On homeschooling and difficult decisions

Under most circumstances, homeschooling is the best form of schooling/education for children that exists in the world. I say most to allow for extreme or unusual cases where things don’t work as they should – severe disabilities or disorders, long term illness, I don’t know, there are probably other cases too, but you get the idea. Having said that though, homeschooling provides scope for a much more individualised approach for your child’s education, meaning that there will be plenty of people for whom a special needs child will make them better suited to a homeschooling environment.

As far as educational outcomes go, the worldwide evidence is simply overwhelming: Homeschooling is superior. It is a hands down victory. This cannot be stated clearly enough: If anyone suggests to you that the case is not obviously, clear cut, backed up universally by all the available evidence and beyond dispute, they need more exposure to the information. This is a settled issue: Homeschooling on average produces markedly better academic results. This, for many parents, is the main drawcard for the homeschooling option.
See here, here, here, or… you get the idea. I won’t multiply examples. Just Google it.

It is simply a falsehood that you can’t teach children well unless you’re an accredited teacher. Homeschooled children receive a superior education to children who attend the local government school. It also enables a far more customised approach to education. Children are diverse, they don’t all learn the same way, and what works for one child may not be as effective as another. While a school might be able to pump extra teaching resources and time into catching up with this diversity and moving away from an “education mill” model, for the homeschooler it is natural – why wouldn’t the education of each child be uniquely tailored to that child?

The one comment that I hear more often than any other when somebody finds out that we homeschool our children – and other homeschoolers will guess what it is before I ever say it – is, “what about the social aspect? Do they learn to interact with other children?”

Here’s how I look at it: Take animals in the wild vs animals in farms. Do animals in the wild get to interact in a normal, healthy way with other animals? Of course. What about animals in a farm, or maybe a zoo? Do they interact naturally with each other? To some extent, yes. Children in homeschooling are like animals in the wild. They, with their families, form natural communities: Families, neighbourhoods, churches, sports clubs, social organisations, you get the idea. What’s more, because it’s not a forced environment like a zoo or a farm, you don’t have the serious social problems associated with schools: bullying and being forced to belong to the same social group as the bully, being forced to associate with groups that are frankly bad for them (gangs, antisocial behaviour, violence, smoking/drugs, fill in the blanks). Picking up a line from my sister (they also homeschool their children), when people ask me whether our children are “missing out” socially I tell them: “Oh no, we make sure they don’t miss out. We beat them up, steal their lunch, teach them bad habits, encourage them to be promiscuous, all that stuff.” The other person usually sees the point! Do we shelter our children? Of course. We’re their parents, and they’re all younger than twelve years old. What kind of irresponsible people would we be if we didn’t shelter them?

I want to reiterate this is clearly as I can: In virtually every way, homeschooling is superior to other kinds of education. Schools just cannot compete with it. It’s barely even a close race. I say all this in  advance in bold terms because I don’t want anyone to think that what I say next reflects in any way a lower view of homeschooling. I continue to hold the above view of homeschooling.

Now for the next part: In a couple of days time, our children will start attending a school. It’s not a public school, but it’s a school. Five days a week, from 9am until 3pm (I think). It’s not a decision we relish for their sake, but it’s one we’ve had to make. My wife is a wonderful mother and has been doing a really outstanding job with our children. But something had to change. As I’ve been saying from time to time, I have virtually no time to do the things that I really need to do if I am ever going to move into the area of employment that I spent all those years getting degrees for: academia in theology or philosophy (or both).

What’s more, I currently work a pretty low paying job, and our financial situation could be a lot stronger (actually, it needs to be. I don’t think the employer envisages someone on this salary supporting a family). I figured it would only be a temporary measure while also work at home, I get material published and boost my profile to improve my chances in academia, but the trouble is, working full time actually prevents me from doing that to the extent to which I need to do it, so I end up just staying in that low paid role, supporting our family. Financially, something does need to change.

So we need a little more cash, and I need a little more time, even just a free day each week. So the children are going to school – a less than ideal situation education-wise, but the best school that we are able to make use of, a small local Christian school with a very flexible approach to education. Ruth is going to be looking for some work, maybe just a few days a week, and when that happens, I will see if I can work fewer hours.

If that all goes to plan, I will be much better placed to work towards landing an academic job, and if/when that happens, we will be in a position to revisit Ruth’s employment situation and the children’s education options. The long term plan is about what’s best for the whole family. We’d like to be in a position to homeschool again.

Glenn Peoples

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34 thoughts on “On homeschooling and difficult decisions

  1. Wow… this has to be one of the most selfishly driven actions I have borne witness to.

    You are placing your children into a situation that you have painted as being inadequate and possibly harmful because you want to better your financial status?

    Are you not eating?
    Are you not paying your rent?

