LDS Education Theory

April 27, 2004 | 85 comments
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Because I plan on homeschooling my children through high school, I have spent a lot of time thinking about educational theory (I also have a teaching certificate and I taught briefly in public schools in California.).

Is there such a thing as an LDS-based educational theory? Could there be? What would it look like? Do we need one?

Here are some of the issues that I have faced so far:

(1) There are four main paths for homeschoolers:
(a) school-at-home: replicate what is done in the classroom as much as you can.
(b) unit study: this week it is ‘the farm’, and everything we do (history, science, spelling, etc.) will have something to do with farms. Next week: outer space.
(c) unschooling: no curriculum is imposed on the child. The child chooses what, when, and how s/he wants to learn. (Yes, people actually do this. Lots of them.)
(d) classical education: click here for a description.

Would you say that our knowledge of the gospel would lead us to favor one of these options over the others? (I chose option D.)

(2) Because we are educating classically, we study a lot of history. Some of the history materials we use have a moderate (not fundamentalist) Christian bent to them. For example, the Exodus, Joseph in Egypt, and the life of Christ are taught as historical reality. Without debating the historicity of these events (and many people would–especially the first), I cringed as we covered these chapters. Why? I had no problem with them in FHE. I decided it is because I don’t like mixing secular and sacred history because

(a) the skill set is different: in history, we seek out the very best sources and apply strictly intellectual and rational standards to determining what is fact. With religion, it is a little different. We look for the point of a story without combing historical evidence to determine its veracity.

(b) the motive is different. In history, we want to know what happened. Occasionally, we might learn a moral lesson from what happened, but that isn’t the point of studying history. This is reversed for the study of sacred history.

(c) I feel an obligation to prepare my kids (yeah, my oldest is just six, I’m uptight) for an experience at a top-notch college, where intermixing Moses and Hammurabi in a history paper may not go over too well.

(d) I don’t want to convey the idea that Moses is just another lawgiver, just another Hammurabi in a different culture.

I wonder, sometimes, if my own (secular, public) education has blinded me to the benefits of integrating sacred and secular history and seeing them as an integrated whole. Do I need to get over my squeamishness? (My plan now is that, when the next kid goes through ancient history, the three topics mentioned above will not be covered.)

Another issue that comes up in teaching history is the underbelly: whether it is Pres. Kennedy’s womanizing or Aztec sacrifices. My children would watch local news only over my dead body, but we have read books written for elementary school students that show the blood of human sacrifices dripping down temple steps. Is this an awful thing to expose young children to? Or, is it a reasonable introduction to the nasty side of life that they must eventually encounter? My thinking is that they are better off starting with violence safely ensconced in history (that poses no danger to them) than stories of people being murdered, last night, twenty miles away.

(3) Science:

(a) I will not teach my kids about creationism and you can’t make me (tongue sticking out).

(b) I will try hard to inculcate a sense of wonder, awe, and even reverence for the natural world. Instead of directly teaching about God in science (there’s that squeamishness again), I will try to share nature in all of its glory and allow that to lead to a respect for God’s handiwork and a desire to respect nature.

(4) I find it continually disheartening that only the most conservative LDS homeschool. You wouldn’t believe the things pushed as LDS homeschool curriculum i.e., replacing a Great Books program, commonly used by classically educated high school students, with a Great LDS Books program (gag). The most popular LDS homeschooling resouces catalog actually carries Fascinating Womanhood. No joke. Why are LDS homeschoolers primarily made up of the ultra-conservative among us? Where are the more liberal LDS homeschoolers?

Well, I’d be surprised if anyone has read this far. Then again, many of you heard out Nate on the sugar beets . . .

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85 Responses to LDS Education Theory

  1. ben on April 27, 2004 at 3:09 pm

    bug

  2. Julie in Austin on April 27, 2004 at 3:40 pm

    By the way, I hope you people appreciate how I am suffering for you. Because I was nice enough to look up the link to Fascinating Womanhood, Amazon has new book recommendations for me:

    Finding the Hero in Your Husband
    The Surrendured Wife
    TOTAL WOMAN

  3. clark on April 27, 2004 at 3:42 pm

    I have to admit I’m pretty troubled by homeschooling. Everyone I meet who is homeschooled just seems to have social issues.

    An other problem is the ability to teach things like science and math – especially at the high school level. I think having a background in those disciplines is fairly important. Even at the Junior High level.

    I think the ultra-conservatives home school more than most because they see school as idealogical indoctrination. Thus when they homeschool they *also* see it as indoctrination. Unfortunately. They may not admit this. But it seems to come through when I talk with them. Given that bias, which is often to an anti-scientific, anti-historic perspective, I’m not sure I’d trust their teaching aids or lesson plans.

    Reading and discussing ‘great books’ is a very good idea though.

  4. William Morris on April 27, 2004 at 3:48 pm

    RE: #4

    Isn’t the answer to this rather obvious? Non-ultra-conservative Mormons are less likely to be concerned about the primary motive that conservative homeschoolers give for home schooling — keeping their children away from the problems and doctrines (so-to-speak) of secular, public education.

    To turn the proposition around a bit — liberal Mormons are also more likely to value some of the things that a public education [private schooling is a different issue] provides. Namely, socialization with children of diverse [or semi-diverse] backgrounds and learning how to interact in a secular, public sphere. Which is not to say that home-schooled kids aren’t just as or even better socialized than those that attend public school. But those socializiations happen in a somewhat different way/intensity than what attending public school offers.

    Yes, school quality is always a factor for those who decide to homeschool. But in my experience it is not the most important one. It takes a huge commitment to homeschool — so naturally those who see the alternative to homeschooling as a major threat to their child’s development are much more likely to engage in it.


    Sidenote: I wonder if perceptions about university admissions affect homeschool decisions. Yes, homeschooled children generally do better on standardized tests and get into good [even the best] univeristies. But I think that there is still a bit of a stigma and a perception that the best way to get into college is to get good grades in public school and pile on the extracurriculars.

  5. Julie in Austin on April 27, 2004 at 3:53 pm

    Clark–

    I think all of your concerns are legitimate. Let me tell you how we are addressing them in our family:

    (1) My kids play with other kids (both schooled and non, both LDS and non) every single day.

    (2) When we get to that level for science and math, we will either enroll them in classes for homeschoolers taught by people with background in these subjects, or send them to a community college. I am not competent to teach high school science.

    (3) My only disagreement with you is that most of the hard-core conservative homeschoolers I know *will* readily admit that their primary goal is to inculcate what they would call a ‘biblical worldview’ into their children, and they deliberatly choose curricula to do this (you can actually buy something called _Christ-Centered Phonics_, they very name strikes me as borderline blasphemous.) My effort to get around this involves being sure we have lots of friends that don’t think like I do, and instead of using textbooks, using what we call ‘living books.’ In other words, we don’t learn about the history of the Jewish people (which is what we are studying in history this week) from one textbook (which has one bias, whatever that might be), but from reading seven different books over the week about Judaism.

    While your concerns are legit, the alternative is, in my opinion, worse. Just to take the socialization issue, I don’t think most adults realize that school is no longer what we remember. For example, my good friend is considering homeschooling *because* her first grader was getting a total of 60 minutes *per week* recess and PE combined (and they aren’t allowed to talk at all during lunch time). Why? Standardized test prep pressure. She is worried about *his* socialization, because he comes home with an hour of homework and has very little time to interact with other kids.

  6. Julie in Austin on April 27, 2004 at 3:56 pm

    By the way, while I am happy to discuss homeschooling as an issue, my goal with this post was a little broader: an exploration of the philosphical issues behind educational choices (i.e., how to teach history) that I imagine would come up to some extent for *all* parents.

  7. clark on April 27, 2004 at 3:59 pm

    I think the big issue of socialization isn’t just peers, but adults. By going to school you encounter a lot of different adults which informs how you view the adult sphere. I think that once you get into Junior High and so forth the fact one isn’t in school will start to have a big socialization impact as well. Especially as you are meeting far fewer people, and are ‘different’ because you don’t go to a school.

    Regading the socialization and the 1st grader – realize that socialization isn’t just play time. It’s also how to work on projects and so forth. Indeed I think that’s important training for the real world of business where you have to work with a variety of people. It’s unfortunate they are getting so little PE. I’ve really come to see that as important.

  8. Julie in Austin on April 27, 2004 at 4:05 pm

    Clark–

    You wrote, “to school you encounter a lot of different adults ”

    Really? I encountered six middle-aged, underpaid, white women with identical educational backgrounds and career choices. That’s it. Most homeschooled high schoolers I know have internships, volunteer work, paid work, classes, etc. and a much broader sphere of human interaction.

    You are right about ‘play’ versus ‘projects.’ I think being involved in several homeschooling co-ops, ets. keeps us well-balanced in this regard. (Although I do think most public schools that I have been involved with as a student or teacher grossly overemphasized ‘group work.’)

    There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about homeschooling, but I have found that most people have an image of a child chained to the kitchen table, hunched over workbooks, for eight hours per day, maybe holding a prom in the living room and dancing with Mom or Dad. The reality is that most homeschoolers are involved in so many out-of-the-house activities that parents are constantly moaning about fitting schoolwork into the schedule.

  9. William Morris on April 27, 2004 at 4:05 pm

    Clark beat me to the observation.

    And I think that he makes a good point about science and math. However, I would add:

    1. Some of the better home school set-ups include ways for the students to learn science and math from someone other than a parent –i.e. a group will go in and hire a tutor/teacher, the student will take classes at the community college, getting online help, etc.

    2. Public schools do a terrible job at math and science education. I would have done better if my parents had homeschooled me in these areas — of course both my parents went to college and my mom studied biology.

