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Raised Quiverfull: Homeschooling


Maude

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In her 'Raised Quiverfull' series, Libby Anne (Love, Joy, Feminism) recently asked the participants about their homeschooling experiences, which I found interesting. Contributor Lisa's post, in particular, reminded me of the Duggar young ladies:

I hated school more than anything. I mean, when I was really small and the others weren’t old enough for school yet (many of them weren’t born yet!), it was nice that my mom would spend so much time with me and it was fun, I enjoyed learning something. But the older I got and the more kids my Mom had to tutor, the less fun I had. My Mom had little time for each individual kid and at some point, I guess it was when I was 12, 13, I felt like it wasn’t so important what I had to study, it was more important to help the smaller ones do their studies. My Mom had some tougher pregnancies as well, which put her out of the picture for weeks and months. Those were the times where I was the one responsible for teaching the others. I basically didn’t do much myself since I also had the house to manage and the smaller kids to look after. It was horrible, trying to keep the toddlers satisfied while cleaning and cooking and at the same time looking after the boys who were just screaming and not concentrating.

At one point, once I turned 14, scientific studies lost their importance. My Dad felt it would do no good to teach a girl too much science. So the kitchen became my classroom and, even though I could already manage a house better than most 20 year olds, my Mom made me her fellow “help-meet.†I tried to get in some more math and that, but I didn’t get far. When I was 16 I realized that I wasn’t going to get any sort of degree anyway. My Dad didn’t want me to take SATs – not that I would’ve passed them anyway – and so I settled on studying the “important†things with some other women we knew – sewing, flower arranging. I also read a lot of the P/QF books that were coming out – the Ludy books, Harris, Pride, Pearl and so on. My Dad was torn. At some point, he wanted us to be smarter than kids from public schools and I think that somewhere he hoped I would have finished high school earlier than most people do, but then again, he took pride in the fact that his daughters were so “biblical.†I never quite understood what he wanted us to do.

We didn’t have much contact with other homeschoolers. We went to conventions where we met mostly other Christian homeschoolers, but never many who lived close enough to actually have vivid contact with them. Having friends wasn’t as important anyway, your siblings were supposed to be your best friends.

Raised Quiverfull: Homeschooling, Q. 2.

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Damn, what a sad life. It's obvious that woman wanted more from her life than what she received. She talks a lot about wanting more education and less responsibility in the home (after all, she's not the one who bore all those children). She was backed into a corner and not given any choices on which path her life would take. So, now, she's left with little education as an adult. How is she going to support herself? What if her husband passes and she's left to provide for her kids? How will she manage?

Fundies never cease to amaze me. They're hell bent on destroying their children's lives before they even start. I've never been so happy that I had the fortune to be born into a household with sane parents who supported my goals in life. Stories like these make me want to hop in the car, drive over to my parents house, and give them each a big hug.

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I thought it was interesting that she wrote

My Dad was torn. At some point, he wanted us to be smarter than kids from public schools and I think that somewhere he hoped I would have finished high school earlier than most people do, but then again, he took pride in the fact that his daughters were so “biblical."

SO many people buy into this "homeschooling will make your kids smarter than those stupid drug-addled public-school kids" line, as if it's just magic. Newsflash: Doesn't work that way, there needs to be some actual difficult studying happening, whether you do it at home OR not. But the pull sure is powerful, isn't it? Even people like this Dad want to do the "hah, we'll show them!" but then he dropped the ball big time...

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I thought it was interesting that she wrote

That reminds me of how JimBob and Michelle used to brag about how their kids would "graduate" high school at 16, but now they are backtracking and claiming their kids have learning disabilities.

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That reminds me of how JimBob and Michelle used to brag about how their kids would "graduate" high school at 16, but now they are backtracking and claiming their kids have learning disabilities.

Interesting. But yeah, people go into it with these high minded ideals, and they hear all the propaganda from the homeschooling advocates about how it's better than any other system, and how homeschooling kids are smarter than public school kids (complete with the usual insults against public schools) and they're better socialized because they're not segregated by age, and all the rest of it. And part of that message is "plus, it takes less time because public school is full of moronic busywork just aimed at keeping the unruly kids in line."

