. The bathtub experiment is a false analogy. You are suggesting that dye be added to the water “until” it begins to show. The analogy I made is that this spill (one of many in history that are not finite, but similar to this one) could very well work out to the equivalent of one drop of oil in an entire bathtub of water.

      There is an estimated 346,049,000,000,000,000,000 (346 million trillion) gallons of water in the oceans that cover 96.5% of the PLANET. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_gallons_of_water_are_there_in_the_oceans

      There are natural fissures that have spewed oil into the ocean every day for eons.

      Fact is, mother nature has been taking care of her own “bodily functions” naturally since God made her. ;-)

      And one gallon of [USED] oil can contaminate one million gallons of water by what standard? PPM? PPT? I wonder if there is a difference between the natural crude and “refined” oil products? Hmmm?

      IF you gave a million people a gallon of that water to drink, how many would die? (since we’re talking “killing the planet” I thought we would keep things on equal footing by “killing the people.”)

      You want to estimate? What other chemicals are people ingesting every day at higher PPMs?

      It’s time to stop being smug about climate change and capitalism. (Name a socialist or comunist country that is cleaner and wealthier per capita than America.)

      We are about to find ourselves in every radical environmentalist’s dream of utopia: A land where everyone is poor, uncomfortable, working only for non profits and wondering when the government will figure out how to feed everyone equally nasty planet healthy food.

  13. 1. The Bathtub Oil Drop was your analogy in the first place, so if it doesn’t make your points when played out, you might want to rethink it too. I’m good either way . . .

    2. Absolutely, of course Americans young and old and red and blue need to be able to think better! Especially those of us who don’t know what we don’t know, so sure we’re so smart that we can’t see how dysfunctionally incompetent our own thinking is, due to the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

    That’s where Public Education is supposed to come in, if we really wanted to emulate the Founding Fathers’ ideals, but unfortunately it instead has fallen victim to Dunning-Kruger Poster Children officials (including elected board members and superintendents) for far too long.

    1. The bathtub analogy was one of scale. One drop of oil in an entire bathtub. Yours was to continue adding until color could be seen. Whatever. The point was that one drop of crude oil in a bathtub would not make the water totally unsafe to drink. This oil leak will not make the entire ocean polluted, nor will it destroy the planet. It will, in fact, like the hundreds or thousands of other natural leaks, fix itself and heal, like it has for millions of years.

      Assuming your Dunning-Kruger Effect has taken hold, then what is the solution? It would seem to me, that taking a position of going back to teaching history using original or close to original sources would be a good start. i.e.: Read the Federalist Papers rather than reading a paragraph in a text book that mentions the Federalist Papers written by some old dead white guy that got us on a good start with that Constitution thing, but couldn’t really see that what we really need is a document that lives and breathes and changes with the times. (Progressive Ideology)

      The only other suggestion I can make for parents who believe that schools aren’t teaching the kids to know what they don’t know, is to leave the schools, and learn what they don’t know on their own. Like we do here. ;-)

    1. Did you make a note of the countries this book covers? Are any of them democratic republics?

      America has oil. Are we experiencing the same problems these other countries are? Are the problems in Venezuela caused by oil, or by the dictator that controls it?

      And bringing it all back to education: could it be proposed, that many of the problems we are seeing in the American Education could be directly related to the Government Education Complex and those who control it?

      Of all of the oil rich countries mentioned, NONE of them that I can tell, are even close to free markets economically, and politically they are closer to Socialist/Dictatorships than they are Republics. Maybe THAT is why they are poor and unstable.

      When free markets are allowed in education, they work better than educational dictatorships.

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