    I encountered major problems with math because when my parents moved from Kanab to Provo at the start of my 7th grade year, I failed the math assessment test because all during elementary school we had never made it to the back of the book where you studied decimals and we hadn’t done a lot on fractions. Sadly, neither my parents nor the person who gave me the test noticed this [if you took out the decimal section, I would have had a 75-85% on the test]. So I spent seventh grade in mastery math. Was bored. Didn’t do my homework. Got sent down with the ‘bad’ kids [which was a lot of fun]. Aced the decimal section when it finally came around. Aced my pre-algebra class the next year. But when I got to high school I was a year behind all the other honors students in math — which was even worse when we moved to Calif. and I tried to take honors physics and chemistry without the same math experience as everybody else. I didn’t fail those classes. But I would have understood a lot more.

  10. Julie in Austin on April 27, 2004 at 4:06 pm

    Clark–

    You wrote, “to school you encounter a lot of different adults ”

    Really? I encountered six middle-aged, underpaid, white women with identical educational backgrounds and career choices. That’s it. Most homeschooled high schoolers I know have internships, volunteer work, paid work, classes, etc. and a much broader sphere of human interaction.

    You are right about ‘play’ versus ‘projects.’ I think being involved in several homeschooling co-ops, ets. keeps us well-balanced in this regard. (Although I do think most public schools that I have been involved with as a student or teacher grossly overemphasized ‘group work.’)

    There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about homeschooling, but I have found that most people have an image of a child chained to the kitchen table, hunched over workbooks, for eight hours per day, maybe holding a prom in the living room and dancing with Mom or Dad. The reality is that most homeschoolers are involved in so many out-of-the-house activities that parents are constantly moaning about fitting schoolwork into the schedule.

  11. Kristine on April 27, 2004 at 4:13 pm

    Clark, homeschoolers with smart parents have MORE opportunities to interact with adults than kids at school. My sister, for instance, started a project on finding out the history of our neighborhood, from plantation to subdivision. In the course of her research, she talked to a librarian, who referred her to another librarian, who referred her to a former mayor of the town, who told her the name of the people who had most recently sold the property. She interviewed them a couple of times, and they were so impressed with her that they told a friend of theirs who was on the city council, and they asked to turn her little research project into a booklet, which gave her a chance to meet a graphic artist and a printer, and then she was asked to present her finished project to the Chamber of Commerce….

    You get the idea–homeschooled kids can have much broader opportunities for interacting with adults who are doing something besides teaching or administering school.

  12. Adam Greenwood on April 27, 2004 at 4:15 pm

    Wow!

    Julie, you realize this is a good shot across the bows to get our attention, but each of your questions deserves its own post.

    Addressing Question #1: I’d choose D, as do you. I don’t know that the gospel actually requires any educational system, but your option D best can be explained as flowing from the gospel: it has a pleasing breakdown into symbolic threes, parallels ideas about progression and line-upon-line, and culminates in a ‘deification’ in which the students are now fit to become creators themselves.

  13. William Morris on April 27, 2004 at 4:17 pm

    To get back to the main question:

    Julie asks: “Would you say that our knowledge of the gospel would lead us to favor one of these options over the others?”

    In a word: No.

    I think that you could use ‘gospel’ arguments [and by that I mean arguments grounded in Mormon discourse(s)] for each of those four options.

  14. Kristine on April 27, 2004 at 4:34 pm

    Julie, this is something I’ve thought about a fair amount. I had always planned to homeschool my kids, but my #1 and I would just never survive it. Partly because of his unique needs, I spent a long time trying to find a form of education that would work for him. He’s still only in first grade, so it’s too soon to tell, and my observations are pretty limited and my opinions thus largely theoretical.

    Also, some of my research last summer was about early LDS ideas about education. Maybe the most interesting aspect of this was the response to what came to be called the “progressive movement” in American education around the turn of the last century. Mormon educators, following the lead of Karl Maeser and his sister-in-law, Camilla Cobb, were initially very enthusiastic about this kind of education, following the ideas of an Austrian theorist named Pestalozzi, and also American educators like John Dewey. John Dewey actually gave a series of 10 lectures in Salt Lake and Provo–it’s hard to imagine a current equivalent, maybe Robert Coles, John Gardner? Anyway, the lectures were well-attended and glowingly reviewed.

    Among the principles espoused were “child-centered” learning, the idea that children were “natural” learners and should not need harsh discipline or rigid curricula. Early childhood education (until age 7 or 8) should be based on the natural play of children and their involvement in day-to-day home activity, memorization and rote learning were to be avoided where possible (although it should be noted that this was not at all equivalent to the current resistance to memorization and the ridiculous notion that children should, for instance, be taught math ‘conceptually’ instead of memorizing the times tables). Above all, children were to be regarded as human beings innately worthy of respect and capable of development.

    Anyway, I have lots more to say, but I’ll try to say it in small bits as it fits into the conversation.

  15. Jennifer on April 27, 2004 at 4:56 pm

    Hurray homeschooling! Just about my favorite topic. I’m jumping in on this conversation but this post is short, as I am waiting for the piano mover to arrive to move the piano I just bought.

    I have been homeschooling my daughter for 4 years now and my son will start in a year or 2. Julie’s post has actually raised a lot of questions that I have been dealing with over the past 4 years and have been answering little by little. In my area of the world, Little Rock, Arkansas, homeschooling is HUGE. I feel I fall probably in the middle ideologically. I offend or humor many of the conservatives with my ideas, and the homeschool group I belong to is more liberal than me, for the most part.

    A quick point that I will make, and I will post more later. Another alternative for homeschooling that was left out is the theory of education put out by Charlotte Mason, who lived in the late 1800s. To put it simply, her method integrated christian living with secular learning, but it was not overtly religious and used almost all secular resources. She felt that textbooks were dumbed down and used exclusively “living ideas” from “living books”. That is just a small taste of her ideas.

  16. clark on April 27, 2004 at 4:57 pm

    That’s the problem with sweeping statements. Certainly parents with homeschooling could do all the things you mention. The problem is that in my experience they don’t. (My brother – who is involved with a lot of homeschoolers in Alberta for the government has lots of horror stories)

    I think there is a difference between meeting someone on a field trip and having a daily working relationship with them. So I’m not sure your example fits.

    The other problem is that every school district is different. Certainly there are some that are *horrible*. For instance if I were assigned to have my kids go to an inner city school in a large metro area, I’d probably consider home schooling as well. However I think for most schools there is a large divide between the fears and the reality.

  17. Ryan Bell on April 27, 2004 at 5:16 pm

    Two questions:

    1. What on earth would you study in a “Great LDS Books” course?

    2. Julie, I assume that teaching creationism in Family Home Evening doesn’t make you skittish at all. This suggests that you must have set up some kind of wall in the home between church and secular learning. Is that true? How has it worked out? How is it enforced? Does it ever confuse your kids? I can only picture you going over the big bang on Monday after a lesson on the creation on Sunday, and the looks of bewilderment that might result. How do you handle this?

  18. Nate Oman on April 27, 2004 at 5:25 pm

    Clark: I think that you also need to realize that there are people who for whatever reason live in parts of the country where the public schools are ABYSSIMALLY BAD and private schools are expensive and/or unavailable. Frankly, I don’t think that value of public school style socialization is so great that it would justify subjecting your children to the tender mercies of utterly dysfunctional schools.

  19. Kristine on April 27, 2004 at 5:25 pm

    Easy, Ryan. The Bible tells us who made the world and why. We don’t know exactly how, but scientists have been trying to figure it out for a long time, and here are some of their ideas…

  20. Nate Oman on April 27, 2004 at 5:27 pm

    One advantage of LDS home schooling — You could do an in depth unit of Mormon history free from the constraints of CES or public school curriculums. That could be fun…

  21. William Morris on April 27, 2004 at 5:29 pm

    Clark’s post points out, I think, the whole crux of the issue — that no matter which educational system you choose, the involvement, education and experience of the parents are incredibly important factors in a child’s educational success.

    —-
    A question: This may not apply to ultra-conservative homeschoolers, but how do liberal homeschoolers feel about the choice to homeschool in relation to any responsibility you feel we may have to support the perpetuation of a civil American society? While I can understand the decision to homeschool on a personal, mercenary level, I do have general concerns that public schools will become [even more than they are] the domain [read: dumping ground] of those children whose parents can’t afford private school or to homeschool. I’m not saying that this isn’t a large, messy problem. And perhaps the ultimate issue is whether or not public education is necessary at all for our current society [the alternative being privatization and home schooling]. But it seems to me that some public schools in areas that are in “lower-middle-class” and “middle-middle’class” (or mixed of those two — I think urban schools are a different issue and in most “upper-middle-class” districts I know the public schools are pretty much equivalent to private schools) areas are experiencing a sort of brain drain as educated professionals who live in the district either homeschool or send their kids to magnet schools or find some way to pay for private school. Granted this is part of a whole larger problem/issue involving school choice, housing prices, the need for two incomes, etc.

    I guess what I’m asking is: do those who homeschool or support homeschooling feel any twinges of guilt about not supporting the public school system [beyond, of course, those all important taxes ]? This on a abstract/theoretical level, of course. I totally understand the realpolitik of the situation — and if my wife and I aren’t able to move out of the area in which we currently live, will be faced with this issue.

  22. Kingsley on April 27, 2004 at 6:03 pm

    Who qualifies as “ultra-conservative”? Are we using the current New York Times definition, i.e. anyone with a Bush-Cheney bumper sticker, or—?

  23. clark goble on April 27, 2004 at 6:04 pm

    As I said Nate, I think there are lots of situations I’d home school in as well. (Well — to be honest I’d do what I could not to move into those areas)

    I guess I’m more than a tad biased by people who home school here along the Wasatch Front where there are fairly good schools. What gaps there are in the schooling can easily be made up by the parents. So instead we see what Julie mentioned – those homeschooling for ideological reasons. Even those who seem to have more benign reasons here, often screw up there kids. While I’m sure people like Julie and Kristine would be the exception, I sometimes think that we overvalue our capabilities and organization. I thought about this a lot a few years back and wondered if I’d really be disciplined enough to do a good job. I think I’d much rather spend a few hours each night with the kids helping them with their homework and perhaps trying to expand their desires along the way.

