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The Home Schooling Question

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[UPDATE 11.01.07: From some of the comments, it's clear this should have been two separate stories. There are really two separate problems with home schooling. The first is socialization, which can be remedied but requires extraordinary parental participation and effort. The second is the teaching of creationism and abstinence-only sex education, which takes place in the vast majority of home schools based on their religion. This second problem is not so easily solved (would require parents to give up their beliefs) and represents my main argument against both the government funding and legality of home schooling.]

Home schooling is a discretionary option for parents, the quality of which can vary widely. Because of this inconsistency, it may not be in the best interest of children, who often have no choice about their participation. Society at large has a duty to protect the minds as well as the bodies of vulnerable children from abuse by authority figures. In most cases, home schooling parents have a strong religious agenda, and therefore on First Amendment grounds such education does not meet the standards for a generalized public subsidy. A case can also be made that to the extent home schooling attempts to undermine the principles of consensus science, not only should it be denied government support, it should also be expressly prohibited.

Recently, I discussed (previous article) an editorial by Thomas C. Hunt and James C. Carper, which derided public schools as an example of a state church, promoting the “religion” of secularism. I dismissed their wrongheaded position as “doing violence to the language and common sense.” I also noted my objections to home schooling, based on the fact that many home schooled children experience a form of one-sided brainwashing by religious parents, saying “they may never have a chance at academic excellence, critical thinking or intellectual honesty. By strategic and systematic miseducation, they have been rendered impotent and unable to participate in an increasingly technical and competitive society.”

Home schooler Tony objected from a progressive/secular point of view:

And while the past stereotype of the non socialized homeschooled child may have carried some truth, it does not apply to this new set of homeschool children. They are involved in community projects, are environmentally aware, have educational opportunities in a wider range of encounters and organizations and have more involvement with a wider variety of social interactions with all ages than the public school could imagine to provide. This postmodern/secular homeschooled child is better prepared than any other generation to provide leadership to solve the crises facing our planet during the next century.

Conservative Christian Marcy Muser also objected to my premise and supported the original editorial:

I am absolutely determined that my children WILL be equipped to participate in the mainstream, and I think homeschooling is by far the best way to achieve that goal. I’m homeschooling because both my daughters are highly gifted (as was I), and I want them to have every chance at academic excellence, critical thinking, and intellectual honesty. I don’t think the public schools - or even the majority of private schools - can give my kids that kind of chance; so I’m doing it myself. (Oh, don’t get me wrong - I avail myself of every resource I can dig up, particularly in areas that are not my specialty - but I’m making the determination of what’s best for my kids, rather than some anonymous committee member choosing their curriculum for them.)

[...]

And why should I be held to a higher standard than the public schools are, when I’m using my own money (which, if tax credits were approved, I’d otherwise be paying in taxes) to provide my children with a superior education, while the schools are using other people’s money to provide their students with a poor one?

Perhaps I should have qualified this statement a little more, since I agree that it is indeed possible for earnest and committed parents–who are not religious extremists–to avoid the worst of the problems of home schooling. I understand both these rationales, and I can sympathize with the two commenters’ desires as parents to take a larger than ordinary role in their own children’s education. [All three of my own sons completed the bulk of their high-school education at home. The difference was, their program was officially sponsored and overseen by the Los Angeles Unified School District.] But back to the debate. In my response to Ms. Muser, I noted four specific points I found problematic with home schooling:

  • The dilution of science education through presenting creationism as a legitimate alternative to evolution.
  • Lack of adequate sex education (focus on abstinence instead of safe-sex).
  • Lack of socialization/exposure to a diversity of views.
  • Inordinate focus on Bible as factual and the absolute word of God (as opposed to more academically accepted notions of it as a historical document and a piece of literature among many others).

In her response, Ms. Muser simply confirmed my worst suspicions about her as an extreme fundamentalist doing her best to brainwash her children. She began by insisting that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics, the “law” of biogenesis and the law of cause and effect. This is classic creationist pablum, and demonstrates that this woman is profoundly unfit to educate anyone, let alone her own children. The second law of thermodynamics says nothing whatsoever about the origins of life, nor is there any such “law” of biogenesis (which is just a fancy way of saying life couldn’t begin on its own). Saying evolution violates the “law” of biogenesis is the same as saying evolution violates creationism, which is a tautology. Doubtless she has already convinced her kids that modern science is ignorant of these “facts” and conditioned them to dismiss any evidence which contradicts her faith position. I assert that this act alone is a pernicious form of child abuse, just as if Ms. Muser had taught her children that the earth was flat.

She then went on to decry sex education, saying that rates of STDs, pregnancy and abortion were higher in public schools than in home schools. To which I would say of course! Home schooled kids have a much greater degree of supervision than public school students. But the real story involves overall cultural levels of sexual ills which according to a landmark 2005 study in the Journal of Religion and Society, are far lower in secular societies:

Although the late twentieth century STD epidemic has been curtailed in all prosperous democracies (Aral and Holmes; Panchaud et al.), rates of adolescent gonorrhea infection remain six to three hundred times higher in the U.S. than in less theistic, pro-evolution secular developed democracies (Figure 6). At all ages levels are higher in the U.S., albeit by less dramatic amounts. The U.S. also suffers from uniquely high adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, which are starting to rise again as the microbe’s resistance increases (Figure 7). The two main curable STDs have been nearly eliminated in strongly secular Scandinavia. Increasing adolescent abortion rates show positive correlation with increasing belief and worship of a creator, and negative correlation with increasing non-theism and acceptance of evolution; again rates are uniquely high in the U.S. (Figure 8).

Muser then goes on to ask “How many schoolchildren do you know who have the chance to interact regularly with people from birth to 90 years of age?” While I am sure she is making her best effort, it is peer socialization that is the most important for child development. It is this that is most lacking in home schooled children. They may relate very well to adults and authority figures, but will most likely be lacking in team-building, group dynamics, learning to deal effectively with the rough and tumble of ridicule and social ostracism, and other peer-related social skills. This lack may also contribute to latent adult social anxiety disorder.

In the comments, Morgaine also exposed a number of Muser’s bad arguments and conservative bias:

  • Statistically, the typical American homeschooling parents(a majority) educate their children primarily for religious or moral reasons, and are almost twice as likely to be Evangelical than the national average. 91 percent describe themselves as Christian, although only 49 percent can be classified as “born again Christians.” They were five times more likely to describe themselves as “mostly conservative” on political matters than as “mostly liberal,”
  • Studies by Advocates for Youth (AFY) on the long-term impact of federally-funded abstinence-only programs on teen sexual behavior confirm recent literature on the subject: the programs have no long-term effect on teens’ intentions to have sex, but sour them on contraception, making it less likely they will take responsible measures to protect themselves if they do engage in intercourse…The results are consistent with a Columbia University study by sociology chair Peter Bearman. Bearman’s study, which tracked the sex lives of 12,000 adolescents between 12 and 18 years old over a five-year period, “found unsafe sex much greater among youth who’d signed pledges to abstain from sex” until marriage. The “virginity pledge” is a key component of many abstinence-only education programs…Studies show that the great majority of parents want their children given reliable and scientific sex education (93% of parents with high school children say it is appropriate to teach teens about birth control and methods of preventing pregnancy, while 84% of parents with high school children say it is appropriate to teach students how to use and where to get contraceptives.
  • But what is clear, is that the degree of success or failure for any kid in public OR home school, is dependent most of all on the families interpersonal relationships, and commitment level of the parents. Studies show that children whose parents were highly involved with the kids curriculum in either form of school, excelled equally.

Muser continues:

I agree with your statement that secularism is a bias - you as a strong secularist are just as religious as I am. You firmly believe there is no God, and no amount of evidence will convince you otherwise; I equally firmly believe there is a God, and I find the scientific evidence in favor of God’s existence to be far stronger than that against it…Now, in light of the above, why should my tax money be used to teach kids your religious belief system?

