Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Right to Home School

I'm feeling a tetch fractious right now, and you know me -- I feel better once I've let off some steam. Here we go with the steam-letting.

The voucher referendum didn't go through. As a home schooler, that doesn't affect me directly, although I was hoping it would open up the floor to the idea of home schoolers getting a tax break on school supplies, which they don't right now. What's driving me nuts is the way that those opposed to vouchers are now cheering, some of them even vocalizing their glee that this puts more of a pinch on the home schools. Now, home schools weren't involved in this at all -- but I guess they, like me, could see that eventually there would be a connection.

It's not the fact that the vouchers didn't go through that has my knickers in a knot. It's the way these people are talking about home schooling.

Now, I will admit that there are some really bad home schoolers out there. I've even heard tell of families who keep their older children home to tend the younger ones, under the guise of home schooling. Those families are in the minority.

One blog I read today had a really dumb comment. "Referendum 1 didn't pass, just like most home schoolers." I don't know where he got this information. Home schooled children don't have a hard time passing. They get into colleges just like public schooled children. They get masters degrees and head out into the world to become doctors and lawyers and other contributing members of society. Some of them even grow up to be LDS historical fiction authors. Yes, I was home schooled my entire life.

I'm not saying that everyone should home school. I completely understand that there are families and children who do better in a public school environment. I would just appreciate it if others would be more lenient in their opinion of me and my fellow home schoolers. When it's done right, home schooling is a marvelous thing. The children thrive. They develop closer relationships with their parents and other siblings. They are not socially inept, contrary to popular belief, and those that are probably would be in a public school setting, too. I mean, there are nerds and dweebs all over the place -- you can't confine them to just one demographic.

I home school my children because I believe that for us, it's the right thing to do. I enjoy doing it. It's natural to me because of how I received my schooling. I don't run around lambasting people for sending their children to public school, and it frustrates me that there are those who run around lambasting home school, especially when they don't have all their facts straight. Home schoolers do excel academically. They aren't just existing, drifting along in the river of life.

I found some quotes today that I think help prove I'm not totally insane:

In many places it is literally not safe physically for youngsters to go to school. And in many schools-and it's becoming almost generally true-it is spiritually unsafe to attend public schools. Look back over the history of education to the turn of the century and the beginning of the educational philosophies . . . which have led us now into a circumstance where our schools are producing the problems that we face.
President Boyd K. Packer, BYU, Oct. 9, 1996

The duty of the mother is to watch over her children, and give them their early education, for impressions received in infancy are lasting. You know, yourselves, by experience, that the impressions you have received in the dawn of your mortal existence, bear, to this day, with the greatest weight upon your mind. It is the experience of people generally, that what they imbibe from their mothers in infancy, is the most lasting upon the mind through life... Children have all confidence in their mothers; and if mothers would take proper pains, they can instill into the hearts of their children what they please. You will, no doubt, recollect reading, in the Book of Mormon, of two thousand young men, who were brought up to believe that, if they put their whole trust in God, and served Him, no power would overcome them. You also recollect reading of them going out to fight, and so bold were they, and so mighty their faith, that it was impossible for their enemies to slay them. This power and faith they obtained through the teachings of their mothers. Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses 1:66-70)

There is a spirit working among the Saints to educate their own offspring. If our children will be all we will have for a foundation of glory in eternity, how needful that they be properly trained... There are wolves among us in sheep's clothing ready to lead astray our little ones... Wolves do not devour old sheep when there are any young ones. I have herded sheep long enough to know that. Look after your children. John Taylor (Collected Discourses 2:138.)

We feel that the time has arrived when the proper education of our children should be taken in hand by us as a people. Religious training is practically excluded from the District Schools. The perusal of books that we value as divine records is forbidden. Our children, if left to the training they receive in these schools, will grow up entirely ignorant of these principles of salvation for which the Latter-day Saints have made so many sacrifices. To permit this condition of things to exist among us would be criminal. The desire is universally expressed by all thinking people in the Church that we should have schools where the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants can be used as text books, and where the principles of our religion may form a part of the teaching of the schools. Wilford Woodruff (Messages of the First Presidency, 3:168)

We have given our public schools a great trust; and have endowed them with tremendous power. Our children are in their keeping during most of the formative years of life. As the schools teach so will the coming generation think and act. The conditions in our land today, good or bad, may well be laid at the doors of our schools, which nourished us in our immaturity with ideals which in our maturity are being translated into action... If the schools shall be powerful factors in building defenses against evil, and in preparing against the enemy, they must face about from traditional views and give undivided attention on the one hand to moral and spiritual training, and on the other to practical education. Such teaching, for that matter, has been the counsel and advice of the Church from the beginning. Never was it needed more than now. John A. Widstoe (CR, October 1940, p.62-65)

We urge families to protect their children in every way possible. We live in a permissive world, but we must make certain that we do not become part of that permissive world... The home is the teaching situation." Spencer W. Kimball (Ensign, Nov. 1974, p. 7)