    William, I agree with your concerns. I wish my brother would pipe up as he has done lots of research in this area. Canada’s taken a very different approach than the US in terms of education. I’m not sure I agree with it, but it led to lots of interesting discussions.

    The big issue is why bad schools are bad. It seems like there are a lot of complex reasons. But typically, from what I’ve seen, schools are bad in areas where the majority of parents don’t care about their kids education. This overloads the teachers, burns them out, and also keeps schools from having good feedback from the teachers. The issue of money is also a big issue. But I honestly think it is secondary to the parents.

  24. Russell Arben Fox on April 27, 2004 at 6:07 pm

    William,

    For what it’s worth, I come from a family of home schoolers (every single one of my eight siblings and their spouses home school or have announced their intention to home school their children), and I generally oppose (in a non-specific way; everyone in the family knows my opinion, and all of them understand I’m not attacking them personally) home schooling for civic reasons. The idea of universal public education, one (in theory at least) not keyed to the wealth or the educational/social accomplishments of one’s parents, is one of the greatest egalitarian accomplishments of the modern world, and I’m troubled by actions which cannot help but undermine it, however well-intentioned or reasonable those actions may be.

    Please note that a defense of the idea (and ideal) of public education is not an embrace of every currently existing public school institution; I’m no friend of public school teacher unions, generally speaking, and I think charter-school and voucher movements, depending on how structured, can be a great boon to education, as well as serving the interests of fairness and diversity. But such approaches nonetheless keep civic ends in mind; homeschooling, at least in most of its incarnations, does not.

  25. Russell Arben Fox on April 27, 2004 at 6:08 pm

    Julie,

    Your lay-out of home schooling options is interesting. Why do you think option D is in most harmony with the gospel? I’d choose option D myself if I was in such a situation, but that’s because I take the classical humanist ideal seriously; I’m not sure what, if anything, is particularly gospel-compatible about it.

    Regarding the others: the “school-at-home” approach seems, in my experience, to either reflect an unimaginative approach to education, or conversely one which gives a lot of credit to the pedagogical experiences of the currently existing public school system (I’ve seen both); but I’d have to say that either way this can’t constitute an “LDS education theory” since I don’t see how the gospel has anything to say one way or another regarding pedagogical practice. Ditto for “unit study”: I just don’t see how this might either match up with or challenge gospel principles, or what difference it would make regardless. As for “unschooling” on the other hand, I CAN see someone making the argument that gospel concepts regarding pre-existing intelligence (and presumably personality), agency, etc., would make this approach the most gospel-compatible out of the four you list. I don’t agree, but that’s because I reject the idea that virtues and insight will follow a child’s natural inclinations. (I’m sympathetic to Rousseau regarding a lot of things, but not Emile.) But again, my rejection of this option isn’t based, I think, on anything truly gospel-specific.

  26. Julie in Austin on April 27, 2004 at 6:10 pm

    William Morris–

    Excellent question. My response:

    (1) As a parent, I have a moral obligation to provide the best for my children–period. I don’t *not* take my sick kid to the doctor because other people can’t afford health insurance.

    (2) I am expecting my thank-you letter from the local school district for the 6,000$ gift that I made to them this year by keeping my kid out of their system. They still got the money.

    (3) Most homeschoolers do volunteer work. Here is Austin, we have a city-owned living history farm that relies heavily on homeschool volunteers and the local homeschooling group has a standing appointment at the food bank. You might argue that what homeschoolers subtract from the strength of the PTA they contribute (along with their children) to other ventures.

    (4) ‘Can’t afford to homeschool’ is a phrase that makes many homeschoolers fall on the ground laughing. The last stats I saw indicated that, although *most* homeschoolers have more than 3 kids, something like 20% had family incomes under 25,000 and 50% under about 50,000. No joke. And, yes, I personally know single parents that homeschool.

    Ryan–my kids would hear the same thing in science as they do in FHE: We know God created the world, but God hasn’t told us how it was done. Unless we get new revelation, we have no reason to doubt prevailing scientific theories. When they are older, I will tell them that there are some LDS creationists, and we can still be friends with them (grin). Oh, and LDS Great Books would be writings of modern day prophets (note: I think it is a *great* idea to read the writings of modern prophets, but *not* instead of Aristotle, et al.)

    Jennifer–thanks for mentioning Charlotte Mason. Although I have to ask: don’t you think that for the most part, most classical hsers incorporate her main ideas to some extent?

    Kristine–I think, for the reasons you mentioned, progressivism is responsible for some of the deterioration of American schools. The nice thing about homeschooling is that you can have your basic skills and eat them, too: we memorize poetry and math facts (and the names of Roman emporers, and scriptures, and helping verbs, and Latin endings, and . . .), but we stand on our heads or march around the living room or jump on the couch or play with Legos while we do it.

  27. Kristine on April 27, 2004 at 6:18 pm

    Julie, I’d have to disagree with you about progressive theory’s contribution to the demise of public schools. The things I cited were things I think are GOOD about progressive theory, current misapplications of the theory notwithstanding. Early LDS educators also embraced these principles, and that’s why Primary was, for its first several decades, at least, far more effective and helpful than Sunday School.

  28. Julie in Austin on April 27, 2004 at 6:19 pm

    Kingsley– no, no, no. You have no idea what constitutes ultra-conservative until you meet some homeschoolers. Try: teaching about the Civil War from the South’s perspective. Or, not teaching *any* imaginative, fantasy, myth-type literature for fear of ‘contaminating’ your child. Or, *only* reading fiction by Christian writers.

    Clark Goble–you are right to be concerned about some hs-ing parents. Where’s your concern about our teachers, who, even when they have native ability, are hampered by difficult students, lack of money, lack of time, politics, etc., etc., etc.? Again, before you criticize homeschooling, you have to think about the alternative . . .

    Russell wrote, “The idea of universal public education, one (in theory at least) not keyed to the wealth or the educational/social accomplishments of one’s parents”

    When you get a small town with one high school, this is true. But the reality is that every other school in the country *is* keyed to the ed/soc accomplishments of the parents, since the kids are going to school in the neighborhood that contains the most expensive house their parents could afford.

    Russel, my writing was misleading. I chose D *not* because I thought it was most in harmony with the gospel, but because I thought it would provide the best education. I agree with whoever said that you could make an ‘LDS’ case for any of the options.

  29. Julie in Austin on April 27, 2004 at 6:21 pm

    Kristine–

    I wasn’t talking about Church (where I totally agree with you), but school, including your example about conceptual math instead of facts-based math. I think that the focus on ‘critical thinking skills’ at the expense of giving children facts to think *with* is tracable to progressive reforms and is one of the major pedagogical problems with schools today. Rereading your post, if you would label these strictly ‘misapplications’ of the theory, I could go for that as well.

  30. brayden on April 27, 2004 at 6:29 pm

    Julie – I’m not really sure your response to William’s question #2 is completely satisfactory. While it’s true the local school will get the funds attached to your child whether you send the child to school or not, money isn’t the only contribution a child makes to the local school. What about the social and cultural capital children of the elite (read educated and middle or upper class) bring to the public school classroom? Aren’t those just as important as the funds?

    Truthfully, my aversion to homeschooling probably has more to do with the fact that I don’t think I’d be a good teacher of children and I can’t expect my wife to do what I don’t want to do. Also, there are a hundred other people in my neighborhood who are probably more capable of teaching my children than I am. Unfortunately there are probably thousands in my neighborhood who are less qualified than me, and it is this group of people who I fear are taking their children out of the public system.

  31. Adam Greenwood on April 27, 2004 at 6:30 pm

    Go it, Julie! A good polemic has its own form of beauty. Julie in A. is employing good polemic in a good cause, and what could be better than that?

  32. Gary Cooper on April 27, 2004 at 6:32 pm

    Julie,

    I take my hat off to you for your decision to homeschool, and your committment to it. My wife and I wanted to homeschool, but with English being a second language for my wife, and my work schedule, we had to come to the realization that it wasn’t what Heavenly Father had in mind for our little ones, at least for now.

    I have read the threads here with great interest. I would be inclined to very much lean to the classical approach (your option D), as millions of American children were taught at home in this way (homeschooling being the predominant mode of instruction in this country before the public education movement)for the first 100 years or so of the Republic, with great success.

    Now, let me point out something, partly in response to Kristine’s thread. It is true that John Dewey lectured in Salt Lake, and that some LDS at the time were enamored of his teachings. A majority of the Brethren, however, including every Church President from Brigham Young to Joseph F. Smith, were in fact opposed to the public school movement, and especially the teachings of Dewey. In fact, the church actually envisioned a plan whereby the meetinghouse of each ward would serve as a school, with teachers called for 3-5 year terms, just as missionaries. The idea was for the Church to form the focal point of a child’s education, and the prophets specifically stated this would produce a generation of young men and women who would not only be educationally competent, but also well grounded in the Gospel, and who would escape the spiritual dangers that they could see public education bringing in its wake. (The prophets were crazy—they actually predicted that public schools would become dens of iniquity and falsehood, where smoking, drinking, and sexual immorality would be rampant and the doctrines of the Gospel denigrated—imagine that!) The members of the church wouldn’t have it, so it never happened, though today’s primary and seminary programs are the vestiges of it. I don’t have time to go into more, as it desreves its own post, but I will say that Kristine has not listed all of Dewey’s doctrines, or his motives, which were certainly not compatible with the Gospel or the preservation of a free republic.

    Let me turn from this digression to say just one more thing. My experience with homeschooling has been quite extensive, as Oklahoma is considered to be the easiest and best state to homeschool in. Here is what I have noticed:

    1. As a primary teacher, I noticed that homeschooled children were better-behaved, more reverant, more mature, and more knowledgeable than their public-school counterparts. They were more self-assured, less swayed by a desire to be “part of the group”, and also more disposed to go out of their way to help their classmates understand a principle or lesson idea that the latter might have trouble with. (They were a real joy.) I also noticed that, like Nephi and Joseph of the Old Testament, they seemed lonely, not quite “fitting in” with everybody else. They assimilated just fine, but you could tell that they sensed the fact that they were more mature and better informed than most of their peers, and of course this can’t be helped.