The above is blatant equivocation, based on Muser’s contention that secularism is a religion. I’ve thoroughly debunked this (previous article), and am not going to address it again. (Please go read the article.) She wraps up her religious diatribe with the conclusion that the “secular religion” is privileged over her Christian religion, and therefore that her religion is equally deserving of public subsidy. Thomas Jefferson would be turning over in his grave. How can you reason with someone who doesn’t understand that “secular” as defined by the dictionary is “not pertaining to or connected with religion”? There can be no secular religion. It is an oxymoron.

Finally, Muser describes how her efforts to teach her children faith-based ‘critical thinking’ (as opposed to evidence-based critical thinking) are actually better than that taught in public schools. All she’s doing is watering down the value of knowledge and evidence by teaching her kids her presuppositional ideas about God and creation, and calling that evidence. This runs completely counter to the scientific world, where it’s not enough to just assert it or talk about it, you actually have to produce the evidence and have it reviewed. Muser claims she gives her kids a deeper understanding of evolution than public school. But by her own admission, she “disagrees” with it (as if it were possible to disagree with facts). So we can expect that her teaching on evolution is simply an elaborate course in Christian apologetics, attempting to inoculate her children against any evidentiary conclusions about the subject they may be presented with in college or in later life. Talk about turning out Christian automatons! Yeesh. Muser is so delusional she even co-opts the language of critical thought, and has herself convinced that’s what she’s engaging in and passing along to her children.

Muser comes back with a typical Christian argument–that there is indeed absolute truth

“I don’t believe something can be “true for you, but not for me.” I believe that truth exists outside of our human perceptions; truth is true whether or not I (or you) understand it or choose to believe it.”

And I would agree with her. There is indeed absolute truth. But it is not what she thinks it is. Absolute truth is revealed by peer-reviewed and repeatable evidence. There has to be a method for systematically observing it, verifying it, and organizing it. Muser doesn’t seem to need any of this. She has decided a priori, that she knows how the universe began by the simple inductive argument of “First Cause,” a stubborn bit of sophistry which actually proves nothing. For in positing a creator as a “First Cause,” Muser forgets that her creator must also have a cause. This argument utterly fails as an explanation for the universe due to infinite regress.

But Muser has closed herself off from any questioning of this basic premise, which she states without evidence, and without analysis of the very serious flaw in the logic. Her reasoning is therefore specious and circular, and she is teaching her children the very same circular reasoning. This error would never be permitted in public school. Science approaches the issue of the origins of the universe as speculative and unknowable–no matter how good our theories may be–something Ms. Muser’s children desperately need to understand.

Regarding the origins of life, she states:

The law of biogenesis states that life can only arise from life. Evolution calls for life to have arisen from nonliving matter; thus at some time, in order for life to have developed, the law of biogenesis must have been suspended.

As stated above, there is no “law” of biogenesis. Life is composed of complex molecules in complex arrangements. There is nothing special about those molecules. There is no theoretical barrier to laboratory synthesis of the DNA of any life form. It is simply a matter of complexity and management of ever larger genomes, which is bound to improve dramatically over time. Recently, Craig Venter succeeded in creating life from non-living matter. If he could do it quickly in a laboratory, imagine how much more productive the natural world could be during billions of years of evolution.

But we don’t have to imagine, because we can simulate these events in broad outline form on a computer and watch evolution take place before our very eyes. (Marcy, if you’re reading, please watch this video with your children.) Evolutionary algorithms are regularly used to design products. Cutting edge research into biofuels deliberately harnesses random bacterial mutations to achieve a desired result, which are then selected for effectiveness. This is the same process as competition-induced selection pressure (survival of the fittest) that harnesses raw randomness to form the ever-improving characteristics of life. Final proof of evolution comes through the increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics. This has occurred worldwide in a span of only a few decades. Again, place this infinitesimally small time-scale against the backdrop of the billions of years the earth has existed, and we see evolution’s true power. There is no debate. Evolution is what brought human life into existence from its origins in soups of random chemistry on a desolate proto-earth.

These facts and events are extremely inconvenient to the Marcy Musers of the world. Though they may have the best of intentions, as they vainly invoke their “Gods of the gaps” to miseducate their children, they are still perpetuating a culture of base ignorance. As these gaps in knowledge are inexorably filled in by inquiry and discovery, the gods become less and less necessary. Rather than hailing these advances, the religious extremists scramble ever faster to come up with new reasons why it just cannot and must not be so. In so doing, they move ever farther from the progression of the scientific mainstream and condemn their children to a tortuous road of confusion, denial, and equivocation.

Whether it happens at home or in private schools is of little consequence. But we are talking about home schooling, and since the homeschooling movement is overwhelmingly religious, it seems that the debate over homeschooling cannot be separated from the larger debate over religious dogma vs. scientific truth. Once again, on all available evidence, science is the only reliable way of knowing anything. Its process of boundless inquiry and self-correction couldn’t be more categorically different from the inflexible and willful blindness of faith.

It is for this reason that I consider religious education to be a serious form of child abuse. No matter what kind of beliefs they might hold about underage sexuality, we don’t allow parents to sexually abuse their children because we understand that they don’t own their children’s bodies. Likewise we should understand just as clearly that no matter what their religions might demand they teach, parents do not own their kids’ minds. Society has a profound interest in the truthful education and proper formation of its future citizens. Therefore it should be expressly against the law to teach children a curriculum that so blatantly and directly contradicts science–even and especially in private. Such curricula should be treated like child pornography. Because miseducation is at least as damaging to children as sexual abuse. We’re talking about the malformation of the brain a child will possess for life. It goes without saying that it does not matter whether it is conducted in the home or in a private group setting, it should absolutely, positively never receive any government subsidy or funding.

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Comments (41 comments)

Christine / October 31st, 2007, 9:27 am / #1

It’s funny how homeschoolers are the ones taking this hit, while private schools have been teaching in the same way with the same freedom for decades. Where has the outcry been? Why is it just brought against education at home?

I don’t know you at all, but it pains me to see your comparisons of home education and “serious child abuse.” I attended public school. I received lousy sex ed … at home AND at school. I received lousy science instruction at school (creationism or not). I received a very strong Christian worldview at home, yet it was through my own study and my own growth that I discovered my own beliefs. Children who homeschool leave the house … a lot … and are around their peers who do not share their beliefs … a lot.

Your judgments are extremely harsh. My grandfather was a pedophile and my grandmother was emotionally abusive. You are equating a mass of parents into that same category. I find that irresponsible and over-the-top.

I honor your freedom to your own thoughts and choices … just as I have the same. I would simply ask you to reevaluate your comparisons. Granted, I have a very open ended view and approach to sex and science in my home. Yet, even those who do not … they are loving their children, and are truly doing what they feel is in the long-term best interest of their family. Perhaps your arguments will be heard more clearly when you start to embrace your common ground as parents.

BlackSun / October 31st, 2007, 9:37 am / #2

Christine,

I spoke about the private school issue, saying specifically: “Whether it happens at home or in private schools is of little consequence.” I am concerned chiefly about religious-based miseducation of children about science.

they are loving their children, and are truly doing what they feel is in the long-term best interest of their family

The road to “hell” is paved with good intentions. I don’t care how well-meaning people are. If they teach their children blatant falsehoods about the world, (such as the world being flat, or evolution being “just a theory”) they are abusing them. This is not a matter of opinion.

We have to evolve as a culture as to what kind of private behavior we will and will not tolerate. It used to be that what a man did with his daughters was considered to be his private business. Now we understand that the state has an interest in protecting the bodies of children. I’m saying it also has an interest in protecting their minds.

TW / October 31st, 2007, 11:13 am / #3

A very good post (as always).

