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Ear to the Ground

Christian Home-Schooled Children: ‘Traumatized Veterans’ of the Culture Wars

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Posted on May 9, 2013
kellyhogaboom (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The first generation of Americans educated in the mass Christian home-schooling movement of the late 1990s have grown up and some are speaking critically about their experiences.

“The Christian home school subculture isn’t a children-first movement,” Californian Ryan Lee Stollar, 28, is quoted as saying in The Guardian. “It is, for all intents and purposes, an ideology-first movement. There is a massive, well-oiled machine of ideology that is churning out soldiers for the culture war. Home schooling is both the breeding ground ... and the training ground for this machinery. I say this as someone who was raised in that world.”

According to the Department of Education, the population of home-schooling Americans doubled from 1999 to 2007 to 1.5 million. Stollar says the replacement of genuine education and socializing experiences with isolation and ideology encourages depression, anxiety, distrust of authority and unnecessary sexual issues. Testimonials of these consequences appear all over Homeschoolers Anonymous, a website Stollar and others established.

“Many parents start off home schooling with the intention of inculcating their children in a mainstream form of Christianity,” Katherine Stewart writes in The Guardian. “However, as many HA bloggers report, it is easy to get sucked into the vortex of fundamentalist home schooling because extremists have cornered the market—running the conventions, publishing the curricula, setting up the blogs.”

Stollar recalled how his “education” was pushed in the direction of ideological indoctrination. “I particularly remember my science curriculum,” he said. “We used It Couldn’t Just Happen, which wasn’t really a science textbook. It was really just an apologetics textbook which taught students cliché refutations of evolutionism.”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Katherine Stewart at The Guardian:

Much of fundamentalist home schooling is driven by deeply sexist and patriarchal ideology. The Quiverfull movement teaches that women need to submit to their husbands and have as many babies as they possibly can. The effects of these ideas on children are devastating, as a glance at HA’s blogs show.?

… The fundamentalist home schooling world also advocates an extraordinarily authoritarian view of the parental role. Corporal punishment is frequently encouraged. The effects are, again, often quite devastating. “People who experienced authoritarian parents tend to turn into adults with poor boundaries,” writes one pseudonymous HA blogger. “It’s an extremely unsatisfying and unsustainable way to live.”

In America, we often take for granted that parents have an absolute right to decide how their children will be educated, but this leads us to overlook the fact that children have rights, too, and that we as a modern society are obligated to make sure that they get an education. Families should be allowed to pursue sensible homeschooling options, but current arrangements have allowed some families to replace education with fundamentalist indoctrination.

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