Since public schools are supported by taxation, parents are compelled to finance them. Even though the law may allow them to send their children to private schools, in order to do so they must support two educational systems at once, and this the vast majority of them feel themselves unable to do. Since the law compels them to go to some school, the net effect of all this is to force nearly all children into the public system. Therefore, those who favor socialized education take the position that the state and not the parents should have the responsibility of training children during a certain period of their lives. Nor should it be imagined that the parent can control the education of his child in the public system. When the state hires the teachers, selects the courses and textbooks, and dictates where the child shall attend, it is impossible for individual preferences to be respected regarding these vital matters. (The Great and Abominable Church of the Devil, p. 134) H. Verlan Andersen

The Lord holds parents personally accountable for the teaching of their children and if they fail to discharge this duty properly, the sins of the children rest upon the parents (D&C 68:25, 2 Nephi 4:4-6). If parents are to be held accountable, then they must be given the right to control what is taught to their children and who teaches them. Both of these rights are denied under the typical laws providing for public schools. (The Book of Mormon and the Constitution, p. 185) H. Verlan Andersen
The tenth plank in Karl Marx's Manifesto for destroying our kind of civilization advocated the establishment of "free education for all children in public schools." There were several reasons why Marx wanted government to run the schools. Dr. A. A. Hodge pointed out one of them when he said, "It is capable of exact demonstration that if every party in the State has the right of excluding from public schools whatever he does not believe to be true, then he that believes most must give way to him that believes least, and then he that believes least must give way to him that believes absolutely nothing, no matter in how small a minority the atheists or agnostics may be. It is self-evident that on this scheme, if it is consistently and persistently carried out in all parts of the country, the United States system of national popular education will be the most efficient and widespread instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen."
Ezra Taft Benson (in Conference Report, October 1970, p. 25)

I love the idea of religious and secular education going hand in hand, and that's what I try to accomplish with our home school. I firmly believe that a secular education does you no good if you aren't educated spiritually, just as I believe that reading is absolutely essential to everything else you do. Our home school is a religious institution first and foremost. We add math, reading, and everything else on top of the religion. There is no other school organization that will provide that kind of concentration on the religious aspect of the education. I want my children to have the freedom to ask religious questions at any time of the day or night, and not have to save them for when they get home from school. I want to incorporate principles of the creation in to our science lessons so we can express appreciation for God's hand as we examine the rocks He formed and the oceans He gave us. It is entirely possible and appropriate to study science and religion at the same time. God is the author of science.

I'm sorry that those who oppose home school have had such rotten experiences with it. I'm sorry that they feel the need to so vehemently oppose it. I, for one, have had marvelous experiences in my own school career and am enjoying them with my children. I have no doubt that they'll grow up to be well-adjusted, well-read, well-educated adults who will make a positive impact on this world.


A. Riley said...

I can understand how you feel. One of my biggest pet peeves is judgementalness. Is that a word? People being judgemental.

Anyway, each family should know what is best for their family. But no matter what type of schooling you choose for your children, you shouldn't accept that as being enough.

If a person doesn't think public schooling does enough for their children, they should supplement it. Talk with them about what they did, what did they learn. Have educational games around or go to museums, etc.

You can't just sit back and hope that whatever type of schooling they have will be good enough. You have to be pro-active as a parent.

Not everyone can afford private school, not everyone has the ambititon or know how to home school, not everyone wants their children in public school.

I think the one thing is common that most parents have though, is that they want their children to learn and succeed in life.

Schooling isn't the onnly determination of how a child turns out. It's the family they are with, the friends they choose, the experiences they have, their personality they have, the religion in their lives. Like they say, it takes a village to raise a child.

Okay, is this long enough? I guess I just want to make sure it to come out right. Hopefully it makes sense and is understandable what I am trying to say.

Karlene said...

Great comments--and great quotes. Of course, there will be some people who think you took them out of context and that they in no way serve as a support to the idea of home schooling...

When I home schooled, the most common argument against it was that home schooled kids are socially backwards and my kids would turn out weird. Like public school is the ONLY place kids can learn socialization skills? NOT. It's up to the parent to provide a variety of ways for their children to learn to socialize with people outside the family.

My answer was always, children will be as weird as their parents are. Weirdness is a learned skill. Perhaps my children were doomed from the very beginning, but that's a whole 'nother conversation. Anyway, there are lots of socially inept kids in the public schools. They would be the ones in trench coats, carrying guns...

Charlotte said...

I wasn't home schooled, and I only know a few people who are home schooling their children right now. But, I do agree that it wouldn't hurt any of us to have a little more tolerance. We all have choices, and I think by and large most people do the very best they can with what they have and what they are. That kind of effort definitely deserves respect, in my opinion.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I got ya, A. Riley! :)

Karlene, there are people who will argue over anything. I tend to ignore them. :) But at any rate, I didn't mean for these quotes to necessarily back up the homeschooling issue, but more to support my feelings that more needs to be done with the public education system and that I'm not a total quack for wanting to keep my children out of it. I didn't find any quotes that specifically said "Thou shalt homeschool." Although it wouldn't surprise me if someday . . .

Thanks for your comments, Charlotte!

