Monday, January 25, 2010

More public school info

Not to keep the whole hype going, but I just came across a great blog called Bureaucratic Daycare that has lots of information on what I likewise think is wrong with the public education system.

Lest you think I am on some new anti-government school kick, I have been blogging about this issue for a long time, such as in this post. I don't change my opinions about how children should be educated to accommodate other people's differing opinion or changing preferences.

Nor do I have time to address all the arguments brought up against homeschooling in the comments, but the one I would like to refute is that of sheltering and lack of socialization.

For starters, our children have been on repeated overseas trips, including the countries of Mexico, Germany, Austria, and Hungary, in addition to having been on many trips to other states. Our oldest is 8, so I am sure there are many more trips he, as well as his siblings, will enjoy with us before growing up and leaving the house. This means that they have seen more of the world than 99% of their peers, including the children of those people who think my kids are cut off from the rest of the world.

Our children also read 30-50 books from the library every single week, about 75% of which are non-fiction and the rest mostly picture books for the younger ones. I do not force them to read these books, in fact, I have to force them to STOP reading and play outside or help with chores. I try to go to the library without any of them in tow, lest I have to lug home twice as many books because they will beg me to get more and more books. In case you didn't know, libraries do not stock hundreds of conservative Christians children's books, meaning that these books don't give them a "biased" Christian view. This year alone, I have learned more along with my kids than I did in all my years of school, and I got what is considered a great public education and graduated one of the top in my year. I guarantee that our kids know and learn more about the world, its history, and the people who live in it than any public schooled children will learn in school. Granted, these kids may learn more at home from their parents, but their free time to be able to do so will be greatly reduced by having wasted their hours holding down a bench in school.

If your child is a straight A student with little or no effort, it just goes to prove my point that their potential is not being fully used. They "max out" at the A grade, but if there were no educational ceilings so as to not make other students self-conscious, they could have gone much higher instead of being bored while waiting for all the slower students to fulfill their daily quota.

As far as interacting with other human beings goes, our kids are part of a weekly P.E. group. They also take a class each month at the science center with other children. They also interact with other kids at church for several hours each week. We go on weekly field trips with lots of other people that happen to be visiting whatever place it is we see that week. Not a Saturday goes by that I don't take the kids to a workshop, craft activity, or children's day at a local attraction or business in town. Our children also come with me almost every time I leave the house, meaning they meet and talk with lots and lots of other people from all walks of life. Instead of sitting in class with the same peers day after day, our kids interact with adults as well as other kids. The Bible says that "foolishness is bound in the heart of a child", so I fail to see the benefit in socializing my kids only with other fools.

Our kids also take turns going out door-to-door with my husband or me repeatedly every week. They see and smell how people live in neighborhoods where every street is littered with beer bottles and other items I will not mention here, rather than just seeing the deceptive beer ads on billboards along the freeway or learning about "safer sex" in school. They see what homes look like where there is no husband/Dad and every sibling in one family has a different father, and what condition of body and mind those mothers are in. I don't have to convince my children that living within the bounds of God's Word is a blessing, because they see the difference every week. I don't despise these people, which is why I am there telling them that even after a life of misery, they can still go to Heaven, even if they never change anything about the way they live. But that doesn't mean that I want my kids to have to live a miserable life like that.

Unlike most parents, we never leave our kids home with a babysitter while we go out to eat, have some alone time, or go on a vacation. They come with us wherever we go. They are as socialized as we are, which is more than many other adults.

My oldest is confident enough and capable of walking into the bank by himself and conducting simple transactions such as a deposit, of waiting in line and the post office and mailing a letter or package for me, or of going into a store and buying an item or two on those occasions that the babies are all asleep in the van, or one of them is ill and unable to walk into a business, but the errand must get done nonetheless. If you think that I am being reckless for letting him do these things, remember that other people put their kids on a bus every day and leave them in the care of government employees all day, where they stand a much greater chance of being abused by the staff or other kids. I am hardly the "helicopter parent" I get accused of being.

Likewise, I don't have to convince my children that having babies is a blessing and gift from God, because they love and enjoy each and every one of their younger siblings as much as we as parents do. Kids have to be taught that birth control is the norm, and they will not learn that from me. But I wonder, do all the people who think we should all be using birth control teach their kids about what the Bible says about children being a blessing and our heritage from God so as to not teach their kids only their biased views? Hardly.

If you don't want to homeschool, more power to you. They are your kids, not mine. If they grow up and do shameful things, you will have to live with it, not me. I am not being radical by believing like 99% of conservative Christians, including those who utilize private Christian schools, that public education is a menace to our society and a detriment to children.

