THE BLOG

Let's Restrict Home Schooling

05/25/2011 12:05 pm ET

With varying degrees of red-tape, home schooling is allowed in each and every one of our 50 states.

Obviusly there were and are political reasons for this. Lots of home-schooling parents run with the creationists. Creationists are easily led, and they vote.

But as to other reasons for this blanket surrender to home school advocates- I for one, have never understood why.

Of course I know that our public school systems are plagued by problems, but I have to think that through time- even now- our public schools have nurtured tens of millions of solid citizens. And surely, our private schools have nurtured and produced millions more of our best people.

I'm not blind to the fact that many solid citizens have been home-schooled. I've even heard of home schoolers winning science fairs, and being accepted to prestigious colleges. Because I admit that home schooling works in some cases, I don't view myself as a bigot in that regard.

Still, when I look at the bigger picture, I am far from assured that the blanket legality of home-schooling serves society too well.

I'm troubled by the fact that a significant percentage of home schooling parents choose this option because of an overriding feeling that they want their children to pursue curricula from theology or received wisdom rather than a scientific perspective.

I wonder how many of these types of home-schooled kids take the assumptions of say, 6,500 year-old earths and other lack of respect for scientific inquiry into adulthood. Will these people be on equal preparatory footing for jobs where scientific inquisitiveness, technical insight or critical thinking skills are far more necessary than rote recitation?

I'm also troubled, frankly, by parents who find the world overly complex, and want to keep their students at home in the service of simplicity and protectiveness.

I'm equally troubled by the fact that a non-trivial number of home-schoolers are taught in that way because their parents are overly rugged individualists who lack the impulse or skills to mix in as collaborative members of everyday society.

Well, the world is overly complex. Lots of different types of people, of cultural forces. Hiding off somewhere and teaching your kids away from the influence of a socially formative school environment can make it harder for your children to learn about the give-and-take of life in our present-day culture.

Listen, I am not advocating that home-schooling should be outlawed. Of course there should be exemptions- where the child is in physical danger in their public school, when the child is physically immobile, where the family lives in a remote geographical area. In these cases- and when a parent professionally trained as a qualified educator is available- sure, home schooling would be OK.

But as to the home schooler subjected to beliefs that run counter to scientific inquiry and the principles in which knowledge is pursued and attained- I say send them to school and let the parents devote some of their off-hours to teaching what they feel their kids should know. One such scenario: kid comes home and tells her parent that "today our teacher said the universe is 14.5 billion years old, but we learned in Sunday School God created the world 6,500 years ago.."

Then, and only then, is the most appropriate time for the parent to get involved.

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