Homeschooling has, IMHO, many problems. The fact that some private or public schools (the words have different meanings this side of the Atlantic) are below the standard required by society does not carry the implication that home schooling is better. I very much doubt more than a tiny minority if people would be well versed enough in the diverse subjects a modern education requires to be able to teach their children well. Surely the only solution for “loving” parents is to send the child to a public / private school and then “top up” any missing areas themselves.

Teaching children lies, nonsense and falsehoods is, I agree a form of child abuse. Christine writes that the people who do mislead (deliberately or not) their children

are loving their children, and are truly doing what they feel is in the long-term best interest of their family.

This is irrelevant. That the parent may feel what they do is in the long term best interests means nothing. People who beat or otherwise physically abuse their children (or allow such behaviour to take place) often feel they are doing it in the best interests of the family…

Rachel / October 31st, 2007, 3:47 pm / #4

I’ve never been to school. I was homeschooled all my life. Now I have a college degree, a decent job where I’m earning money that I plan to use to furthur my education. As far as the science thing, my mom spent lots of time on creation and evolution, and I’m sure she would have even if I had gone to school. I had the opportunity to choose what I wanted to believe. I wasn’t sheltered, I participated in orchestra, basketball, soccer and I got to have a job when most highschoolers were in school that time of day! I do believe that the effectiveness of homeschooling all depends on the commitment of the parents. I also believe that most of the parents who do this are not the ones who don’t care about their childrens education. Those type of parents wouldn’t want to put the work into homeschooling. There are pleanty of kids who don’t do very well in society that attended public school, we don’t blame the school system for that. Let’s not peg homeschoolers either. It’s not a fun stereotype.

BlackSun / October 31st, 2007, 3:58 pm / #5

@TW, thanks.

@Rachel,

I never said home schooling couldn’t work. The problem is not so much home school, but bad curricula and parents who choose home schooling for the wrong reasons. Again, let me reiterate: It doesn’t matter whether the miseducation about science occurs at home or in private religous schools. It is equally bad. The whole reason I’m talking about home schooling is because people are starting to ask for tax money, and their motives are largely religious. If taxpaying parents want to pay for public education and then also make the effort at homeschooling, I say have at it. But don’t ask other taxpayers to pay for it.

Companies who sell homeschool products must be forced to comply with national academic standards, and kids who want to opt out of public schools should face mandatory testing in science and sex education, among other subjects. If not, we are still going to have religious extremists trying to “protect” their children from being “corrupted” by the influence of peers and scientific truth. No matter what they say, given the overwhelming percentage of religious zealots in the home schooling movement, this is a primary motivation.

TW / October 31st, 2007, 4:31 pm / #6

Rachel,

As far as the science thing, my mom spent lots of time on creation and evolution, and I’m sure she would have even if I had gone to school. I had the opportunity to choose what I wanted to believe.

You are missing some of the point here. As an example, you have been taught creationism as if it were a science, which it isn’t. Choosing what to believe is a great thing, however there are times when it really isn’t applicable.

A big (IMHO of course) disadvantage of home schooling is the lack of peer guidance in learning. Now, I agree this is not always a good thing, but there is nothing to counter balance teaching which is, frankly, wrong. If a home schooler’s parents decided to teach them the Earth was the centre of the solar system, they could easily go on and function in life without anyone noticing (even gain a degree and a good job). However, they have still been taught incorrect nonsense and should they, in turn, decide to teach their children the nonsense will continue.

Dana / October 31st, 2007, 8:21 pm / #7

This would be a little easier to discuss if your “evidence” against homeschoolers, particularly on the socialization issue, were not based purely on conjecture. Granted, there isn’t a lot of research into the issue, but what little there is concludes that homeschoolers do as well if not better than their public schooled peers.

“…it is peer socialization that is the most important for child development. It is this that is most lacking in home schooled children.

Evidence, please. Something besides your own opinion or the way you think it is. I know the NEA agrees with you, but the whole concept of socialization goes against the critical thinking you seem to advocate in other places. After all, socialization is defined as:

“The process whereby a child learns to get along with and to behave similarly to other people in the group, largely through imitations as well as group pressure.”

http://www.answers.com/socialization

It is an acceptance of values without critical thought or reasoning.

They may relate very well to adults and authority figures, but will most likely be lacking in team-building, group dynamics, learning to deal effectively with the rough and tumble of ridicule and social ostracism, and other peer-related social skills. This lack may also contribute to latent adult social anxiety disorder.

Latent adult social anxiety disorder? What sort of nonsense are you throwing out now? And again, based on what?

I understand your concerns about people being taught something other than what you believe is true, but who do you think should have power over such things? Just how much power are you willing to give the state? And do you really want to live in a society in which some other authority has the power to define what can be discussed in your home and the thoughts and beliefs in your own mind?

I don’t want to get into a debate about evolution, but my problem with the dogmatic adherence to it in any environment is based exactly on your definition of absolute truth.

Absolute truth is revealed by peer-reviewed and repeatable evidence.

When you are able to reproduce life in a test tube, I might call abiogenesis or whatever it is you are calling the origins of life scientific. But at the moment, it is not repeatable, observable, or measurable. We can peer-review each other’s musings on the beginnings of life on this planet all we want, but that doesn’t make it scientific. It may be naturalistic, but that is something different all together.

Principled Discovery » Reasons to homeschool / October 31st, 2007, 9:48 pm / #8

[...] 4. Maybe I want to induce a latent adult social anxiety disorder on my children. It is bound to happen to all of us if we live in the world that particular blogger appears to wish to create. [...]

Stella / November 1st, 2007, 9:18 am / #9

it is peer socialization that is the most important for child development

According to whom? The NEA?

Marcy Muser / November 1st, 2007, 11:49 am / #10

Sean,

As I might have expected, when it really comes down to critical thinking and logical analysis, you are no more willing to engage in it than most other people. You, too, hold to a worldview that holds together in your mind, and are unwilling to ask yourself why you believe it. So when you consider my statements, you simply dismiss them. You engage in name-calling (”extreme fundamentalist,” “classic creationist pablum,” “blatant equivocation,” “religious diatribe”). You make unsupported statements: “it is peer socialization that is the most important for child development,” “This lack may also contribute to latent adult social anxiety disorder.”

You criticize me for saying that as a strong secularist you are just as religious as I am, and in fact you are correct on that point. I should not have called you a secularist, but a naturalist or humanist. I fact have less objection to secularism - in theory - than to naturalism and humanism, which are in fact religious. My dictionary defines naturalism as “a doctrine that denies a supernatural explanation of the origin or development of the universe and holds that scientific laws account for all of nature”; humanism is defined as, “a doctrine or way of life centered on human interests or values.” “Doctrine” is a religious term. If in fact it were possible to remove religion completely from the public schools, I would be happier (though I probably would not put my children in school even so, because I still believe they get a far better education at home). As it is, the schools teach every religion but Christianity, and they teach naturalism as fact. This is not secular, according to your dictionary definition; and in fact you are insisting, not on secular education, but on naturalist and or humanist education. You want to use my tax money to instill YOUR doctrines in the nation’s children - and preferably in my children as well - and you want to pretend that in fact you are being neutral.

You make the unsupported statement, “Absolute truth is revealed by peer-reviewed and repeatable evidence.” Whose opinion is that? There are many beliefs about how absolute truth is revealed; what makes yours the right one? And as far as peer review, how do you know an opinion is right just because a majority of people - or a majority of scientists - or a majority of biologists - or a majority of anyone else - says it is? Many creationist scientists have published studies in peer-reviewed journals; some of those studies are even pro-creationist. But your insistence that a study must be published in a peer-reviewed journal conveniently ignores the truth (a truth peer-reviewed and repeatable, incidentally) that those journals are deeply biased against anything that might possibly suggest a creator. Scientists who have routinely had other studies published suddenly meet a brick wall. Evolutionist scientists who become convinced that creationism is true suddenly find their studies can no longer be published. And even if the bias is all in their minds, the very fact that it is possible suggests perhaps peer review is not such a reliable indicator of absolute truth as you might like to believe. Democracy does not determine truth; truth is truth regardless of whether the majority agrees with it.