28 comments:

  1. Just wondering, do you teach your kids about other religions? How would they react if they met someone of the muslim faith for example?

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  2. What about children who are raised in unfit homes like the ones you described?

    My mother was 15 when she had me. My family is 'broken', I have five siblings with different mothers (same father). Most of my sisters have multiple kids, under the age of 17.

    I, however, used what was given. I went to public school, got straight A's. Went to college. Got straight A's.

    Doing quite well for myself, even with the 'limitations' imposed upon me.


    What you're basically saying is that unless children are brought up with saints (as you seem to be touting yourself) that they will grow up to be worthless.

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  3. Zetsubou the Despairing Tech Support WorkerJanuary 25, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    Wow, your 8-year-old will go to the bank by himself? That's pretty impressive, and I'm not being sarcastic. I was practically a shut-in when I was 8, except for school.

    To be honest, I was surprised to read that you allow your children to read books from the library. Most libraries don't have conservative Christian books for little kids. Might I suggest Sheep in a Jeep? That was my favorite book when I was a little girl, and your younger children might enjoy it.

    That said, you seriously tell your children that people who do not live with both a mom and a dad are not getting a good experience? My dad worked a lot, and my mother committed suicide when I was two. My great-grandmother pretty much raised me, and thanks to that cantankerous old woman I learned more about the world and the people in it than any church could have taught me. Thanks to my dad, I learned to use computers from a young age, which set off a lifelong love of electronics, which has served me well in the long run.

    While I'm certainly by no means perfect, I think I grew up just fine in a "non-traditional" household, and teaching your kids that people in such households will not grow up well is completely and utterly wrong.

    I leave you with this one thing- my great-grandmother once told me to not let anyone try to hold me back. She told me that girls like me could grow up and become just as powerful as anyone else. I just couldn't let anyone get in the way of my ambitions. I took that to heart, and today I make enough money to support a family of four by myself, only there's not three other people. Just me. I think it's a shame that you're not teaching your daughters that they too could live such a life and have enough money to buy nice things without having to rely on anyone else.

    I know this comment doesn't have a lot to do with public school, but I thought I would touch on that issue since you mentioned it. People who grow up in non-traditional households can be just as successful as someone who did.

    Cheers,
    Zetsubou

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  4. LOVE the way you put this post together, and I think you completely addressed this "misunderstanding" about homeschooling so well!

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  5. The stereotypes you wish to disprove about homeschooling are matched only by your own stereotyping of the public school system. I don't blame you for being wary of public school if your experience with them has been bad or if you have only noticed negative press.

    I send my children to public school, and was educated in the public school system myself. My circle of friends all attended Ivy League schools and have been productive, contributing citizens. One of those friends of mine is now a monk, another is a Naval commander, another is an attorney who now works representing battered women, one worked in the White House, one is a stay-at-home mom, one is a Phd astronomer at a major university. These are men and women--good friends from childhood public school.

    I have never, nor do I know anyone who has ever, left a child at home with a bottle of Benadryl and a babysitter, though you say that "most parents" do this. After I had my first child, my husband and I didn't go out without children for five years, and when we did take our first "date" night, we had family friends with kids come over to play and make dinner while we were away for a couple of hours.

    It's hard to make a strong case for homeschooling when you couple your wonderful, loving, family style of education with insults against the integrity of those who choose otherwise. You just can't paint people (or the public school system) with such a broad brush.

    Cat

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  6. We are Christ followers. We homeschool. I am a stay-at-home Mom. However, I have to take exception to your babysitter/benadryl comment. My Mom, once a month, takes our boys so my husband and I can have a few hours to really reconnect. No Benadryl is in the house. Every friend I have has sitters much more often than we do (we choose to not do it more often), and not a one of them uses Benadryl to get their children to go to sleep. Most parents do that? Can you provide stats to back that up because I have only heard of using Benadryl if you have a child with allergies, have a child that is having a serious issue with sleep to once or twice help them get some quality sleep, or to help a child sleep on a very long plane trip. (we don't use Benadryl at all, but we do have a pediatrician and friends that do)

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  7. AMEN! And again I say AMEN!!!

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  8. Alright everyone, a correction about the Benadryl. I did NOT mean to make it sound the way I wrote it, that most parents use Benadryl to get their kids to sleep. I have edited the original post and taken that out. I stand corrected.