    Or are you simply not being given the credit which you believe you are due within your current occupation?

    I am taken aback by this.

  2. Due to the outright and obvious ugliness and vindictiveness of the comment immediately prior to this one, I actually placed it into the spam folder, both because that kind of thing isn’t welcome at this blog, but also because it reflected poorly on the author. I decided to bring it back, and offer a comment on it:

    “because you want to better your financial status?”

    The unkind shallowness and dismissiveness displayed here is just breathtaking. I have worked long and hard towards a professional achievement that would be good not only for me but for our family. To reduce my concern to not getting “credit” in my current job is ridiculous. I have no particular expectations from my current role.

    It must be luxurious to be in a position of getting to determine how somebody’s family ought to live, economically speaking, and to what extent they should be trying to improve their lot. With all respect, these things are not your business, and you should have examined your motives before saying those things.

    Most people, I think, would be willing to do things that they think are less than ideal for a short term to secure long term improvement for their family.

    Take all the umbrage you want. I will let others judge the fairness of what they see here, but I’m not likely to allow viciousness like that here again.

  3. Having known you personally and quite well for some time, I took all due considerations before making placing said comment.

    I was not being vindictive at all – I do not hate you nor am I trying to seek any vengeance upon you. I was simply placing a comment which I knew did not stroke your ego {and thus would most likely be deleted} which reflected on many a long and intense conversation between you and I regarding the education of your children.

    I didn’t think you’d sell out. I though you’d wait until they were out of school to pursue your career. I’ve always quietly credited you highly for your dedication and determination to homeschool your kids though I personally disagreed – and now you have chosen to do otherwise for reasons what perhaps I don’t fully grasp the depth of, but from what I read.. well.

    Furthermore – is this not a place where comments of opinion are stated?
    Or are only positive, “We love everything you say” comments allowed?

    ~ I respect you as a person, just not this decision you have made.

    Stacey.

  4. We’re talking about quite a number of years before our children are no longer of school age. My career during those years does not just benefit me as an individual person with no implications for those in my care – it affects all of us as a family. My current employment situation is not tenable in the long term for us financially. Maybe you don’t believe that (although you’re in no position to know if it’s true or not). I’m in a position to know that it’s true, without explaining details (I’m not about to go publishing income/expense statements for those who don’t believe me or who think that we should just harden up and live at a level of wellbeing that they dictate). My current employment situation is also not one that helps my chances of, well improvement my employment situation.

    If you think that recitifying those two scenarios in this way is selfish, then I find your fairness in reaching such judgements to be unbelievable.

    Opinions are welcome – whether affirmative or not, but civility is a prerequisite. The first comment was not at all civil. (Even now it seems you just cannot help yourself – implying that I delete comments unless they stroke my ego? The comments on a number of my posts show that this is baseless.)

  5. Simply put, the financial attitudes to which I hold you are those prescribed by the bible. [as I have been instructed on them]
    {I also recall a conversation with your delightful wife about “wants” and “needs” and perceptions of what truly is poverty in todays materialistic world}

    I was under the impression that you valued your children’s correct upbringing over many a thing. I know that you’re a decent person, and if your financial situation is really so desperate as to resort to ‘normal’ schooling, well, I share that poverty boat and I offer my condolences. It simply struck me within your blog post that you were doing it to further your academic career ~ that seemed the strongest theme ~ and the motive with which I had the issue.

    Forgive me my indignation if this is not the case.

    ~ Stacey.

  6. I don’t think the Bible ever prescribes that people should, on pain of being judged as having done wrong, refuse to take steps to better their family’s position, or choose to remain in a place where significant difficulties exist. It’s true we’re not in poverty in the sense that, for example, we live in a house with walls. I never even claimed to be in poverty. I hardly think that’s the point, and it’s not like my issue is that we’re not rich. It’s also not as though the two goals – financial improvement and professional improvement – do not go together. The academic career is the betterment of our family’s circumstances.

    I suppose the move from being taken aback by me doing one of “the most selfish” things you’ve ever seen to offering your condolences is an improvement.

  7. Glenn, my wife and I homeschool our three girls, and I completely understand your post. Homeschooling is indeed superior, but it isn’t easy either. There are many days when we consider sending our kids to school, and I know it takes a lot out of my wife (it pains me that I can’t be more involved with the process myself, but its tough when you have to go to work all the time, and then all the household handyman work I have to do [we live in a house that needs a LOT of TLC]).

    Keep up the good work, God will reward your efforts. Don’t feel like you’re giving up–just taking a little rest for a while. We know people who homeschool for a while, then send kids to school, then go back to homeschooling. Its completely normal–some even homeschool one child and send the other to school (we thought about doing that).