You then set up a straw man, implying that my belief rejects any level of evolution. You spend an entire paragraph discussing how research relies on the well-documented minor changes in species, as if I disagreed with that, when in fact I’ve never heard of a creationist who did. There is no doubt that changes occur within species, minor changes such as colors, wing sizes, and so on. Every creationist and ID-proponent I’ve ever read (and I’ve read many) recognizes those changes. In fact, there are even changes that occur between species - development of new species such as Pomeranians from a wolf-type species. (Species, after all, is a relatively recent term; I like most creationists prefer the term “kind,” which is considerably more flexible but still limited.) Loss of genetic information is common - species with wings lose them; species with a variety of sizes are reduced to species of only one size; bacteria that used to contain genetic information for both resistance and nonresistance to antibiotics are reduced to only those with genetic information for resistance. What I’ve never seen evolutionists establish with any degree of certainty is how genetic information is GAINED. How does one kind of creature develop into a more sophisticated one? You may have defeated your straw man (the denial of minor species changes), but that doesn’t mean you’ve provided “final proof” that molecules-to-man evolution occurred.

Sean, by your response you prove only one thing, and that is that your core beliefs are no more carefully examined than anyone else’s. Your “critical thinking” extends only as far as your self-imposed limits. When you are faced with a reasonably intelligent, articulate argument, you resort to name-calling, unsupported statements, and straw men. In our homeschool, I challenge my children to TRULY examine their own beliefs, to ask themselves for the subconscious reasons why they choose to believe certain things. When they give me simplistic arguments such as you have assembled here, I confront them with the inconsistencies and push them to face the true arguments of those who disagree with them. (If you want to call that “co-opting the language of critical thought,” that’s your choice. I think that is the very essence of critical thought and logical analysis.) I hope perhaps someday you will actually consider the REAL arguments of creationists rather than your own preconceived ideas.

Marcy Muser / November 1st, 2007, 9:04 pm / #11

Sean,

I went back and read the article you posted on the guy who “created life.” I must say, reading the procedure: just because an intelligent person can devise an incredibly complex methodology, including the use of already living cells, to reorganize DNA, which is then inserted into other living cells, does not prove life can develop from nonlife by nothing other than random chance, mutation, and natural selection. Not only that, the author himself agrees that he’s a long way from actually creating life (see the bottom of the second page).

I watched the YouTube video you linked to. That video deliberately excludes the issue of abiogenesis, which is a critically important foundation to evolution as defined by the video’s maker. Without an explanation of how the “clocks” got there in the first place, the whole question is moot in my opinion. And the person who made the video began with a pool of clocks to draw from; without a reproductive process, where did the pool come from? And there are far too many questions about the methodology of the computer program that are left unanswered. Not only that, the watches had a very limited number of parts; living cells are extremely complex.

I’m sorry, but your “proof” leaves a lot to be desired. Is that the best evidence you have for evolution?

BlackSun / November 2nd, 2007, 1:39 am / #12

Dana,

This would be a little easier to discuss if your “evidence” against homeschoolers, particularly on the socialization issue, were not based purely on conjecture.

I clearly stated in the post (and cited evidence provided by Morgaine from her earlier comment) that public school kids with high levels of parental involvement did as well as homeschooled children. In this sense, I don’t think homeschooling is a problem if parents are highly involved. But who’s checking up on them to make sure they do it right?

I also stated that my own children were homeschooled for a significant portion of their high school (in cooperation with L.A. Unified), so I don’t think you’re understanding my position.

You too easily dismiss the socialization objection. In no way am I suggesting that kids accept other people’s values without critical thought or reasoning. That definition is clearly not what I’m talking about. As you quoted” “They may relate very well to adults and authority figures, but will most likely be lacking in team-building, group dynamics, learning to deal effectively with the rough and tumble of ridicule and social ostracism, and other peer-related social skills.”

It doesn’t take a social scientist to tell you what goes on in classrooms and during group play: it is about interaction much more than values. But like a rock tumbler–being in a large group teaches kids what they can and can’t get away with, and how to get along–it smooths their rough edges.

Re: Social anxiety disorder. This is a common problem with kids anyway and affects around 13% of the population at some point in their lives. While not the only cause, isolation and unfamiliarity with social situations (reduced exposure and practice) can contribute to the problem. Which can lead to further self-isolation. Just as “only” children have different psychological makeup, kids who grow up with reduced practice and experience with peers may be prone to being less comfortable in such situations later in life. This is not rocket science.

It’s also a product of increased career demands for high levels of social functioning, from the Wikipedia article:

It may be that the increasing need for sophisticated social skills in forming relationships or careers, and an emphasis on assertiveness and competitiveness, is making social anxiety problems more common, at least among the ‘middle classes’.[42] An interpersonal or media emphasis on ‘normal’ or ‘attractive’ personal characteristics has also been argued to fuel perfectionism and feelings of inferiority or insecurity regarding negative evaluation from others. The need for social acceptance or social standing has been elaborated in other lines of research relating to social anxiety[43]

Let me stress again that none of this is any kind of hard and fast rule. It just means parents have to be aware of the pitfalls and pay extra attention to socialization. I’m quite sure the top 20% of home schooling parents take steps to deal with it. But what about the bottom 20%?

I understand your concerns about people being taught something other than what you believe is true, but who do you think should have power over such things? Just how much power are you willing to give the state? And do you really want to live in a society in which some other authority has the power to define what can be discussed in your home and the thoughts and beliefs in your own mind?

I don’t want anyone to base anything on my beliefs. My beliefs are meaningless. There is solid consensus and overwhelming evidence about many things which some people still refuse to accept. Evolution and global warming are just two examples.

I want government standards for kids to be based on these facts. Something that too many creationists are afraid of. You’re still trying to deny facts and create controversies where there are none. Don’t take my word for it. The evidence exists, whether you choose to accept it or not.

I have no problem with a science panel that establishes what can and cannot be taught to children. This is sorely needed, especially in unsupervised environments such as homes. As I said in the original article: since they involve the abusive teaching of lies which are no more real than a flat earth, unscientific curricula for children should be illegal and carry stiff penalties for violators, parents included.

When you are able to reproduce life in a test tube, I might call abiogenesis or whatever it is you are calling the origins of life scientific. But at the moment, it is not repeatable, observable, or measurable.

Artificial life has been produced in the test-tube. I provided a link discussing Craig Venter’s achievement. But beyond that, there is a clear principle here that I’ve discussed in my post about the Circle of Knowledge: You don’t have to know everything to know something. Science works and is very comfortable with incomplete knowledge. It takes a certain sophistication to be able to look at the big picture, see the gaps that exist, and not be tempted to fill them in with conjecture. This discipline is at the very core of science, as is the need for self-correction when errors are found.

By teaching kids they need to have pat answers to such things as the origins of life and the universe, they become incapable of coming to grips with the monumental uncertainties that undergird our existence.

BlackSun / November 2nd, 2007, 2:16 am / #13

Marcy,

If the shoe fits. You do in fact hold positions on creationism which put you firmly in the fundamentalist camp. When you reject abiogenesis, for example, you need to admit you don’t have the explanation for how life began if you want to be scientific about it. If you claim “God did it,” you are a fundamentalist. Because you take that claim from scripture, and a fundamentalist is someone who adheres strictly and literally to scripture.

In my response to Dana, I responded to the criticism of my statements about social anxiety disorder.

I do have to take issue with your use of the word “doctrine”. This is equivocation. Equivocation is not an insult, it is a logical term to denote using the same word with two different meanings to confuse or mislead. Calling naturalism or humanism a “doctrine” is a contradiction in terms. It is also highly ironic since you seem to favor doctrinal religion, yet when using the term to describe science, “doctrine” becomes a pejorative. You can’t have it both ways.

