August 26, 2019

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine on California

This is a good summary of the situation for home educators in California:The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Home Where They Belong
March 10, 2008
SPECIAL BULLETIN
The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce vs. Society of Sisters, 1922) What In the World Is Going On In California?
By Karen Braun

By now, most homeschoolers across the country have heard about the California appellate court ruling handed down on February 28 ordering the children of Phillip and Mary Long to attend public school or a legally qualified private school. The judge’s ruling surprised everyone and sparked a firestorm of concern among homeschoolers nationwide, many wondering if homeschooling had become illegal in California.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine staff has been following the developments since World Net Daily first broke the story a week ago. In this Homeschool Minute, we would like to provide a brief summary of the events and offer links to various perspectives to help homeschoolers understand this ruling, how it impacts homeschoolers in California, and what homeschoolers across the nation can do to help.

To gain a better understanding of this case, it is necessary to note that prior to this ruling, the Long family had been involved with the juvenile court system regarding the care of their children. Such proceedings are confidential, and in most cases, a court-appointed attorney is provided to represent the interests of the minor children. The attorney representing two of the children was not satisfied with a ruling made by Superior Court Judge Stephen Marpet, who found the children’s education to be “meager” but determined that Phillip and Mary Long have a constitutional right to school their children in their own home. The attorney for the children brought an appeal before the Second Court of Appeals of California.

The California Second Appellate Court in Los Angeles found that the Longs had not demonstrated that any of the exemptions to California’s compulsory attendance applied to their children. The court reversed the finding of the Superior Court and ordered the children to attend public or a “legally qualified” private school. The court remanded the case back to the lower court for a hearing to determine if the family was in compliance with the law. The family plans on appealing this ruling decision to the California Supreme Court.

Read the complete court opinion here.

The ruling spurred reactions from attorneys representing various homeschool groups and interested parties across the country. The Homeschool Minute provides these links for informational purposes related to this case and does not necessarily endorse these sites.

Sunland Christian School. The Long children were enrolled in this school.

Pacific Justice Institute (PJI). These attorneys are representing Sunland Christian School and advising the family.

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). HSLDA presents several appeal options to reverse this ruling or diminish its impact upon California homeschoolers. There is a petition available for those interested in supporting the HSLDA’s move to depublish the ruling.

National Home Education Legal Defense (NHELD). Attorney Deborah Stevenson offers a detailed and informative analysis of this case.

Several homeschool groups in California issued statements concerning this ruling:

Homeschool Association of California

California Homeschool Network

Christian Home Educators of California

Private and Home Educators of California

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement in support of homeschooling:

“Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their children. Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will.”

By the end of a long news week, the court decision reached the broader Christian community through a radio broadcast by Focus on the Family. Dr. Dobson discussed the California court case with several prominent guests.

From All of Us at TOS

We hope this information has helped you gain a greater understanding of the facts surrounding this case and its impact on homeschooling in California.

The Homeschool Minute encourages you to pray for the family and those involved in this situation. Several of the websites present ideas about what you can do to help. We encourage you to prayerfully consider those ideas, to do all that you can to help retain the freedom to homeschool in our country, and to pass this message along to others. We will be following this case and will provide further updates as information becomes available.

Join us again on Wednesday with our normally scheduled topic. And now as much as ever, be sure to enjoy every minute!

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Home Education and Socialisation

Home Education and Socialisation
by Craig S. Smith

Without a doubt this is the one question, reservation and objection that is raised most often. It is ususlly the one raised first. It is often the one most hotly debated. And common experience among home educators is that socialisation, rather than academic achievement, is the issue over which friends, relatives and educational authorities show the most concern.

What is it, how and where does it take place?

“The earlier you institutionalise your children,
the earlier they will institutionalise you.”

–Developmental Psychologist Dr. Raymond Moore

Popular opinion assumes that children need long periods of interaction with a large group of age-segregated peers to acquire social skills. Now assuming that most of the time spent in the classroom is not spent in interacting but in paying attention to the teacher and doing the assigned work, where does most of the interaction take place? During lunch and break times, and before and after school. And who is supervising this interaction on the playground, on the school bus and on the streets to ensure that the right kind of socialisation is taking place? It is not the teachers but the children themselves. In the typical public school setting, children are being left to socialise themselves as best they can.