So then some families start pumping out tons of kids, some families maybe only have one kid but mom just doesn't have time to care (not necessarily fundie, either), and school just... goes by the wayside. Perhaps the kid has to teach her younger siblings, perhaps the kid is just left completely alone with no direction and told to just use the library. But either way, things go pretty well when the subjects are fairly easy - elementary level. Kids do just learn from life, to a certain point.

But when the harder levels come, the kid looking after 323409510 siblings and doing a full load of housekeeping doesn't have time for her own studies, so she just falls back into teaching the younger kids, surrounded just by them, feeling smart because well, she's smarter than they are, she can teach them. She doesn't meet any public-schooled kids her own age. The kid with the neglectful mom doesn't have anyone showing HOW to climb a high learning curve, and quickly gives up, maybe dabbling in the introductory chapter of all sorts of appropriately "eclectic" and "oh, how advanced!" topics but not really getting anywhere.

Neither of them spends much time on school.

And it gets justified by those same parents, who bought into the "homeschooled kids are smarter than public school kids" line, with the old chestnut that "well, when you study on your own, you don't NEED to spend as much time!" They don't see that their kids aren't spending NEARLY enough time, because again they don't see public school kids or have a good idea of what kids should be doing at their ages, and with the religious ones (and some of the secular ones too) they see their kids' lacks as part of the "charmingly unworldly" personality, and justify it.

Personally I think homeschooling CAN work out great, and be a really wonderful thing. But you can't do it by just leaving your kid completely alone. Even "unschoolers," the ones doing things properly, show direction to their kids and make sure that they're putting in time and effort, making sure their kids HAVE goals and projects.

From what I've heard from people I know in US college admissions (at a big state university) homeschoolers tend to divide into two groups - some of them are VERY well prepared (the ones you usually hear about) and the others are so woefully unprepared for anything they have no idea about just how far behind they even are. The trick is preventing the latter case. But I think a lot of the QF group ends up falling into the latter case, just by overworking the kids if nothing else.

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It's kind of sad that some of these experiences mirror mine in a private christian school... I was only really socialized with people who believed as my parents did, and I'm learning that some things I wasn't taught either weren't true or exaggerated or under exaggerated. For the most part the school I went to had great academics, but my education still has gaps.

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Our society has taken steps to help children in abusive situations but I don't think it considers this type of 'schooling' to be a kind of abuse. I think it's educational abuse that's allowed to go on partly because of freedom of religious and partly because of some people's aversion to government intervention in their lives. This is an area where the government, social workers etc. need to intervene to ensure children are being properly educated.

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Recently I was asked to tutor a young lady (19) that I know from church--she was homeschooled through high school, and was now taking remedial algebra 1 at the community college. As far as I could tell, her math abilities did not extend much beyond arithmetic operations on fractions. She didn't know what an exponent was. She didn't know what the distributive property was. She was struggling with concepts that I learned when I was 12. She is not at all a stupid person but she ended up dropping the algebra class and enrolling in the remedial class *before* it, which she is doing well in. I consider this kind of educational neglect to be nearly criminal.

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Recently I was asked to tutor a young lady (19) that I know from church--she was homeschooled through high school, and was now taking remedial algebra 1 at the community college. As far as I could tell, her math abilities did not extend much beyond arithmetic operations on fractions. She didn't know what an exponent was. She didn't know what the distributive property was. She was struggling with concepts that I learned when I was 12. She is not at all a stupid person but she ended up dropping the algebra class and enrolling in the remedial class *before* it, which she is doing well in. I consider this kind of educational neglect to be nearly criminal.

Good on her. Some people learn algebra at 12, some at 19. Does it really matter?

I don't know what an exponent or a distributive property is either. I was homeschooled. My husband can't add 2+2 but spent 18 years in the traditional schooling system, has a degree and works in his degree field.

If I want to learn algebra (or anything else) I can hire a tutor, take a course, buy some books etc. The same if I want to learn French, or piano, or karate.

I think your argument is a bit thin really.

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Good on her. Some people learn algebra at 12, some at 19. Does it really matter?

I don't know what an exponent or a distributive property is either. I was homeschooled. My husband can't add 2+2 but spent 18 years in the traditional schooling system, has a degree and works in his degree field.

If I want to learn algebra (or anything else) I can hire a tutor, take a course, buy some books etc. The same if I want to learn French, or piano, or karate.

I think your argument is a bit thin really.