    Is there any decent homeschool curriculum that introduces children to the subjects of philosophy (especially from a Christian point of view)? I’m not aware of one–maybe that’s something you could start?? You’re rather good at explaining things in an understandable (nuts-and-bolts) way. I think one of your other commenters suggested you start some sort of correspondence course, but I think teaming up with a homeschool curriculum publisher would be better. Something to think about…

  8. Stacey, you are wonderfully confused at the nature of Glenn and Ruth’s decision. You accuse him of egoism and selfishness when he has already made it clear that it was a hard decision but best for the whole family.

    Glenn, you’re fine mate. Home-education can consist of private, or even public-schooling – it’s a matter of who is at the helm of the child’s education. Are you as parents handing over responsibility for the child’s education to the State, or are you instead choosing the optimal education package for your child – and the whole family?

    Yeah, the state-“education”-system is very much about separating the family unit into a group of autonomous individuals – whereas home-education can be more about what’s best for the family…

    There are rare cases where it would be necessary to put a child in the state-education system (correspondence, or physical), but where this is done with prudence, it can be beneficial. Obviously it’s not ideal. However I can’t say the same thing for private schools. Education of children is the parent’s mandate – if they choose to contract out elements of this education, there’s nothing at all wrong with this.

  9. Jared – I think there’s some decent material on logic/philosophy from memoria press, but I’ve thought about the possibility of producing some New Zealand material in that area for school aged people. The more I think about it the more likely it becomes.

  10. I have to disagree. I think that homeschooling, whilst it might have educative benefits, has a whole host of issues in regards to socialisation and life skills which make it for me, impossible to recommend as beneficial.

    The ONLY time homeschooling should occur is if there is no school, or there is some other issue (such as special needs) which makes a school impossible.

    I cant think of a really good reason that a normal child(ren) should not attend school as a first option.

  11. Geoff, what’s your background on the homeschooling issue? In particular, are you aware of any data linking homeschooling to poor social skills? Is there any evidence you’ve heard of? if so, where is it? Which studies etc would you point me to?

    See, it’s the kind of thing that people with little or no contact with homeschooling often say, but the evidence just isn’t there. I hope you don’t mind me assuming that you have little or no experience with homseschooled people, but based on your comment, I’m betting on it. The very best kind of argument I’ve heard is when someone says that they know someone somewhere who was homeschooled, and he/she had issues with social skills. This isn’t very compelling, however. The obvious response to this is to note that there are thousands of school pupils with social issues too. I think once we start only making judgements about homeschooling that are based on the actual evidence, the common negative attitudes just evaporate, because none of them fit the facts.

    Also, if you can’t think of even one reason to prefer homeschooling, that suggests that you don’t think academic results count as a reason. But that can’t be what you think, surely!

  12. My wife was homeschooled, her 2 sisters and brother were partially homeschooled, and as part of my BMin I studied different forms of education, and homeschooling especially, for obvious reasons… i wanted to find out more about why my wife is like she is.
    In regards to studies, it was 10 years ago, so i cant remember any offhand, and they would be out of date now.
    however, i have first hand experience of how it affects someone later in life (my wife is 30 now, and was homeschooled in america).

  13. See Geoff, that’s the kind of anecdotal evidence I was talking about, which is easily replicated on a much larger scale for people whio attended schools. If the problem exists at very least to the same extent if we’re sampling large numbers of people who attended school, how is it a problem specific to homeschooling? If I use my own experience as a basis, my experience with very large numbers of people who were homeschooled shows a much higher level of social skill than in most other people, but again, that’s just my experience and so it’s anecdotal and not particularly scientific.

    As far as I am aware, there is no research demonstrating that homeschooling causes children to lack good social skills any more than any other type of education does, and if any groundbreaking new research comes to light to show this, I’ll be very interested to see it. On the other hand, the available evidence, well supported by plenty of reputable published research, shows that as a rule, homeschooling trains the mind of a child much more effectively than regular schooling. Are there people who fall outside of that norm? Of course. As with most research, it does not claim to prove a uniform experience for everyone.

  14. Thanks for this post Glenn. I am a regular reader of this blog and enjoy your content. However, there are a few issues that I have with your point of view. I came from the position of a teacher who has had contact with a number of home school children.

    For me the frustrating aspect of the argument between home schooling and State education is the lack of repsect either side gives the other. Comments like, and we’ve already had this in this thread, the State is about separating the family dont really help in my view.

    There are many positives and nagatives to home schooling while there are many positives and nagatives to State Education.

    I have read the articles that your referred to above. They point out that home schooled children are on avergae brighter than state schooled children. However, I have a yet to see research that measures like with like. By their nature homeschooled parents are going to be more involved with their kids education. On the other hand state education has to deal with alot of parents who drop their kids off at the door and do nothing to help their children. This can hugely affect the stats. I would imagine the reuslts would be similiar if the research was balanced but not big a gap. If you can point me to any study that would be great.