This fits in with today’s prevailing philosophy which holds that children are inherently good or perhaps neutral, like blank cassette tapes, and that left to themselves, they will inevitably develop and adapt toward the highest good attainable by the group as a whole. (Although it is unpopular to say so, when this is translated into practical reality it means conformity to the lowest common denominator.) This inevitable “upward” development and adaptation is an idea developed from the theories of evolution.

Unfortunately it was developed in the absense of a) other tenents of evolutionary thought, b) common experience and c) traditional Christian/Western wisdom, all of which contradict this foundational premise upon which our modern ideas of child socialisation are based.

Let us examine these three contradictions to the prevailing thoughts on socialisation:

a) Another tenent of evolution is the survival of the fittest. This is the law of the jungle, eat or be eaten, brute force prevails, might makes right. This is the tendency of children’s behaviour on the playground unless there are sufficient adults present to prevent it.

Even though children are infinitely varied, the socialisation at school causes them to conform to the codes dictated by their particular class or group. We have all witnessed the same phenomenon: There are the few at the top who are setting the pace and the codes, there are the vast numbers in the middle who quietly conform and try to keep out of harm’s way, and there are those at the bottom of the pecking order who are ostracised, victimised, bullied, teased, etc., because they do not conform in their dress, their size, their looks, their speech, their behaviour or whatever.

b) Common experience tells us this profound truth: Monkey see, monkey do. Children emulate the behaviour of those around them. If they spend most time around their friends, they copy them. If it is with the Ninja Turtles on TV, they will copy them. If they spend most time around their parents, they will emulate them.

Most parents know only too well the immediate results of this “copy cat” form of socialisation. After lengthy play with their friends, children can be “hyper” and disrespectful and try out the unacceptable speech or actions they have just picked up from their peers. How true is the ancient proverb which says, “He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (1)

c) Christian wisdom says that children are not basically good or neutral but are fallen, that is, they possess an inherent tendency toward foolishness which manifests itself in temper tantrums, disobedience, disrespect, dishonesty, destructiveness, etc. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” In other words, children do not need other children to teach them how to be children. Instead they need loving, responsive adults committed to teaching them, training them, giving them the discipline and setting them the right example in the social graces.

Children do not of themselves learn the social arts of respect, honesty, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfullness, manners, or self control; they must have consciencious adults to model, discipline, teach and train them to internalise these behaviour traits as habits.

Origins of Modern Socialisation Theories
Critics of home education claim that such children will not be the same as their conventionally schooled friends and will not fit into the peer group. The origins of this concern are somewhat sinister.

First there was Horace Mann, an early leader in the public school movement. He favoured the Prussian patterns of state education because, as he put it, it was devised “more for the purpose of modifying the sentiments and opinions of the rising generation according to a certain government standard than as a mere means of diffusing elementary knowledge.”

Then there was John Dewey, the father of progressive education. He saw truth not in absolutes, but in terms of universal ideas developed and agreed to by a group. A “thesis” or proposed truism would emerge from the group. It would at some stage meet with an opposing idea, an “antithesis.” Debate and conflict would ensue until a compromise or “synthesis” was reached. This synthesis then became the thesis and the whole process would be repeated.

Truth to Dewey was derived by a distillation process within the group. To educators like him, the interaction of children with others in order to help distill these universal ideas of truth is education.

Both Horace Mann and John Dewey believed that this type of education needed to be led by an elite, those educators who had been instrumental in the formation of public education policy, who could gently lead others through this “distillation” process. To have children who did not or would not fit in with the group would be to hamper the distillation of truth, as directed by this elite.

We find, then, that this concern over home educated children not being socialised is actually a political concern that they will not be as easily manipulated by the elite as those who do fit into this all-important group.(2)

Group Socialisation
The following comments are by Dr. James C. Dobson who is Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Southern California School of Medicine; President of Focus on the Family Magazine and “Focus on the Family” radio programmes which are heard daily on 1400 radio facilities around the world; and author of best-seller, Dare to Discipline.

“I have been increasingly concerned during the past 10 years about the damage done to our children by one another. The epidemic of inferiority and inadequacy seen during the teen years is rooted in the ridicule, rejection, and social competition experienced by vulnerable young children. They are simply not ready to handle the threats to the self-concept that are common in any elementary school setting.