Seriously, you don't know these things? Shall I send my public schooled 9 year old over to tutor you in math?

I used to homeschool and my children got a great education. I help them to high standards. There is no excuse for someone to reach adulthood unable to understand even the basic concepts behind 4th grade math. I think you just proved VVV's point beautifully.

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Seriously, you don't know these things? Shall I send my public schooled 9 year old over to tutor you in math?

I used to homeschool and my children got a great education. I help them to high standards. There is no excuse for someone to reach adulthood unable to understand even the basic concepts behind 4th grade math. I think you just proved VVV's point beautifully.

I don't think it's the be all and end all to learn algebra when you're 9. If you want to learn if you can at any age, can't you? Does learning stop when you get to 18?

If you want to speak French, learn how to paint, play the violin and tap dance, but didn't learn when you were a child, is that inexcusable too? What makes algebra sooooo important? I'm 32 and to my knowledge, have never suffered because I don't know "basic concepts".

Actually, I went to school until I was 11. Algebra wasn't part of the curriculum until college.

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I don't think it's the be all and end all to learn algebra when you're 9. If you want to learn if you can at any age, can't you? Does learning stop when you get to 18?

If you want to speak French, learn how to paint, play the violin and tap dance, but didn't learn when you were a child, is that inexcusable too? What makes algebra sooooo important? I'm 32 and to my knowledge, have never suffered because I don't know "basic concepts".

Actually, I went to school until I was 11. Algebra wasn't part of the curriculum until college.

That's the thing. Exponents are not algebra, they are basic math. When I was in school you hit them at about 6-8th grade, now they introduce them earlier because you learn math concepts more easily when you are young.

If you ever decided to go to college, you would probably need 4-5 different courses of remedial math before you even hit a college level course. That sucks. I can see why former qf'ers are pissed off that they were robbed of an education.

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That's the thing. Exponents are not algebra, they are basic math. When I was in school you hit them at about 6-8th grade, now they introduce them earlier because you learn math concepts more easily when you are young.

If you ever decided to go to college, you would probably need 4-5 different courses of remedial math before you even hit a college level course. That sucks. I can see why former qf'ers are pissed off that they were robbed of an education.

Yup, then I would take remedial courses. I know how to study and I also know I study better when it's something I want to learn and something I am interested in.

I'm not under any illusions that I know everything, but I feel I had a very good, well rounded education at home and more importantly, I grew into the human being I am today, which I know I couldn't have done in the school system. But that's just me.

Do you have an answer for my other question above?

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I want to add I do agree that denying a child the right to learn something is inexcusable. :) Just to clarify!

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Homeschooling can be an excellent choice ...or it can be a disaster. I think it depends on the abilities of the parents and how much time & effort they can/will devote to their kids education. A friend homeschooled her kids and they all are well educated. I considered homeschooling but chose not to. I knew I would be ok to teach certain subjects and hopeless for others. I would have done my daughter a disservice had I kept her home. Although I do think I would have done a better job than the Duggars have!

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Yup, then I would take remedial courses. I know how to study and I also know I study better when it's something I want to learn and something I am interested in.

I'm not under any illusions that I know everything, but I feel I had a very good, well rounded education at home and more importantly, I grew into the human being I am today, which I know I couldn't have done in the school system. But that's just me.

Do you have an answer for my other question above?

Concept and language acquisition are highest when you are young. There is a window in which you learn better, and an educationally neglected adult probably will never catch up. Is that a good enough answer? I speak French pretty fluently because I learned it as a young child. Even if I forget it with misuse, I can catch up in the matter of a few foreign films. Knowing more than one language made it easier for me to learn other languages as well, because my linguistic neurons did not die off from lack of use when I was small. Math concepts are the same way.

I have seen neglected homeschoolers fail in college and find themselves unable to reach their academic and career goals because they lack a conceptual background in things like exponents. One person very close to me went through this and it is such an incredible waste of intellect.

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I want to add I do agree that denying a child the right to learn something is inexcusable. :) Just to clarify!

Very few children want to learn every single thing they need to know in order to be a successful adult. Educational neglect is far more benign than yanking math books from a child's hands. You do need to make your children learn some things and stay on top of it to ensure that they are picking up concepts and doing enough practice problems to grasp the formulas. I am glad my parents made me do my algebra homework despite whining and pleas that I would never need to know it. Because it ends up I did need to know it.