    One of the articles looked at the cost of homeschooling, claiming it cost as little more than $500 per year. This is wrong. Home schooling is the most expensive education money can buy. When you take into account loss of earning effectively you would be financially better sending your kids as a boarding to Christ’s College and feeding them a diet of caviar

    Personally, I believe education is more than just academic results. Students learn many skills through interaction, sport, school events, school pride, leadership etc. I am not saying that homeschooled children dont have these skills but I think they are trained better through a school environment. It will also be interesting as NCEA widens the scope for schools to teach different subjects if this affects home schooling. Can home schooling provide some of the less academic subjects that appeal to many students now. Although most students who are home schooled are academically better so probably shy away from these subjects anyway.

    For me sport is and was important to me and played a part in the school I went to. There is no way I would have done the things I have within sport if I was home schooled. The same with leadership opportunities or opportunities with drama, dance, arts etc. I feel the way many highschools are developing, especially within NZ, they rpoduce some excellent weel rounded students. I suppose this view depends on what you think the primarly role of education is.

    This brings me onto the next point. Your opening sentence said that ‘homeschooling is the best for of education in the world.’ Surely home schooling is only as good as the parents. I dont know if you know what goes on in a number of our schools in NZ but I could astound you with story after story of neglect that a huge number of New Zealand children have to put upwith everyday. For many kids school is the ONLY stable event in their life. Many schools in New Zealand have to provide breakfast and food for their children because parents don’t. Will these people make it under a home schooling environment. I dont think so.

    I realise there are massive problems with the state education in this country. Some of the topics and learning that goes on in our classrooms I believe is wrong, and if I send my children to a state school I will most probably remove them from those classes.

    As Andy pointed out above
    “Home-education can consist of private, or even public-schooling – it’s a matter of who is at the helm of the child’s education.”

    This last statement is very true. I believe there are two sides to both arguments. However, as parents you can still direct your child’s education even if they go to a State school.

  15. Ozy, I agree about the approach people can take to the issue. You’ve no idea how often people have immediately held me in suspicion of having a harmful or dubious way of life because of my educational choices for our children.

    I think everything’s fine with people expressing where they stand or how they feel, until issues of fact come up, but are resolved with feelings or aencdote. You talk about homeschooled children and sports etc, saying “I am not saying that homeschooled children dont have these skills but I think they are trained better through a school environment.”

    Better than what? According to whom? Measured how? See that’s an issue of fact, but it’s not really addressed like one. There’s also a question to be addressed there in terms of utitily for one type of event vs demonstrable academic quality. I’m not convinced that the way a school facilitates a convenient way for children to become involved in sport (without having to, say, travel to a local club or group of friends) outweighs the value of a more effective approach to education, however nice that utility may be.

    But the real thing I see in your post that I’d comment on is here:

    It’s true that part of the reason that homeschooling is superior in terms of results is that homeschooling means that the parents get involved and take an interest in their children’s education. Homeschooling should never be seen in isolation from overall healthy families or a holistic approach to children’s wellbeing. I don’t only advocate homeschooling (in fact this is the first blog post in which I have done so), I also advocate loving parents who take a proactive interest in their childen’s lives and their education. Sure, there will be thoughtless parents who just dump their kids at school, as you say, but the bigger question, surely, is whether or not they should. The thing to say to them is not firstly “homeschool!” The first thing to say to move them in that direction is “care!”

  16. Glenn,

    Anecdotal it may be, but I too have had contact with a large number of homeschooled people, I just happen to be married to one. From my experience it appears to be a common thing.

    It is especially common in people who were kept out of school for reasons such as; they had trouble with being bullied, they didnt get along with others, antisocial behaviour, and a number of similar reasons that make protective parents want to “keep their kids safe”.

    You said:
    “This last statement is very true. I believe there are two sides to both arguments. However, as parents you can still direct your child’s education even if they go to a State school.”
    Yes, I agree, and I believe this is the best way to achieve a great liberal education for a child (albeit the school your child attends should be chosen carefully).

  17. Geoff, that was Andy not me. And I agree that parents can always influence the direction of their children’s education. THis doesn’t mean, of course, that we should advocate inferior options because we know that we can intervene and try to help.

    And as for my contact with homeschooled people, although it leans very heavily in favour of homeschooled people having outstanding social skills, as I said, it is anecdotal and doesn’t prove anything. Likewise, appealing to more people that you know doesn’t either – especially (no slight intended) your attempt to categorise the connections between the reasons people were homeschooled and the social skill related outcomes. That’s the kind of thing that belongs to a scientific, broad study, otherwise we will only end up comparing notes about who we know.

