Red Echo

December 23, 2010

Home schooling infographic: numbers, results, averages. There’s nothing too surprising here, but it’s always interesting to get an outside view into one of the more unusual features of my childhood.

I have mixed feelings about the whole anti-institution of modern home-schooling. It definitely worked well for me, and I feel fortunate to have had two intelligent, well-educated, well-read parents willing to pour so much time into teaching. I’m reluctant to advocate it for anyone else, though: the features which make home-schooling work are hard to find outside the fundamentalist Christian subculture where it thrives.


  1. Thanks for this, Mars!

    Comment by Jenna! — December 23, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

  2. Yeah. I definitely credit homeschooling for the rather unusual, but very VERY beneficial to my career, tools and dispositions to solid and continuous self-education. Despite lacking an actual degree (though I did nearly complete my Bachelor of Music, and ditched it because I was a stupid 18-year-old… and a degree that requries 3 hours of practice a day in addition to homework, my career, and taking care of my family is a bit hard to return to… I forget, did you take a degree, or did you just sort of leap into a great career like me? You certainly were well on your way before any degree) I make a damn fine living in a technical career I love, and have been able to make rather large leaps in my career in a short time (my salary is more than double what it was when I started about ten years ago). I think as a means to producing educated people, it’s head and shoulders above typical schooling, public or private. Even for large families like yours and mine, the ratio of teachers to students is much much better than can be provided elsewhere (apart from private tutelage). Besides, once you reached a certain level, they were basically just assigning you reading and checking your work: at that point, it’s all self-education. You learn not only the “3 Rs”, but also the oft-neglected faculty of actually how to learn.

    I wish I could homeschool our kids. But neither Sara nor I have the time; and we actually tried it with David, but his ADHD (and no, it’s most certainly not simply normal childhood fritteriness and energy – it renders him incapable of learning) makes it very very difficult for him to sit and follow directions (which, granted, has been a problem at regular school too). He has treatment for that now, so maybe it’d be different, but it still requires major sacrifice on the part of the parents, and we simply can’t manage. However, I will try to find extra-curricular learning activities during their breaks (the current winter one, for example).

    On the other hand, yes: by far, the most common reason home-schooling is practiced, is to “protect” your children from the lies espoused by the proponents of “that great hoax, evolution”.

    It makes me pretty mad when I think of how far that delusion goes. Of course, I was convinced, even well into my adult years, that evolution was an obvious lie. “It’s like a printing press exploding and resulting in a dictionary”, etc. “Lucy’s discoverer even admitted making her skeleton out of bits found miles apart and at different layers!” That one still incenses me, how blatant a lie it is, based on a poor ability to read, and yet it’s STILL claimed in all the creationist/”intelligent design” literature. And I believed the lies about evolution, and what its proponents claim, because the claims they tore to shreds were _clearly_ flimsy. And why bother reading the actual (non-filtered) scientific literature, when I already knew what their claims were? It never occurred to me that everything I read was either an egregious lie, or the result of severe ignorance. Nor that deliberate deception or criminal negligence wouldn’t necessarily be required of my direct sources of information (mainly, my parents), whom I trusted, but could be primarily on the part of those whom _they_ trusted (or even those whom the ones they trusted, trusted).

    In some sense, I’m jealous you came to realize reality much earlier than I did. On the other hand, I’m definitely not jealous of the fact that you had to suffer quietly while still living at home for, what, at least a few years? while you continued to be spoon-fed garbage. I’d love to see you write a little more about your experience, and what chances of circumstance led you to encounter the right information, or approach that information with the right attitude of openness. I mean, sure, it’s easy to say, “Creation by a magic man, birth of a god through a virgin, who saved billions of people from eternal torture at the bargain price of one man’s three days, said torture having been decreed by a god who loves us like his own children? What’s not to believe?”… but I think we both know that religious belief has a deeply insidious tendency to slip below our powers of reason and critical thinking, holding itself apart from our usual skeptical faculties, and even turning ourselves against our own powers of logic, so it’s really not so simple a matter as “realizing the illogical claims of fundamentalist Christianity”. (“The God Virus” makes an interesting case to this effect, though I didn’t actually read all that much of it, and it didn’t seem like particularly engaging or interesting writing on the whole, so I won’t really recommend it.)

    Comment by Micah Cowan — December 23, 2010 @ 6:52 pm