Naturalism relies on evidence. Anything that exists can eventually be discovered and measured and is therefore natural.

Please don’t start with that old argument about radio waves. Before they were discovered, they still existed, we just didn’t know how to measure them. But someone in the 16th century trying to describe this method of communication that had not yet been discovered would have had no idea what they were talking about. At some point in the future, if “God” is discovered, then “he” will also be a natural phenomenon. But like pre-Marconi descriptions of radio waves, today’s descriptions of “God” are completely incoherent and meaningless. It is for this reason that I assert that by definition, the supernatural cannot be measured, known or effectively discussed. This is the basis for the philosophy of naturalism. It is not a doctrine, but a logically consistent premise.

If “God” created the universe, science therefore provides the best knowledge yet available of that god. Religion has nothing of value to say about “him,” and they can’t even agree on who or what he is. Then they turn around and expect people to believe this vague character created the universe?

By the way, you never answered my point about the creator and infinite regress.

You make the unsupported statement, “Absolute truth is revealed by peer-reviewed and repeatable evidence.” Whose opinion is that? There are many beliefs about how absolute truth is revealed; what makes yours the right one?

If you want to claim another method of revealing absolute truth than evidence, than you have to say what it is, and prove why it’s better. Otherwise, you’re just blowing smoke.

how do you know an opinion is right just because a majority of people - or a majority of scientists - or a majority of biologists - or a majority of anyone else - says it is?

Science does not rely on majority rule. If even one person can prove a theory false, then it is disproved. Science relies on consensus to resolve disputes. You need to read up on this process.

You then set up a straw man, implying that my belief rejects any level of evolution.

OK, good, so you accept some of what scientists have been saying all along. Why pick and choose?

What I’ve never seen evolutionists establish with any degree of certainty is how genetic information is GAINED. How does one kind of creature develop into a more sophisticated one?

You’re trumpeting your lack of knowledge about natural selection by asking this question. It’s argument from incredulity. Read The Blind Watchmaker. Dawkins explains it all really well. I’ve provided a link to a pdf of the whole book. It’s an enjoyable read, too.

I hope perhaps someday you will actually consider the REAL arguments of creationists rather than your own preconceived ideas.

I have. And so have people much smarter than me. Read The Blind Watchmaker.

BlackSun / November 2nd, 2007, 2:38 am / #14

Marcy,

use of already living cells, to reorganize DNA, which is then inserted into other living cells, does not prove life can develop from nonlife by nothing other than random chance, mutation, and natural selection.

The bar for “test-tube life” keeps getting raised. In the ’70s when I was growing up, Louise Brown was born and people thought in-vitro was “artificial life” and freaked out about it. Then the realized it was just a normal sperm and egg and the procedure became routine.

Then cloning (by cell nuclear transfer) came along and they freaked out again. Later they realized that clones are just what happens in nature with identical twins. That procedure is also about to become routine.

Now Venter used the same nuclear transfer procedure as with cloning, but instead of inserting existing DNA, he created his DNA from scratch. That he used the shell of a living cell is only a shortcut. The hard part’s over, which is creating a synthetic genome. The genome is the part that reproduces, so by removing the old genome from the “living” cell, he effetively killed it (since it could no longer reproduce). When his synthetic DNA was inserted into the cell, it came back to “life.”

So Marcy, wait a few years. Are you willing to wager your entire belief system that nanotechnologists are NEVER going to come up with artificial cells that Venter can insert his synthetic DNA into?

A few years after that it will be multi-celled animals. Then everyone will just have to accept the fact that we can take ordinary molecules and make life out of them.

What most non-scientists don’t understand is the exponential growth taking place in computing, nanotechnology, and genetic research. And the rate of growth in capabilities is itself accelerating.

Soon, some scientist will demonstrate the complete process of creating life using only materials that would have been available on a proto-earth (basic organic chemistry and possibly electricity or cosmic rays).

Is religion ready for that day? I can’t prove it, but it is almost certainly coming.

Which would also answer your remaining objections about the clock video.

cragar / November 2nd, 2007, 1:07 pm / #15

You made a lot better points than I did on my own article on home schooling.

Home schooling is a discretionary option for parents, the quality of which can vary widely. Because of this inconsistency, it may not be in the best interest of children, who often have no choice about their participation.

I think this is key. There is no control and no one knows what is being taught and if they are being taught correctly. There is no standard.

When I did a little research for my article you can find numerous positive articles on the “benefits” of home schooling. And if the parents are both adept and motivated I am sure many kids are taught well. But what about the parents that are home schooling their kids just to keep them away from what they consider bad teachings? I know a number of Jehovah’s Witness children that are getting a sub standard education at best-and what’s going to happen once they get a job or enroll in college? I am sure that is rampant in other denominations as well.

BlackSun / November 2nd, 2007, 1:58 pm / #16

Cragar,

I know a number of Jehovah’s Witness children that are getting a sub standard education at best-and what’s going to happen once they get a job or enroll in college? I am sure that is rampant in other denominations as well.

Bingo, my point exactly. As I said in other comments, I have no doubt about the success of the top 20% of home school students. It’s the rest I’m worried about. And if they were indoctrinated with creationism, even those top 20% will be at a disadvantage.

Lawanda / November 10th, 2007, 2:47 pm / #17

Try this on:

[Public] schooling is a discretionary option for parents, the quality of which can vary widely. Because of this inconsistency, it may not be in the best interest of children, who often have no choice about their participation. [Parents] ha[ve] a duty to protect the minds as well as the bodies of [their own] vulnerable children from abuse by authority figures. In most cases, [public schools] have a strong [anti-what-the-parents-want-to-teach-their-kids] agenda, and therefore on [Fourteenth] Amendment grounds such education does not meet the standards for [the success and well-being of our progeny]. A case can also be made that to the extent [public] schooling attempts to undermine the principles of [moral parenting], not only should it be denied government support, it should also be expressly prohibited.

BlackSun / November 13th, 2007, 4:46 pm / #18

Lawanda, why don’t you try actually making a real argument instead of a cut and paste bastardization of mine?

yoyo / December 10th, 2007, 4:14 pm / #19

Homeschooling is not such an issue in Australia but the growth in faith schools is. From the outside, the main problem seems to be a lack of accountability re: the curriculum. In Australia, all home schooled curriculum needs to be signed off by various education departments. Given the rabid seeming American attitude to state intervention, I can’t see that happening in the states. I have been educated in state schools, alternative schools and private schools (we moved a lot). It truly worries me that the US may have a substantial proportion of voters who have no knowledge of the separation of state and religion and how to verify scientific debate.

Romney’s speech would be seen as an abomination here. We have just voted out a government where the health minister sought to put his religious views ahead of his responsibility to the community. Secularism is the only proper direction for a government.

Jenna / December 11th, 2007, 6:00 pm / #20

If a person wants to be honest, all children are indoctrinated. Period. The only question remaining is - who is doing the teaching? Who is to say that the government has the authority to demand the opportunity to teach popular social morality, above the rights of each individual to influence their own children? I certainly don’t see that written anywhere in our Constitution, that children are just wards of the state, given sanctuary within the jurisdiction of their family home until the government decides to take charge of them.

Of course, many people have views on what is good and healthy to teach children. However, I see absolutely nothing in the United States Constitution that provides for mob-rule over education. While you may feel that these children with religious parents will be ruined by the type of education that they receive, but that is (and thankfully so) only your opinion.

BlackSun / December 11th, 2007, 6:19 pm / #21

Jenna,

The article referred to two areas of concern: proper science education, and proper sex education. Your position is classic relativist fallacy, that “nothing can be known” or “there is no absolute truth.” That’s the implication when you say “all children are indoctrinated.”

