Home Schooling can be a travesty of Education.

It is about time that the government got to grips with the home schooling fiasco. While some parents have their children’s interests at heart few can provide the range of expertise to deliver good all-round education.

But the real danger lies with the Religious and Political extremists who want their kids at home so they can indoctrinate them!

Home schooling is a pit of religious and political extremism that requires dealing with.

It is good to hear that something is being done about it!

We need:

a. A register – so we know who is being educated at home and no child drops off the radar.

b. A full inspection – to ensure that the education is appropriate and good enough.

c. Or we need to stop home schooling altogether!!

81 thoughts on “Home Schooling can be a travesty of Education.

    1. I agree. Sadly kids miss out on a lot of valuable social interaction! I reckon that is extremely important in the development of the young mind.

  1. If done right it can be a wonderful thing. My daughter went to public school until 6th grade. She couldn’t do basic addition or subtraction and could not read more than a dozen words. I had numerous meetings and it made no difference. Her social anxiety was just too much and she mostly cried all day. So, I am thankful we do have options. The school let her enroll in choir and orchestra and she was able to attend other school functions as well to be part of a group. But, home schooling is brutal and hard work for the parent for sure. But, in three months time after removing her from school, she could do math and was reading the Lord of the Rings series. So, it does have its place. She still struggles with social anxiety and always will but she was able to learn better at home away from the intense fear and has a job!

    1. Thank you for sharing that. I would agree that in certain circumstances, such as you have outlined, with the right parents and right support home education can be very effective. I would suggest that in most cases this is far from the reality. The majority of parents are not equipped to provide the range of skills necessary. What concerns me most are those children who receive no education, very poor education or are indoctrinated by fanatical parents.

    2. Hi Granny K. Well done to you and your daughter. Our daughter had similar struggles and I didn’t particularly want to home school her myself but when she became distressed and suicidal because of issues at school, I knew this is what I had to do. After a while, my daughter began to regain her confidence and I found that I enjoyed the experience. The local council kept in regular touch and we had to submit examples of her work at regular intervals. I’m happy to say that she’s going to university this September and is greatly looking forward to it. All the very best to your daughter.

      1. Ellem – a great success story and well done you. That really takes a lot of commitment and hard work to educate well at home. In my experience very few manage it well. And good for the local council too. I’m glad they checked standards regularly. That is what is needed.
        My real gripe is with those parents who withdraw kids in order to either indoctrinate them into their cult or religion or leave them uneducated. Unfortunately I believe there are a lot of them.
        Home education done well requires exceptional parents. It sounds like you and Granny K have what it takes.

      2. GrannyK – it’s great if you have the skills to do it and I’m sure it is a valuable learning experience for both of you. You are right – it is incredibly hard. So well done!
        If home ed is done well and for the right reasons I would fully support it. It is does who don’t, or can’t do it right or do it for the wrong reasons who worry me.

  2. It’s an interesting question. From what I see here in Los Angeles, the home schooled kids do not seem to lack socialization and seem to be educated perhaps better than the average schoolkids. But the larger issue is the inadequacy of the public schools. The contracting out of education (just like so many other municipal services contracted out to private non-unionized companies) via what they call charter schools here has served to weaken public education. Hurray for the teachers. And hurray for those kids too.

    1. I’d second that Hurray!! The teachers and kids are great. It’s the politicians and system that fails them. Privatisation is a scandal. Selling a cheap product for profit is not worthy of being called education.
      I taught in Los Angeles for a year. The kids were great but the drugs and gangs were a real problem. The education standards were extremely low. But I did teach in a very deprived area – Norwalk.
      I think what was lacking was a system of good inspections to standardise practice and a national curriculum for people to work to. It did not seem stringent enough, financed enough or scrutinised enough.

      1. Ah. An LAUSD alumnus! Right, low budget. But tons of scrutiny, monitoring, statistics and numbers. Like most large institutions, the greatest headaches come from the institution itself.

      2. Hey Bumba – I don’t know what that means. But I sure don’t like bureaucracy. However, I think that we do need checks on standards. A happy compromise.

  3. This was interesting to read, Opher. My worry about home schooling is far different. Here in New England children who are home schooled are bright and cannot get a superior education in their public school. It has nothing to do with religion. The parents who homeschool have their own community. One parent does well teaching math, one science, etc. So, the children go to the homes of those parents for specific classes. I have many of these kids in my library reading group. I worry because they are not getting the social and emotional experiences that are life skills. They’re not accountable as well, meaning sleeping in an extra 30 minutes is no big deal. Well, it is a big deal, because (again), those are life skills. A rich education is a wonderful thing. Being able to work and play among your peers with some structure is a necessary life skill. These kids often have a hard time in high school.