    What I meant to say was that most parents leave their children from time to time. I do not think this is wrong (as in sinful), but my husband and I have chosen not to do so for personal reasons. My only point in saying this was to show that our kids have the exact same level of socialization as we do.

    As for the Benadryl, it is one of the stupid comments I get when out shopping with my kids. Not that I get a lot of stupid comments, but when I do, it's either "Don't you have a TV?" or "Give them some Benadryl tonight to get some rest". I have heard about people doing just that, and even read about a mom touting it on her blog. I by no means think that most parents use this "trick", or that it falls into the same category as having a sitter.

    What I should have said if I wanted to get that off my chest was something along the lines of "most people use sitters and some even go so far as to tell them to use Benadryl just so they can get some time alone".

    There. My apologies to all who took offense.

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  9. Lucy,

    yes, our children know a lot about other religions, probably more than many adults. For example, growing up in a German public school with religious education classes for 12 years, I never even heard the word "Baptist" until I was an adult. They covered way less than we do. Of course, anything our kids learn is in the context of "but this is what the Bible says, and this is where this religion is wrong, and people who believe this need to change and believe on Christ". We do firmly believe Jesus when he said "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me". If our kids met someone of another faith, their concern would be to see them converted. In fact, Solomon and I were out just yesterday, going door-to-door presenting the Gospel, when we ran into a couple of young Muslims, a Messianic Jew, a Catholic, and some other people of differing beliefs. Solomon listened as they told me what they believed, and when I showed them what the Bible teaches.

    Vicky,

    I am sorry you grew up in a broken home, and glad to hear that your grandma raised you lovingly. However, I cannot help but think that if you would have had the choice, you would rather have had parents who loved each other and you, and raised you themselves. If your mother got pregnant at 15, I wonder if it was someone she met at school. Would you rather she had been raised in a conservative Christian home and homeschooled herself if that would have meant you could have been born a few years later to her and her loving husband?

    I am not saying no homeschooled kids from Christian homes get pregnant as teens or go off the deep end in life, but the chances statistically are much lower.

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  10. Zetsubou,

    you will be glad to know that our kids love and own the book "Sheep in a Jeep", as they do "Sheep in a Shop".

    I think that kids who do not live with both a mom and a dad are not being raised the way God intended. Sometimes this may be due to tragic circumstances such as death, but most of the time it is due to personal choices and failure on the part of the parents. Even just statistically, children from single parent homes fare worse in life. If you are an exception to that rule, wonderful.

    I am not telling my girls (or boys for that matter) that they can't attain whatever they want in life. In fact, when one of them says "I can't" about anything, I always make a point of correcting them and saying "that's not true, you can", because the Bible says "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me".

    BUT I do tell them that there is no higher calling or happier life than that which God ordained, which for women is to be a wife and mother. I know I could have a successful career. I know I could start and run a successful business of my own. I have many ideas, and enough smarts and work ethic to see whatever I want through, and maybe one day when the kids are grown, I will. I had a good career before I got married, and even after I had kids, I worked for years as a freelance translator, and got paid very well. But none of that ever came close to the fulfillment of taking good care of my family. They deserve only the best, and I would rather work for them than any employee or customer.

    I stopped working not because I didn't have to any more, because my husband has always made enough money to support us very generously. I stopped because I wanted to devote ALL my time to my family. I read and study every week about how to live more healthy, make and grow more of my own stuff for them, and spend hours every week teaching them new skills and taking them places. I could pour myself into a career, or my family, and the latter is so much more fulfilling.

    You may bring home enough money to support a family of four, but you are alone. Personally, and I think every mother would agree with me, I'd rather have the family of four than the money. You will never know what you are missing until you hopefully have a child someday.

    You may not fully understand the concept of a Biblical/Christian marriage. It's not that I "have to rely" on my husband to support me, no more so than our kids have to rely on us rather than providing for their own. It's the way it's supposed to be. The Bible says that a husband and wife become one, and it's not just physically speaking. We are one joint unit. My husband works for the money, and I, with his consent and approval, spend it on things we all need and benefit from. He's happy, I'm happy, the kids are happy. Everybody wins. He loves me and wants me to have whatever I want, and I love him and try to spend as little as I can because I appreciate his hard work.

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  11. Zetsubou the Despairing Tech Support WorkerJanuary 26, 2010 at 4:17 AM

    Well, as long as you are happy with your life. I do see from your blog that you love your children very much. :)

    What you say does make sense to me, wanting to take care of your children as opposed to working. If I was ever to have children, I don't know how I would manage to work and care for a baby at the same time.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to me. I appreciate it.