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That's the thing. Exponents are not algebra, they are basic math. When I was in school you hit them at about 6-8th grade, now they introduce them earlier because you learn math concepts more easily when you are young.

If you ever decided to go to college, you would probably need 4-5 different courses of remedial math before you even hit a college level course. That sucks. I can see why former qf'ers are pissed off that they were robbed of an education.

Exponents are just pretty basic math. Students get them in school much sooner than I did, but it was certainly something that was important to know by junior high when I was in school. There are other concepts that are based on exponents and understanding that particular concept; I'm not sure I'd know how to think about some concepts without understanding exponents and how things are exponentially impacted. I don't use those concepts because I'm "doing math"; I use those concepts in seeking to understand the world around me.

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Very few children want to learn every single thing they need to know in order to be a successful adult. Educational neglect is far more benign than yanking math books from a child's hands. You do need to make your children learn some things and stay on top of it to ensure that they are picking up concepts and doing enough practice problems to grasp the formulas. I am glad my parents made me do my algebra homework despite whining and pleas that I would never need to know it. Because it ends up I did need to know it.

I'm a big believer that people learn differently, especially children. As long as a parent is providing (and fundies arn't doing this) a fun and conducive learning environment, most children will learn by osmosis, and they will want to learn instead of having it shoved down their throats. Atleast, this is what we are seeing in our homeschooling group.

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I have seen neglected homeschoolers fail in college and find themselves unable to reach their academic and career goals because they lack a conceptual background in things like exponents. One person very close to me went through this and it is such an incredible waste of intellect.

I've seen exactly the opposite, bright young children suffocated and destroyed by a schooling system that doesn't work for them, and on the other hand, homeschooled kids who've been to university and graduated top of their classes with honours. I just think that some children learn better in school, some out of it.

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I'm a big believer that people learn differently, especially children. As long as a parent is providing (and fundies arn't doing this) a fun and conducive learning environment, most children will learn by osmosis, and they will want to learn instead of having it shoved down their throats. Atleast, this is what we are seeing in our homeschooling group.

I agree in theory, but how are your children learning math by osmosis when even you don't understand it? In order to learn by osmosis, the knowledge needs to at least be there. They are not going to suck math out of the air, otherwise no school would ever be necessary. You yourself are kind of proof that your theory does not always work--not only do you not grasp elementary school math, you do not know enough to see how it could be a problem.

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I've seen exactly the opposite, bright young children suffocated and destroyed by a schooling system that doesn't work for them, and on the other hand, homeschooled kids who've been to university and graduated top of their classes with honours. I just think that some children learn better in school, some out of it.

I have seen high scoring homeschoolers, but they had parents who were on top of things. Not people who expected them to pull complex math theories out of the air by osmosis. I have also seen a large number of homeschoolers fail because their parents assumed that they could catch up if needed later.

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I agree in theory, but how are your children learning math by osmosis when even you don't understand it? In order to learn by osmosis, the knowledge needs to at least be there. They are not going to suck math out of the air, otherwise no school would ever be necessary. You yourself are kind of proof that your theory does not always work--not only do you not grasp elementary school math, you do not know enough to see how it could be a problem.

I know enough maths to survive and thrive in my current life. I hope my children will be as happy and as intelligent as I am.

I agree that there are times books are needed, and if that's the case, I'll get books and learn along side my kids. I'm looking forward to it, infact! There are also tutors and other people in our hs group that are more equipped to teach maths than I am. I can share what I know with their kids, and visa versa.

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To be fair, I went to some of the highest ranked public schools in the country and I'm still stuck in remedial algebra in college. These things can happen regardless of the schooling situation.

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I went to public school and all I really learned from my math classes is that I need help when it comes to math. This extended into college where I was told from my placement exam that I needed to take a prep course before taking my required math, which I did. I was fine in the prep course but barely passed the required math class. There was definitely no educational neglect in my case, I'm just really terrible at math. So some people just struggle more with certain subjects than others. BUT the parent should never discourage their child from trying to learn something on their own! That is absolutely wrong... and people who do not understand a certain subject should provide people who DO to teach their children properly. If they want to homeschool, they should be making sure that all the necessary subjects are covered somehow, even if they get some outside help. I don't think that an inability to excel in math classes can be universally blamed on a poor education at home or at school, though.

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