A “right and duty to learn?”
PhD in Parenting has been writing about homeschooling lately. She currently lives in Germany, where homeschooling is illegal and children are under legal compulsion to attend public school. Today, she wrote a post about different schooling methods and how she views them through the lens of the “right and duty to learn.”
On the whole, I found her opinions on homeschooling to be quite positive, but I take issue with some of the concerns she mentions in her post:
At the same time, there are things that concern me about home education:
- I worry that parents who homeschool for ideological reasons may be shielding their children from the realities of the world (other belief systems, other cultures) and their selves (sexuality, gender issues, personal expression), which I believe is dangerous for the individual and for society.
- I worry that a small minority of parents who homeschool for ideological reasons may be doing so specifically to pass on discriminatory and hateful viewpoints to their children.
- I worry that parents who take their children out of school out of frustration with the school system (generally or for their specific child) may feel forced into home educating their children when really the school system should be changing and adapting to address those concerns.
- I worry that children who grow up under the guidance of the most gentle, patient, loving and inspiring parents without being exposed to teachers who are strict, ineffective, jerks, play favourites, or use coercive methods may not learn how to deal with those types of people before entering the workforce and may be at a disadvantage (although to be fair, a lot of today’s schooled youth aren’t dealing with them themselves anyway – they are getting mommy and daddy to do it for them).
You all know how I feel about the “school as a place to learn to toughen up for the ‘real world’” stance, so I’ll just link to my comment I left on the PhD in Parenting blog and leave it at that.
What about her other concerns, like the idea that parents who homeschool may be doing so to instill hateful or dangerous ideologies in their children? How harmful is “immersing [our] children in [our] beliefs and shielding them from others?” Are parents really more or less likely to attempt to instill their ideologies in their children based on where their child schools? Are homeschooled children more likely to be racist, bigoted, etc. than their institutionally-schooled counterparts? To what extent should the State or the collective get to choose the ideologies to which your child should be exposed?
And what about her assertion that “in most cases [parents choose to homeschool because] there are perfectly reasonable and factual things taught as part of the school curriculum that the parents do not want their children to learn (evolution, birth control, homosexuality, other religious beliefs)?” Was this a motivating factor for you? For the homeschoolers you know? To what extent? Was it because the curricula covered topics you felt were inaccurate or inappropriate? Was it because the curricula were too religious or not religious enough?
And finally, what about her statement that she “believe[s] more strongly in the child’s right to an education than [she] do[es] in the parent’s right to raise their children any way they want?” Is a child’s right to a specific set of academic knowledge greater than your rights as a parent to pass on your morality, ethics, culture, or ideology? If you’re an unschooler or (I am warming to this term) “life learner,” do you think the child’s right to an education is more or less important than his freedom to make his own decisions, even if those choices are towards the less academic?