Whose Real World Are We Talking About?
by Karen De Coster
by Karen De Coster
The act of homeschooling is not an impulse, nor is it an overzealous, protective scheme to keep children from acquiring the warts and scabs that are passed around in the "real world." Homeschooling is a way of life, a philosophy of acquiring education and intellectual growth, and it is the result of a mindset dedicated to the raising of one's children in the most efficient and gainful way possible. Homeschooling is proving that your children and their future is the most important thing to you.
So why does Detroit News columnist, Laura Berman, take an unpleasant poke at homeschooling that fails to make any legitimate point whatsoever? Laura's storytelling goes like this:
I never thought the day would arrive when I would understand the impulse to home school.
The idea of removing children from the real world and educating them in the cloister of your basement rec room — in essence to deprive your children of any knowledge but that which you spoon-feed them — has always struck me as problematic, if not wrongheaded.
Until last Tuesday.
That was when my daughter asked a question I'd presumed to be still years away.
"Mommy, can I have lip gloss?"
She's not yet 4. We were eating breakfast.
"No, you may not have lip gloss," I responded.
Then, I wondered: How does she know about lip gloss? Who is giving her lip gloss?
And so I conceived the first component of my personal home-school curriculum: It would provide a 100 percent lip gloss-free environment for children under 6. In fact, the entire industry of cosmetics for 4-year-olds would not be allowed in my home school.
Therefore, a child growing up too fast — the ole lip gloss analogy — is Berman's thrust for thinking that there has got to be a better way, other than homeschooling, to keep your kids from all the sin and corruption out there in that, well, you know, "real world." The lip gloss analogy is meant to make fun of those folks that want to maintain control over the direction of their child's education, and preserve the course of their child's ultimate living and learning environment. Saying that children are missing out on elements of some illusory "real world" presumes that there is some strict definition out there that rigidly circumscribes exactly that which should exist in the world, and what we should experience in order for us to even be counted in such a world. After all, whose real world are we talking about?
Berman is using homeschooling as a target — a target for pointing out that you are foolish if you think you can shield your kids from life's little realities, like, you know, having them ask what an orgasm is at age five, smoking cigarettes at nine, and having oral sex or intercourse at age ten.
Apparently, in Mrs. Berman's world, it's not "real world" to:
have your child spend 3 hours per day on high-level, individualized, efficient learning, instead of six, unproductive hours being either overwhelmed by lesser morons, or underwhelmed by no intellectual challenges whatsoever.
teach your child classical piano, how to read music, how to study intellectual history, speak Latin, and learn calculus, and much of that by age nine or ten, instead of sending them off to a public craphole to play "Lowest Common Denominator" or "Who's got the condom, and how do we put it on?"
spend your day teaching your kid how to lead a virtuous, educated life according to your vision of the world, instead of shoving them off on a public system where uneducated strangers would tell your kid how to live and learn according to their prejudices and their ideals. Imagine that horror of taking the parental responsibility to hand down religious values, virtues, and moral teaching? The gall of a homeschooling parent!
In addition, it's terribly sad to observe people being so attached to the notion of a spoon-fed, public education (that's right Laura....that's where the real spoon-feeding is). It is as if they cannot even envisage an instance where parents would take it upon themselves (gasp!) to educate their kids, using their own dollars, time, and energy, and do so without the force and dollars of the State to do it for them.
By now, everyone knows that my city, Detroit, has the worst schools on the planet. The Chief Executive Officer of Detroit's schools, Kenneth Burnley, makes a quarter million a year, in a totally failed school district that is going more belly-up by the day. And that isn't a market-determined wage. The city's school system is deteriorating, and though Burnley takes some heat, the accountability for failure is passed around within the district like a corner street singer's hat.
Here's one cruel but truthful observation I can't resist, in regards to the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind silliness, and its effect on the Detroit schools:
In Detroit, all of its 41 high schools failed the federal standards.
Welcome to the public school system — that means any public school system, and not just Detroit's mess. Out in the 'burbs, things don't get a whole lot better, except the "federal standard" passing rates are a little higher.
Berman is feeble, as she essentially tells the reader that all homeschooling is "removed from the real world," as she, by way of her carefully-placed words and posturing, glorifies the spoon-fed, force-fed, collective, welfare education handed down by a bunch of greedy, overpaid, hapless bureaucrats that park their butts in overpaid jobs and fancy offices, enriching themselves and their little power trips at the expense of local taxpayers, running public-fed schools into the ground. And this, she deems, is the "real world."
Folks of this type are what I call Education Nazis. These types, who venerate the State, will do most anything so that parents can not have control over their kids' education, without further interference and orders from the higher-ups. The Education Nazis of the world will rationalize the need for public education and disparage homeschooling in the most wearisome ways: it's too isolated and horrible and cruel for the kids, they say; it's depriving your kids of a great, public-schooled lifestyle, they say; and it's denying them the development of normal, social skills. Imagine how horrible it is to spend more time at home with Mommy or Daddy, instead of running with the collective forces at the public school, or being bullied by every unruly kid who doesn't like the way you look.
The anti-homeschool criticism is pure bunk, with no substance behind it, other than raw emotions from the babbling, we-know-what's-best-for-your-family types. This criticism is part of a totalitarian mindset, one that is prevalent within our do-gooder, interventionist society. They are the ones that want to force everyone else into their "real world" via mandates, laws, and authoritative force. Newsflash Mrs. Berman: not everyone who homeschools their children is a survivalist-fundamentalist-whacko that wants to shield their kids from lip gloss, short skirts, and bad words, and lock them away in the potato-and-rations cellar for the duration of their childhood.
To reiterate the words of the individualist and libertarian vigilante, Auberon Herbert: "By what right do men exercise power over each other?" There is no right. There is only the coercive power of the State, controlled via monopoly privilege, as it empowers the chosen elites, and force-feeds our children in what is perhaps the greatest debacle to ever molest man's mind: the dumbed-down, collective-public education scheme.
If Laura Berman, and others that think like her, believe that a homeschool environment has merits and advantages, they should contemplate taking such an action. However, if they don't have enough love and guts to educate their kids within their own framework for ideal growth, then they can hush up and get back to their PTA meetings.
After all, shoving your kids out the door every morning, to someplace else where someone else is responsible for their intellectual progress and character development, is the cheap, easy way out. Comparatively, homeschooling is like taking the high road. But I guarantee you that they'll be to Scotland before ye.
November 30, 2004
Karen De Coster, CPA, [send her mail] is a libertarian freelance writer; graduate student in Economics and Finance; full-time, auto industry, finance professional; and a part-time, tax-season hack. Born and raised in the shadow of the Big Three, she is fond of American-made pick-ups, Japanese SUVs, Belgian beer, Polish food, Italian markets, (real) Mexican restaurants, Harley Davidsons, the Waughs, Murray Rothbard, H.L. Mencken, and photographing smalltown Americana. She makes a mean city chicken recipe, doesn't have time to recycle, thinks Bill O'Reilly is a Nazi, and she spends her spare time evading the Homeland Security Nazis for kicks and grins. She aspires to disturb the peace of the complacent, content, collectivist masses that would sell their souls — and hers — for a little security, a cushy easy chair, and a big-screen, color TV. See her Mises Institute archive for more online articles, and check out her website, along with her blog.
Copyright © 2004 Karen De Coster