I’ve been reading a book called Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling (Beacon Press, August, 2009) by Robert Kunzman. The book is a look at six Christian families and how they homeschool their children. Not every family fits the stereotype I know I have in my mind. Some are impressive; others leave much to be desired.
In the following passage, the authors talks to one (relatively sane) mother about specific criticism toward homeschooling parents:
“But I wonder if there’s some point at which people would agree that a child is being ill served educationally,” I suggest. “For instance, if your thirteen-year-old is functionally illiterate, then maybe your unschooling stinks. I agree that there’s legitimate concern from homeschoolers whenever requirements are proposed, that it could be a slippery slope to further regulation. But at least on a level of principle, wouldn’t any reasonable person be concerned about the educational environment of a teenager who didn’t have those basic skills?”
“But there are public schools all over America where thirteen-year-olds cannot read, cannot add, cannot subtract,” Carrie says. “I wouldn’t want to single out homeschooling for standards that are not met by people who are in school and get by with it, year after year, graduating illiterate, completely unfunctioning members of society. I don’t understand why — if you’re in school and not learning things — why that’s okay, but if you’re at home and you’re not learning things, you’re not testing well, then it’s not okay.
“And what about the nonsense from academics that says I can’t educate my children?” she continues. “That is extremely offensive to me. Because there is no chance that I could go in the classroom right now — I could not walk up the hill to the elementary school right now and teach. I couldn’t teach somebody else’s twenty-five children to save my life. I’m not a teacher in the sense of being prepared to teach large groups of strangers. But if I didn’t think I was the best teacher for my own children, I wouldn’t do it. There is nobody who can teach my kids better than I can.” (p. 210)
With that, I’m done quoting excerpts.
This is a fantastic book that gives you an insight into a subculture that often goes unnoticed and is certainly not well-documented. I urge you to read the whole thing. I got through it in a week (with interruptions) and was hooked the whole way through.