    This is why I can be very safe publicly saying that homeschooling is great academically, because the evidence is overwhelming. While I also personally believe, based on experience, that homeschooling is better for caharcter and social skills, I won’t declare it as an easily established matter of fact, because I’m not persoanlly aware of the studies on that specific question.

    That’s also why I couldn’t be moved by someone just saying as a fact that homeschooling has certain outcomes for social skills. These are the kinds of things that need to be well backed by dependable studies, otherwise we could be observing any number of socialogical causes and wrongly attributing the outcome to the educational method.

    Some people think I’m stubborn because I just don’t buy what they say. I like to think of it as “epistemically careful.” 😉

  18. Yeah well I understand.
    I did actually read some studies on the effects on social behaviour in homeschooled kids, but I didnt keep them or record them as I didnt think I would need them 🙂

    One just has to look at the studies regarding the causes of antisocial behaviour in the modern generation to see how homeschooling fits there.

    I guess I shouldnt really get involved in this discussion because I am “too close” – its hard to be entirely rational when you’re dealing with the bad side of something.

  19. I won’t bother responding to all the arguments put forward by Geoff and Ozy. My wife and I homeschool, and I see a significant but again anecdotal cross section of output results as a law school professor. As Glenn notes, there simply is no comparison in output between homeschooling and public (state) schools. The homeschool students I have advised here in the past come to law school able to write better than their public school peers who have already graduated. I have never had a discipline problem with a homeschooled student and have found them universally more mature and professional than their public school peers. Perhaps this is a sampling problem since most of my interaction with homeschooled students occurs as the adviser for the Christian Law Students association, but the observational evidence is fully in accord with the studies Glenn mentioned.

    The one point I did want to take issue with is the following: “This last statement is very true. I believe there are two sides to both arguments. However, as parents you can still direct your child’s education even if they go to a State school.”

    That statement is false, at least in the US. First, U.S. public school pedagogy is designed to create workers in a Tyleristic assembly line atmosphere. Children spend 7 hours per day being exposed to a meme that values conformity, sitting down/shutting up, taking your meds on time (esp. if you’re an overly rambunctious little boy), and other rule-following exercises. A parent arriving home from work cannot counteract that meme with a mere 2 hours of time with their child, partly because there simply aren’t enough hours and partly because so much of the message is not overt.

    Second, many U.S. jurisdictions have staunchly defended the right of the school board to override the parents’ choices with respect to education. For example, most US jurisdictions prohibit the teaching of ID as science. Although I’m agnostic on whether ID is true, I think it is extraordinarily valuable as a critique of mainstream evolutionary science. Nonetheless, I cannot compel my school district to teach ID. Nor can I require them to excuse my child from class the day they teach Darwin. Nor can I withhold my child from school without penalizing his/her attendance record or face truancy charges to avoid the teaching of evolution. Likewise, many parents in the California public school system have been shocked to learn that they have no control regarding explicit programs normalizing homosexual behavior and forcing students to engage in the outward rituals of Islam.

    Third, and more problematically, parents simply cannot counteract the implicit messages. Many of my colleagues spend significant portions of class time either espousing their personal political beliefs (usually disguised as “policy discussions”) or disparaging and critiquing other political and religious beliefs. I know this also happens at the primary and secondary school level. Parents cannot control whether this happens and cannot counteract it because of the volume and nature of the phenomenon.

    Given that current public school models are a recent invention of the modern industrial state, it is surprising how quickly people leap to their defense. An assembly line is great for turning out large amounts of product at average quality at a reasonable price. It is even possible for assembly lines, with massive investments in quality control and robotics, to turn out consistently higher quality products at a correspondingly higher price. But it is extremely hard for an assembly line to match the level of quality that an individual craftsperson can produce. Custom builds are not well-suited for mass production (although small shops — like the private school Glenn has chosen — can efficiently produce high-quality product batches), and they can be expensive, but the product tends to be of the highest quality.

    With all of that said, I think Glenn has clearly chosen the best alternative to homeschool in identifying a private school he can trust and hiring them to help teach his children. Parents have other responsibilities to their children beyond their education, resources are scarce, and choices have to be made. I, and I suspect every parent on this forum, make choices every week that reflect a balancing of options that will hopefully yield the best outcome long term even in the face of short term costs. This is reality, not selfishness.

    I was somewhat surprised at the intensity of the negative responses.

  20. Hey Glenn,

    I wrote a long impassioned message defending you against Stacey’s comments but they seem to have disappeared.

    Anyway….long story short.

    Keep your head up. As a fellow academic who has not gotten his “real job” yet and have a family…. I understand your position all too well.

    Just know that that there is nothing selfish about you or your family’s short term sacrifice in order to achieve a better life in the long term.