My goal is to go beyond opinions and require children be taught what is factual. Evolution is fact. Contraceptives prevent disease and/or pregnancy. That’s a fact. You do not own your children. You don’t have the right to sexually abuse them, and you don’t have the right to systematically lie to them, selectively deprive them of information, and call it “education.”

Basing something as important as children’s education on opinions of any kind (religious or otherwise) will always lead to manipulation and therefore damage of young minds. I don’t want my opinions or anyone else’s implemented, but rather a broad consensus of the best ideas from legitimate scientists and scholars. (Which thankfully does not include the cretins who advocate “intelligent design.”)

Wouldn’t you agree? Or are you afraid some inconvenient fact might topple the house of cards you call your ‘beliefs?’

Jenna / December 12th, 2007, 7:53 am / #22

Since you do not know me, nor my beliefs, I find it a bit foolish that you would assume things about me and insult my beliefs- all while being ignorant of them! *laughs*

For now, let me just say that I do not follow any “relativist fallacy”. Actually, I believe that there are many absolute facts. However, what I also have witnessed throughout the entirety of my life is that people approach all information from their own position of bias. I have yet to meet a single person who shares information with another without subtly (or more boldly) injecting their own opinion on what they believe is correct. That said, all children are indoctrinated, and there is nothing that will ever change that. Children will naturally tend to adopt beliefs and/or habits from those that they look up to. I think that the bigger question is that of whether the masses have the right to determine who most influences a child.

As for my personal beliefs, I am not afraid of what you call facts. I simply do not agree with your opinion on what scientific study has yielded. Nor do I agree with your assessment on who has the right and authority to teach children. While I wouldn’t mind having continued conversation on the issue, I believe it would be completely fruitless. You are as entrenched in your beliefs as I am in mine.

BlackSun / December 12th, 2007, 10:39 am / #23

Actually, Jenna, I didn’t make an accusation, I asked you a rhetorical question.

Again, I am for supporting scientific consensus, something you also fail to understand. What gives you the qualifications to say “I simply do not agree with your opinion on what scientific study has yielded.”?

It is not my opinion, it is the consensus.

Lawanda / December 30th, 2007, 12:20 pm / #24

There is no reason for me to make a “real argument” you make that perfectly clear.

But I had hoped if I used your basic corollary in a different light it might have got your attention and made you THINK, since it was just as reasonable my way…. Oh well.

Luckily for us common people, we still have the rights of parents to teach our kids what we will. And our children can’t yet be taken away from us against our will and plunked into a “government subsidized” situation that we do not approve of by those who think they know better than us how to raise them.

BlackSun / December 30th, 2007, 12:47 pm / #25

Lawanda,

But I had hoped if I used your basic corollary in a different light it might have got your attention and made you THINK, since it was just as reasonable my way…. Oh well.

Luckily for us common people, we still have the rights of parents to teach our kids what we will. And our children can’t yet be taken away from us against our will and plunked into a “government subsidized” situation that we do not approve of by those who think they know better than us how to raise them.

I’m all for freedom of choice for parents when it comes to teaching and raising children, as long as it is not in conflict with science. Teach them whatever values you want, but don’t deny them the facts they need, because you won’t be around to save them when they suffer the consequences of your miseducation of them. Nor will you or they or their children enjoy the backwater society a bunch of scientifically illiterate people would build. (As China, India and dozens of other countries continue to soar past the U.S. in basic science proficiency).

You are resisting objective standards where they do not agree with your narrow and outmoded views. Much as you might not like it, you have no right to systematically lie to your children, no matter what justification you cling to.

Democracy was designed to allow people the maximum freedom to make political choices within the bounds of the constitution. But democracy does not allow people to vote the earth to be flat, the sky to be red, or evolution to be “just a theory” with equal weight given to unscientific so-called “intelligent design.”

I’ll say it again:


You do not have the right to lie to your children, Lawanda. Period.

Lawanda / December 31st, 2007, 4:05 pm / #26

” You do not have the right to lie to your children, Lawanda. Period.”

Actually I do.

If I wish them to believe that someone named Santa Claus brings them gifts on December 25th while they are sleeping, I have every right to lie to them and tell them that.

I personally do not tell my children that, because I do not feel comfortable saying that to them. However, that is not the issue here…

We all know that parents are SUPPOSED to teach their children. That, in fact, there is NO POSSIBLE way to AVOID teaching our children SOMETHING. Merely by living in the same household with them, we are teaching them our outlook on life. (I believe this is what is meant at times by “indoctrination”)

We also know that children eventually grow up, and make their own decisions, and form their own beliefs, etc.

The issue we were talking about, though, was my right to PARENT my kids the way I see fit.

As far as I am concerned it is my right, and if we truly believe in freedom, we will allow parents to keep these rights, as opposed to handing the parental rights (nay - responsibilities) over to some government funded institution for 40 hours a week.

After all, their father and I are the ones who pay for these children to live. Who conceived and gave birth to them. Who care for them. Who taught them to read. Who taught them to use a toilet. Who taught them not to punch the person next to them.

We are their parents. Who are you or anyone else to tell us what we can teach our very own children??

Even if our views are flawed, according to you… YOU do not have THAT right.

BlackSun / December 31st, 2007, 7:23 pm / #27

If I wish them to believe that someone named Santa Claus brings them gifts on December 25th while they are sleeping, I have every right to lie to them and tell them that.

This is true, except when your children reach the age of reason, you explain that there is no Santa Claus, it’s a myth, etc. and no one gets hurt.

Santa Claus is like the starter god, which almost every kid grows out of. The irony is, just at the point when they’re growing out of Santa Claus, you hit them with the other lie that you don’t want them to grow out of. There is no more evidence for the Judeo Christian God than there is for Santa Claus, yet somehow while acknowledging the mythical nature of Santa Claus, you won’t acknowledge the other.

This is the crux of the problem.

After all, their father and I are the ones who pay for these children to live. Who conceived and gave birth to them. Who care for them. Who taught them to read. Who taught them to use a toilet. Who taught them not to punch the person next to them.

We are their parents. Who are you or anyone else to tell us what we can teach our very own children??

You have to admit there’s an objective standard for truth and what is OK for child rearing. You wouldn’t allow sexual abuse or exploitation of young children. Everyone agrees this is wrong (no one would claim you have this right because you pay for your kids to live and raise them) yet still you think nothing of planting completely false ideas in their heads.

Neither you or I should be allowed to set standards for childrens education. They should be required to be taught the best available knowledge which means respecting and honoring the scientific consensus. This includes teaching them about evolution as fact. It also includes educating them properly about sexuality, disease, pregnancy and contraception. This is a basic human right and you as a parent do not (or should not) have the authority to deny this no matter what your political or religious views.

Lawanda / January 1st, 2008, 11:22 am / #28

“Neither you or I should be allowed to set standards for childrens education.”

Wow. That sounds a little scary. I totally disagree. You want the government to set your parenting standards for you? Yikes.

Educating your children is what parenting is all about.

You educate your kids your way, I’ll educate mine my way.

As long as our children do not grow up as lawbreakers, then I have done my job, and so have you, as far as anyone else is (or should be) concerned. That should be the end of it, if you really believe in “freedom” ….

Louis / January 1st, 2008, 1:46 pm / #29

As long as our children do not grow up as lawbreakers, then I have done my job, and so have you, as far as anyone else is (or should be) concerned. That should be the end of it, if you really believe in “freedom”

There are plenty of sexually and physically abused children who grow up to be law abiding citizens; would you exempt the parents of those children from accountability for their actions? Why should mental abuse be any different?

Freedom tends to respect social obligations and and accepts certain conditions that self limit… when it doesn’t, freedom tends to get the label of ‘anarchy.’

In the end, freedom is rather illusive.

If you think successful parenting is that your children grow up and don’t break the law and that is fait accompli… you’ve set the bar so damn low, it could be rolled over.

