Common Objections

Obj: Our public schools can provide an education free from religious and political biases.
A: On April 19, 1987, the then Assistant Director, Resources Development, Dept. of Education, Wellington, met with a number of leaders of homeschooling groups in Auckland. This gentleman stated that his own idealism had been somewhat tarnished when, after years in the state education system, he had had to admit to himself that state education “was not only about children and learning, but also about money and politics.”
The Christchurch Press of November 5, 1985, had an article about the then Under Secretary of Trade and Industry, Mr. Neilson, and his 6-point programme to make Labour “the natural party of Government.” Point 3 of this programme called for the introduction “of peace studies into the education system to achieve this end.””
In a speech at Massey University in mid-1990, Finance Minister David Caygill was reported in the papers as saying that Governments should mould public opinion, not follow it. He said it was the politician’s responsibility to pursue policies that were in the public interest “even when the public disagrees.” (It would seem that both Mr. Neilson and Mr. Caygill have eagerly followed up the implications of a statement by Abraham Lincoln who said well over 130 years ago, “The philosophy of the classroom is the philosophy of the government in the next generation.”)
During the 1986 school trials of the draft programme Keeping Our Selves Safe , the Police Youth Aid Officer in Palmer son North, Frank Mault, chaired a public meeting to explain the programme to interested parents at Central Normal School. He was asked why the KOSS programme was targeting potential victims, school aged children, and educating them to understand and recognise perversions such as incest, sexual molestation, rape, exhibitionism, etc., rather than targeting potential offenders and educating them in self control. The constable answered with a shrug of the shoulders and the words, “I guess the children are easier to reach. They are a captive audience in the classroom each day.”
A few years ago Massey University Education Professor Ivan Snook said that the furore over sex education, morals in the schools, etc., was only a smoke screen. The real issues were power and control: whose are the children and who will control their education?
And it must be pointed out that Karl Marx identified free, compulsory and secular state education as one of the tools through which the proponents of Communism would take over the world.
One powerful force at work is the philosophy of humanism. Webster’s International Dictionary, 1926, defines it as “A system, mode, or attitude of thought or action centering upon distinctively human interests or ideals, esp. as contrasted with naturalistic or religious interests.” The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 1975, says humanism is “Belief in the mere humanity of Christ. Any system of thought or action which is concerned with merely human interests, or with those of the human race in general; the ‘Religion of Humanity’.” The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1975, says, “Though humanism gradually became identified with classroom studies of the classics, it more properly embraced any attitude exalting man’s relationship to God, his free will, and his superiority over nature. Philosophically, humanism made man the measure of all things….In recent years the term humanism has often been used to refer to value systems that emphasize the personal worth of each individual but that do not include a belief in God…..The American Humanist Association publishes a quarterly magazine, The Humanist , and propagates the humanist point of view.”
This magazine, The Humanist , conducted an essay contest and published the prize-winning essays in its Jan/Feb, 1983, issue. One of them entitled “A Religion for a New Age” by John J. Dunphy, is startling in the openness with which it lays all the humanist cards on the table. Part of this essay reads as follows:
“I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being.
“These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the education level– preschool, day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new–the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of Humanism, resplendent in its promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian idea of “love thy neighbor” will finally be achieved.”
For anyone to suggest that our state schools are not politically influenced is to display a large measure of naiveté.

Obj: It is not legal.
A: It is most definitely legal. The Picot report of 1988 confirmed that it is a right guaranteed to parents.

Obj: Parents are not as qualified as teachers. They should leave it to the experts.
Unfortunately most of us are aware of cases where teacher certification has not meant the same as teacher competency. In addition, there is the almost unrecognised fact that classroom logistics can make even the best teacher’s efforts an exercise in futility: over-crowded classrooms, lack of discipline, unsupportive administration, inability to give needed individual attention, time restraints which force them to move on to new material before the previous material is comprehended. Teacher certification does not ensure a quality education. In fact, many students who do not catch on at school must go home and get their parents to help out. There are already many parents out there who do the real teaching at night after school while the certified teacher gets the credit. Even Massey University Education Professor Ivan Snook was quoted in the Manawatu Evening Standard of 9 July 1990 as saying that teachers cannot be held responsible for students’ learning because there are too many factors beyond their control. So it would seem that although parents have to make sure their children attend the schools, the schools do not have to make sure that the children learn to read or write.
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Obj: Home educated children will not be properly socialised. They will never have any friends if they are kept at home all day.
Home educated children will most definitely be socialised in a completely different way than conventionally schooled children. The whole question of what constitutes proper socialisation and who actually socialises whom is dealt with at length here:
socialisation (The present writer asked his own children, who have never been to conventional schools, to respond to the idea that they, being home educated, would not have any friends. The writer was not prepared for their answers. The nine-year-old son said, “It’s a lie. We’ve got millions of friends.” The six year old son said, “We’ve got heaps of them.” The ten-year-old daughter laughed, then stopped suddenly and said, “That’s about the dumbest question you could ask anybody in the whole world. Is school the only place you can make friends?” The three then came up with the following list of places and ways to make friends: walking down the street, in a playground, at the A & P show, at a fair, visiting the neighbours, at camps, at the supermarket, at Boys and Girls Rally, joining sports, at Sunday school and church, while travelling on the Wellington-Picton ferry, on the beach, at home education meetings and field trips, playgroups, your own cousins and brothers and sisters, bicycling down the street, at the BMX track, you meet your friends’ friends when you visit their house, and you get to know the children of your parents’ friends and workmates.)