    You seem to have a great family that sticks with you and supports your decision. I am fortunately in the same situation. My only hope is that I can repay them one day with an easier life….financially speaking.

    Keep the faith!

  21. These comments are unbelievable! You and Ruth are the parents, you have a made a decision regarding your children’s education. That’s the end of it.

    You didn’t announce that you were separating to run off and find yourself of try out other partners or go on welfare with no regard to the kids or anything that actually would be both selfish and harmful to them!

    All of us have ideals we want for the various important areas of life. These ideals vary in terms of how realistically obtainable they are, how practical they are and how many you can achieve at once. A family often has to make decisions to navigate a path of competing ideals. Sometimes this is hard – particularly so when they conflict and short terms goals, mess with long terms ones. A family has to make the best decision it can factoring in everyone’s current and future needs and the options available.

    To the outsider looking it it can seem ‘obvious’ that a decision is wrong because, you know, if you didn’t spend your money this way or run up debt or shop over here or adopt practice x or make lifestyle decision y, you’d have more money and you wouldn’t need to do this. But that outsider is not standing in your shoes, the outsider cannot see or weigh the other factors in play.

    Your kids are not being abused or neglected, they are being educated. So, so what? It is your decision.

    I could stick my 2c in and tell you what I think you should and should not be doing from my observation and knowledge of you or based on what I’d do if I were you – but its none of my business. I happen to know, knowing both of you, that you guys have been stuck in a hole for a long time. I also know what being stuck in that hole feels like. Your kids have had a great start, far more than most – some kids get shoved in day care at 3 months old! You’ve given them the benefit of a stable, married home. You are now making a decision factoring in your values about a range of things and your situation.

    I too share your view, backed up by empirical evidence that home education is the superior form of education and socialisation that a child can receive. (Yes, there will always be exceptions but so too are there for school and when you are talking this kind of evidence you have to talk generalisations) But like you I have homeschooled on and off over the years based on our financial situation and circumstances. It is a hard call to make to go out to work and put your kids in school as a mother when you’d rather be homeschooling them but what’s the alternative?

    Teach them by example to sit on their butts, do nothing to dig your way out of a going nowhere, financially restrictive situation? You are teaching them a work ethic, you are teaching them to solve their own problems and when life isn’t going the way you want it to go out and make something happen rather than wait for it to come to you.

    So good on you both, I hope it works out.

  22. Dan
    Obviously the US system is rather different to the NZ system of schooling, as parents have more say and control over what their children can be involved in. This may change over time, but the structure of our schools mean that the Boards of Trustees have alot of say. This is even more so with the development of the new curriculum where communities get a big say in what is taught. Cant wait for the first school to really test that one though!!!

    Glen, firstly I hope you dont think I was having a go at your decision. I admire the stand and choice you have made. It is more this topic that gets me going!! 🙂
    I may homeschool my child but I also work in Education and feel sometimes the good points are overlooked in an argument like this.

    We will have to disagree on the sports issue. Despite me not having a scientific study to back up my point I still believe kids get better sporting development in a school setting. Ian Butler, the NZ cricket was homeschooled, so I guess if you take the Black caps that is around 9% of the team being home schooled!!!

  23. I have to say, the first comment or two seem a bit personal rather than about the subject, and seem to say much more about the person making the comment (attack?). Really ugly.

  24. Ozy says: “Dan
    Obviously the US system is rather different to the NZ system of schooling, as parents have more say and control over what their children can be involved in. This may change over time, but the structure of our schools mean that the Boards of Trustees have alot of say. This is even more so with the development of the new curriculum where communities get a big say in what is taught. Cant wait for the first school to really test that one though!!!”

    I’m really impressed with the NZ model presented here, particularly if parents are not restricted solely to the whims of the majority in their geographic district but rather can choose the school their children in a forum that best matches their educational philosophy and needs. But even with that, the NZ model described above only responds to one of my three points on the inability of parents to counteract fully the influence of public (state) schools on their children. Children are still exposed to implicit messages from teachers who get their bread and butter from the state for the full 7 hour day, and in a factory-school atmosphere it is impossible to escape the meme of standardization.

    I do sincerely hope that NZ public (state) education is everything described, but it is still a second-rate method for manufacturing well-educated members of society.

  25. I think it needs to be pointed out ~ especially to Madeleine ~ that this is a personal blog.
    It is written by one person and contains his opinions.
    It’s not peer reviewed before publication. It’s the slant on the world from the angle of one man.

    When decisions of a personal nature are made public {for whatever reason he decided to share them} on a medium of this nature, it is totally fair game for those he has broadcast it to, to critique it personally.

