Recently I spoke with a rare homeschooling critic. I say “rare” because up to this point, we’ve been blessed with almost universal support for our decision to homeschool our girls.
This elderly woman wasn’t exactly disapproving of homeschooling per se; it was more like she was baffled by it. Why did we see the need to keep our children out of public schools? Why would we disdain the educational surroundings she felt all children should experience? She bragged about the superior school district in her area and how some young children she knew were thriving in that academically vigorous environment.
When I explained that our local school district was one of the worst in the state, she asked, “Didn’t you consider that when you moved there?”
“No,” I replied. “Why should we? We’ve always homeschooled our kids, and we had no intention of changing that when we moved. We didn’t care what the school district was like because we intend to homeschool all the way through 12th grade.”
The woman shook her head in bewilderment. “It’s like you’re turning your back on all traditional education,” she said.
I found that to be an interesting phrase: traditional education. What does that mean, exactly?
Traditionally – throughout history – parents have educated their own children; or at least, selected the type of education they wanted their children to receive. Many children became apprentices, learning a specific skill or craft starting at a young age. Other children simply learned what they needed to get by in life by working side by side with their parents.
But since the advent of public education, children have been separated from their parents for a good portion of the day, learning things away from the guidance of the people who love them most.
And truly, once upon a time public education was something to be proud of. This nation’s children learned its true (non-revisionist) history; they could do math in their heads (this was before calculators); they could write with a clean hand and with superb grammar.
My homeschooling critic is of the generation when schools still had something of those earlier standards. Her own children attended school in the 1970s, when vestiges of that original greatness still lingered. But this woman is almost entirely unfamiliar with today’s precipitous decline in both educational standards and moral output. Since she is not acquainted with many teenagers, she is out of touch with the reality of public schools today. In short, she is living in a time warp and naïvely assumes schools are still the bastions of high standards and academic rigorousness she once knew. I can’t fault her for this; a lot of people without school-age children feel the same way.
But I find nothing traditional about children learning inaccurate, revisionist history designed to make America seem like a buffoon and a laughingstock. I find nothing traditional about the inability of children to write like anything but texting monkeys. I find nothing traditional about teenagers becoming inculcated with contempt and loathing for their parents so severe that it affects familial relations for decades to come.
And I sure as heck find nothing traditional about 5-year-olds learning about bedroom proclivities far beyond their ability to comprehend, with the dual purpose of convincing children of the merits of such activities as well as to normalize these aberrant behaviors in society.
In short, public education no longer upholds traditional values in any size, shape, or form.
Children who emerge from today’s public school system with any semblance of traditional values intact – and there are many – do so because they have the advantages of a strong home life. In other words, the students who are least affected by the negative influence of public education have supportive, traditional families behind them. These children are strong despite, not because of, public schools.
It is the unfortunate children who don’t have the blessings of a strong family behind them that are the most influenced by the rampant peer pressure and liberal agenda of public schools, and emerge the least likely to succeed at achieving life’s major milestones: graduation, possibly secondary education, developing a work ethic and job skills, a happy marriage and the subsequent raising of the next generation.
In other words, to a large extent public education no longer prepares our children for their future success as adults. That feat must be accomplished by parents. This is why my husband and I – and countless other homeschooling parents – have decided to eliminate the middle man and accomplish our children’s education ourselves.
And yes, that means we’re turning our back on “traditional” schools. But that’s because we value traditional education all the more.
What children are receiving in public schools is no longer traditional, it is progressive. There are many who applaud this change (hi, Robert!) as the only socially acceptable instructional option, and these people loathe parents who are offended when their offspring are taught things contrary to their values. Proponents of progressive education feel there is no room for diversity of opinion or standards outside their own narrow definitions.
Progressive education emphasizes the liberal agenda, including uncritical acceptance of global warming, the evils of capitalism, the shortsightedness of constitutional limitations on government, the stupidity of Christian beliefs, the “fairness” of wealth redistribution, the importance of public funding (and therefore public encouragement) of unacceptable behavior, and of course a whole host of moral relativism and lifestyle choices that would never have been acceptable during the school days of my homeschooling critic.
Therefore, parents are criticized if they prefer traditional over progressive education. Somehow it has become a weakness and a defect if parents do not want their children adversely affected by the negative peer pressure and liberal agenda of schools. Proponents of progressive education believe it is folly bordering on evil to allow parents to be the prime influence in their children’s lives. They prefer parents to be relegated to a background role.
A progressive reader once wrote that he is “disgusted by evangelical Christian homeschooling parents who brainwash their kids into being just as ignorant, narrow-minded, intolerant and self-righteous as they are.”
This, folks, is the (cough) “traditional” and contemptible attitude of progressives towards people with traditional values. You’ve been warned.
Send your children to public schools at your own peril.