As our blessed country moves down the road of socialism, we homeschooling parents face more and more opposition to wanting to raise and educate our children they way we deem fit. We claim the right as parents to make this decision since we are the parents. The following are 10 objections to homeschooling that we need to be able to address:
n.b. When I use the word 'state' I refer to body politic responsible for governing a group of people.
Note: I understand that there are exceptions to everything and everyone who reads this will have a story somewhere about someone who abused the situation and so on and so forth. One doesn't make an argument based on exceptions. Please read the following with this in mind.
Objection 1: Equal Opportunity Objection
The state offers an equal opportunity to all whereas homeschooling makes opportunity unequal. Some children who are homeschooled will not have the same opportunities as those in publicly funded education. Isn't it abusive to deprive a child of opportunities in publicly funded education that is theirs by right?
Reply: The reply to this objection is key to all conversations surrounding state and family. What is the purpose of the state? Protection and Promotion (This is the principle of subsidiarity). The state, who exists because a group of families have come together and decided on a mode of governance for themselves, has the distinct job to protect the families by which it derives its existence. If the people are not there to govern, there ceases to be need of a government. The family is prior to the state. Further, the state is there to promote the initiative of the family mostly by removing barriers to and providing assistance where necessary.
Thus in regards to the stated objection, it is the state's purpose to promote the family that wants to homeschool. This means tax dollars need to follow the student and to be directed to the child's education as the parent deems fitting. Receiving the support (as the student in a publically funded institution does) would open up the homeschooled student’s prospects so they would and could receive much the same opportunities. The solution is not to stifle parental rights and initiative, but rather to fix the system.
Objection 2: Homeschool curriculums are biased towards a specific religion/belief/class/ideology
The argument goes as such: If parents are teaching their children an education that is religious it will obviously be biased and this will bring ill to the common good of the nation.
Reply: This is a much loved argument and if pushed to its logically conclusion is ridiculous. To suggest that parents should not be educating their children according to what they believe to be truth, would be to require them to live indifferent to what they actually believe. This would result in insanity. The underlying premise is that having families believing a diversity of things is something detrimental to society. This hardly needs a reply, but to the socialist, diversity is only ok when the diversity is in their bag of acceptable diversities. To the homeschooling religious family there are not only diversity of beliefs, absolute beliefs but also intolerance of untruths. This is healthy. The socialist agenda of forced tolerance for everything (except those who are intolerant of what to them is intolerable) is unhealthy for a society and a family. There is beauty in diversity. If all the trees of the forest were exactly the same, the beauty of that forest would be greatly diminished. It is healthy to disagree and differ. Further, a father will work more intensely, profitably, efficiently for his own beliefs than he will for a state imposed ‘non-belief’. And every society thrives when its fathers are hard-working.
Objection 3: Homeschooling Divides and a Common Education Unites
Does not a variety of belief systems fragment a society? Should we not be working to all being one in belief in one nation? Especially if we allow parents to teach what they want and in the way they want. Shouldn’t all students be state educated so that we can be rest assured at what they are being taught?
Reply: This would be boarder line communism. The black pig takes the baby puppies and educates them himself (Animal Farm). For the state to want to control what every student is being taught is exactly what Marx suggests (see section 2 of his Communist Manifesto). This, as with objection 2, when pushed to the logical limits, wants everyone to believe the same thing, and yet we know that forcing all to believe the same thing is fodder for revolution.
Objection 4: Religion is private and shouldn’t be a part of the education curriculum
In other words, homeschooling parents are more often than not, from religious families and choose to found and crown their education with the integration of their religious beliefs. Religion is a private matter and should be discussed outside of educational endeavours, as it is simply a matter of personal belief and not founded in any scientific demonstration.
Reply: There are many replies to this objection. I’ll stick with the simple one from the great philosopher Plato, namely, that education, in its essence, is not about science, or math, or art, but rather dwells in turning the soul towards the light/truth (See Plato’s cave anaology, Republic Book VII). If this is the case, and I believe it to be so, then religious instruction is essential in this endeavour for true faith seeks understanding. The arguments regarding religion being a private matter are obviously ill-founded as we, to this day, see that it is impossible to keep a religion that claims to have the truth for everyone from proselytizing. And if they have the truth, then they have a moral obligation to proselytize.
Objection 5: Socialization
Children need to learn how to behave as proper citizens in society. This socialization happens in the schools.