    2. My experience as a seminary teacher reinforced the above.

    3. I now know a great many people who were homeschooled and are now adults. They are far more civically active, and more mature and well-grounded in life that almost anyone else their age.

    4. The single most important benefit of homeschooling is not that the children are better educated; it’s not that they are safer (you don’t have to worry about their teachers molesting them, or their being shot to death, or being taught inappropriate and premature sex ed, etc.). The chief and best benefit is that properly homeschooled children, because they spend so much time with at least one parent and with their siblings, develop a much stronger bond with their families, and this consequently builds very high self-esteem, the single most important psychological factor in helping children learn. Children who believe in themselves have the confidence to tackle tasks and overcome obstacles, and the desire to better themselves. I envy you, Julie. And I think in a future time your grown children will thank you for the sacrifices you are making today to train them for adulthood. Don’t be too afraid that the Gospel mixes with the secular a little in the instruction, as the LDS homeschoolers I know appreciated being able to respond right away when their children, in the middle of learning about the American Revolution, asked, “Why are there wars?”, or, when teaching about slavery, asked “Why would somebody be so cruel to other people?” Public schools simply aren’t equipped to respond to these questions the way an inspired LDS mother and father can, and often the best time to answer such a question is right when it comes up, not hours later when the school day is over.

  33. Jennifer on April 27, 2004 at 6:35 pm

    Julie,

    You asked if I thought whether classical homeschoolers already incorporate Charlotte Mason’s main ideas to some extent? Well, other than using “living books”, I’m not sure, but I’m inclined to think not so much. The only resource for classical education that I have read is The Well-Trained Mind. Do you know if this is a comprehensive resource? I know that classical education is divided into stages depending on the age, where the first stage is memorization of important facts, dates, information, etc. and goes on into the other stages. Charlotte’s focus was on the child learning lessons from whatever they read, getting to know people, places, how things work, ways to be, etc. Facts, dates, and those kinds of things didn’t come in until much later. She focused on short lessons, 15 minutes tops on any given subject in the early primary grades, and then moving up to 30 minutes for later primary grades, and longer lessons for 12+. These are approximate as I do not have my books in front of me. The Savior was important to her and religious studies (bible reading mostly) were done every day. She focused on children understanding what they read by having them narrating their studies instead of writing them until about age 9 or 10, because children can often articulate better verbally until their writing skills catch up. She gave them meaty books that they worked through slowly. For instance, they started with Plutarchs’ Lives around age 9 as part of their history studies. Shakespeare plays were started around age 8 or 9 for literature and character studies. Another big theme for Charlotte was habits. She insisted on developing habits for learning, for good character and proper behavior, for doing good work, etc. She was interested in the “whole” child, whereas (if I’m mistaken correct me) classical learning is usually focused on the academics only for the most part.

  34. John David Payne on April 27, 2004 at 6:37 pm
  35. William Morris on April 27, 2004 at 6:41 pm

    Julie:

    Thanks for the candid response. I understand the reasons for and the contributions of homeschooling on a personal level. But I’m getting more at [and this sounds horrible, but it’s the best way I can put it at the moment] a sort of noblesse oblige thing. The idea that there is a value to having good students from stable, caring households in a public school classroom because they improve the experience for other not-so-fortunate students and for teachers. The same idea extends to parental inolvement. It’s not just your kid who benefits if you act as a teacher’s aide, are involved in PTA, etc., but also the rest of the children in the classroom.

    Again — on a personal level I can see why one would not want to make this kind of sacrifice. I’m just concerned that there need to be a certain percentage of functional, non-resource draining, charitable-giving citizens who support the system in order to make it work.

    You rightly point out that schools in non-rural areas are keyed to the ed/soc accomplishments of the parents — and ostensibly to housing prices. This is absolutely true. But there are areas and neighborhoods where there is enough of a mix that school quality can be maintained or improved. I lived in such a neighborhood during high school. All the rich people had moved to the hills. The neighborhoods that formed the schools I and my siblings attended were made up of a mix of recent immigrants, working class families and low-paid professionals. Because of the efforts of many the families, the quality didn’t diminish as much as it could have. Of course, I was tracked into the honors program so there goes that whole nobless oblige idea .

    As far as the affordability issue goes: My perceptions on this are undoubtedly skewed by living in the Bay Area where high housing and living costs and long commutes would make it near impossible for single parents to home school as well as some double-income parents.

  36. Ryan Bell on April 27, 2004 at 6:43 pm

    lol, John. That is a fabulous answer.

  37. Ben Huff on April 27, 2004 at 6:46 pm

    Wow, I’m surprised to hear everyone talking so positively about public schools. I mean, at an idealistic level I have some sympathy for the idea that public schooling makes the nation a more unified, better place because it doesn’t let the bottom drop out on anyone. But I think I was more alienated from society because of my experience in public school, not less.

    For me, school (and my schools were among the better ones, for sure) was an exercise in enduring boredom. Passively. I mean, learning to endure boredom may be a worthwhile part of growing up, but there’s a big difference between being bored with having to wash the dishes every night after dinner, and being bored because you are just being forced to sit in a room and stare at the board while the teacher goes over stuff you already figured out last year. I don’t think it is a good thing for kids to be sent to the education mill so they can learn to be part of the machine.

    As for contact with a nice pallette of adults, the majority of my teachers prior to high school (when I went to an elite private boarding school because my parents were overseas) made me contemplate the thought of growing up with little more than nausea. I no way no how wanted to become like *them*! Some were different, and it had a lot to do with the fact that they recognized me as an individual whose needs didn’t always match what they were doing in class.

    I think mass education, rather than fostering rich socialization, breeds alienation, teaches people that the normal way life works is for everyone to be alienated. Ugh.

    It blows my mind how radically different my approach to the world became when I started going to classes where the teachers could pay attention to individual students, where there were few enough students that we could all participate in an interesting conversation together, where I wasn’t just part of a sea of conscripts supposed to sit still and do twenty more useless arithmetic exercises.

    And looking at my students now at Notre Dame, I think I see the same thing in them — they have learned that the normal mode of “responsible” life is alienation.

  38. Kristine on April 27, 2004 at 6:49 pm

    William, I heard a great story about a group of parents in Oakland (I can’t remember the details, but I’m guessing it was sort of around the edges of Rock Ridge?) who had just decided, en masse (about 20 families), that they were not going to send their kids to private school, and were, instead, going to make a serious attempt to transform the neighborhood public elementary school. They volunteered, joined the PTA, talked to teachers about continuing ed. opportunities, arranged field trips, etc., etc., etc. There was tension with families who had been in the school longer and between the “yuppies” and the less affluent families in the school, but in all, it sounded like a really hopeful possibility. I have seen efforts like this succeed in Mt. Airy, in Philly, as well. But finding just the right mix of conditions seems awfully tricky!

  39. Kaimi on April 27, 2004 at 6:51 pm

    Kingsley,

    Some articles of faith among some home-schooled folk I knew included:

    -Women shouldn’t work outside the home, drive vehicles, or progress beyond a high school education (if that).
    -Sugar is bad bad bad. So is white flour. So is food coloring. So is . . .
    -The 16th amendment is unconstitutional, and was a scam engineered by lawyers.
    -The United Nations is coming to get you.
    -The best president was Reagan. But, he had a few too many liberal policies.
    -Flouridated water is an evil government scam that makes children [dumb / drug-addicted / promiscuous / I’m not sure what-all else]. (Seriously! I’m not making this up — even though it’s a running joke throughout Dr. Strangelove).
    -Modern medicine is all a scam; drug companies have secretly conspired to keep [herbal remedies / silver treatment / holistic medicine / other wacky ideas] away from the public, even though these would cure [cancer / aids / the common cold / everything].
    -The bar codes on products you buy are [a way for government to track you / a symbol of the devil / both].
    etc.

  40. Kingsley on April 27, 2004 at 6:53 pm

    The public school system, in some ways, actually deadens students to slavery, war, etc., by adopting a sort of MTV approach—take issues x, y, and z, turn them into sound bites, turn the sound bites into a “progressive” catechism, and repeat ad nauseam.

  41. Nate Oman on April 27, 2004 at 6:59 pm

    I think that the moral argument about civic involvement and education can be flipped the other way. It seems to me that implicit in the criticisms offered by Bayden, Kristine, and to a lesser extent Russell is something like the claim:

    “It is immoral and selfish at some level for those who are well educated and involved to withdraw their children from the public schools because when they do so they deprive less fortunate students of the benefits of that their children would provide.”

    It seems to me that one could respond with something like this claim:

    “Putting my child in the public schools would result in significant harm to my child. Admittedly, her present might confer some benefit on less fortunate students, but this benefit cannot justify inflicting the harm on my child. First, it is by not means obvious that the utilitarian calculus justifies the result, because the harm inflicted on my child may well be greater than the benefits that accrue to the less fortunate, and second, such utilitarian calculus is itself subject given that it fails to take seriously the distinction between individuals, etc. etc.”

    One might respond to the above objection by claiming that if ALL of the children of the well educated were in school the costs to individual children would be reduced and the benefits the less fortunate would be much greater. This response, however, is an argument for the legal banning of all non-public school education. It is NOT, however, a valid argument to address to invididual parents. Egaletarian communitarianism and the like is all well and good. It seems a bit immoral, however, when it manifests itself as a largely empty symbolic choice that will have huge negative consequences in a child’s life.

  42. Jennifer on April 27, 2004 at 6:59 pm

    Julie,
    You asked a question. “Where are the liberal LDS homeschoolers?” I’m curious to actually know what you mean by liberal, as I might define it differently. I’m sure I’m considered “liberal” by most LDS. I appalled my mother today by announcing that I do not teach my daughter sentence structure or paragraph structure in writing.