    1. Thanks for that Jenny. You raise a number of valid points.
      Firstly, I think public education should be funded and given the priority to ensure that it is of the highest standard which, I think, would obviate the need for those parents to teach at home.
      Secondly, I would agree that home schooling can be very effective, particularly if parents pool their resources, but might not teach the social or life skills that are so valuable.
      Thirdly, so much of what goes on in the home in terms of education is below the radar. Standards are not checked. Kids remain unseen and could be abused in many ways with nobody knowing.
      Fourthly, the religious fanatics do very much use home schooling as a means of indoctrinating their children. We have Jewish, Islamic and many Christian sects using home schooling in this way. I find that scary and an abuse of the children.
      What I would really like to see is top quality state schools.

      1. You are right on every count, Opher. The religious part scares me, and so does the potential for abuse. Yes, top quality public (same as state) schools.

      2. I just hope that we get this sorted. A register of kids being home schooled is a step in the right direction. We can hope can’t we Jennie?

  4. The moment I read the title and saw the first few lines, I realized to have a dialogue one aspect at a time. To begin, children are the responsibility of the parents. Two parents, working together, raising their children. Even though I am a teacher, I applaud any parents who take educating their children seriously, and as long as their kids can read, write, and perform basic math, then work on improving their learning, I get it.
    Regarding religion, again, that’s for the parents to decide. A major reason so many parents left Europe, a major reason so many braved the dangers in a new country, a major reason we have a constitution, is so individuals and families can choose to follow religion as their consciences lead. What gives many hope, what makes growing up easier, what makes the difficulties of life when everything seems to be falling apart, is people’s religion. And hope brings the promises of better tomorrows. If a child, in my class, prays, say before starting their work, that is for them. And if their religion is different from my own, again, that is for them. That’s why America is the greatest country ever, though we’ve seen very difficult times in recent decades, but the framework has held true.
    Regarding quality of education. What is the purpose of education? To prepare. If parents’ children can read, write, and solve arithmetic problems…. I have heard of children learning at home, but also helping out with the parents’ businesses, say a restaurant. When the child is old enough, they will have the business sense and experiences to run their own businesses if not to continue their parents’. What a great preparation! To have real life experiences that last a lifetime!
    I do see a strong need for a historical understanding. I do see a need for our youth to understand how this country came to be. But again, I applaud parents when they take education on their own shoulders.

    1. So you are in favour of parents indoctrinating their children before they are old enough to even think or reason?
      Do you think there should be inspections to ensure children are being adequately educated?

      1. As a teacher, my concern is managing a group of students and educating them to the best of my abilities. If parents take this responsibility on their own shoulders, I can only commend them. Wow! Good for you. **I also know that children belong to the parents. They’re the parents. They had the children. And in an effective society, parents taking responsibility means better households, better opportunities for the youth.Unless there is a meth lab or training for thieves and that sort, what business is it of mine?

      2. Thanks for that Dolphin.
        I have no complaint if a parent has the skills and time to do the job properly.
        I suspect most don’t have either and the kids suffer. Teaching, as you know, is a hard, exacting job.
        Yes I can see your point about parenting. But I weigh it against the rights of the children. That is a difficult one. If parents are of a particular religion, cult or politics, does that give them the right to indoctrinate the children (to the exclusion of any counter-argument)? Or does the child have the right to be able to choose for themselves when they are old enough?

      3. I can understand the argument in a rhetorical fashion, but in practice, I would never want any over-riding authority to interfere with the family. Parents are the ones responsible for their children. Only when we see serious abuse, and I’m not talking spankings or the worse I got when I worked hard for those punishments (If my parents knew half the things I did out of their field of view, I certainly would have deserved much harsher punishments.), should the police step in. When I was growing up, we understood this simple concept. I had friends who sometimes complained of their harsh punishments, but when I look back, I know my friends “earned” those punishments. And regards instructing at home, that’s for the parents to decide, whether the children are prepared enough or otherwise. I will always hold to parental rights.

      4. Dolphin – I fear that by coming down for the rights of the parent you may well be ignoring the rights of the child. I would suggest that children have rights:
        a. Not to be physically or mentally abused
        b. Not to be brainwashed
        c. To be given good education.

      5. You’re walking down a path that leads to the removal of the very framework that is freedom and liberty. Would we like to be able to solve every social ill? Of course. Can we? Absolutely not. It’s kind of like saying don’t let your kids play outside because they might get hurt. As a kid, I did things that I’ve wondered how lucky I was to survive. But what’s the alternative? To be kept indoors? To be watched well-into young adulthood. To never experience independence and the consequences of my own actions? Then, I would never have grown up. Are there going to be parents that need serious counseling, and in some cases, separation from the home? Absolutely? Do I want to have a watchdog over every home, making sure the parents follow what over-riding entity thinks is best? Absolutely not. I would prefer liberty over some watchdog entity. I would prefer freedom over socialism.