“I have seen kids dismantle one another, while parents and teachers passively stood by and observed the “socialisation” process. I’ve then watched the recipients of this pressure begin to develop defense mechanisms and coping strategies that should never be necessary in a young child.

“Dozens of investigations have demonstrated, (at least to my satisfaction), the error of the notion that children must be exposed to other children in order to be properly socialised. I just don’t believe it. In fact, the opposite is true. They need the security and love of parental protection and guidance until their self-concepts are more stabilised and established.

“In summary, I believe the home school is the wave of the future. In addition, it provides a third alternative to a humanistic public school and an expensive or non-existent Christian school.(3)

Socialisation and the Occurance of Genius
In 1960 Harold G. McCurdy examined “The childhood pattern of genius” in a study supported by the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, D.C. In summary, McCurdy wrote:

“The typical developmental pattern includes as important aspects:

a) a high degree of attention focused upon the child by parents and other adults, expressed in intensive educational measures and, usually, abundant love;

b) isolation from other children, especially outside the family; and

c) a rich efflorescence of fantasy as a reaction to the preceeding conditions.

“It might be remarked that the mass education of our public school system is, in its way, a vast experiment on the effect of reducing all three factors to a minimum; accordingly, it should tend to suppress the occurance of genius.”(4)

Socialisation Statistics
Another answer to those critics who argue that home educated students are deprived socially is provided by Dr. John Wesley Taylor V. He used the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale, one of the best self-concept instruments available for measuring socialisation, to evaluate 224 home schooling participants aged 9 through 18. Over half scored in the top 10% of the scale. 77.7% ranked in the top 25% of the scale. Only 10.3% scored below the norm.

Home schooled children score signifigantly higher than their conventionally schooled peers in this measurement of socialisation.(5)

Character Development
Dr. Raymond Moore, Developmental psychologist and early childhood educational specialist from the Moore Foundation of Camas, Washington, has developed a three point recipe for sound character development:

1) An academic regimen which takes into consideration the individual child’s readiness to learn as effected by the child’s physical, emotional and intellectual maturity levels; his aptitudes, special gifts and abilities, learnig style, etc.

2) An element of work in the daily programme which may range from simple routine chores to a regular income-generating cottage industry.

3) Service to others such as active membership in voluntary service organisations and visiting, baking, running errands for shut-ins, the infirm or hospitalised.

Dr. Moore maintains that the time and logistics of public schools and the need to integrate all three points into a unified lifestyle or “family corporation” indicates home-based education as the ideal setting for sound, all-round character development.(6)

Some critics of home education paint charicatures of what they say the home-educated brand of socialisation will produce: introverted whimps and social incompetents. If we ignore for a moment the other factors involved in character development such as family background and support, it must be pointed out that these charicatures are already known in society and that they are products of the public schools. So too in fact are other social blights such as irresponsible hooligans, unmotivated slobs, gang members, vandals, and all the other social misfits who have graduated from the public schools’ socialisation programme to subsequently be sent to our country’s prisons, fill them to overflowing, and are now spilling back into society producing ever increasing crime rates.

If we now return to what are probably the major factors in character development, namely family background and support, and assert that increased hooliganism and crime is a result of disintegrating families, then we also have to assert that the schools are not able to correct this trend. Home-based education, however, is an ideal situation for correcting this downward trend as families are of necessity drawn together to strive in unison toward the goal of educating and training each other for the whole of life.

Negative Peer Pressure
Cornell University’s Urie Bronfenfrenner points out the negative socialising effects of the peer group. The knuckling under of children to their agemates in habits, manners, finger signs, obscenities, rivalry and ridicule almost certainly infects all children who spend more of their waking days with their peers than their parents, as is usually the case with conventionally schooled children.

They will become dependent upon their age-segregated peer group, and tend to be alienated from adults and others not in their age group. He says that this robs children of 1) self worth, 2) optimism, 3) respect for parents and 4) even trust in their peers.