    The time during which our children are undergoing formal education is a short one ~ relatively speaking. It is also an incredibly important one.
    I am still yet to completely understand your motivations Glenn for this decision.
    You posted it here publicly, which subjects it to scrutiny.
    If you wanted it to be your business only, fine, keep it to yourself, but you clearly didn’t.

    How could you, who so strongly advocates for homeschooling, behave in this manner?
    It’s likely that I’ve missed some crucial point ~ please enlighten me. Your youngest is 5/6? …. I’d like to feel that your decision is justified in accordance with your persona, but the more I read into you reasoning’s, the less I see it.

    I have not liked the feeling of thinking of you with irritation all week.
    I’m sorry if my initial comments hurt you or … whatever.. but I was just so very taken aback by the turn-about of a man of stubborn principle whom I have always admired.

    n.b.
    The Homeschool vs State school arguments here are very interesting, and Madeleine you may be unaware but there are a large number of exhaustive studies which prove that placing a 3 month old infant into care is in NO way detrimental so long as a quality establishment is chosen.

  26. Don’t worry Stacey, I haven’t been irritated all this time. I was when I first saw your comment, but it didn’t last, simply because I don’t think your comments, unpleasant though they were, were a reflection on me at all. That said, I appreciate your apology. Thanks.

    I also want to clarify something about “personal” remarks. I have no issue with people raising and discussing issues that are personal ones for me – such as which educational choices might be better or worse than others. Heck, my religious convictions, my political views, my career aspirations, all these things are personal to me (obviously), but I have no problem discussing them here at this very public blog, and as the many comments here at this site show, I have never had an issue with people disagreeing with me. I have never deleted any comment on the grounds of someone disagreeing with me (I have deleted stuff like spam etc, of course).

    The problem with “personal” comments in your opening few posts was not the subject matter (me and my choices), but they were along these lines: You could very easily have expressed disagreement with me by saying something like “I personally think that if home education is so great, according to you, then it’s always right to do it no matter what the outcome for your family,” or “Why wouldn’t you be willing to let your family endure harder times if the educational payoff is so good?” Or something else, according to what you think. But what you started off with was not even a discussion of these issues, it was the confident accusation, not that I was wrong about what was best, but that I was actually motivated by selfishness – in spite of my previous claims about my own real motivation. That was just a personal insult, not even a discussion point. When I objected, your next tactic was to accuse me of egotism, claiming that I was only interested in comments about how much people love what I say, suggesting that I delete comments that don’t stroke my ego. These were just irrelevant insults (especially given that anyone who reads this blog knows better – I always allow comments that take issue with me and what I say or do).

    Every reasonable person would see these as just personal attacks. That’s what I was referring to. I’m not explaining this because I’m bothered. I hadn’t given it much thought until your post today. I only explain this now because you seemed to be saying that your “personal” comments are OK because this is a blog where I said things about my personal life.

    In regard to your wonder over my motivations, I think that I have explained my motivations fairly well, but this might help: A number of people who send their children to state schools would rather send them to private school, because they think that in a number of ways it would be better for their children. But they can’t afford it so they tolerate state school, which they find not as good, but tolerable if necessary.

    I don’t know about you, but – setting aside for now my view of state schools – I wouldn’t think that they were being thoughtless, selfish or wicked. I don’t expect people to make their lives – and the financial circumstances of their family – really difficult over it. They (and we) have to weigh up what is best for the family (including the children) with all factors being considered. I have never taken the view that a better educational model should be obtained at absolutely any cost, overlooking all other things that impact a family’s life.

    This small Christian school might not be as good as homeschooling overall. But I am convinced that considered as a whole, the circumstances we are in now (Ruth, as you know but some others here might not, now has a part time job) are better than the circumstances we were in a week ago.

    It may be that you thought I had such an unbalanced view that I would sacrifice absolutely everything in life so that the kids could be homeschooled (which would, in turn, have been very bad for them, both economically and also personally, setting for them a very bad example of a responsible father’s priorities). But that is not how my priorities are arranged, and it never has been.

    We will continue to do what we think is really best for them, confident that we are doing the right thing.

  27. Do some wider research Stacey; the quality care/quality time study arose from a line in one study, which was taken out of context (it actually said the opposite but the abstract of the study misquoted it and everyone went off the abstract). It has long since been discredited but it remains popular and is widely quoted in books, media, etc.

    Dig into a bit – I have access to university databases that I can dig journals out of, not sure if you have similar access or not, but your library should be able to help.

    While there are competing studies, once you strip out those with poor methodology and read them in entirety you can see the majority show that the optimal primary caregiver for a child, especially vital in the first 3 years but ideally for the first 5-7 years, is a parent or a relative to whom the child means the world – i.e. someone who deeply loves them and who thinks they are wonderful. (Even the govt agencies – families commission, childrens commission, CYF, etc have issued reports documenting these studies)

    Obviously some families need to work as circumstances change things happen, so they cannot obtain this ideal (viz Glenn’s point) but for those who can, one parent should stay home as like you said, it’s only a short time they are children for – I mean, why have children if you are going to shove into daycare at 3 months old?

