As I sit in my home office working away for WorldNetDaily, I find great enjoyment in the delightful background music floating through the air produced by my little girl as she softly sings in the living room.
The delicate tones, original tunes, and creative verse reflect both innocence and happiness.
Kristin, who is nine, is researching animals on the Internet (at approved sites, of course) and is planning to print out photos and facts to make a little “book” of her favorite subjects. She loves animals, and wants to be a vet someday.
In about an hour, Kristin will play her favorite computer math game, and we’ll review her scores together. She’ll also get to frolic outside with her puppy, feed and hold her brother’s pet bird, and search for bugs in the flower beds. She will proudly carry the bugs to the back porch where she will locate their pictures in a resource book, learn their names and make a chart about their characteristics, eating habits and habitats.
Later in the day, she will pull out “Carry On, Mr. Bowditch,” her current literary assignment, and read aloud to me for awhile and then silently for an hour. She’ll then take her notebook and write a page of reflections on what she has read. She will also create a vocabulary list of any words that are new to her, and then look up and write down the definitions from Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. Kristin and I will review her composition, talk about the history of the time, correct grammatical errors, and discuss the qualities of the characters in the book. And, for most of the time Kristin is working, her happy tunes will gracefully drift through the house as if on dainty fairy wings.
Later this week Kristin will go to a friend’s home for Spanish lessons and play time. She’ll also attend her children’s church class on Wednesday night, Junior Girl Scouts on Thursday, and begin tennis lessons at the YMCA. In a few weeks, she will resume her piano lessons. In the evenings, she’ll make detailed maps of early America and have weekly astronomy lessons with Dad. Every day she will have a formal mathematics lesson and read, copy and memorize verses from her very own King James Bible.
I’m sharing all of this with you to provide a picture of how we educate our daughter – she is the beneficiary of what I call “parent-directed education.” The popular term for this ever-growing movement is “home schooling.” It’s an approach to education that benefits the entire child and, in the case of my daughter and most of the “home schooled” kids I know, brings them immense joy.
The Aug. 27 excellent cover story of none other than Time Magazine asks the question, “Is Home Schooling Good for America?” The title of the featured article contained therein certainly is reflective of the atmosphere we experience, “Home Sweet School.” I remember our first adventure in home schooling with our boys several years ago. Once I got over the initial shock and cardiac arrest that came with the brutal realization that I was completely responsible for their education, I discovered the incredible joy that a free, unfettered, unpoliced learning environment creates for both parent and child.
Please understand, my point here is not to say that every parent should teach their children at home all the time. Although a previously unknown joy and independence awaits those who dare give it a try, I really want to make the point that all education should be parent-directed, whether it takes place at home or in a school setting. Educational decisions should be made on an individual basis, taking into account a particular child’s needs at a particular time in his life. We’ve done it all at the Hagelin house – private school, public school, home school and even a combination of all three. This year our boys – aged 12 and 13 – are attending a private Christian school nearby, and we’re keeping a very close eye on everything they are learning and even supplementing the areas we find lacking.
Several years ago when my children were still toddlers I had the wonderful opportunity to work on a public relations project for the Home School Legal Defense Association. It was in this capacity that I first came face-to-face with the many ridiculous arguments against home schooling used by the government education establishment.
The PR “spin,” disguised as concern for the children, has usually focused on claims that home schoolers won’t be “properly socialized” and that their education will be inferior to those who attend public school. As a parent who has chosen to direct her daughter’s education, I often get the same lame questions every day from average folks when they discover where Kristin is educated. “Isn’t she bored?” “How will she learn to get along with other kids?” “Are you a qualified teacher?” Blah, blah, blah.
Part of the reason for their response is the use of the term “home school.” This simple phrase, for many, conjures up pitiful images of dirty, hungry children watching TV all day. Then there are those who imagine a child sitting in a corner chained to a desk while some evil mother dressed like Saturday Night Live’s “Church Lady” stands by with a whip and forbids speaking or smiling. Of course, the government educators have always been all too happy to promote these erroneous images.
The truth is, the “home schooling” (gosh, I hate that phrase) approach to education can be the most enriching experience a child and parent may ever have.
All of the families I know that have made this commitment take their children on amazing trips, experience subject matter rather than just reading about it, join with other families for some study, and have their children enrolled in many “after school” activities. The tutorial method is, quite simply, superior to any other form of education. And as the Time piece states, the incredible academic achievements of these children as a whole are outstanding, including average SAT scores of 80 points above the national average for the general population and scores in the 80th percentile on other standardized tests vs. the national average of the 50th percentile.
Since those in the educational establishment can no longer fool the media about the results of the home school experience, they have come up with a new “spin” in their efforts to desperately tighten their clutch on a nation whose families are turning to home education at an increase of 12 percent every year. The feigned concern for the child is still there, but the emphasis is now on money.
As the Time piece correctly documented, local government educators are upset that they are losing millions of dollars each year in per pupil funding as a result of parents pulling their children out of the public schools. The director of the Arkansas department of education is quoted as saying, “If a large number of a community’s parents do not fully believe in the school system, it gets more difficult to pass property taxes. And that directly impacts the schools’ ability to operate.” He’s upset with parents that take control of their own kids’ education (at no cost to the state) because it makes it harder to raise taxes. In other words, although I’m lowering the cost of education for the taxpayer, I’m also lowering the state’s ability to tax the taxpayer even more. And, this is somehow “bad.”
Many educators even go so far as to say I am a “bad” citizen for choosing a happy, enriching educational environment for my own daughter because I’m diminishing the state’s ability to spend more money on other people’s children. While every comprehensive study of home schooling reveals that home education produces children with fewer behavioral problems, less peer dependence, better self-concepts and higher academic achievement than does public education, I’m somehow the bogey-man for choosing the method that makes the better citizen.
Until the attitudes and actions of government officials change, our nation will continue to have a public education system that fails our children and our future. It’s time to stop listening to the rhetoric of those who seek to control every aspect of our lives, and instead listen to the trusting, melodic voices within our children who are counting on us to provide them with the very best.
Next month’s issue (October edition) of WND’s popular Whistleblower magazine will be devoted entirely to public education. Titled “Dumbed down: The deliberate destruction of America’s government schools,” it will forever change the way you think about America’s education system. You may subscribe to
Whistleblower at WND’s online store.