Furthermore, this does not happen because peers are so attractive, but because the children perceive they are to some degree rejected by their parents.(7)

Early Childhood Schooling
Martin Engle, who then headed the National Early Childhood Demonstration Centre, vowed that parents who insist on early schooling, for all its claimed advantages to their children, are either deceived or deceiving their children; and that in fact, the children feel rejected.(8)

He is supported by the late John Bowlby, London psychiatrist who headed the World Health Organisation early childhood programme. This rejection, suggests Dr. Bowlby, often amounts to a serious form of child abuse. We are depriving them of the security they need when we institutionalise them before they are ready. (Dr. Moore adds that the earlier you institutionalise your children, the earlier they will institutionalise you.) Says Dr. Bowlby, “…mothers who care for their children well are providing an irreplaceable service and one that society should hold in highest regard and be thankful for.”(9)

Boys and Girls Mature at Different Rates
The negative socialsing effects of age-segregating youngsters into classes, putting all boys and girls of the same age into the same class, is especially damaging to the boys. We require boys to enter school at the same age as girls although we know that boys trail girls in mental and emotional maturity by about a year at school’s start. Boys tend to be more likely than girls to fail, become delinquent or aqutely hyperactive.

Michigan State University family ecologist Anne Soderman says, “Our failure to apply in the classroom what we have learned through research is evident in the secondary schools–boys outnumber girls 13 to 1 in remedial classes and by as much as 8 to 1 in classes for the emotionally impaired.”(10)

Conclusions
Basically, the socialisation argument against home education is one big myth. What statistics are available indicate that socialisation at home is in fact signifigantly superior to that proffered in public schools (Dr. John Taylor’s use of Piers-Harris scale.) And the results of the schools’ socialisation efforts observable in society today are bemoaned by just about everybody involved.

Notes
(1) Proverbs 13:20

(2) Theresa Rodman. The Teaching Home, Portland, Oregon: Vol. II, No. 4, Aug/Sep 1984.

(3) Abstracted from a personal letter to a professional collegue who had questioned Dr. Dobson’s stance on homeschooling, quoted in The Teaching Home , Portland, Oregon: Vol. I, No. 2, June 1983.

(4) Quoted in Doctoral thesis of Brian D. Ray, President, National Home Education Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, 29 July 1986.

(5) John Wesley Taylor V. “Self Concept in Home Schooling Children”, Doctoral dissertation, Andrews University, Michigan, May 1986.

(6) Raymond S. Moore. “The Educated Beautiful”, Kappa Delta Pi RECORD, summer 1987.

(7) Urie Bronfenbrenner. Two Worlds of Childhood: U.S. and U.S.S.R., New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, 1970.

(8) Martin Engle. “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Golden Hair: Some Thoughts on early Childhood Education.” Unpublished manuscript, National Demonstration Center in Early Childhood Education, U.S. Office of Education, Washington, D.C.

(9) John Bowlby. Maternal Care and Mental Health , Geneva World Health Organisation, 1952.

(10) Ann Soderman. Article in Education Week, 14 March 1984.

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Home Discipleship

Home Discipleship

Posted in Keystone Magazine Articles

by Barbara Smith

Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

We find that we are not home schooling or even home educating our children now but are discipling our children. We began back in 1985/6 by bringing school into our home. This current movement of home schooling began to mushroom back in 1983 in the States after an interview between Dr Dobson and Dr Raymond Moore on “Focus on the Family”. So we were there near the beginning. There was not much in the way of curriculum back then, only what was used in the schools. Local head masters gave out exemptions in those days, so the goverment had no idea how many children were being home schooled then.

We knew God was calling us to home school, but it was a new thing, there was not much information around at the time and the curriculum available was designed for schools. I thought that my education was lacking but Craig’s was good. His job was such that he was available to teach the children, so he taught our oldest three. For two years we struggled using a curriculum that our children were not responding too well to. Finally Craig took a child on his knee and worked through the workbook verbally: doing it this way caused them to get through it in a much shorter amount of time. We found that our children loved to be read to and to read. They especially loved to hear stories and would listen for hours, for Craig and the children would discuss all sorts of things from the reading they were doing. Gradually we realised that the school curriculum was not helping us at all, so we jumped ship and put together our own programme and began home educating our children instead of home schooling them.

I thought that you had to be one step ahead of your children. That meant you’d have to know everything you were teaching them and spend hours preparing each lesson. With the large numbers of families beginning to home educate, many more minds were exploring these issues. Home educators soon worked out (or perhaps simply rediscovered a principle lost when compulsory schooling took over in most countries) that one did not have to be one step ahead but could be more effective when learning along with the children.

As our personal circumstances changed, I also gained the confidence that I could home educate the children, so took on the task with our youngest three in 1997. I was challenged and have been influenced by the Charotte Mason and the Christian Classical approach, and later on by Diana Waring and family.