    You wrote: “I think it needs to be pointed out ~ especially to Madeleine ~ that this is a personal blog. It is written by one person and contains his opinions.
    It’s not peer reviewed before publication. It’s the slant on the world from the angle of one man.”

    I have a somewhat passing knowledge of what a blog is and I wouldn’t disagree. Not sure what your point is?

    You also said “When decisions of a personal nature are made public {for whatever reason he decided to share them} on a medium of this nature, it is totally fair game for those he has broadcast it to, to critique it personally.”

    Again I agree. Of course anything one writes on one’s blog is up for discussion! If a blogger doesn’t want it discussed a blogger will not share it on his or her blog.

    However, there is discussion and then there is personal attack.

    The way you wrote and the comment about it not being vengeance made me immediately think, ‘whoa this person has a personal issue with Glenn big-time.’ I then, on examining what you had to say, thought it was almost as if you were tit for tatting him – like as if he’d had a go at you about something personal that had a struck a chord so you were going at him to give it back – it came across like ‘aha – now I’ve got you’ as opposed to legitimate points.

    Had you just raised your points without the personal stuff that would have been within the realms of normal and fair blog discussion and disagreement over personal choices but you didn’t, you made personal attacks; you wrote, “Wow… this has to be one of the most selfishly driven actions I have borne witness to.”

    Why not phrase it a little less personally, you’re entitled to express your thoughts and observations but when you are being critical of another’s choice try to de-emotionalise and de-personalise it so the discussion can fall on the ideas and the arguments rather than the person.

    For example, avoid comments like this: “I was simply placing a comment which I knew did not stroke your ego {and thus would most likely be deleted}”

    Glenn is a blogger, people leave comments on his blog disagreeing with him and not stroking his ego daily and he doesn’t delete them, the suggestion that he does, that he runs his blog so as to only allow those who agree with him to comment is unnecessarily insulting and untrue – which if you knew him as well as you say you do you should know about him. It is the sort of comment designed to rile rather than advance your case.

  28. Madeline ~ I am currently majoring in psychology at Otago University, and in two of my papers a lot of attention has been given to child development. Yes I have access to journals ~ I also have attended many a lecture on the topic.

    I have “dig into” it considerably.

    There have been many studies done on the topic of childcare. Perhaps you should try a different academic search engine.

    I would go to the trouble of adding links to those featured within my study notes, but as I have an exam in three days (and also generally better things to do with my time than this), I’ll leave what I’m Sure will be nothing but the most unbiased research up to yourself.

    Having better things to do with my time is also the reason why I would have no idea what Glenn does or does not allow by way of comments from others ~ my regards towards his decision are based solely on this comment string alone.
    I do not read his blog ~ the only reason I did in this one instance is because he posted a link following a comment I made on his wife’s facebook profile and I felt like a break from my exam revision.

    I underscored what a blog is, in regard to the opening statements within your initial comment. Perhaps I misinterpreted you, but it seemed as though you were inferring that because Glenn had made his decision, that that was the end of it.
    No correspondence to be entered into. No one else was entitled to submit their opinion. The end.

    I phrased my initial comments personally because I meant them personally. I was bringing into questions his motivations.
    Also, that was the heavily edited version, the first version was a lot more of what I would be inclined to call an ‘attack’.

    Regarding your thoughts on my comment….
    You’re wrong, my attitude toward this decision is isolated has nothing to do with any previous disagreement between Glenn and I, but quite frankly I don’t care about your opinion of me.

    Had Glenn and I still been on reasonably good terms, I would have privately emailed him or entered into actual discussion over lunch/dinner.

    Your presumption regarding my own personal motivation amuses me, and the parallel between our propensity to assume a particular causal motivation over another, is not lost on me.

  29. Well it is lost on me as to what you are on about.

    Defensive much?

    I too hold psychology 101 (and a couple of other psych papers) from the University of Waikato. I’ll just say that attending a few lectures and reading some articles is not how one arrives at conclusive evidence. There are studies and an articles out there to back up almost every theory. To get at the truth, analytical reasoning skills are an essential addition. That said I stand by my previous contention, children do better when cared for by a parent or a caregiver that loves the child deeply than when they are shoved in full-time daycare shortly after birth.

    The temptation to discover what on earth went down with you and Glenn (and Ruth?) or what I’ve waded into is very strong. However, I have a major piece research due shortly and I remind myself that if I am not party to it and in the absence of some compelling reason that would make it my business that it probably is not.

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