    -Zetsubou

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  12. This is too funny. Everyone has grown up and done shameful things! Homeschooled, unschooled, private schooled and public schooled graduates all manage to sin. We all fall short of the glory of God. There was a homeschooled girl who had an illigitmate baby with (gasp..)someone of another race. All people sin. Homeschooling isn't the magic pill that makes up perfect.

    Zuzu, have you ever done standup comedy? You should take this on the road!

    Loving you like a neighbor. I know you mean well. You're still a riot.

    Ricky Tan

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  13. I appreciated this post. Our problems with home schooling are numerous. My husband was home schooled most of his life, and I was home schooled for some of mine. We both hated it. His parents used it as an excuse to shelter him and didn't even teach him about sex or anything, even as a teenager. His parents had never even told him how or why boys and girls are different! His mom still does that with her kids.

    My parents did it not only to shelter me, but so that the people at school wouldn't notice any bruises on us and therefore wouldn't ask any questions. Neither my husband or I got to attend sports, arts, crafts, music or any other kinds of groups with others. We now feel like these things were stolen from us as our parents kept us from them on purpose with no real reason. Also, during some of the time my sisters and I were home schooling, my mother thought that since she didn't have to take us to school each day that she would leave us home alone so that she could work.

    I know of several home schooling families that only did it so they could cover up abusing their children.

    I don't think home schooling is evil, but am so thankful that my husband doesn't want me to do it. I think families like yours that do it properly are great. I have not known many families that well adjusted with it, but I have known many home schooling families in my time.

    So glad that we have good public schools that we can send our children too, schools where we know the teachers, and they are friends of my husband.

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  14. Are you a product of a public school?

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  15. I don't understand why feel the need to constantly defend your choices....and criticize others theirs? If you truly feel that you are following God's calling for your life...then why all the blog posts defending your choice to homeschool or not watch t.v.?

    Can't you just blog about your life without always bringing down others?

    Matthew 7:1

    HES

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  16. I like how you think you know what I want in life.

    My mother met my father at church, and I was 'created' there, as my grandmother was extremely restrictive in whom my mom could hang out with.

    And no, I don't wish I could have grown up in a loving little baptist home - at ALL.

    My grandmother raised me to be a strong woman and not to depend on a man to take care of me. It's the only reason I was driven as far as I was to succeed through the 'crappy public school system' and on through college.

    My mom tried to force me to go to church when I was younger I went every Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday to a Southern Baptist church. The older I grew, the less I bought it. I've never met such hateful, racist, unforgiving people in my life as I have at church!

    I'm glad I was born to a teen mother, because I get to view the world through different eyes. I can see why not EVERYONE should have children, despite what you like to push on women. (The very reason I'm happy to have my Essure procedure going on in a few months!)

    Because I don't have to depend on a husband, I was able to pick the one I wanted - that I met in school - who was interested in the same things as me and we drive forward together.

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  17. Are your parents divorced? If so, how old were you when they separated? Thank you.

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  18. "The Bible says that "foolishness is bound in the heart of a child", so I fail to see the benefit in socializing my kids only with other fools."
    I know you were being serious, but that made me laugh. :O)

    Lisa

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  19. This spelling error is from YOUR blog:

    On Christams Day

    For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Matt. 7:2

    Did you attend public school?

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  20. My goodness. I wish I could be around when your children make choices you don't approve of...when they stray (even just a little) from the rigid path you'd like them to adhere to. I imagine you take a lot of comfort in believing that your children will do EXACTLY as you want them to do from the womb until the end of time (or should I say end of days?) I think you will grow a lot, lose some of your arrogance and become much more tolerant when this happens. I am sure you would argue you are bringing them up in Christ and doing EVERYTHING just RIGHT so that your offspring toe y(your) line. I know you think religion and the "right" and godly upbringing you give your children will be a panacea of sorts, that your children will be immune to any calls you deem indecent/evil...but it isn't.

    I don't need you to argue with me, I don't need to read that you feel I'm right, that it's a possibility...I have faith that the day will come when your children challenge you and your religion. If you soften, if you love your children regardless of differences, I imagine your God will rejoice that you have finally opened your heart and dared not lead life mired in hatred. If you shun your children who dare to differ from you, if you hate your babies for choices they have made, then I will pity you and hope that your children know love and understanding from others, including Jesus Christ.

    The day will come, of this I am sure. My comment does not require a response from you - I don't need to hear your arguments or protests - I've read enough of your blog to have registered your arrogance and your arguments will not be unique. You don't even have to publish my comment. I just want you to know that when you are presented with that challenge, know that there are those who saw it coming, and those who hope for your children that you will continue to love and cherish them even if they don't stay within the rigid lines of your cherry picked religion.

