Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Homeschooling and Subversion

I've been twittering lately; although I've been on Twitter for a year or so and aware of it for longer, I hadn't figured out what it's for until lately. (It's kind of a rogue comment thread or a slow chat, where you read various short messages from people throughout the day. Ultra-mini-micro blogging, if you like, without the central blogging personality.)

Anyway, I won't name names but one twitterer is homeschooling and wondered aloud (twittered) if she was teaching subversion. Since Twitter doesn't lend itself to responding to something really old (you know, like 16 hours or more) I thought I'd respond here, since it's also worthy of more than 140 characters.

The answer is, yes, you are teaching subversion. There is no way around this, and there's really no political angle to it either: Conservative or liberal, if you are homeschooling you are saying that the state-run school is not adequate to the task it sets for itself.

Whether this is because they teach poorly, or the wrong things, or the social aspect--it doesn't matter. "Universal education" is one of the first social programs--one of the first ways our government set out to accumulate power for itself, and it has been the most disastrous.

You could say the same thing is true for private schools, except the government has its hooks in those as well. They try to get their hooks into homeschools also by mandating curricula and testing, but fortunately for the homeschool crowd, government competence isn't boosted in the policing area either.

More importantly, however, you are probably not using the same tactics used by schools to control children. (At least, I hope you're not.) There was a time where schools controlled children through appeals to morality. That is, you were expected to be moral, to work hard, to fulfill expectations: Your sin was not using the opportunity your forebears had given you.

Not to idolize too much, of course, because the threat of physical force was there and very real. And even in bygone days, homeschooling could be quite superior to even the little red schoolhouse.

Schools now are half-prison/zoos and half re-education camps. They're so bad at the education part, only the most deluded die-hard school promotrs will even try to suggest that a child gets a better education at school. Mostly they say, "Well, what about socialization?"

Ah, yes, what about socialization? Isn't it important that your child learn to get along with others? To experience the peer pressure that demands conformity? That promotes consumerism as the highest goal? Isn't it important, in other words, that your child learn to "go along to get along"?

How else will he learn to take orders from the government and his corporate masters? How else will he know happiness, if not by being able to buy the exact same stuff as everyone else, and like the exact same stuff as everyone else? How will he learn the correct things to think? (I've mentioned here the argument I had with a woman who disliked my approach of presenting data to children and letting them work out their own opinions: "What if they end up thinking the wrong things!")

When we did the Creative Wealth financial program (about a year ago), The Boy was one of two kids (out of 120) who was willing to really speak out. Over the years, and especially as a teen, The Boy has become less gregarious than he was a child, so he was markedly different from the other boy speaking out. His drive to speak came from a desire to express an opinion, or to point out what he saw as a logical flaw, not as a desire for attention. (He's sort of at the "shun attention" phase, actually.)

I'm not patting myself or any other homeschooling parent on the back, here, but I am saying that there is an implicit message in homeschooling, and few parents are going to work as hard to recreate the soul-crushing dynamic--that confluence of peer pressure, absolute authority, and bad education--at play in a school. It's something you couldn't do if you wanted to, I don't think.

The result is going to be someone with enough independence--and a very good starting example--to challenge the status quo, the state, or anything else that most people end up thinking of as immutable and irresistable.

In other words, a subversive.


  1. Ah yes, "what about the socialization?"

    To which I answer "What about the ability to count his own Beanbags and come up with the same number twice? And if he can come up with the same number, is it the correct number?"

    That's about when the blank stare comes into play.

  2. Heheheh.

    "But what about frieeeends?"

    Kind of sad that not only has the state co-opted education, it seems to have positioned itself as the primary avenue for social activity.

  3. So that explains it.

    Hey if you do most of your communication via Twitter, does that make you a Twit.

    Just sayn'

  4. Explains what? What were we trying to explain?!


    I think a "tweeter" is the preferred nomenclature, if you please.

    Ya twit.

  5. The answer is, yes, you are teaching subversion. There is no way around this, and there's really no political angle to it either: Conservative or liberal, if you are homeschooling you are saying that the state-run school is not adequate to the task it sets for itself.

    Well, yes. The answer was, and is, embedded in the 'question' to which you referred.


    Also, Blake, thanks, for that and more than you know.

  6. Take a look at Sippican's post from Wednesday.

    For me, plan A is homeschooling. If I fail, plan B is public school. Others reverse their plans.

    My little subversives are going on a field trip this morning.

  7. Thank you, reader.

    Ruth Anne-- I need to put Sippican in my reader list. I just admire the hell out of him.

  8. I'm glad I followed the link to Sippican's blog. I like what he said about "everyone's a homeschooler." I plan to send my kids to public school--they are supposed to be good where we're moving, but we'll see.)

    Anyway, I worry about it all the time, but really, what he said is true. You have to make sure your kids know what they need to know.

  9. The IAHP just says you gotta "school-proof" them. Just like pool-proofing them is to teach them to swim, school-proofing them is teaching them to read and think and building genuine confidence in their own abilities.

  10. Blake, I have gone to that site and watched some video. Where do you start with a 3-year old? He's certainly not reading yet.

  11. Sorry, I should be more specific: did you attend courses or just read the books?

  12. I should pick Freeman's brain, too.

  13. I've been to the institutes several times.

    The easiest place to start is with "bits". This is basically a set of large flash cards with a picture on one side and small pieces of information about the picture on the back.

    Well, wait, no, that's not the easiest place to start 'cause it's a lot of work to put a set of bits together (though you can buy some from the Institutes). It's remarkably effective, though.

    Teaching them to read is fairly similar, except you just write the words on flash cards and say them. The trick is to use interesting words--the business of using small words as in kiddie books is that they're both boring and hard to distinguish from each other.

    There's a very narrow window in which you can teach a child "instant math", too, so you want to jump on that. (By the time they're five, most kids are too old.)

  14. I bought "How to Teach Your Baby to Read" today. We'll see how it goes.

  15. Good luck! I think you'll have fun!

  16. Great post!
    BE blessed!


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