      6. Dolphin – I can see the problem and there is no easy answer. At present 40,000 children are being ‘home schooled’. I wonder how many of them are being indoctrinated and brainwashed with some cultish religion? How many are receiving a good all-round education? How many are receiving no education? How many are being horribly abused?
        Once brainwashed you are never free.
        I value freedom as much as you. I don’t want to see children having their freedom removed for life. I don’t want to see them being abused or having their life opportunities greatly restricted.
        I don’t want an over-bearing system but one that checks they are alright and are receiving a good education – not abuse and brainwashing.
        I don’t see this as a socialist issue. Socialism does not come with restriction of freedoms. It is merely about a fairer more equitable society.

  5. There is the consideration of perspective and what I (and many others) view as a free society, one where it’s up to the people to decide how to pursue happiness. If I could remove all problems, would I? Yes and no. A perfect world? No, but as close as we can get to it. That comes with freedom. And with freedom comes responsibility, which also means consequences which is a great teacher. From my vantage, and most of those who began this country, I would much rather parents being responsible for their own, but this also comes with accepting consequences, then dealing with them, for in that, there is learning. In a free society, will there be mistakes? Will there be parents that don’t prepare their children better than others? Absolutely. But do I want an over-watching entity going into each home, determining what is best for the children rather than the parents taking on their own responsibilities as they see? Absolutely not. I suppose, in a sense, it can be the difference between freedom and individual responsibilities (liberty) and others telling everyone what is best (socialism). Neither is perfect, but I choose freedom.

    1. Dolphin – are you not putting the freedom of the parents over that of the children?
      Freedom is relative. I value my freedom and express it freely and regularly. I am for tolerance, compassion and liberalism. But I also think that one has to compromise in order not to intrude on the rights of others.
      Whose freedom are we protecting? The child or the parent?
      How does one protect the freedom of both?
      In my view the child comes first. His or her liberty of mind, thought and freedom from indoctrination takes precedence over the wishes of the parents.
      Many strictly religious people bring their children up in straitjackets.
      Many undereducated kids are unable to reach their potential.
      Many children are under the radar because they are being abused.
      Whose freedom are you after protecting? The right to abuse, neglect or brainwash your own children?

  6. It’s a matter of perspective and knowing the results of regulations. Let me put it this way. Let’s say, I know (or believe I know) the best way to raise and educate children (Of course, with each succeeding year, I see more that leads me to know I don’t know everything.). Then, based upon that belief, even evidence, I require every parent to follow my “book of rules,” and we come into homes to verify following the regulations. Do you see the problems?

    1. Yes I do. I personally think the way forward is to allow parents to make the decisions within clearly stated parameters and to check regularly, to monitor to see they are neither being abused or brainwashed. If it is deemed that the children are at risk then action needs to be taken.
      This is not a black and white area is it? I think it is very difficult.

  7. The thing I would never want, and that’s why we started this nation with an excellent constitution, which was designed to protect individual and family right over the state, is anyone else telling a family how to raise their children. With this comes parents being responsible for both the good and the consequences. When a country embraces this responsibility rises and people must learn from their own mistakes.

      1. Yeah, but you and no over-riding authority can prevent that. In fact, when an over-riding authority has the position and power to determine what the masses must do, then often brainwashing occurs. As much as I used to think I would like my life taken care of (I was very naive.), I know I’m much better off making my own decisions, which also comes with consequences should I make the wrong decisions. But closer to freedom. There is absolutely no way you, myself, or any other could ever remove societal problems. With a good constitution, with good rules, and with individuals and families making their own decisions, we have a much better chance of freedom.

      2. Dolphin – freedom for one is often oppression for someone else. Are you not in danger of giving freedom to the parents and putting the kids in chains.

      3. Yes, but freedom in the name of control? The only way to have freedom is with quality laws. With the constitution, we have the framework, which is the best in history. The only way to “ensure” everyone is following what someone “sees” as the answer is through dictatorship, which as many know, works against what was originally sought after. You, me, or anyone else cannot ensure freedom. In my neighborhood, I see things I would do differently. Sometimes I see things I know are just not the best way. But without freedom, the injury would be to the citizenry as a whole.

      4. Dolphin – I can understand your point of view. But I do think freedom is illusory. When we live in any society we have to compromise. We all do that. It is a question of degrees. One person’s freedom is another person’s problem.

      5. If freedom is illusory, then there’s is no place to discuss. Then it’s a matter of one person’s freedom versus another, so there’s no answer and this discussion becomes mute. Freedom occurs when each person listens to what they know is right in their hearts, and we all know this becomes difficult in a “free” society when people vie for positions. However, we can get as close to freedom as possible. That comes from understanding that there are principles that guide human lives, and these principles, most found in our Constitution, gives every person the best chance at liberty. And the more we look not to the constitution and our own understanding, living good lives and not interfering with others except in healthy competition, the less our freedom.