    For anyone interested in knowing what I think of our public school system (and thus why I homeschool), no matter what school district you’re in, there is a great article (The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher) written by John Taylor Gatto at
    http://www.cantrip.org/gatto.html
    that gives another view of exactly what school does.
    Sorry, I don’t know how to link it directly.
    Mr. Gatto is not a “homeschooler”. To know who he is, you can go to his website at http://www.johntaylorgatto.com

    I do not feel guilty in the least bit keeping my child out of our current public school system. I love the IDEA of universal public education for all, but we’re kidding ourselves if we think our kids are receiving an ?equal education (rather than schooling) or even having an equal opportunity for such . I don’t “believe” in our current education system. Neither do I feel homeschooling is the only alternative answer, but there really aren’t too many better options out there.

    Some other books that I put forward as essential homeschooling reads that might label me as a liberal homeschooler:
    The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto
    Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto
    A Different Kind of Teacher by John Taylor Gatto
    Better Late Than Early by Raymond and Dorothy Moore
    Any book by John Holt
    How to Quit High School and Get a Real Education by Grace Llewellyn
    Onto the Yellow School Bus and Through the Gates of Hell, and other books by Mary Hood
    Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery by David H. Albert

    As for integrating the gospel into history, science, etc., I have struggled with this as well. It has a place. I tend to separate much like it’s done in school, although I do not teach evolution other than as an aside. I feel that many people or events in history had God’s help, but I haven’t really brought many of those ideas up with my daughter yet other than when they’re related to church history or the scriptures.
    It’s interesting though, to read in the scriptures about how some of the prophets learned, and I know that a scripture out there comments on “reading from the best books”. I’m not looking it up right now though. Some kind of LDS educational theory could loosely be tied in with reading the “best books”. Of course, the definition of “best books” by each person would be different, and I think that’s great. Another key thing could be to look back on some of the great people in history and how they learned, for an idea of what a great education could be.

  43. Russell Arben Fox on April 27, 2004 at 7:02 pm

    “Wow, I’m surprised to hear everyone talking so positively about public schools.”

    Ben, I should make one thing clear: I hated high school. If God the Father Himself in all His power and glory couldn’t get me to attend high school reunion. (And don’t even get me started on junior high.) The alienation you describe is absolutely accurate to my experience.

    So why defend public schooling? 1) Because defending public schooling doesn’t mean defending high schools as they presently exist (formal schooling should probably end around age 15 or so, with options for advanced study or trade education beginning thereafter). 2) Because public schooling is more than high school; it is also elementary schooling, with the socialization and civic experiences and common concerns which really ought to be inculcated into children at a fairly early age. 3) Because if everyone goes at education entirely on their own, some people–usually the poor–will get little or no education at all, and that’s not just.

    I’m all in favor of anything that reworks the “mass” aspect of public education; and hey, for all I know, home schooling may be adaptable to just such a cause. (A couple of my siblings home school their kids in association with formal programs sponsored by the local school district, creating a home-public hybrid; there may be some real possibilities there.) But too often, in my experience at least, those who bag on public schools really aren’t thinking about the baby which is going to be thrown out with the bathwater, should the whole public schooling ideal be consigned to the trash heap.

  44. Kingsley on April 27, 2004 at 7:06 pm

    Kaimi—

    That’s quite a list. I’m not sure that “The best president was Reagan” fits in with the others. Probably a description of left-wing lunacies would not include admiration for Bill Clinton. Anyhow, are these X Files-type views common amongst LDS homeschoolers?

  45. Ben Huff on April 27, 2004 at 7:11 pm

    Ah, there we go with the noblesse oblige thing . . . yes, that is the way you have to see it, I think, if you have other good options but send your kids to public school. And I admire those who take that approach. But when you mix students like that, isn’t a lot of the result simply that the curriculum actually meets the needs of very few students? And this wacky movement to impose standards of quality via those mind-numbing standardized tests — who is that going to help? The students who are less advanced and/or less attentive and/or have worse study habits or whatever seem to me likely to be the first ones to tune out!

    I would love to know how those efforts Kristine talks about to reclaim the schools fared; I hope they were successful. But putting advanced students in a classroom with kids who are three years behind in reading seems like it would just make the teacher’s job impossible, not easier.

  46. William Morris on April 27, 2004 at 7:12 pm

    Kristine:

    That’s totally cool. I need to get more involved in community issues here in Oakland.

    Oakland parents have also been the driving force behind several charter school experiments. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the children of young couples in my ward start reaching school age.

    For most of the ‘older’ families in the ward schooling wasn’t so much an issue because most of them live up in the hills where the schools are good. But many of the young couples [those with children and without] live in semi-gentrified areas in Oakland and in Emeryville. I know one family with school-age children. They homeschool.

    My guess is that at least half of the couples will probably move out to the suburbs [or out of the Bay Area]. That’s probably what my wife and I will do.

    If Greg Call is reading this thread, I’d be interested in his thoughts on this particular situation.

    —-
    Ben:

    Just to be clear — I’m not talking all that positively about public schools. Many of them are deadening, dangerous, boring places. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that parents want to look at other options. Public education is a painful, mire of an issue.

    But it has also — with special kudos to our system of higher education — created one of the more successful civil societies in history and generated great wealth for the last three-four generations of Americans.

    This is a difficult thing for me. I feel like there are huge gaps in my education. But at the same time I’m grateful for a system that helped me figure out my particular interests and strenghts and interact with people I normally wouldn’t have during high school, allowed me to get my bearings at and not spend too much money on a community college [where I interacted with some great faculty members], subsidized my subsequent upper-division work at one of the best public universities in the world, and allowed me to finish graduate work with some, but not a ton of student loan debt.

  47. Kaimi on April 27, 2004 at 7:14 pm

    Alas, among some that I know. Actually, some I’ve talked to did like Reagan, though they thought he was too liberal. (I asked one person my age during the 96 election if he was voting for Dole. Nope — Bo Gritz). As for Clinton, I was told that he committed treason. :)

    I think it’s less “these views prevalent among homeschoolers” and more “people with these views tend to homeschool their kids.” I mean, if you’re convinced that the government is a giant conspiracy, you certainly don’t want to send your kids to public school — where the government writes the curriculum, and the evil, insidious _Sex Ed_ is taught!

  48. William Morris on April 27, 2004 at 7:24 pm

    Side-quip/

    Of course, one could also argue that perhaps there is a certain virtue in learning, as you do in public school, that pleasing superiors brings more rewards than independent thought, that being able to do boring work consistently often brings more rewards than brilliant occasional projects [this is why I did much better in college than in K-12 — I was always getting ‘B’s or even ‘C’s because while I would ace the tests/projects/essays, I only ever turned in 50-70% of the daily homework], that sometimes people who aren’t as smart as you are more popular and get more breaks than you do, that copying out the Encyclopedia is just fine as long as you change some of the wording, that you can get away with not giving your full effort and attention, etc.

    Public school — the ultimate preparation for cubicle culture.

    /quip

  49. Russell Arben Fox on April 27, 2004 at 7:30 pm

    “But when you mix students like that, isn’t a lot of the result simply that the curriculum actually meets the needs of very few students? And this wacky movement to impose standards of quality via those mind-numbing standardized tests — who is that going to help?”

    Ben, again, don’t confuse a defense of public schooling with a defense of current public school policies. Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy, for example, serves a real need for accountability in more than a few school systems across the country. That said, it is, in practice, for most students, madness; moreover, the teachers know it. (I’ve yet to meet a single public school instructor who is happy with the imposition of standardized tests, and this includes those who recognize the useful role they play in certain situations.)

  50. Ben Huff on April 27, 2004 at 7:32 pm

    Russell, I am with you now, but I don’t see how the public school paradigm will be productively changed unless there is a major upheaval, including a lot of people opting out. How are alternative paradigms to be developed, if not by someone who opts out? Then branches of the wild trees can be grafted back into the tame public school roots perhaps.

    Jennifer, thank you for that link to the Six Lessons! That is something I’ve been struggling to articulate ever since I was slapped in the face by that paradigm again when I left high school! College (at what I thought was the best of the best, MIT, but also at BYU) was a huge disappointment for me after my wonderful high school. The funny thing is, my high school had bells, but our teachers were also dorm monitors and athletic coaches, and they led service activities, and we ate dinner with them, and so the bells didn’t compartmentalize our lives really. Those six lessons can be ditched even while keeping a classroom format during the day. But it ain’t easy.

  51. wendy on April 27, 2004 at 7:35 pm

    For those with complaints about your public school experience, think about your mom — do you wish that she had taught you every subject, every day, every year? I mean, my mom is great, but that’s just crazy. I was with her every afternoon and night, all weekend and all summer. It was great to mix it up with different teachers and students during the day.

  52. clark on April 27, 2004 at 8:13 pm

    As I said, I wish my experiences with the home schooled corresponded with what many are saying here. Don’t get me wrong, I have a slewfull of criticisms of our public education. However I simultaneously think that the flaws of public education typically get overstated.

    Certainly I was bored in school and certainly didn’t work at it as hard as I should have. In hindsight there are a lot of things I will do differently with my upcoming child. I don’t think it follows though that school is simply bad. I think instead I perhaps had some erroneous ideas of what school was for. (I was a frustrated idealist as a kid).

  53. William Morris on April 27, 2004 at 8:22 pm

    Clark:

    Only as a kid?

  54. Greg Call on April 27, 2004 at 8:23 pm

    William,

    I have been fervently following this thread, in no small part because of our current address. I would say more if I didn’t have a brief deadline this evening.

    My wife is what Nate called an “egalitarian communitarian” on this issue, and is convinced both that we have a duty to help improve the public schools and that our children can thrive anywhere. Being more swayed by the opinions of the locals, I tend to think that, like you, we’ll either move (hopefully staying on this side of the Caldecott tunnel) or look at private schools.