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  21. My son has attended public schools with no problem. He is now in high school and takes AP and CP classes (advanced placement and college prep). I could not home school him at this point. He can do linear equations in his head and I don't have the resources to teach organic chemistry. In his senior year, many of his classes will be dual placement, meaning they are freshmen college level, so he will have about 15 college credits. I could not do this at home/

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  22. Well said sprocket and so many others too....spot on thoughts, comments and retorts :)

    Zsuszanna I don't wish for your children to 'go astray' but they are still very young and 'protected'. I'm not sure that all of the Anderson children will always make the right decisions and choices, perhaps one will rebel or move away from God. I hope that you will treat them with love and grace when necessary?

    I know this is your blog and so you can say what you like but it would be really nice to read more love and acceptance rather than judgement and anger. I still don't think you are a great advocate for Christ.

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  23. Hi Zsuzanna,

    Longtime reader, first time commenter. From reading your posts, I'm going to guess that you and I would agree on exactly nothing if we met, but I do admire the way you articulate your points. (I made a point to spend at least an hour or two a day reading things I disagree with, just to keep things in perspective).

    I'm a product of public school, elementary through college. Congrats on raising kids who seem to be very on top of things. However, part of my training here in college has been on statistics (the remainder psychology and biology), and I am reminded of a saying we have around here: The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'. That is, in the same way I can not generalize how well public school turned out for me, you can not generalize the experiences of all kids being home-schooled by how well your own have turned out. Do you have any studies showing the average effectiveness of homeschooling compared to the average effectiveness of public school? “Average”, being the key word here, as we must make sure that your experience is not an outlier.

    Another point I would make in favor of public school is the value of being taught by a specialist in the area of education. I would argue that in the same way that it is not a good idea to attempt to fix your own car or diagnose your own illness if you lack that expertise, some parents lack the ability to teach required of them. Some, of course, being the operative word; from your description of your own children's achievement I am sure you are not in that group. What do you think?

    Major props for being able to put the time into educating your kids. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Yours,
    Sean

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  24. Although I don't necessarily agree with all your beliefs, I thought your reasons for choosing home education were sound. I also liked the fact that you used concrete examples of how you educate your children in the home. May God continue to bless you in your home education endeavors.

    Mrs. L.S.

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  25. Why is it that so many people think homeschooled children are going to grow up and rebel against everything their parents taught them??

    This reminds me of when I was younger and one of my dad's coworkers told him that I was going to be pregnant at 16, because my parents were "sheltering" me too much. Well, I am now 21 and I've been married almost 2 years, and my first baby was born in November! I never was even tempted to have sex before marriage, and the only time I had to resist any kind of "sexual" temptation was when I was engaged to my husband. The reason I didn't struggle so much with it, is because I hardly ever got to watch TV while I was growing up, so I didn't see enough of people sleeping around to know what I was missing. I also didn't listen to any music that encouraged promiscuity, or hang around any friends that were sleeping around.

    It really annoys me to see how many people think homeschooled children are going to fail. The reason I did so well (believe me, I'm not perfect), is because I made decisions at an early age that either lined up with what my parents taught me, or they went beyond my parents' rules. Eventually, I got to a point where I realized what the Bible said about things, and made decisions based on that (instead of based on what my parents taught me... though the reason I started making Biblical decisions is because of my parents).

    ~Kathie

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  26. Mrs. L, Is anyone saying that every child that is homeschooled will grow up and rebel against everything their parents taught? What I hear them saying is that homeschooling is not a guarantee that they won't rebel, and public schooling doesn't offer that promise either.

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  27. I'm just surprised (looking at the pictures/description of your church) that the church can afford your husband enough funds so that you do not have to work...especially with four children.

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  28. Anonymous,

    for starters, we have five children, not four. '

    Secondly, my husband owns and runs his own business, and does not take a salary from our church at all.

    In fact, if anything, it costs us money for him to pastor, as he often flies home on work trips and vacations to be in his place on Wednesday nights and Sundays. He would not be doing that if he were not the pastor. For the first 2 years, the church met in our living room, which we consequently did not inhabit at all. When there's a baptism (and there have been about 10 so far this year), we pay about $20-40 for each of them to heat the spa to a nice, warm temperature. When there are activities, I often provide most or all of the food, almost always purchased by our own money.

    The list goes on. I think you get my point.

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