      6. Dolphin – I think there is a good discussion to be had in finding the balance. As with home schooling – supporting the freedom of one group of people impinges on the freedom of another. If one gives the right to decide to parents the freedom of their children is greatly reduced. They can be abused with impunity or brainwashed. Which is the greater good? In a free society it is important that we give individuals the greatest freedom – the right to vote, believe or do what they want – unless it encroaches on others, incites hate and violence or breaks rightful laws. In practice this is not as free as it appears. If children are brainwashed by parents and society they are not free to decide on whether they believe or not. If a society is controlled by a media owned by the wealthy elite they are not free to choose what person they vote for. This extends to other areas. If a man is free to own a weapon does this threaten the rights and freedoms of others? I believe it does.
        This is why I think this notion of freedom is phoney. We are more restricted and controlled than we would admit and our freedom, at best, is always a compromise.

      7. I guess this can go back and forwards infinitely. But I write for readers, but also know a time limit exists on how much I will give one person. It’s really a matter of perspective and understanding what freedom really is. It’s a sense. It’s an innate understanding. And I know when I see freedom and when I see or hear someone who has lost the understanding, often due to over-thinking and intellectual reasoning. I’ll just say it this way. I support your right to have your views and pursue your dreams. I will have my views and follow my pursuits. And where they clash, each person will continue. That is where I live. That is where free people live. Each person works, each person lives, and each person must face the roadblocks and difficulties along with the rewards. The difficulty comes when people have lost the hope of freedom and then decide to change the world to fit them, rather than find their own path and lead by example. Positive supports positive.

      8. Dolphin – I think freedom is an ideal that can only be found when alone. All interaction restricts one. I also think that this concept of freedom is one that Americans hold. It probably comes from that frontiers mentality when there were no laws. We in Europe are used to a more settled society (given the odd major war or two). We’ve probably hammered out the rough edges.
        I value my freedom greatly and live it. But I also value the liberty of my fellows. I see how easy it is for our minds to be shackled in indoctrination. Most of humanity is, if not all of us.
        We, in the West, can say what we like. We have free speech. But if our minds have been controlled that speech is hollow.
        I think we should protect young minds, awaken them, inspire them and set them free. That has been my life’s work. Teach them to think and question.

  8. It’s confusing to me that you say kids shouldn’t be at home with their parents for schooling. . .as if a state school wouldn’t indoctrinate children. Have you ever read about people who have escaped North Korea? The state schools teach children that Kim Jung Un literally hung the sun, moon and stars. Freedom in North Korea would mean the people who love their children the most – parents – could set them on a path of freedom to explore the world. Public schools in America indoctrinate children, too. Freedom equals choices, and removing one groups’ choice based on your own opinion means your choice will eventually be removed as well. Would you like it if bloggers could only write what the state blogging oversight committee permitted? And who are they to decide what you can and cannot write? Do you have children? Did you send them to state schools, where you allowed strangers to indoctrinate them with whatever they thought your child should learn? Were you okay with someone other than yourself teaching them about the world? Parents were created to protect their children. No one loves a child as much as their parents. Are there exceptions and abuses? We know there are, but thankfully it is a small percentage and thankfully there are many, many people and organizations whose life work is rescuing and helping those. I agree with Dolphinwrite, the best path for children is the guarding of parental rights.

    1. Thank you MFT. Firstly let me answer your questions. I was a Headteacher of an English Secondary School. It was fully comprehensive teaching children of all abilities from 11 to 18 years. Yes I love my children and want the very best for them. Yes I sent them all to State schools where they prospered and are all leading productive lives in a variety of good careers. Yes I was perfectly happy with them being taught by a range of great teachers. Yes I am perfectly happy with both the curricula of the schools and the syllabi of the subjects. No I am sure they were not indoctrinated by the teachers that taught them. Both the curricula and syllabi are open to public scrutiny and there are good complaints procedures. Could I have done a better job for my children with home tuition? Even as an experienced, highly qualified science teacher there is no way I could have come near to providing a balanced education for my children – even if I took it on full time.
      Most parents really love their children. Some don’t. They abuse and neglect them. I could tell you a whole series of stories that would make your hair curl ranging from sexual abuse and putting 7 year old out for prostitution to starvation and extreme physical abuse.
      Many parents are totally incompetent and a danger to their children. Drug abuse and alcoholism are common. Some of my home visits were eye opening. You see – I do not believe it is a small percentage. In fact what is coming out is that it could even be a majority who suffer abuse.
      Some parents belong to cults or religions that seek to indoctrinate from an early age. Kids are put through programmes reciting texts and learning scripture instead of receiving proper education.
      I do not condone State indoctrination. I’m sure it goes on in a number of countries – such as North Korea. But I do not live in one of those countries and neither do you. If I did I might hold a different view.
      What it comes down to is a choice of the rights and freedoms of the child against the rights and freedoms of the parent. I come down in favour of the child. All our children deserve a good balanced education, free from indoctrination and abuse and with their rights protected. If a parent chooses to home educate they should be vetted and inspected to ensure the children are not being abused or indoctrinated and are following a good standard of balanced education.