Our concern is that there are about 1000 children beginning home education every year in New Zealand and nearly 1000 children going back into the schools. We reckon this is largely because of stress and burnout of parents trying to keep too much of a school routine at home. This does not have to be. In a United Kingdom study of learning methods, Alan Thomas found that “Families starting out on home-based education who at first adopted formal methods of learning found themselves drawn more and more into less formal learning. Families who started out with informal learning at the outset found themselves drawn into even more informal learning. The methods that both groups grew into had much more in common with the method of younger children. The sequencing of learning material, the bedrock of learning in school, was seen increasingly as unnecessary and unhelpful.” Then he goes on to say, “This study challenges the almost universally held view that children of school age need to be formally taught if they are to learn. In school this may be the case, but at home they can learn just by living.”1

When do children learn the most? Yes, during the ages of 0-5. Do parents need a curriculm for this? No, although some within the teachers’ unions are trying their best to change this. Children ask lots of questions during this time which very effectively fills their current learning gaps. Tell me, do you have no learning gaps? Of course you do. When we began home schooling, we thought we needed to use a packaged curriculum so that we would not miss anything that our children should be learning, so that they would keep up with everyone else, so that they would have no learning gaps. Do the curriculums teach our children everything? No! So even the best curriculum will still leave learning gaps!!

How exciting to read Alan Thomas’s research and to put it together with our own experience and that of other home educators around us. What we find we are doing now is to extend the “natural” learning atmospere we have with our 0-5 year olds through to our 9 year olds. “You don’t need 15 years to educate somebody but you need 15 years to socialise somebody,” says Sir Neil Waters, past vice-chancellor of Massey University and NZQA’s Board Chairman.2 Yes, he is right…you can teach your child all the tools they need for learning in 2-4 years. (More on this in a future article.)

Since the home schooling movement has been around for 18 or so years, there are children now in their 20s who have been totally home educated. There are a lot of parents who have learned a great deal over this time about what home education is and isn’t. Some are even writing books and curriculum from their experiences, meaning for the first time ever there are books and curriculum written by home educators for home educators who understand what home education is all about. On top of that there are home educators who have written these materials from a Biblical Christian worldview.

One of these books is Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson3 who say, “You may ask how we know we are cooperating with God’s design when home schooling, per se, is never mentioned in Scripture. It’s because home education is not our primary goal at home – home discipleship is, and home education is simply the natural extension of home discipleship….God designed the home for discipleship, and when we follow God’s patterns and prinicples, the natural and normal fruit will be not only spiritual growth and maturity, but intellectual growth and maturity as well…. Your home is a dynamic living and learning environment designed by God for the very purpose of raising your children to become mature, useful disciples of Jesus. When you begin to understand the dynamic, you will find a freedom you never knew was possible in your home education. Home-centered learning helps you discover that dynamic so your home will work for you in discipling and educating your children.

“Home-centered learning is not just a new perspective on your home and family, though, it is also a new perspective on your children. Not only did God design home and family to be a learning environment, but He also designed children to learn naturally within that environment. Because children are made in God’s image, they are already intelligent, creative and curious. No matter what you do (or don’t do!), God has already put within them the drive to explore, discover, question and to learn….Your role as a home educating parent, then, is to provide a rich and lively living and learning environment in which your children can exercise their God-given drive to learn, and then to train and instruct your children within the natural context of your home and family life. It’s that simple.”

Discipling our children is a whole-of-life activity, not necessarily confined to a strict timetable, text books or so many pages in a workbook per day. Such an approach we have found to be far less stressful as well as a lot more fun, and we suspect that if more home educating parents caught on to this idea, fewer would be inclined to chuck it in after only a couple of years.

References:

1. Home-Based Education – Not “Does it work?” but “Why does it work so well?” by Roland Meighan, University of Nottingham School of Education.

2. NZQA’s magazine LEARN, Issue 10, November 1996, p8. as quoted in Preparing for an ERO Review by Craig S Smith, available from Home Education Foundation, PO Box 9064, Palmerston North.

3. Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson, available from: Christian Education Services, 55 Richards Ave, Forrest Hill, North Shore City, or visit website http://www.wholeheart.orgFrom Keystone Magazine

July 2001, Vol. VII No. 4

Editor: Craig Smith

PO Box 9064

Palmerston North

Phone: (06) 357-4399

Fax: (06) 357-4389

Email: hedf@xtra.co.nz

Webpage: www.hef.org.nz

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“What About Socialization?”

“What About Socialization?”

Posted in Tough Questions

Without a doubt this is the one question, reservation and objection that is raised most often. It is usually the one raised first. It is often the one most hotly debated. And common experience among homeschoolers is that socialisation, rather than academic achievement, is the issue over which friends, relatives and educational authorities show the most concern.

Popular opinion assumes that children need long periods of interaction with a large group of age-segregated peers to acquire social skills. Now assuming that most of the time spent in the classroom is not spent in interacting but in paying attention to the teacher and doing the assigned work, where does most of the interaction take place? During lunch and break times, and before and after school. And who is supervising this interaction on the playground, on the school bus and on the streets to ensure that the right kind of socialisation is taking place? It is not the teachers but the children themselves. In the typical public school setting, children are being left to socialise themselves as best they can.

This fits in with today’s prevailing philosophy which holds that children are inherently good or perhaps neutral, like blank cassette tapes, and that left to themselves, they will inevitably develop and adapt toward the highest good attainable by the group as a whole. (Although it is unpopular to say so, when this is translated into practical reality it means conformity to the lowest common denominator.) This inevitable “upward” development and adaptation is an idea developed from the theories of evolution.

Unfortunately it was developed in the absense of a) other tenets of evolutionary thought, b) common experience and c) traditional Christian/Western wisdom, all of which contradict this foundationaI premise upon which our modern ideas of child socialisation are based.

Let us examine these three contradictions to the prevailing thoughts on socialisation:

a) Another tenet of evolution is the survival of the fittest. This is the law of the jungle, eat or be eaten, brute force prevails, might makes right. This is the tendency of children’s behaviour on the playground unless there are sufficient adults present to prevent it.

Even though children are infinitely varied, the socialisation at school causes them to conform to the codes dictated by their particular class or group. We have all witnessed the same phenomenon: There are the few at the top who are setting the pace and the codes, there are the vast numbers in the middle who quietly conform and try to keep out of harm’s way, and there are those at the bottom of the pecking order who are ostracised, victimised, bullied, teased, etc., because they do not conform in their dress, their size, their looks, their speech, their behaviour or whatever.

b) Common experience tells us this profound truth: Monkey see, monkey do. Children emulate the  behaviour of those around them. If they spend most time around their friends, they copy them. If it is with the Ninja Turtles on TV, they will copy them. If they spend most time around their parents, they will emulate them.

Most parents know only too well the immediate results of this “copy cat” form of socialisation. After lengthy play with their friends, children can be “hyper” and disrespectful and try out the unacceptable speech or actions they have just picked up from their peers. How true is the ancient proverb which says, “He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. ” 1

c) Christian wisdom says that children are not basically good or neutral but are fallen, that is, they possess an inherent tendency toward foolishness which manifests itself in temper tantrums, disobedience, disrespect, dishonesty, destructiveness, etc. Proverbs 22: 15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” In other words, children do not need other children to teach them how to be children. Instead they need loving, responsive adults committed to teaching them, training them, giving them the discipline and setting them the right example in the social graces.

Children do not of themselves learn the social arts of respect, honesty, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfullness, manners, or self control; they must have conscientious adults to model, discipline, teach and train them to internalise these behaviour traits as habits.

Critics of homeschooling claim that such children will not be the same as their conventionally schooled friends and will not fit into the peer group. The origins of this concern are somewhat sinister.

First there was Horace Mann, an early leader in the public school movement. He favoured the Prussian patterns of state education because, as he put it, it was devised “more for the purpose of modifying the sentiments and opinions of the rising generation according to a certain government standard than as a mere means of diffusing elementary knowledge. “

Then there was John Dewey, the father of progressive education. He saw truth not in absolutes, but in terms of universal ideas developed and agreed to by a group. A “thesis” or proposed truism would emerge from the group. It would at some stage meet with an opposing idea, an “antithesis.” Debate and conflict would ensue until a compromise or “synthesis” was reached. This synthesis then became the thesis and the whole process would be repeated. For those who don’t recognize it, this is classic Marxist dogma.