What you believe, should be testable and provable, that is reasonable. That is reason. Otherwise, you are defending something that is equal to fantasy and fiction.

Perhaps you’d like to teach your children about dragons, or trolls, or forest pixies? You know, in case they meet up with one someday…

Entertain your children all you damn well want, but fail to give them a footing in the real world and you have failed as a parent. Just like you failed to make a point by bandying about that word… ‘freedom.’

You have social obligations that go beyond doing whatever the hell it is you please!

Lawanda / January 1st, 2008, 5:30 pm / #30

So, homeschooling is abuse, is it? Are we talking about teaching our kids, or sexually abusing them? You have me a bit confused. Well, not really, but I think you are a bit confused. Do you equate a mom teaching her kid to read to a mom sexually molesting/verbally abusing her child??? Cmon now. Do you REALLY???

Seems like both of you keep insinuating that homeschoolers are abusing their kids somehow by spending time with them, rather than putting them in school so that teachers can spend that time (roughly 40 hours a week) with them instead…

My “social obligation” is to take care of my family. Yours is to take care of yours. End of story. (Should be anyhow) I honestly don’t see why it is such an issue for you.

Especially, when I am sure you would DEFEND the right of a person to take care of *their very own pregnancy* in any legal way THEY wish…whether it is healthy or not…

It sure does seem to me that you are in the position of wishing to exert power over everyone else’s children if they disagree with you about your theory on the origin of our planet.

Whereas, I just want to have control over what is rightfully mine: my very own family, and the education thereof. (meaning, of course, that if I wish to send my kids to school, I have that option. But if I wish to school them myself, I have that option as well.)

You might should think on that a bit.

Louis / January 1st, 2008, 9:33 pm / #31

So, homeschooling is abuse, is it?

Did I say that? No, I said no such thing.

Do you equate a mom teaching her kid to read to a mom sexually molesting/verbally abusing her child??? Cmon now. Do you REALLY???

Again, you are seeing something I never said.

I was responding to your ridiculous statement that a law-abiding citizen is sign sufficient of proper parenting (education. or what you called in the onset of your posting… ‘Moral Education.’)

I argue that a law abiding citizen is someone who intellectually grasps the concept of a ’social contract’ and understands the consequences associated with breaking that contract.

Seems like both of you keep insinuating that homeschoolers are abusing their kids somehow by spending time with them, rather than putting them in school so that teachers can spend that time (roughly 40 hours a week) with them instead…

I am certain that isn’t what I was insinuating.

My “social obligation” is to take care of my family. Yours is to take care of yours. End of story. (Should be anyhow) I honestly don’t see why it is such an issue for you.

Society extends beyond your family and so do your social obligations. Do you live on some tiny Island in the South Pacific or something? Of course you should take care of your family, but if you think it ends there, how does that isolation bubble feel anyway?

It sure does seem to me that you are in the position of wishing to exert power over everyone else’s children if they disagree with you about your theory on the origin of our planet.

What theory are you referring? The one that puts the age of the earth at approximately 4.6 Billion years? or the one that has that age somewhere between 6000 and 7000 years old?

Seriously, go there with me, I double dog dare you!

Whereas, I just want to have control over what is rightfully mine: my very own family, and the education thereof. (meaning, of course, that if I wish to send my kids to school, I have that option. But if I wish to school them myself, I have that option as well.)

You might should think on that a bit.

I am not arguing that homeschooling shouldn’t be allowed. I am not even saying you can’t tailor some additional curriculum to fit to the individuality of that child.

I am saying there are some fundamentals that need to be a part of that package. You should be able to prove that you have met those basic curriculum requirements.

If you are a competent educator, this should be well within your grasp.

That is all this is about, for my part.

Lawanda / January 2nd, 2008, 10:42 am / #32

“I am not arguing that homeschooling shouldn’t be allowed.”

Whew. Well that’s a relief. ;)

“I am not even saying you can’t tailor some additional curriculum to fit to the individuality of that child.”

And I am saying that my tailor made curriculum is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

“I am saying there are some fundamentals that need to be a part of that package.”

There are.

“You should be able to prove that you have met those basic curriculum requirements.”

I do.

Seriously. Otherwise I’d be in jail for my children’s truancy, wouldn’t I?

“I was responding to your ridiculous statement that a law-abiding citizen is sign sufficient of proper parenting …

I argue that a law abiding citizen is someone who intellectually grasps the concept of a ’social contract’ and understands the consequences associated with breaking that contract.”

I don’t think we are arguing. I think we are agreeing. Perhaps I need to ask you something so you can be more clear.. because you are not really being very clear…

What other “social obligations” am I not fulfilling by homeschooling?

What other “social obligation” do I have above and beyond obeying the laws of the land?

Because you say also: “Society extends beyond your family and so do your social obligations.”

Louis / January 2nd, 2008, 3:55 pm / #33

Ok Lawanda,

Color us both confused now…

If you are in fact meeting basic curriculum requirements and that is sufficiently demonstrable in your children, then you have succeeded at educating your children.

Basic curriculum requirements for a third grade level aren’t the same as the requirements for someone at a twelfth grade level. So if your children show aptitude at a certain grade level of curriculum, then they should get credit for that level and you for imparting that education.

So here is my confusion. What was all the huffing and puffing about earlier?

Luckily for us common people, we still have the rights of parents to teach our kids what we will.

We are their parents. Who are you or anyone else to tell us what we can teach our very own children??
Even if our views are flawed, according to you… YOU do not have THAT right.

Wow. That sounds a little scary. I totally disagree. You want the government to set your parenting standards for you? Yikes.
Educating your children is what parenting is all about.
You educate your kids your way, I’ll educate mine my way.

Either you are fulfilling requirements and there isn’t a problem, or something else is happening that is causing hyper defensive statements like these:

And I am saying that my tailor made curriculum is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

What could possibly be so scary about the ‘tailor made’ curriculum?

Honestly.

You’ve met basic curriculum requirements, so why all the knee-jerking?

Your children have passed proficiency tests showing their grade level understanding of reading, writing, arithmetic, science, geography, etc. So you added violin lessons for little Susie and little Johnny got to learn computer sciences (or vice-versa.)

What is the big deal?

What is really going on here?

All this mystery and all you’ve succeeded in doing is making me more suspicious… should I be concerned?

Anyhow Lawanda, if you have met the curriculum requirements, there shouldn’t be a problem. You should be able to claim that tax subsidy, or whatever it is they have in the States, and have that education recognized.

BlackSun / January 2nd, 2008, 6:22 pm / #34

Lawanda, I have to echo Louis here, and ask you why you keep changing the subject. Getting back to the original post, I made it very clear that there were two problems: 1) The lack of appropriate science curricula, and 2) the lack of proper sex education. It has really very little to do with “home-schooling” per se, and everything to do with a narrow-minded religious worldview.

All the rest of your quibbling about owning your children (which you do not) is a smokescreen, and sidestepping the issue. You can teach them all the moral values you want. Just adopt an NSF or AAAS approved science-curriculum, and a modern up to date program on the reproductive system, contraception and the methods of preventing the spread of STIs when sexual contact occurs (as it inevitably will).

That is not so hard, nor onerous, nor invasive. It is not about someone trying to take away your parental rights. It is simply common sense. Your children are not able to make decisions for themselves about their mental well being–just as they cannot consent to sex when they are underage. So since they don’t have the ability to consent to a censored science curriculum, you must provide them with an accurate one. Neither do you have the right to deprive them of the “facts of life.”

To do so would be essentially to lie to them, as I’ve already stated. If you did this, you would be derelict in your parenting obligations, and you definitely should not qualify for a public subsidy.

That’s all this is about, and all your protestations simply confirm rationalists’ worst fears about your desire to keep your kids in the dark, and confirm that you are therefore unfit to be trusted with their education.