      1. Vetted and inspected by whom? Which religions are acceptable and which aren’t? Who gets the right to say who and who isn’t a good parent? The state? Do you feel the state should have more authority over children than their very own parents? Who is better positioned to protect children, the ones who conceived them or some stranger who works for the state? It’s the state who’s accepted legalization of recreational marijuana, a gateway drug. It’s the state oppressing people with onerous taxes. These are just two examples of policies inflicted on parents trying to raise families. If we want less drug abuse and domestic violence we cannot accept legalization of detrimental, addictive substances. If we want parents freed of financial burden we must stop heavy regulations and taxes that suppress job growth. The state isn’t interested in ensuring the well-being and stability and health of families, but destroying it as a means for control. If so many parents are just so incompetent we have a crisis indeed; but if it is the state forcing them into a corner with no hope of upward mobility, the last thing on earth we’d want to do is let the state decide who is raising their children properly. And yes, we do live in a country with an education system that indoctrinates children. Have you noticed how many young people think socialism is a good route for our country? Social agendas of the powerful are sneaked in under the radar of the “public scrutiny” you mentioned. Just look at what is happening in Orange County California right now regarding sex ed, passed by the state under the obtuse banner of “health education”. Also, so-called “pilot” curriculum is not subject to public scrutiny. It is critical that parents be free to choose their own child’s education course, just as it is critical we make healthy, stable, loving families the expected societal norm.

      2. Vetted and inspected by professionals who have the welfare of the children at heart – like myself. People who would ensure they are not being indoctrinated and abused – such as being forced to memorise whatever holy book the parents believe to be the ultimate word instead of receiving a rounded education or being used as a sex slave or beaten senseless – as happens all too often.
        All religions are fine with me (even though I consider them utter bollocks) as long as they aren’t forced down peoples’ throats (particularly kids).
        There is one almighty problem with drugs that has been created by lies and false propaganda instead of sensible policies. Draconian prohibition simply does not work – quite the opposite. BTW marijuana is no more a gateway drug than alcohol is.
        While most parents are reasonable and competent, many aren’t. Some of them shouldn’t be in control of a hamster let alone a child.
        Taxes are obviously necessary to provide essentials such as infrastructure, defence, education and health – all of which require quality. If you don’t pay enough you get crap quality. It seems that the US is quite happy to short-change children and the poor.
        As a teacher who has taught sex education for thirty six years I can clearly state how absolutely invaluable it is to create respectful, responsible adults.
        If your statements on socialism are anything to go by then the education system is obviously doing a great job. I spent thirty six years teaching both here in the UK and over in the USA. There was no inkling of any indoctrination. Good education is all about enlightening, getting people to think, question and find better ways. Sounds like that is what the kids are doing. They want a fairer, better society that doesn’t just shovel all the wealth to some tiny elite but spreads it out more equally – just like the socialism of the Scandinavian countries. I am pleased to hear that the kids are waking up from the indoctrination that elite have been peddling. There are far better ways of creating a better society – social democracy is one of them. Perhaps America is finally waking up from the rampant capitalist nightmare it has created with its gross inequality, abject poverty, violence, racism and so many who are sleeping under flyovers and risking their lives in ghettos. About time there was some sanity.

      3. So, we’re all to simply trust that you won’t indoctrinate anyone? You set yourself up as the professional? You’re right, and everyone else needs to get in line? You’ll be the judge of what is indoctrination and what isn’t? I get a whiff of tyranny. . .a squelching of freedom. No thank you, I’d rather be free and risk that someone perceives that someone else is “indoctrinating” their children; by your definition, teaching them something other than what you agree with. And I’m thankful right now. Thankful we are both free to speak and share our ideas even if we disagree with another. And I’ll fight for both of us to always have that right.

      4. No – that is ridiculous. You are only further illustrating my point. It seems that Trump has successfully tapped into some basic belief that is present in some Americans – that you can’t trust experts – they’re all out to get you and take away your freedom, indoctrinate your kids and become tyrannical.
        It’s rubbish.
        I was not the judge of the curriculum or ethos I taught. The curriculum was one agreed by experts with full public scrutiny. It was agreed, broad and balanced – designed to create the best standards of education. My lessons were always observed by adults (teachers aides are in most lessons), subject to regular internal and external inspections to ensure they were up to standard. Parents had plenty of avenues to object to content and were actively involved.
        Schools are not places of indoctrination. They are places of education. They create thought, exploration, investigation and creativity. If they do not engage students, get them questioning and wondering they are not doing it well enough.
        Indoctrination is when children are spoonfed information, such as religious texts, to be swallowed as facts without question. That is obviously not simply about ‘teaching them something I don’t agree with’. It is an insidious intent to make them believe what you believe. That is not education. Education is mind expanding – not mind shrinking.
        It seems strange to me that we have an Islamophobic hysteria regarding terrorism but are quite happy for extreme radical Muslims (and mad Creationists) to take kids off to brainwash them with radicalised thinking – breeding the next generation of brainwashed suicide bombers all insanely believing they’ll wake up in paradise.
        But yes it is great that we have the right to have these conversations and can discuss all this in an intelligent and civilised manner.
        Long live freedom. I want more of it.