Truth to Dewey was derived by a distillation process within the group. To educators like him, the interaction of children with others in order to help distill these universal ideas of truth is education.

Both Horace Mann and John Dewey believed that this type of education needed to be led by an elite, those educators who had been instrumental in the formation of public education policy, who could gently lead others through this “distillation” process. To have children who did not or would not fit in with the group would be to hamper the distillation of truth, as directed by this elite.

We find, then, that this concern over homeschooled children not being socialised is actually a political concern that they will not be as easily manipulated by the elite as those who do fit into this all-important group.2 

The following comments are by Dr. James C. Dobson who is Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Southern California School of Medicine; President of Focus on the Family Magazine and Focus on the Family radio programmes which are heard daily on 1400 radio facilities around the world; and author of best-seller, Dare to Discipline.

I have been increasingly concerned during the past 10 years about the damage done to our children by one another. The epidemic of inferiority and inadequacy seen during the teen years is rooted in the ridicule, rejection, and social competition experienced by vulnerable young children. They are simply not ready to handle the threats to the self-concept that are common in any elementary school setting.

I have seen kids dismantle one another, while parents and teachers passively stood by and observed the “socialisation” process. I’ve then watched the recipients of this pressure begin to develop defense mechanisms and coping strategies that should never be necessary in a young child.

Dozens of investigations have demonstrated, (at least to my satisfaction), the error of the notion that children must be exposed to other children in order to be properly socialised. I just don’t believe it. In fact, the opposite is true. They need the security and love of parental protection and guidance until their self-concepts are more stabilised and established.

In summary, I believe the home school is the wave of the future. In addition, it provides a third alternative to a humanistic public school and an expensive or non-existent Christian school.3

In 1960 Harold G. McCurdy examined “The childhood pattern of genius” in a study supported by the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, D.C. In summary, McCurdy wrote:

The typical developmental pattern includes as important aspects:

(a) a high degree of attention focused upon the child by parents and other adults, expressed in intensive educational measures and, usually, abundant love;

(b) isolation from other children, especially outside the family; and

(c) a rich efflorescence of fantasy as reaction to the preceeding conditions.

It might be remarked that the mass education of our public school system is, in its way, a vast experiment on tbe effect of reducing all three factors to minimum; accordingly, it should tend to suppress the occurance of genius.4

Too right! Here’s a report from Tauranga that appeared in the Manawatu (NZ) Evening Standard of 16 March 1991: “A playground game involving sinking teeth into an unsuspecting school mate’s bottom has left five students suspended. In the game, tagged barracuda, victims are forced to the ground and restrained while attackers bite a buttock.”  Cute.

Another answer to those critics who argue that homeschooled students are deprived socially is provided by Dr. John Wesley Taylor V. He used the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale, one of the best self-concept instruments available for measuring socialisation, to evaluate 224 home schooling participants aged 9 through 18. Over half scored in the top 10% of the scale. 77.7% ranked in the top 25% of the scale. Only 10.3% scored below the norm.

Home schooled children score significantly higher than their conventionally schooled peers in this measurement of socialisation.5

Dr. Raymond Moore, Developmental psychologist and early childhood educational specialist from the Moore Foundation of Camas, Washington, has developed a three point recipe for sound character development:

1) An academic regimen which takes into consideration the individual child’s readiness to learn as effected by the child’s physical, emotional and intellectual maturity levels; his aptitudes, special gifts and abilities, learning style, etc.

2) An element of work in the daily programme which may range from simple routine chores to a regular income-generating cottage industry.

3) Service to others such as active membership in voluntary service organisations and visiting, baking, running errands for shut-ins, the infirm or hospitalised.

Dr. Moore maintains that the time and logistics of public schools and the need to integrate all three points into a unified lifestyle or “family corporation” indicates the homeschool as the ideal setting for sound, all-round character development.6

Some critics of homeschooling paint charicatures of what they say the homeshooling brand of socialisation will produce: introverted whimps and social incompetents. If we ignore for a moment the other factors involved in character development such as family background and support, it must be pointed out that these charicatures are already known in society and that they are products of the public schools. So too in fact are other social blights such as irresponsible hooligans, unmotivated slobs, gang members, vandals, and all the other social misfits who have graduated from the public schools’ socialisation programme to subsequently be sent to our country’s prisons, fill them to overflowing, and are now spilling back into society producing ever increasing crime rates.

