Sometimes politics and education clash in the middle of a heated primary. Rick Santorum admitted that his children were homeschooled and Bill Mahr, the comedian turned activist on HBO, pounced on the fact by saying that the candidate’s children needed a (I paraphrase) dosage of reason by attending classes with their peers in a regular school. Whether Mahr’s remarks were appropriate or not (they may have violated the unspoken rule that children of candidates must not be touched), is not the topic here. I’d rather address the fact that so many states allow homeschool in the first place with all the evident perils this practice embodies. As a European immigrant in the last century, I had never heard of such educational laws which no doubt have emerged as a relic from the old days when early Puritans indoctrinated (that is the right word) their children in the sanctity of the Bible.
The three reasons that are selected by the majority of homeschooling parents in the United States are: concern about the traditional school environment, to provide religious or moral instruction, and dissatisfaction with academic instruction at traditional public and private schools (Wikipedia)
Three reasons that in my mind spell fear of the “nefarious” influence society as a whole may exert on the “poor” kids. By not exposing their children to their peers, parents are failing to educate them properly; sooner or later, these homeschooled students must face reality when voting, looking for a job, or joining the military. Brought up in a totally sheltered environment, these youngsters will be unable to understand their society, their nation, and their modern world. I have known parents who refuse to allow their children to watch the Harry Potter movies, pretexting a negative impact when confronted by wizards and magic. Well, then, please eliminate Shakespeare from British literature: witches abound in his plays. Do not allow them to read the earliest epic poem “Beowulf”, as it is full of monsters and witches’ spells. Be sure to add to the censored list the modern movies about vampires in the “Twilight” saga. Killing magic in the reading list also kills the children’s most precious gift: fantasy. Snow White is surrounded by evil and little men; that too must be eliminated. I almost forgot the most enduring pagan symbol, Santa Claus. Let’s get rid of that abomination!!
Homeschooling allows religious fanatics to brainwash their children, just as the Taliban do in Afghanistan. Homeschooling by competent instructors or tutors may teach the children all about the various sciences known to Man, but it will never supplant the imperious needs a growing kid experiments to learn how to deal with his or her peers. They must know how to handle bullies as well as close friends; they must know about working as a team, both in class and on the field. They must know the intricacies of social graces, rules and obligations. They must be able to sort obstacles, such as domineering teachers and irritated bus drivers. No amount of homeschooling will replace the practical experience.
Sorry, Mr. Santorum, I totally disagree with your views on education as I have already mentioned in a former article. You want to bring us back to the Middle Ages in matters of schooling our children. I say let’s move forward and hope you won’t become President of the United States.