      5. Oh, goodness. Don’t lump everyone who questions authority in with that ignoramus Trump. Talk about arguing to the personality, rather than the issue. . .focus.

      6. I wouldn’t dream of doing that. I think even a cursory glance through my blog shows that I have a healthy scepticism when it comes to authority. I think you have misunderstood. There is a big difference between having a suspicion for the motives of authority and believing that institutions like our education system are used to brainwash kids. They aren’t. Pointing out that Trump has made it an issue to undermine experts and institutions is not a personality issue. That is a deflection. This undermining of our experts and institutions and promotion of distrust and conspiracy is a very dangerous thing. It enables populists to promote anything they want. It creates stupidity such as the flat earthers, global warming denial and guns make you safer. Home schooling is such an issue. The oxymoron is that people believe that schools brainwash so they home school and brainwash their kids.

      7. I agree with you on Trump. What I meant was arguing that the person commenting was being shaped by Trump was a form of argument that insults the person commenting rather than arguing the issue. And in general I agree with your point that schools and teachers are not brainwashing children as a rule nor especially as a goal by design. However, they are also not innocent of shaping the populace with institutionalized messages and curricula. States that refuse to teach evolution, or require a “intelligent design” addition to science courses, for instance, are countering what is intelligent or even factual for their own “authoritative purposes”. Or courses, in the past that only discussed/shared what the white man/our British ancestors achieved, and ignored any contributions of any other person are a good example. They might not be authorities sitting in a group saying, “Hey, let’s brainwash these people by doing this. . .” but still, it is a form of creating a populace of a common sort.

      8. OK – I take that on board. I was never intending to insult any of my commentators – merely engage in robust argument.
        I also accept your reservation regarding education and ‘social engineering’. This is why I put so much emphasis on a clear set of policies and particular attention to the informal curriculum. By consciously addressing all aspects of what we were addressing and making that explicit I was seeking to bring all our aims and intentions out into the open. By explicitly focussing on tolerance, equality, respect, responsibility and empathy and discussing this at length with staff we created a shared education philosophy that was expansive and not in any way brainwashing – unless one views a deliberate attempt to create inclusivity, questioning and discovery brainwashing. I’m sure that many parents would not want that. They would prefer a knowledge based delivery that was in line with their philosophy and limited. I wanted something much more challenging.

    1. Dolphin – isn’t that a tad idealistic? Doesn’t that presume that people are civil, reasonable, accommodating and law-abiding? What about the minority who are anti-social, selfish, violent, rude, aggressive, stupid, cantankerous, greedy and downright inconsiderate?

      1. And to anyone who believes they can solve or prevent all of these problems, while at the same time supporting the best in people, protecting our rights, they have not thought the problem through. You or I cannot create a bubble society. We cannot stop all the problems. In fact, the problems are necessary for people to grow and learn, difficult as it can be at times. And when we choose the right or better choices, supporting good laws, life improves.

      2. But allowing people to indoctrinate children or abuse them and escape all the attention of the authorities is surely not freedom.
        Right now there are Muslim parents schooling their kids at home to believe that all non-Muslims are evil and if they blow them up they will go to paradise.
        Right now there are Jewish parents indoctrinating their children to hate Muslims.
        There are parents whoring out their sons and daughters to paedophile rings.
        Surely we have to protect our children against these crimes?
        There are Christian evangelicals teaching their children that evolution is wrong and all who masturbate go to hell.
        There are neo-Nazis bringing up kids to hate all people of colour.

      3. Again, I will, for the benefit of readers, attempt to frame the understanding in a way that is clear. In order to have freedom, we have to allow families to make their own decisions, be responsible for their own, and realize that this is the best, though we know human being will make mistakes. But to have real freedom, we must be ready to understand what the dynamics mean. The opposite is to believe that a group or overseeing entity will make decisions for us, make decisions that will fully answer all the individual answers while supporting freedom. This is just not possible. ***It would be like my parents micromanaging every aspect of my life, never trusting me or my siblings to think for ourselves so we never grow through learning, consequences, and opportunities.

      4. I’m sorry – I don’t agree. That does not sound like freedom – more like licence to do what you want.
        While I greatly value my freedom and have exercised it all my life I know that it has to exist within a framework that protects the weak in society and children.
        Without that too many get trampled on, abused and worse.
        It isn’t about any body making decisions for you or micromanaging – you can live how you like – unless you cross lines and abuse or neglect – not providing a rounded education is both abuse and neglect.
        Too many families are incompetent. They neglect their children, sell them to paedophiles and indoctrinate them.
        What you suggest – to satisfy your strange view of ‘personal freedom’ – is a licence for abusers, paedophiles, extremists and nutcases.
        Children need protection – they need someone looking out for them. That is a world away from micromanagement.