If we now return to what are probably the major factors in character development, namely family background and support, and assert that increased hooliganism and crime is a result of disintegrating families, then we also have to assert that the schools are not able to correct this trend. Homeschooling, however, is an ideal situation for correcting this downward trend as families are of necessity drawn together to strive in unison toward the goal of educating and training each other for the whole of life.

Cornell University’s Urie Bronfenbrenner points out the negative socialising effects of the peer group. The knuckling under of children to their agemates in habits, manners, finger signs, obscenities, rivalry and ridicule almost certainly infects all children who spend more of their waking days with their peers than their parents, as is usually the case with conventionally schooled children. They will become dependent upon their age-segregated peer group, and tend to be alienated from adults and others not in their age group. He says that this robs children of 1) self worth, 2) optimism, 3) respect for parents and 4) even trust in their peers.

Furthermore, this does not happen because peers are so attractive, but because the children perceive they are to some degree rejected by their parents.7

Here is just one story illustrating the negative side of school socialisation that appeared in the Manawatu (NZ) Evening Standard of 19 February 1991: “During cross-examination, defence counsel Les Atkins QC played a rap tape made by the girl and her friend the same year as the alleged (sexual) offences. The tape contained obscenities as well as inferences about the girl’s current boyfriend’s sexuality. She said the obscenities on the tape sung by her had no meaning. Everyone at school used such language freely. “

Martin Engle, who then headed the National Early Childhood Demonstration Centre, vowed that parents who insist on early schooling, for all its claimed advantages to their children, are either deceived or deceiving their children; and that in fact, the children feel rejected.8

He is supported by the late John Bowlby, London psychiatrist who headed the World Health Organisation early childhood programme. This rejection, suggests Dr. Bowlby, often amounts to a serious form of child abuse. We are depriving them of the security they need when we institutionalise them before they are ready.  (Dr. Moore adds that the earlier you institutionalise your children, the earlier they will institutionalise you.) Says Dr. Bowlby, “…mothers who care for their children well are providing an irreplaceable service and one that society should hold in highest regard and be thankful for.”9

The negative socialising effects of age-segregating youngsters into classes, putting all boys and girls of the same age into the same class, is especially damaging to the boys. We require boys to enter school at the same age as girls although we know that boys trail girls in mental and emotional maturity by about a year at school’s start. Boys tend to be more likely than girls to fail, become delinquent or acutely hyperactive.

Michigan State University family ecologist Anne Soderman says, “Our failure to apply in the classroom what we have learned through research is evident in the secondary schools – boys outnumber girls 13 to 1 in remedial classes and by as much as 8 to 1 in classes for the emotionally impaired. ” 10

Conclusions

Basically, the socialisation argument against homeschooling is one big myth. What statistics are available indicate that homeschool socialisation is in fact significantly superior to that proffered in public schools (Dr. John Taylor’s use of Piers-Harris scale.) And the results of the schools’ socialisation efforts observable in society today are bemoaned by just about everybody involved.

Notes

(1) Proverbs 13:20

(2) Theresa Rodman. The Teaching Home, Portland, Oregon: Vol. II, No. 4, Aug/Sep 1984.

(3) Abstracted from a personal letter to a professional colleague who had questioned Dr. Dobson’s stance on homeschooling, quoted in The Teaching Home, Portland, Oregon: Vol. I, No. 2, June 1983.

(4) Quoted in Doctoral thesis of Brian D. Ray, President, National Home Education Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, 29 July 1986.

(5) John Wesley Taylor V. “Self Concept in Home Schooling Children”, Doctoral dissertation, Andrews University, Michigan,May 1986.

(6) Raymond S. Moore. “The Educated Beautiful”, Kappa Delta Pi RECORD, summer 1987.

(7) Urie Bronfenbrenner. Two Worlds of Childhood: U.S. and U.S.S.R., New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, 1970.

(8) Martin Engle. “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Golden Hair: Some Thoughts on early Childhood Education.” Unpublished manuscript, National Demonstration Center in Early Childhood Education, U.S. Office of Education, Washington, D.C.

9) John Bowlby. Maternal Care and Mental Health, Geneva World Health Organisation, 1952.

10) Ann Soderman. Article in Education Week, 14 March 1984.

From Keystone Magazine
July 1996 , Vol. II No. 4
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig
@hef.org.nz

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