Reply: I don’t deny that socialization happens in the schools and more so now than before as both parents are working and limiting their number of children to two. However, to suggest that ONLY in the school does socialization happens is to live with your head in a burlap sack. The family is the primary source of socialization. The larger the family, the more there is opportunity to learn to be selfless, for example. The family is the garden for growing saints. The Church also socializes and so does many other organizations that children are involved with.
Objection 6: A common core curriculum will give all children a level playing field later on life
If the state enforces that a core curriculum is taught, than not only are the values of that state being passed down, but it levels the playing field when it comes to career building for all graduates will have the same foundation to move forward from.
Reply: The fallacy here is in the premise, that the state values need to passed on through State means and that the State values are even worthy to be passed on. In cases such as Ontario, Canada where the provincial government is trying to force a feminist homosexual agenda on all students, many parents may find the values of their state unworthy to be passed on. Further, all values of the State can be essentially sub-divided under various virtues. The virtue of faithfulness for e.g. is where patriotism would be found. The school of virtues is the family. It is where children learn to share, to do chores, receive discipline, punishments, consequences, where they learn unconditional love, living in diversity and so on and so forth. Further, the values of the state are best learned not from a curriculum, but intrinsically through experience.
Objection 7: Parents aren’t trained as teachers
Homeschooling parents (mostly uneducated moms) are not trained as teachers and thus the children suffer due to their lack of education in the subjects they are teaching.
Reply: Firstly, the premise that one must have a teaching certification to teach is a fallacy. Many coaches teach, parents teach, pastors teach and so forth. In fact, the argument could be made that the teaching degree ‘thing’ is a state-constructed power play to control who is teaching the students, but as for actually needing the ‘education’ to teach is another matter altogether. In most homeschool families, the family learns together. Further, who knows the child’s motivations better: the parent or the teacher? Teaching is something even my 7 year-old does with my 5 year-old. One need not have a certification to be a good teacher.
Objection 8: Children don’t learn to deal with stress
In the publicly funded system there are state exams, benchmarks, report cards, quizzes, class exams, deadlines, projects, presentations and so forth that all work to form the student to prepare him to meet the vigour’s of the real world. This is decidedly absent (in various degrees) in the homeschooling scene.
Reply: The premise here is that having children learn to deal with copious amounts of stress is a positive thing. This is dubious at best. Perhaps (and I’ve only experience to prove this) children learn better in a less stressful environment where they get to choose what they want to read and write and learn and experience. Perhaps children who are involved in developing their own curriculum are more highly motivated to learn. Perhaps the retention and integration of what is learned lasts longer if removed from the stress of exams. Does a businessman work more productively under high stress or when surrounded by personal freedom and choice?
Objection 9: Homeschool parents are not accountable to anyone
If homeschool students are not doing state exams, how does the state know they are learning anything? How does the state know what they are learning? Homeschool parents need to be accountable, their students need to be tested and the entire homeschool community needs to be under state supervision.
Reply: It is true that many homeschool families practice ‘unschooling’. Many choose not to do any state exams (but then again many do). Many are ‘unaccountable to the state. The question is: why is this a bad thing? If the parents are by nature the primary educators, then they have the right to teach as they wish. The family is prior to the state and the state is to promote and protect the family. State intervention into homeschooling should only be necessary when there is a lack of resources or abuse. However, the state can set minimal standards needed to get certain careers and public offices and then it would behoove the parent and child to strategically educate towards the goals they have set.
Objection 10: Health and Physical Education
In the publicly funded system there is a set standard of health (physical and sexual) that is necessary for all its students. These standards are not met in most homeschooling standards as most families don’t have a gym, gym equipment, and don’t even teach a health class.
Reply: The underlying premise of this objection is that physical education and health subjects need to be taught by the state. Again, this is a fallacy. Coaches, teams, living on a farm, church groups and so forth can all engage students in sports and physical activity. Secondly, health should only be taught by the parents, as it is the parents prerogative to deal with tender subjects. It is an unfortunate state of affairs that parents have being giving over their God-given duty of teaching the sanctity of the body and sex to the schools.
In conclusion, homeschooling is an important part of a healthy society for the simple fact that it empowers parents as first educators, respects the family and empowers parental involvement in education. All of these develop strong families and in doing so society is strengthened.
Kenton E. Biffert
The first three objections I used are from Thomas Dubay, Phiosophy of the State as Educator, 1959.