Julie Wright said...

argh Tristi. I am so saddened by the nonpassing of that proposition. It would not affect me since I live in a rural area where alternative schools are not an option, but I saw the greater good in it. I think the school systems are pretty high handed with our children and I am all for anything that puts the parents back in control rather than the state. Loved your quotes.

Misty said...

I think the judgment can always be felt both ways. I think women get wrapped up in doing what is right for their family, but don't see that doesn't necessarily apply to all families in general. I have felt the sting of that judgment over and over again, living in Utah. I didn't breastfeed, and I don't home school. I firmly believe that it is the individual family that has to decide for itself what is best for themselves. I also don't like feeling "less then" or "less wholesome" because I have chosen differently for my children, which, has, indeed, always been the right decision for MY family. For instance, why should I feel the scorn of "better" women that breastfeed when I chose to feed my child in a way that gave me joy?? Why should I have to stand up and shout - - "I was molested as a child, and therefore breastfeeding is a trigger to those horrid memories."!! I think we all could stand for more kindness, fairness, and love towards each other and the choices we make for our families, because in the end, aren't we trying to make it to the same place?? Any woman who is reaching for the goal to have their child feel safe, loved, and whole, under the guidance of their Lord and Savior has my vote.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Misty, you could not be more right. We all have to let each other made the choices that are best for us, and we shouldn't have to explain why we've made the choices we have. That's between us and the Lord, not between us and the mother-in-law and the next door neighbor and the gossipy co-worker.

Rachelle said...

I really enjoyed all of your quotes, what wonderful insights. I wanted to ask you if there is a good website about home schooling you could refer me to. This is a source of constant worry for me and I'm trying to figure out what to do. I have found that asking questions has given me a much broader viewpoint and I no longer think that home schooling is "wierd", it actually is an option instead of some crazy thing country bumpkins do. :)

Ronda Hinrichsen said...

Good blog, Tristi, and I enjoyed reading your comments. I--please don't hate me for this--didn't vote for referendum one, but my decision had nothing to do with homeschoolers. Most, but not all, of the homeschooled children I know have been wonderfully well educated. I also see how "unfair" taxes may seem to those who homeschool or attend private school, but I simply didn't feel this proposal was the answer to our education system's problems. But then, that's just me.

Rebecca Talley said...

I teach all of my kids to read before entering school because I want to make sure they know such an important skill. I get flack all the time for not sending my kids to preschool or kindergarten.

I have homeschooled in the past. I loved homeschooling my kids and spending that extra time with them, but circumstances changed and they went back into public school (far ahead of their peers).

I, too, think it is a decision each family should make based on what best fits their circumstances. I don't think anyone should stand in judgment of anyone else.

An Ordinary Mom said...

Fabulous post! I am not a home schooler myself, but I applaud everyone I know who is. For me and my family, public school has worked out very well. I just wish we could all learn to be more respectful towards each other.

"I mean, there are nerds and dweebs all over the place -- you can't confine them to just one demographic." Great quote :) !!

Laurie said...

Tristi, I enjoyed this post! Thanks for sharing. I have homeschooled for the past 4 years and this year family circumstances were that I felt my children would do better in public school. Yes, they have gotten a huge education in what public school is all about. I miss having them home but now I'm afraid to bring them back home. I'm not sure I can do it again. I would love to hear more about your homeschooling education and how you currently homeschool your children. Do you follow any style? Somedays I really question my decisions. Today is one of them. This comment isn't about the vote not passing. I don't live in Utah so I'm clueless as to what that is all about but I am a homeschool use-to-be and wanna-be again and I love reading your blog so any advice you could share, I would love to hear!

Shanna Blythe said...

Enjoyed your comments. I'm going to be a teacher in the public education system, but I am all for parents home-schooling their children if that is what is right.

I know about this one student who has so much going on in her life that it would be better for her to be home-schooled, but she isn't and I have no idea why.

My sister also is home-schooling her oldest child for a variety of reasons.

What it comes down to is people being judgmental. What is right for you might not be right for another person, yet we have people who believe that their way is the ONLY way.

Anyway. Thanks for the post!

Keeley said...

Tristi, what a wonderful post! Thank you so very much. =)

I had no idea you were homeschooled - WOW what amazing pioneers your parents were.

Another question: Could you let me know what programmes/texts/whatever you do to teach writing? I'm feeling really inadequate in that area.

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

I'm with you all the way, Tristi.

We really missed you last night. Please put January 10th down for lunch with the Blogging Babes. Deets on my blog.

Misty said...

I have a post on my new blog called "Starting From Scratch". That is the best in sight as to why I felt like my new address was a better fit. Living In Spin Cycle in your side bar is just fine. I have a link to my new blog address in my final post at my old address!!

Jen said...

I'm dying laughing at Karlene's comment about children being as weird as their parents & it being a "learned skill." Oh. My.

So true.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Yes, Karlene did phrase that very well, didn't she? :)

Tristi Pinkston said...

Yes, Karlene did phrase that very well, didn't she? :)

Tristi Pinkston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CompleteLee Blogger said...

Great quotes! Thanks for finding and sharing them.

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