Obj: Home educating children is being far too overprotective. It is like keeping them in a hot house.
A: Home educating children is most definitely one way of protecting them from the evils and dangers of NZ’s disintegrating post-Christian society. Virtually any parent would wholeheartedly agree that a vital part of parenting is protecting the children. Parents who take up the home education option often believe they need to protect their children from the falling academic standards, the discipline problems, the negative peer pressure, the wasted and potentially dangerous time spent travelling to and from schools.
And they aren’t the only ones. The Manawatu Evening Standard of 1 October 1990 quoted the Manawatu District School Trustees Association chairman Ruma Karaitiana as saying the threat of abduction or molestation of children on their way to school had prompted most primary schools to introduce a policy of ringing the homes of any pupils who had not arrived at school by about 9:15am.
If accused of keeping their children in a hothouse, many home educating parents would unashamedly and enthusiastically respond, “Yes, I am. That’s my job. Why? Aren’t you doing the same?” A hothouse is for growing young plants in an ideal environment until they are strong and healthy and mature enough to be transplanted out into the open. The objective of the hothouse is to prepare the young plants for life outside on their own. How can anyone accusingly charge parents with doing the same for their own children, as if there was something wrong with it? Home-based education is an endeavour to rear young children in an ideal environment until they are strong and healthy and mature enough to face the world on their own. The objective of the home education is to prepare the young child for life in the real world where they are responsible for themselves. Can anyone come up with a comparable commitment on the part of parents toward their children than the loving, sacrificial and vital involvement of home education?
Many home educators see their task as a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week lifestyle. The spectre of a neurotic suburban-bound housewife whose tentacle-like apron strings entrap her pale deprived waifs indoors away from all contact with the outside world just doesn’t match the reality of the situation. Home education is a serious commitment, and the work involved would soon have those with phobias and neuroses happily sending their children off to school where someone else could worry about them.

Obj: What about those irresponsible parents who would keep their children at home with no intention of teaching them anything, but just using them as unpaid servants?
A: Such irresponsible parents would be just the people most likely to send their children off to school to get them out of their way. If not, their irresponsibility would surely keep them from going through the process of gaining the necessary Certificate of Exemption from the Ministry of Education. In this latter case, there are truancy laws already on the books to deal with such irresponsibility.
What’s worse is those irresponsible parents who send their children off to school expecting the schools to teach them everything, from toilet training to social graces. This is a logical result of over 100 years of compulsory schooling in this country: parents, having been relieved (so they think) of the education of their children, and in fact of the care of them for a huge part of each day, perceive themselves to have less and less responsibility toward their children. As they get more involved in their own personal pursuits, they actually desire to have less and less responsibility toward their children. The fact that the state seems to be eager to nanny us all from cradle to grave only serves to accelerate this process.
But the compulsory schooling isn’t educating the children. It is incredible that as much as 25% of children end up in reading recovering programmes. This is nothing less than an admission of total failure to teach the simple skill of reading, the most foundational and basic of all skills for an education. In addition an unacceptable number of students leave school in a state of function illiteracy. The prisons are full of conventionally schooled inmates, many of them illiterate.

Obj: Home educating children is sheltering them from the real world.
When you stop to think about it, it is the conventional school which shelters children from the real world. Schools segregate children by age and sometimes even by sex. Do you find this situation anywhere in that real world for which schools are supposedly preparing these peer segregated children? The home and family, the neighbourhood, the community, the workplace, the marketplace are all composed of integrated mixtures of ages and sexes. To be prepared for the future, children must learn to live within the age-integrated NZ society at large, not the age-segregated classroom situation.
Classroom logistics demand that instruction is in the form of theory and practical busy-work; there is rarely if ever any ultimately useful or value-creating function involved. Public education’s great philosopher, John Dewey, said as much himself: “The educational process has no end beyond itself….. (Education is) vital energy seeking opportunity for effective exercise.” On the other hand, home educated children observe and take part in the day to day routine of real life situations: a trip to the supermarket is a lesson in stock taking and stock control, menu planning, budgeting, evaluating price differentials, etc.; helping dad build a treehouse is a lesson in design options, architecture, measurement, spatial estimations, geometry, etc.
In fact home educators are ideally situated for turning their hobbies, crafts and special interests into cottage industries so that the children run their own businesses with practical experience in costing, production, marketing, banking, accounting, taxation and profit. When even 8-year-olds see that profit money sitting in their hands, money they earned by their own intellectual and manual labour, money which they can spend however they like, they are really motivated to relearn those old lessons and keen to learn some new ones.

Obj: Home educated students cannot enter institutions of higher learning as these institutions cannot assess what level of competency has been achieved.
A: It is a relatively simple matter of the prospective student chatting to the university’s or polytech’s admissions officer and gaining entry on a “Provisional Enrolment” basis. The student may want to bring along a portfolio of examples of essay writing skills, work records, character references. No paper qualifications of any kind are needed for such enrolment, which is virtually the same as one with impressive bursary scores. As long as they pass most of their chosen papers the first year, there is no longer any question of their enrolment status. If they fail most of their first year papers, they cannot apply to enrol again until age 20, when anyone can enrol without qualifications of any kind.