Lawanda / January 3rd, 2008, 11:03 am / #35

Basic curriculum requirements for a third grade level aren’t the same as the requirements for someone at a twelfth grade level. So if your children show aptitude at a certain grade level of curriculum, then they should get credit for that level and you for imparting that education.

Well, thanks :) Seeing as my 5th grader is at the 8th grade level+ on all subjects (all my kids are above level, actually. A common thread with a lot of homeschoolers, if you’d care to look into it) then I guess my teaching is not too shabby ;) (or her brain is not too shabby…hahaha)

You’ve met basic curriculum requirements, so why all the knee-jerking?

Oh, well… that lovely bold quote at the beginning of the thread did nothing for my patience…. When someone starts going on and on about how something I am doing for my kids is not in the best interest of my kids, I get a little ticked. Like it is anyone else’s business!

:)

You should be able to claim that tax subsidy, or whatever it is they have in the States, and have that education recognized.

Nope, no tax subsidy here. But that’s fine by me. I’d rather they get rid of the property tax ;) lol

——————————————

Getting back to the original post, I made it very clear that there were two problems: 1) The lack of appropriate science curricula, and 2) the lack of proper sex education.

And my subject has not changed:

You teach your kids science your way, I’ll teach my kids science my way. Who are you to judge an “appropriate science curriculum” anyway?? And who is anyone to judge an appropriate sex education curriculum??

All the rest of your quibbling about owning your children (which you do not)

Duh.

I never said I own them. But I am responsible for them. And you are not. Neither is the government.

That’s all this is about, and all your protestations simply confirm rationalists’ worst fears about your desire to keep your kids in the dark, and confirm that you are therefore unfit to be trusted with their education.

As I said before, “Luckily for us common people, we still have the rights of parents to teach our kids what we will.”

Louis, are you seeing this?

“confirm that you are therefore unfit to be trusted with their education.”

Unfit, am I? How many public schools are FIT to be trusted with my children’s education? (The answer is NOT MANY) Who deems them fit?

You? Ha.

Maybe in a dictatorship. :-p

(And again I say we are lucky to still have our inalienable rights.)

BlackSun / January 3rd, 2008, 11:26 am / #36

You teach your kids science your way, I’ll teach my kids science my way. Who are you to judge an “appropriate science curriculum” anyway?? And who is anyone to judge an appropriate sex education curriculum??

Lawanda, scientists are qualified to judge. Odd how you changed the subject when I mentioned the NSF and the AAAS. Pick your own science organization if you want, as long as it’s not a religiously funded front like the Discovery Institute. You’ll find an uncanny amount of agreement among scientists about appropriate curricula. This is not about some kind of dictatorship. As I’ve said at least half a dozen times, I don’t want my opinion consulted. I have no interest in controlling or dictating things to you. How ludicrous. It’s about conforming your views to reality. We all have to grow up and do it eventually.

What are you afraid of? Are you afraid science might be right? Are you afraid facts might contradict your wishes? What a weak and untenable position. No one has ever lost dignity by admitting that they were mistaken about something. If new discoveries were to invalidate current theories, then I’d be in favor of those discoveries being taught. But your system of thought is closed permanently, and you base your children’s education on what you want and wish rather than what is true.

You’ve clearly lost the argument–now you’re repeating yourself. If you come back with more of the same, I’m going to close this thread. It’s been all talked out and you refuse to see reason or concede. So one can only conclude your stubbornness is a result of your fear. Why not leave science to the experts–which you’re clearly not?

What is–IS. Again I ask you: what the hell are you afraid of?

Lawanda / January 3rd, 2008, 12:38 pm / #37

“What are you afraid of? ”

Someone taking away my inalienable parental rights. I admit that worries me. Especially when I see people who are of the opinion that I am “unfit” because I choose not to teach my kids science the way they want me to.

I suppose you’ll be wanting to close down all the art schools next. Since they do not teach science at all…

Why not leave parenting to the experts? ;)

BlackSun / January 3rd, 2008, 1:18 pm / #38

No, Lawanda, I asked you what you were afraid of intellectually. How convenient that you once again sidestepped the question of what the hell is wrong with telling kids the truth (or the best available truth based on 400 years of scientific inquiry) about the universe?

Someone taking away my inalienable parental rights.

As I’ve said–you don’t have the right to lie to your children, and you don’t. You don’t have the right to withhold the best available information or twist it or undermine its credibility. That’s where your inalienable parental rights end. If you insist on essentially lying to them, that makes you an unfit parent, and that is not a matter of your or my personal opinion.

You should love your kids enough to understand that they need to be given the best available information.

You clearly don’t acknowledge that there is a reality beyond the level of your subjective wishes and hopes. Your children should not be similarly handicapped. I hope they break away from your intellectual straitjacket and eventually find the resources to overcome your stifling of their understanding of the world.

I suppose you’ll be wanting to close down all the art schools next. Since they do not teach science at all…

Nonsense. I never said this and never would. Art is the highest expression of human creativity and should be nurtured and honored accordingly. There is no higher purpose than the expression of authentic art. It is in no way in conflict with science.

Taken together, art (by this I mean music, literature, painting, sculpture, etc.) and science can and should represent the full dynamic of human creative expression. Stifling of artistic expression OR scientific curiosity are equal insults to the human spirit. I hope you come to understand and accept this fact and also that there are universal truths that exist beyond the narrow confines of anyone’s beliefs.

Oh, one more thing, Lawanda, I checked your site–4 girls–wow. They’re going to be a handful, especially when they start hitting puberty. As a father of three who’ve long passed that threshold, I don’t think you have the slightest idea what you signed up for. ;-) Good luck.

Thanks for playing–and may you live long and prosper in reason.

Principled Discovery » What constitutes abuse? / March 27th, 2008, 10:39 pm / #39

[...] And it is also beginning to be used to describe educational choices by parents outside the mainstream. And Christians in particular (emphasis in the original): It is for this reason that I consider religious education to be a serious form of child abuse. No matter what kind of beliefs they might hold about underage sexuality, we don’t allow parents to sexually abuse their children because we understand that they don’t own their children’s bodies. Likewise we should understand just as clearly that no matter what their religions might demand they teach, parents do not own their kids’ minds. Society has a profound interest in the truthful education and proper formation of its future citizens. Therefore it should be expressly against the law to teach children a curriculum that so blatantly and directly contradicts science–even and especially in private. Such curricula should be treated like child pornography. Because miseducation is at least as damaging to children as sexual abuse. We’re talking about the malformation of the brain a child will possess for life. It goes without saying that it does not matter whether it is conducted in the home or in a private group setting, it should absolutely, positively never receive any government subsidy or funding.  Black Sun Journal [...]

Black Sun Journal » It’s Simple. Stop Lying to your Kids! / April 5th, 2008, 9:39 am / #40

[...] Objectivity scares the hell out of people, because facts always trump wishes. I knew that when I started writing for Black Sun Journal 7 years ago. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine my ardent promotion of it would lead to me being described in terms of the religious archetype "The Anointed" by someone with a graduate degree in biology! Because I equated the teaching of creationism with child abuse, I’ve raised the hackles of the "parent’s rights" crowd. They see in my words the specter of some sort of vast conspiracy by the state to forcibly educate their children. But I advocate something much narrower: Don’t lie to them. Teach them properly about science and the facts of life. Allow an impartial science panel to set binding curriculum standards. That is all. [...]

Black Sun Journal » Science Education is not Totalitarianism / April 7th, 2008, 1:43 am / #41

[...] Recently I was called out by Elisheva Hannah Levin, a hypocritical homeschooling mom (supposedly a degreed Biologist). Levin balked at my stance (previous article) in favor of some form of regulation of home school science curricula. Like Dawkins and many others, I consider the teaching of blatantly false creation stories to children in the guise of science to be a particularly pernicious form of child abuse. It should be banned. I responded to Levin by telling her (previous article) to stop supporting parents lying to their kids. [...]

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