    From the demographics of the stake, its apparent that this is the decision made by virtually all young LDS families in Oakland. Or, at least those who do not have the good fortune of being able to buy in Piedmont. My reading of the wonderful “History of the Oakland Stake” makes this fact even more poignant — it was not long ago that the Oakland Stake youth program was the envy of the church.

    I do hold out a faint hope that as the flatlands gentrify (good luck, Jerry Brown), and the Oakland political machine is kept at arms length (ha!), the schools (or at least some schools) will improve. We have committed to at least visit local elementary schools before we make a decision. I suspect that the decision, at least with respect to elementary schools, is sometimes made based on fear and rumor, rather than information.

  55. clark goble on April 27, 2004 at 8:33 pm

    I think it was the year I had some “adventures with roommates” at BYU which frustrated a few of my plans. (I was originally planning to do basic fundamental physics at Berkeley instead of starting up my own business and seeking after mammon) Anyways I suddenly realized in a freshman English class (yes I was a junior) that all my expectations of what an education was for – the classic university model – were wrong. It was a big paradigm shift. I became *far* more pragmatic and a lot of my frustrations disappeared when I came to grips with this.

    I worry though that already we hare having a polarized society where the uneducated have less and less of a chance of getting a good job. By moving out of schools the best and the brightest we exasperate this polarization that much more.

    I don’t have any solutions, but it is to me one of the biggest problems our nation faces. I truly fear that we’ll have a permanent underclass who will never have the chance of the American dream.

  56. Kingsley on April 27, 2004 at 8:41 pm

    Clark:

    What induced your paradigm shift? That seems like quite a revelation to come all at once in an English class. I mean as far as the classic university model being wrong.

  57. Kristine on April 27, 2004 at 8:49 pm

    William, here’s a link to the audio of that story: http://www.npr.org/features/feature.php?wfId=1476773

    Sorry for the NPR shilling I seem to be doing this week :>/

  58. chris goble on April 27, 2004 at 8:54 pm

    Perhaps I will just post a quick comment before going home to eat and mark the “mind numbing” test I have used to weed out any individual or creative thought. After all, I have those 6 points of Gato’s to live up to :) However, I do appreciate the shift from legal theory to educational theory.

    In terms of education, I think it is always good to realize that anything comes with pro’s and con’s. Idealists have a clear vision as to how to get rid of all the negatives. However, any change creates a new set of negatives – many of which are initially hidden. If one are judging things only based on what has fewer negatives, idealism will usually win. I think home schooling is an idealistic act. It requires a belief that what you can do is better that what present school institutions can. For some exceptional people this may be true, but I think, like teachers themselves, people who want to teach often overate their abilities. In other words, it is the old mote in the eye.

    Personally, I like coming to grips with the chaotic, fallible world. I just wish we didn’t have to drag out school for so long. Of course changing things would, as others have mentioned only alienate others. Perhaps the best strategy is just to try and see why the things that happen in public schools happen. Like Clark says, I think this paradigm shift definitely changes the apparent evil nature of the school system. When I try and talk to my students to explain reasons for detentions, due dates, etc. I am truly amazed how little they grasp what is going on. Mind control, perhaps. Personally I just think articulate people tend to overrate the abstract reasoning skills of the masses.

  59. clark on April 27, 2004 at 9:34 pm

    The paradigm shift was in a freshman English class which at BYU involved reading famous speeches and essays and commenting on them. (I took it while a Junior/Senior since in physics you are basically expected to take lots of upper division math before you can take your first upper division physics class. So in my junior and senior years I typically had three *very* hard physics classes and filled the rest up with easy classes. Lots of friends left freshman classes to their senior and junior years so not to be overwhelmed)

    The essay was on the important of education and I tried writing, in a critical and analytical fashion, a defense of the traditional university system. I found I couldn’t. Even though I thought I believed in it I realized that knowledge for knowledge sake was a myth. I couldn’t write something cogent on it. So I wrote about that fact. It seems to me that a university *has* to include pragmatic issues. Students *have* to focus in on things like learning to please teachers independent of whether the teacher is right. They *have* to learn how to converse and work in groups independent of what ideals they may have. It was a big eye opening experience for me. I realized that jobs and the nitty gritty of production were extremely devalued in universities. I came to think that this was horrible and it really made me wonder if the divide between the university and the vo-tech facilities was wise.

    In particular I think that in areas like political science the practical is devalued to such an extent that it truly is hurting our nation. There was a great interview recently on Radio West with the Canadian ambasador David Malone that made this point as well. Indeed he lay the blame for many recent problems on the shape of American university education.

    http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/kuer/news/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=624019

  60. Ivan Wolfe on April 27, 2004 at 10:01 pm

    I think there is no “one size fits all” model for Public Education or Home Schooling.

    For example: I tried home schooling and it did not work for me. My grades were awful and I hated it – I needed the constant social interaction public education offered (and I was a social misfit, being a sci-fi geek and all), among other things.

    On the other hand, my younger brother tried home schooling and blossomed. An otherwise lackluster student, he suddenly became interested in studying and learning and reading and doing math. Home schooling was exactly what he needed.

    But home schooling was exactly what I did not need.

    Attempts to say one is better than the other, to me, ignore the very real world of individual needs that is out there.

  61. Julie in Austin on April 27, 2004 at 11:06 pm

    brayden– Again, my obligation to secure what’s best for my child trumps all other obligations. I think most teachers would also agree that part of this is a numbers game, and having one fewer student may be worth it in terms of the time you can then give to others, especially since my little brainy kids would require a lot of specialized advanced stuff.

    gary cooper–I liked your digression. One of the unfortunate results of the early church leaders’ criticism of public schools (which, and maybe someone can help me with the history here, I think may have had to do with Protestants interested in converting LDS coming to Utah to teach in the public schools) is that LDS homeschoolers today trot out these 100-year old quotes to justify what they are doing. I think they are guilty in a major way of favoring the words of a dead prophet over the living one, since I don’t know of anything post-WWII like John Taylor’s condemnation of ‘allowing young saints to have their testimonies destroyed at the hands of gentile school teachers (paraphrasing), which I have seen on the email signature line of LDS homeschoolers.

    gary cooper–as for your point about hs-ed kids not quite fitting in, I wonder: would this be the same for these kids if they were public schooled? I asked because I was a public school kid, and I never fit in because I was academically ahead of the curve. I would look at your primary student and think, hey, it might stink for two hours per week, but at least the rest of the time they aren’t suffering at the hands of peers who think they are geeks for actually liking to read. And stats I have seen bear out your point that hs-ed kids tend to be more civically (is that a word?) active than other adults, which may reassure those who think that homeschoolers are shirking their civic responsibility: they will make it up in the next generation!

    and, gary, thanks for your #4. I do love the moral/ethical discussions (yes, even with a 6yo) that result from our study of history the best.

    Jennifer–we follow Well-Trained Mind, so I am biased, but from what I know of Charlotte Mason, I would say the main principles of child-centered learning, short lessons, narration, dictation, and living books are huge to me as a classical educator, and are all emphasized in WTM. I can tell you that WTM is *huge*. The sales rank at amazon is under 100, which is *amazing* for a book about homeschooling, in my opinion.

    Ben–You may have inadventantly provided the best defense for LDS staying in public schools: all that boredom training is invaluable for life in the Church (grin).

    jennifer–I didn’t mean liberal in the sunstone-way, I meant non-ultra-orthodox. (Have you seen the catalog I linked to above?!?) Probably could have chosen my words better. If you divide church members into a spectrum, I would say that 90% of those that homeschool come from the 25% farthest to the right. Why?

    I am pleased with the discussion that has been generated here, but (with the expection of one comment about higher-level math/science education) *everything* else has revolved around non-academic concerns. I would dispute the premise that there is *anything* (any social, civic, etc. goals) that outweighs academic excellence. That was my primary reason for homeschooling. Every other issue (socialization, elitism, etc.), I try to compensate for, but it ultimately must take a backseat to academic quality. We are talking about education after all, the primary purpose of which is, uh, education, and not the attainment of social engineering (by the left or right).

    Kingsley–Yep, they are. Read around the main LDS homeschooling website, and especially the links off of it, http://www.schoolofabraham.org. From their scripture study resource recommendations, to the LDS great books program, etc. Probably the nastiest thing they do is to develop an art curricula based on . . . just works by LDS artists. Yuck.

  62. Ivan Wolfe on April 27, 2004 at 11:58 pm

    Julie – I’m not sure I agree that nothing outweighs academic acheivement, but I would say that in my particular case (and I was a straigt A student, academic scholarships to college, yada yada) that the lack of socialization HURT my academics. Nothing my parents could have done could have made up for that – and they tried. But I needed the socialization to help my academics. But my case may be unique.

    So many of these things are too intertwined to say that we can seperate them. To say academics is something so unrelated to social skills, etc. is too help further the stereotype of the reclusive academic who has no real interest in or impact on the world.

    As for social engineering – well, I won’t go there except to say (and this would require 300 pages of clarifications I have no time to write) that all education is social engineering of some sort. That’s the whole point – to teach people the knowledge they need to be good citizens. Of course, that’s a far cry from teaching them to vote for one party or cause, but even teaching critical thinking is a form of social engineering (as is teaching a lack of critical thinking).

    (*ducks as fruit heads his way*)

  63. Julie in Austin on April 28, 2004 at 12:25 am

    Ivan (sorry, we’re out of fruit–need to go grocery shopping tomorrow),

    I am not saying socialization is unimportant, just that if I have to choose between furthering the social good (see arguments above) by keeping my kids in school, or providing them with a superior education at home, there’s no contest for me. (But, as I have maintained above, I think we do just fine in the socialization and civic responsibility departments.)

    I have enjoyed this discussion, because the only other place I hang out on the net is a homeschooling message board, where there are flame wars over math curricula, but no one ever questions your decision to homeschool, so this has been interesting.

    We realized recently how important this has become to our family. We decided to carry enough life insurance so that either one of us could homeschool and not work for two decades if that were necessary. That’s how commited we are to this, how much fun I think it is (that’s what you never hear about–how much fun it can be for the parent), and how beneficial it is to our kiddos. But I’m rambling.