      5. Opher, the choice you’re providing leads to socialism, then dictatorship. It’s the writing on the wall. You nor I have the understanding necessary to watch everyone. It’s just not possible: not without serious repercussions to freedom. You nor I can fix all societal ills. We just aren’t built that way.

      6. Dolphin – as can be seen in Britain and all the Scandinavian countries socialism does not lead to tyranny. It leads to a fairer society where capitalism is harnessed for the good of many.
        When we have been lucky enough to have a socialist government the country has prospered and there is no tyranny.
        No we can’t fix all social ills but we can certainly strive to make things better.
        I don’t think it would be difficult to provide accountability for those who wish to home school. They should pay for an inspection service that would check to ensure that children were receiving a good education (based on our national curriculum) just the same as if they were in school. That is not hard to do.

      7. Absolutely not. I say this for readers. Parents have the responsibility and right to raise their children as they see fit. We do have laws to stop abuse, but we don’t want such an intrusive law that we’re all living in constant watch over our lives. That’s not freedom. Because the question will be begged who is making the rules for how parents address the needs of the family. Most Americans would not wish an over-riding authority making these decisions. Parenting is not easy, and though I might have a difference of opinion how neighbors address their children’s needs, I’m not so “all-knowing” that I can require them to all live by my rules. What you’re asking is blanket rules that all parents must abide by. That, I cannot support. You mention that schools require inspections, but that is government run establishments, and today, parents can decide to send their children to public or private schools, or opt to home school if they feel they know better. This is freedom. This is choice.

      8. Dolphin – I simply do not agree with your view of freedom. I find it a very American concept. The whole premise of your view is somehow that the authorities are their to impose and restrict. The authorities are nothing more or less than the views and opinions of the elected people who make the laws. The decisions are ones made in order to protect the children. I find your view extremely worrying. You completely ignore the rights of children and give all the power to parents without restraint. Your model of parents is one of reasonable, rational human beings. Unfortunately this is not my experience as a Headteacher. Many parents are ignorant, incompetent and plain stupid. Some are violent and abusive. Some are extremists who would inflict their views on their children.
        I prefer a universally agreed curriculum that is created to produce a rounded education for the good of the children, produced by qualified educationalists who know what they are doing, open to public scrutiny and applied to all children where-ever they are educated.
        Your freedom is a prison for many children. Your freedom creates abuse and indoctrination for many children. I see your freedom as abuse.
        Give me protection for children any day.

      9. Actually, I am in complete support of the children. I know the best place as a whole is for children to be with their parents. Can I stop all problems? No. Can I prevent all problems without creating the very problems many purport to attempt stopping? No. The only way to prevent every possible difficulty is through dictatorship, and that, throughout history, has shown to have tragic consequences. If one believes parents can not be trusted, and in this way, must be overshadowed, the greater question is who’s doing the overshadowing. See, it comes down to trust. If we can’t trust the people, then we can’t trust the one’s overseeing. Regards a curriculum. Again, the people must decide what that curriculum should look like. And that can be accomplished by more localized schools, parental involvement, and discussions. Debates and talks are the way. But thank you for clarifying your thoughts. It makes very clear the position and why I believe in America, the America that was founded, and the America of freedom where the people decide for themselves. I would not live any other way. But then, the responsibility for my life is placed upon my shoulders where it should be. Because the opposite is someone else deciding how I should live, and that is not freedom.

      10. Dolphin – I would agree that the best place for most children is with the parents and that the majority of parents are responsible and caring. It is the minority I worry about.
        I think where we disagree is this idea of tyranny. I don’t see a curriculum, put together with sound education philosophy and scrutinised by parents, as being a tyranny. The people implementing it and checking that the vulnerable minority are well catered for have the interests of the children at heart. That isn’t, to me, a dictatorship. It is just caring for children and ensuring they all receive a good standard of rounded education.

      11. What you share on one hand makes sense, though I might still view a different path in supporting education and children. But I have to take previous points and the understanding I was born with, supported by experience, reading, and views. You have, what seems, a purposeful point. But let me try it this way: there are many concerns we have. Some might view that due to all the physical problems our youth have, monitoring diets might save lives. Some might view that due to economic problems, monitoring parental examples and work efforts might improve our economy. Some might view that due to bullying, monitoring how parents address sibling rivalry might improve social lives and school situations. Some might view that having a clean change of clothing every day might enhance self-esteem and on and on and on…. You see, we all see causes. It’s the method in which we attempt to fix problems as we see fit. The best we can do is have a strong foundation, which is the constitution, then support it with just laws that also support freedom. We can’t have freedom without problems. Nor can we fix all problems without taking away freedom. Life is messy. It always has been. We can’t fix everything for that takes away personal responsibility and real freedom.

