Some people think the state has the best interests of the children at
heart. If they do, it is only children as a collective unit. If you think otherwise, read Mary Pride's Child Abuse
One woman at my church fears that homeschoolers commit incest. She said she doesn't know what she would have done if it hadn't been for her school. However, she did go to school and still the incest continued. Going to school is no guarantee against it. And, fortunately, most parents who homeschool do so because they are concerned for their children's welfare.
Since our country is an offshoot of England, it is fitting that much of
our culture has been borrowed from the British. In England, where public schools are what we would call private schools,
homeschooling and tutoring have long been common.
When our founding fathers established the Constitution, they couldn't agree on education. Some thought an educated electorate would prevent tyranny. Others, like Benjamin Rush, weren't concerned about tyranny. They wanted children to become docile instruments of the state so they would compliantly work to provide tax money and become obedient soldiers. The model of education Rush lusted after was the Prussian which was based on the idea that children are the property of the state and must be completely loyal to the government. Their schools worked very well. So efficiently, that by the twentieth century we witnessed the takeover of the Germans by the Nazis.
Thomas Jefferson, diametrically opposed Benjamin Rush. He believed it was more important for parents to guide their children than that the children receive an education. He trusted parents to love their children enough to provide an education for them, if they could. However, he recognized that since some parents might be too poor to provide an education, the states should offer three free years of instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic and the history of Greece, Rome, England and America.
Although we did eventually adopt the Prussian compulsory model of education, our notions of independence and individual liberty are more in line with English and Jeffersonian tradition. Thus, when people say we might as well use the public schools because they've done some things to make it better, they've got it backwards. Unless the public schools could provide what our children need, without any of the negatives, it wouldn't make sense for homeschoolers to send their children there. The children are better off at home with loving parents who, having sorted out their years of education, can now pass on whatever is valuable of our cultural tradition, within a safer and more nurturing environment.Even if we make some errors in logic or in our teaching methods, we homeschooling parents should not be the ones on the defensive--although we will be for a long time.
Compulsory government education (the stuff based on the Prussian model) only began in 1852, in Massachusetts, where it took thirty years before the resisting 80% of the population could be coerced--yes, sometimes at gunpoint--to comply. Homeschooling, tutoring, and private schooling went on successfully before that. As Senator Ted Kennedy's office reported, since the advent of compulsory education, literacy rates in his home state have never reached the 98% level they had attained prior to compulsory instruction.
Maybe they'll reach the 98% level again--when more people revert to traditional teaching methods.
Copyright © 1996 & 1997 N. S. Gill.