  64. Logan on April 28, 2004 at 8:47 am

    Well, I think I’m a little late to get very involved in the discussion. But I will say in support of the concept of homeschooling that my mother (whose qualifications include: a Ph, D. in Instructional Psychology, teaching at two universities in the education department, running and teaching at her own private school for many years, maintaining a private teacher training program, and evaluating student teachers for their state teaching certificates) has decided that homeschooling is the best choice for one of my sisters.

    So if it helps to bolster the legitimacy of the choice (not that Julie has seemed to need any help), even people who have devoted their lives to learning, furthering, and teaching education sometimes see homeschooling as the right choice.

  65. Mardell on April 28, 2004 at 10:18 am

    I have two very different boys. My oldest Sullivan often complains that school is to long. I think he is mostly bored because school is rather repetative. He would be totally happy being home schooled. Kace my youngest boy often cries when I come to get him because his friends are staying in the after school program and he wants to stay too. He just can not seem to get enough of being away from home doing new things. I think that ever kid is different and homeschooling will not work for all of them and vis versa.

  66. Gary Cooper on April 28, 2004 at 10:55 am

    Julie,

    You’re right that early Church leader’s condemnation of the public school movement had to do with the (correct) perception that it’s proponents wanted to “Protestantize” future generations, but that was not the only reason. Reading Joseph F. Smith’s pronouncments in particular, one sees that the Brethren correctly saw the deeper problem as being a secular government’s control of education, as they predicted that an enforced atheism would eventually dominate these schools. In any case, homeschooling is a viable solution for many parents.

    I should have made clear that my observations of home-schooled children and teenagers as not quite “fitting in” was not meant in any way to be pejorative, as the allusion to Nephi and Joseph hinted. I view this discomfort has healthy, as after all, ideally our children should NOT be overly comfortable with the world, but should earnestly be seeking Zion. They really should be happy, yet sober and mature and discerning. Proper homeschooling can help produce this, with very positive results.

  67. Ben Huff on April 28, 2004 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks for a great discussion Julie!

  68. lyle on April 28, 2004 at 12:44 pm

    Julie: Fab thread. My vote for best thread of the whatever.

    Personally, I plan to use D, with emphasis on the fact that the Gospel contains all truth w/in one greater whole.

    Kaimi:
    1. Flouridation may be a running joke in a cult movie, but it is far from a decided issue. Utah had a big debate on the issue in the last 5 years. And…I know of several legitimate lawsuits by liberal democratic lawfirms based on flouride poisoning, the same theory that is a “joke.”
    2. Funny that you bash on holistic medicine, which is embraced by far more on the left than the right. Plenty of research to show the negative effects of white sugar, etc. At the very least, other types of sugar are better. And you dare mock wheat bread! ;)
    3. Given that with the new Radio frequency tags, private biz & govt actually can track your purchases and/or location of those goods…

  69. Matt J on April 28, 2004 at 3:00 pm

    Julie, another thanks for the thread. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s comments.

    I grew up with the stereotypical view that homeschoolers are ultra-conservative militants, but didn’t ever actually know anyone home schooled. My wife and I lived in Palo Alto when we were first married, and there was a family in the ward that homeschooled. I would guess they were one of the more liberal families in the ward, and Palo Alto public schools are among the best in the nation. So why homeschool? Turns out they removed their daughters from school because they had learning disabilities that weren’t being addressed. The mother quit her job as a physicist in order to homeschool. Wow, I thought. She associated with a surprisingly large group of homeschoolers on the peninsula. My wife was able to teach dance classes to this group (during school hours, no less) and she thought they were a great bunch of kids.

    Since then I’ve come to realize that people home school for a great number of reasons. Most of those I’ve met have done it for academic rather than social reasons. I worked with a man who had six children that were allowed to decide each year what they wanted to do with school. They could go to public school full-time, or not at all, or just for certain classes or activities. In our current neighborhood, all those whom I know that home school have their kids participate in sports or music or other extra-curricular events at school.

    Homeschooling seems like a fun and rewarding experience for both parents and children (at least there is the potential). I’d be more of a fan if my own school experience wasn’t so positive, both academically and socially. I agree with others that each child has different needs, and kudos to those parents that pay enough attention to know when change is warranted.

  70. lyle on April 28, 2004 at 4:01 pm

    Hey…and don’t forget: Throw in vouchers, and then Mothers/Teachers will actually be a viable economic career. Imagine, a world where parents actually teach their children instead of delegating this responsibility to the State.

  71. Julie in Austin on April 28, 2004 at 4:05 pm

    Lyle–

    Not that I wouldn’t appreciate a homeschooling budget of 6K per year, but you have to have a lot of kids for that to look like a viable career.

  72. lyle on April 28, 2004 at 4:11 pm

    Julie:

    True, but…[warning my interp follows]

    if LDS families are going to follow prophetic counsel & have a mother who primarily stays at home anyway…

    whether it is 6k,12k, 18k, 24k, 30k, 36k, or 42k… [given that average mormon family size of my parents day was 6-7, but is probably down to 4-5 currently…if that…]

    it all helps to restore the balance & economic power necessary to revitalize the two-parent, father working-mother raising, family.

  73. Bryan Warnick on April 28, 2004 at 6:47 pm

    Julie, if you are interested in a Mormon educational theory, I should have an article coming out soon on that topic in the journal _Educational Theory_. In this article, I argue:

    1. Joseph Smith’s world-view is relentlessly pluralistic.

    2. In a pluralistic universe, unity is found in deliberative assemblies where common projects are discussed and carried out (e.g., in Joseph’s creation accounts). God voluntarily works in council with others on creative projects.

    3. Accordingly, in D&C 88 we have the School of the Prophets described, which is, I argue, a fundmentally dialogic body.

    4. School, then, seems to be a place that should imitate the creative activity of God — creation through council and cooperative activity.

    5. Dialogue is a theological virtue and should be fostered in educational settings. A life of dialogue is an element of a divine life.

    Along the way, I compare Joseph to William James and Emmanuel Levinas. If you are interested, I’d be happy to send you a copy of the paper.

    I should say that I don’t think we Mormons have done a very good job thinking about education. Typically, LDS writing on education is a bunch of platitudes formed around a few scriptures from D&C 88 or 93. Sometimes Dewey is taken to task, although rarely is any competence with Dewey ever displayed (e.g., in Nibley). As a people who believe in eternal progression and in exaltation as a process of infinite learning, we deserve better than this.

  74. Nate Oman on April 28, 2004 at 6:50 pm

    Bryan: Try reading what Mormons have written about law…

    I think this is a general phenomena. We now have about two generations of serious scholarly attention that takes Mormonism as subject matter (most of it history). What he haven’t yet done very well at all is figure out what Mormonism has to say about other topics.

  75. Clark Goble on April 28, 2004 at 7:17 pm

    Bryan, there is an interesting paper I linked to on my blog about Mormon pluralism and James. I’m not sure I’m convinced. But over hte following days I commented on it a bit.

    http://www.libertypages.com/clark/00008.html#2

  76. Bryan Warnick on April 28, 2004 at 9:12 pm

    Clark: Thanks for the link. I hadn’t seen that article before.

    I think the problem of the One and the Many is prominent in Joseph’s thought. So I think I side with Hickman on this one — I’ll have to read his article closely to make sure. But think of how Joseph handles the Godhead (he rejects an ontological oneness in favor of a social oneness). Think of how he handles the sealing together of families. Think of how he talks about friendship welding together the human family. It seems that Joseph is very interested in how to make one out of many.

  77. Clark Goble on April 28, 2004 at 9:46 pm

    I agree that Joseph is concerned about the One and the Many. I think my comments on agency I have up on my blog discuss this. Especially when I get into the admittedly controversial subject of “strife” in Heidegger.

    Joseph’s discussion of reconciling opposites is very much the rhetoric of Renaissance views of reconciling the One and the Many. Over on LDS-Phil I’ve compared him to Bruno several times.

    I’m just not convinced that Joseph taught a strong pluralism given the *practical* actions he took. Same with Brigham Young. There simply wasn’t the conception of pluralism in the same sense that we find in liberal political thought in the US. At least not that I can see. (Which is why I thought Heidegger was an interesting way to conceive of the problem – given the problem of his politics)

  78. Jordan Fowles on April 29, 2004 at 12:27 am

    Homeschooling is something that my wife and I have constant debate (and even contention) over. She really wants to homeschool. I don’t think that is a bad idea, but our three children can be so frazzling that I don’t want her to have to deal with them all day all the time. I think she agrees but for some reason would feel guilty sending them off to school somewhere. The bottom line is that I don’t think it is fair for her to be stuck with them all day, as much as I love them. And I think that kids need to get out of the house and away from mom and dad.

    We both have problems with public school, however, and private schools can be just as bad if not worse in many ways. We really like the Waldorf approach, but that can be very expensive if there are no charter waldorf schools. So then we think about homeschooling with a Waldorf curriculum, and that again leaves my wife stuck with all of the kids all day.

    We have a friend who INSISTS that his wife homeschool (of course he is off at school all day in his academic fantasy land while his wife is stuck not only home schooling but running an in house daycare facility as well because of his academic career brings no income at all). I don’t think that is right.

    IF we homeschool our kids, then we will have to arrange it so that I shoulder my part of the burden (and it will be a HUGE burden… I honestly don’t know how you people do it…). Our kids get up VERY early (like 5:30-6:00) so maybe if we homeschooled I could teach them for three hours each morning before I head off to work, and then a good portion of the day could be for other out of the home activities like lessons of various musical instruments and athletic talents.

    Of course, my wife contends that lessons and such will not give them the opportunity to be kids.

    This was long and rambling. Any suggestions on how to get the kids out of the house (and give mom some much needed rest) while pursuing this “LDS based educational theory”? Aren’t moms entitled to a break from the kids while the dads are on their 8-10 hour office vacation?