      12. Dolphin – I see your point of view. I accept it to an extent. In my view it is a question of balance.
        Where does freedom become licence?
        There seems to be a prevailing view in America that the elected people are almost enemies intent on removing freedom.
        I retain a cynical approach to authority but believe that they are largely motivated by doing good. This, I believe, is where we differ.

      13. Exactly. But that’s also a work in progress: always. Let’s put it this way. I trust the police, but I don’t want them in my home, living there. I trust one of my neighbors greatly, but I don’t want them monitoring my life.

  9. I find your post style interesting. Flash some short, hot-headed opinions, and then spend long sentences in your commentary thread. With that said, I have taught University and public school students for decades, and I also home schooled my child for a semester when he needed it. It is common for home schooled students in the US to leave the home setting and matriculate during high school in order to secure a university education later. It is harder to be accepted by a college otherwise. SO I’ve taught a number of students who started with homeschool foundations. These are some of my generalizations: they tend to be more curious and interested, kinder and friendly, but often socially shocked at the cold/socially media-mean girl drenched attitudes of their peers, and unable to navigate that. (Would it be nice if all kids came lacking that meanness?) Their writing is often filled with errors in grammar, but their sentences are deeper, and thought inspired, probably from reading more on their own. They use their time wisely, but do not trust their teachers’ knowledge. I also did a long thesis in school on HS vs. PS education and you are right. Many of the HS parents were either far right or far left in their politics and religion. But forcing them to bring their kids has resulted in Ruby Ridge-like confrontations. I believe though, that more and more center-politic parents are keeping their kids home in the US because of violence or because of the horrid kids seated next to them. There are studies that say whom one sits next to predicts one’s outcome more than teacher/school/curricula. I kept mine home for a semester because in the US, even being a teacher myself, I am aware of just how uneducated some of our educators are.

    1. Well thank you for your input. You raise some interesting points.
      I know a number of friends who have home schooled for some of the reasons you raise – they did not like the clientele at the school, the level of teaching or the social interaction. I can understand that. They tended to be at the more intelligent end and did a good job of it. Home Schooling is far from easy. They are not the people that I am concerned about.
      It is the less intelligent and more fanatical who pose the biggest problems. They want to Home School because they can control their kids, brainwash them and/or abuse them. I am most concerned with the religious cults and extremists, the paedophiles or physical abusers.
      Working in Higher Education probably meant that you got to see the brighter end of the spectrum.
      Having taught in the US for a year I think I would be leery of sending my children to an inner city school in many US cities. My evaluation of the US system was not very complimentary. The staff were not great.
      As a Headteacher in England my experience of many Home Schoolers was that they were not too bright, had kids that did not want to learn, took an easy option to avoid hassle and left them to it. The kids remained ignorant, unqualified and destined to be scroungers. That’s another element.

      1. Unfortunately, I agree with you on the staff prep. I’ve written a number of essays on the subject, primarily on the draw to talent pool and the control of what standards education degrees require. Medical and Law schools are relatively few compared to the sheer number of all colleges and universities, and they require a very stressful course. Their exit exams/certification tests are trying. They are governed by members of their own profession. But teachers can become teachers through pretty much any college or university, meeting the least demanding course load of any out there, and sttistically have have a lower incoming GPA and exiting GPA than other true professions (No one becomes a doctor with a B average Their A averages are based on a bell curve, as in a 92/100 can equal an F, if it is the lowest student earned grade in a course; not so in education courses; a 59/100 is an F.) The public school systems are also governed by politicians, not necessarily by the top professionals in the field. Anytime states try to improve the talent pool, fewer people go into the profession, and then schools lack not only qualified teachers, but ANY teachers. For if one must jump through a million hoops to be in a career, why not go into one that pays quite a lot more. Finally, Public education in the US suffers from all the woes of any political machine: leaders who make decisions based on the emotional whims of their constituents. That is NOT to say that all teachers in the US are untrained or unintelligent. Many of my peers have studied the finest educations from top Ivy League schools, earned tops scores on challenging tests, etc. They go into the profession, not for the money or for the simplicity of it (I say that sarcastically, for it is never easy), but because they love the field and the students. But you are right, home schooling is not necessarily the answer. Nor are charter schools. Often in the news, when some tragedy occurs where children somehow “fell through the cracks” and died violently at the hands of their parents, this has been preceded by parents who “recently” decided to homeschool. The step-mother who starved her child to death in the state of Georgia; the two mothers who drove their adopted children off a cliff purposefully on the west coast recently, both had chosen to shield their acts leading up to these deaths by homeschooling. Of course, these are extreme, narrow examples, but still. . .

      2. I agree with you. I have encountered some extremely poor teachers. It is too easy to get into the profession and the training is inadequate.
        I would suggest a number of things which need addressing:
        A clear government policy on quality education (current one is terrible)
        Good leadership and expectations
        Proper pay structure to recruit quality staff
        Proper stringent training of teachers
        Quality supervision and inspections
        I think that children’s lives are too important to allow poor quality education. If we want a better society we have to invest and be clear about our aims.

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