  79. Jennifer on April 29, 2004 at 2:43 am

    Jordan,
    ***Warning–long post

    Mom and the kids together all day, every day, can be a problem. I am only homeschooling 2, ages 4 and 11, but I have friends who homeschool 3, 5, even 7 children. I will tell you these families find many ways of involving other people and activities in their lives instead of Mom staying home all day every day with the kids. Here are some for instances (most of which we have participated in):

    One day a week “homeschool academy” which meets from 9:30 to 2:00 p.m. and offers K-12 classes with approximately 5-6 subjects during the day. Mom has one day free from the kids, and the kids experience different teachers for a “school year”. Often these teachers are other homeschool moms. I have a friend whose children have attended since age 5 and have kept many of the same friends through the years.

    The 4-H center here offers science classes for an approximately 3 month stretch, one day a week from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., arranged by age group. They are very popular and always have a waiting list.

    There is a young people’s theater group which is quite intense and puts on 2 productions a year, one in the fall and one in the spring. Anyone can participate. They even include 5- and 6-year-olds. This really gives the kids a chance to interact with children of all ages in a longterm, group project setting. They also interact with a lot of adults as many of the parents volunteer to keep costs down.

    There is a homeschool cheerleading squad. I believe they cheer for the homeschool basketball teams. There are some other homeschool sports teams as well I believe.

    I trade off with other homeschol mothers watching each other’s children. I have traded with one mother to watch her daughter in exchange for my daughter to attend her wilderness classes.

    My daughter once particpated in a Thanksgiving play that was to be produced at a local children’s museum for groups of public school children. I dropped her off for play practice and picked her up. Then the week of the play she was there from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. doing 1/2 hour long shows, while my son played at the museum and I visited with other moms. It was a wonderful experience.

    Another instance is when my daughter was employed as a student guide at a farm. At the age of 9, she led groups of 10 students and a teacher, by herself, through either the nature trail or the chicken area. When she worked the goat area, she assisted the adult leader who ran the program. She usually led 3 groups within a 1 1/2 hour time. She and the other 2 student leaders (all age 9) would arrive early and stay late to help feed and water the animals and help with other farm chores. For all this they were paid $6/hour. The groups of children they led were usually grade 3 and under from public or private schools. It was an amazing experience. I usually stayed at the farm while she worked and let my son play. She did this off and on for almost a year.

    Also, from 2:30 onward, as soon as public school lets out, my daughter plays with her friends as much as she possibly can. She has homeschool friends as well but she usually sees them during “public school” hours.

    There are many options out there. The more people delve into the community of homeschooling, the more options they find to enhance their children’s education and life experience so they are not at it alone.

    Park days or play dates where kids can play and moms can visit are a great boon to a mother’s sanity.

    Also, a key point here, I do not “teach” my daughter. I learn with her. Also, as she is now 10, she does most of her work by herself or in another setting with another adult like 4-H science class. Whenever I try to “teach”, things fall apart as she does not want Mom telling her how to learn. Math might be the exception with us when I am trying to explain a new concept. When things get crazy or intense, we take a break or start something new.

    I must say with younger children it’s just important to take it easy. My daughter attended public school in K-1. For second grade we read a lot together, talked about birds, sang Primary songs, and played. Some things that didn’t work, we dropped. That’s about it. My extended families were appalled. We didn’t do much more for 3rd grade either, except maybe add a few more books to read and a few activites perhaps. At times it was difficult as my son was little and needed lots of attention, but we worked around him as best we could.

    Hope that helps with your question.

  80. Alaska on April 29, 2004 at 11:53 am

    Jordan, What thoughtful questions to ask! I want to respond to a few of them. My history: I taught fourth grade in low-income and middle-income schools. The low-income schools were wonderful with dedicated staff and great kids ;) The middle-income school was a dysfunctional mess of corrupt politics. I left teaching for curriculum writing and never looked back. I still write and edit in that field on a freelance basis.

    First, your friend is a twit. Until he can support his family, he’s little more than a man with a respected hobby. If his wife wanted to homeschool and insisted in spite of her budren to provide income, then that’s another ball of wax. Homeschooling pays huge dividends, but only if that’s not cancelled out by resentment.

    And this from a woman who provides 40% of our family’s income while homeschooling. It’s really, really HARD. I do it because I believe my husband is taking some steps to relieve my part of our financial burden and because my firstborn was being “socialized” in apalling ways at school. Among other more serious issues.

    Now for you and your wife :) I’m going to answer your questions assuming that you prefer a more structured day.

    Even the most brilliant first grader has a limited attention span. I loved the grammar book I used with my son–First Language Lessons–it didn’t spoon feed. He memorized helping verbs, replaced nouns with pronouns, and did dictation. It was one of his favorite subjects because the presentation is age appropriate. It’s fun and no lesson was more than 15 minutes. He does Latin every day. We limit that one to ten minutes. He thinks it’s a secret spy language. Our math program stretches on to 45 minutes but that is in part because the program we use has games to “drill” facts instead of worksheets. It’s auditory approach is a perfect match for my chatty son. As a former math geek and present public school curriculum writer, I can tell you it is head and shoulders above what he would receive in school. We really LOVE our math program.

    All told, our second grade day, complete with two breaks for recess, stretches on to an incredible 2.5 hours. And in that time he covers twice what students in a large classroom do. It’s not lack of dedication on the part of a public school teacher. I was a very good, even overly dedicated public school teacher. It’s a product of teacher: child ratio. When he isn’t getting it, I know immediately. Not when I grade the paper later. (Not that I grade. We teach to mastery. He doesn’t get the paper until I know he can do it.)

    That and we can laugh a LOT.

    The bigger problem with your kids getting up that early is not having enough time to wake up and have some scripture and prayer time for yourself. I’d recommend that when the kids get to school age you implement a no-kids-out-of-their-rooms-till-7am rule. They can wake, read, play with legos, etc. My guy loves those illustrated BOM, Old Testament, etc books. He’ll lay in bed and read those.

    As the kids get older, their days get longer, but their work becomes more independent. You do a lesson with them, then they trot off to complete it. At certain stages they may do so with a sulk! But they will :)

    Also, if any of your children are very close in age (say, only a grade or two apart) then they can learn science and history together. You’d simply expect a more sophisticated response from the older child. Read The Well-Trained Mind for more info on this.

    Now your last question: “Aren’t moms entitled to a break from the kids while the dads are on their 8-10 hour office vacation?”

    For what? Grocery shopping? House cleaning? Nothing fun happens at 10am on a Wednesday morning. Moms DO need breaks! But knitting classes? Saturday morning. Bunko? Wednesday night, once a month. (I don’t have a clue how to play that game, but I have friends who love their Bunko night.)

    All the stuff that’s fun to do during the day involves kids! We have a playgroup of moms in the ward who meet every Friday at noon at the local playground. A local homeschooling group gets together Tuesdays at 1pm twice a month. These provide much needed adult talking time and the kids run around in little wolf packs loosely organized by age.

    If you’re committed to her getting time to herself, you’ll find ways to make it happen. My husband’s 9 to 5 is really 6:30 to 5:00 and is preceded by and completed by a 90 minute motorcycle ride through harrowing Los Angeles and Riverside traffic. He’s toast at the end of the day. I have to practically stage a coup to get time out of the house. But I do and he knows I needs it and we make it work.

    Homeschooling isn’t rocket science :) It’s time well spent with your kids. If it’s stressful, as in, someone is burning out, then something is askew.

    My firstborn left the school sytem with a host of behavioral issues he didn’t have going in. In one year, he’s turned around again. Along the way I rediscovered those moments when his generous, witty, and insightful comments made my day. They’re not that rare, not that unusual. But when he was gone all day, if he was making them at all, I was missing most of them.

    I typed left-handed with a 2-yr-old on my lap. All typos are mine.

  81. Julie in Austin on April 29, 2004 at 1:20 pm

    Jordan writes, “Aren’t moms entitled to a break from the kids while the dads are on their 8-10 hour office vacation?”

    YES! Most hs-ing Moms are *not* with their kids 24/7. I generally have about 8 hours per week (during the time my husband is at work) when I swap kids with other moms.

    It is also important to realize that, as the kids get older, being with them 24/7 or so isn’t quite the purgatory that being with toddlers all day can be. Once they become semi-cilivized and can understand, “Mommy is going to Times and Seasons now. Go play in the other room.” life is a lot better.

    I need to echo what Alaska said. The dirty little secret of homeschooling is that the most hard-core homeschoolers are generally schooling their elementary aged-kids for about 8-10 hours per WEEK. It is amazing what you can accomplish one on one.

  82. Kingsley on April 29, 2004 at 1:29 pm

    My sister-in-law has described life with toddlers as a quite hotter place than purgatory.

  83. Jordan Fowles on April 29, 2004 at 2:40 pm

    Jennifer, Alaska, and Julie

    thanks for your thoughtful comments. They are helpful.

    One thing to Alaska- the time alone would be for whatever my wife wants to do- she loves window-shopping and garage-saling, and she also really loves to read (though at the moment she doesn’t get many chances…)

    But it is nice to remember that my kids won’t always be toddlers. Thanks! :)

  84. lyle on May 1, 2004 at 11:45 am

    I thought y’all get a kick out of this one. A new ‘biblical’ educational-theme park!

    “There are dinosaur bone replicas, with accompanying explanations that God made dinosaurs on Day 6 of the creation as described in Genesis, 6,000 years ago. Among the products the park gift shop peddles are T-shirts with a small fish labeled ‘Darwin’ getting gobbled by a bigger fish labeled ‘Truth.'”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/01/arts/01DINO.html

  85. Kim Kuhn on January 26, 2005 at 9:39 pm

    I am the secretary for the LDS Eastern Home Educators and am trying to locate LDS homeschoolers to tell them about a LDS Homeschool Conference in May, ’05 at Williamsburg, Virginia. If anyone knows of any in the Eastern United States, please let me know. Namely, any state east of the Mississippi River. Thank you. Kim Kuhn