Fault and Educational Neglect

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kierstyn King’s blog Bridging the Gap.  It was originally published on August 28, 2014.

I don’t usually post about things Kevin Swanson says, and I usually try not to pay attention to it, but a recent week’s broadcast…hurt more than usual. For a synopsis/highlights that will keep most of your eyeballs intact, you can read this post from HA.

One of the highlights, and…what’s sort of turned me into an odd little puddle, is this bit (emphasis mine):

Kevin: when someone says, I could have had a better education than that provided by my mother or by my father, that’s really, really, really hard to prove. How, how, how do you know that? Maybe it was a character problem on YOUR part. Maybe you didn’t obey your parents! Maybe you didn’t study your books like you were told to! And to think that you could have had a better education if you had done it this way versus that way is extremely hard to prove.

Steve: Right!

(laughter)

Kevin: Extremely hard to prove!

Steve: Because you can’t go back and do it that way!

Kevin: You can’t! (laughter) You can’t… and even if you could have, you would have dragged your same old person, with your same old character flaws, with your same old slothfulness issue, into the public school or private school setting or other setting ‚ and you could have done worse…

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: …than you did with your parents — trying to do whatever they could have done with you, even with all of your character issues that you’re dealing with. It’s fun to blame your parents for your OWN lack of character!

And then there’s this charm (emphasis mine):

Kevin: I’m talking about Christian homeschool families. Their values are primarily first and foremost not to get their kid into Harvard or get them a good job.

Steve: Right.

Kevin: That’s not primary. It’s not being sure that the kid can read Plato before he’s 12 years of age…

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: …and get really messed up with the wrong worldview. (laughter) That’s not the goal. See, homeschoolers bring in other values: like relationship building, character building, work, worship. These are important.

What struck me is my parents have said essentially the exact same thing that Kevin did in the second quote. Multiple times. I remember in no uncertain terms hearing that the most important thing educationally was that we were able to read and understand the bible, write just enough to communicate, and do basic math. NOTHING ELSE MATTERED. This is what Kevin Swanson advocates, this is what my parents believe, and importantly:

This is not a full, well-rounded education.

He talks about how fake educational neglect is, makes fun of the people who have pushed through it, pretends the people living in it don’t exist, and blames the (current and former) students with little to no power over their own education, for their own neglect.

He talks about how children should be learning “work, relationships, character, and worship”….

Well sir, that was my entire childhood, and you know what, I was educationally neglected! I taught myself and my parents bragged about it from the age of 10, I did everything I could possibly do, everything I knew to do, and it doesn’t change the fact that my education was neglected. It was not my fault. I’m not lazy, and wasn’t a lazy student – I was  an over-worked student who’s parents cared more about being served and looking good than their children and the quality of their education.

Swanson is advocating for educational neglect, and then turning a blind eye to the people who say, no, my parents did do what you said and that’s the problem, and instead labeling them whiners, traitors, and Benedict Arnold’s.

Well if talking about my lack of education and working to put regulations in place so my siblings and other kids have a chance means I’m a traitor, so be it.

But don’t you tell me that my lack of education was my fault as a child.

That was out of my control, it’s not blaming my parents for my flaws, it’s abuse.

P.S. I would have done amazing in a traditional school setting, before my parents took me out of pre-k, it was amazing and I loved it. No one asked me if I wanted to be homeschooled, they just said “we’re gonna homeschool you from now on” and being the ripe age of 3 or 4, I just wanted to make sure I could be picked for Show-and-Tell still. I don’t remember doing show-and-tell after leaving school though.

11 comments

  • I am so sad that you and so many others had such a bad home schooling experience! I am sorry that your abuse is being laughed at and dismissed in such a public way. You are right. It doesn’t matter what the others say. You have your story to tell and your message to share. So share it. Like Nehemiah did not stop his work to meet with fools. He keep on doing what he had been called to do. Keep sharing dear friend. What you say needs to be heard. I am a current homeschooling mom, well I have kids in pubic school also:-) I take to heart what you all share. I am doing my best to make corrections when you bring up issues that resemble our home school.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Miss King, I am very sorry you were mocked and you did not get an education.

    What of us whose (head of the family) fathers would not buy our school books, waste of money. My father decided we would skip grades, and no school was needed after eight grade.

    The bible, Jesus, and god never helped me, neither did my loser, abuser, creepy mister MAN father.

    Kevin Swanson and his ilk are vile, heartless, hateful, and abusive. Kevin Swanson is such a want-to-be, he is embarrassing, as are the sadistic simpletons who listen to him. So glad to be out of this misery making cult.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      First time I saw a pic of Womb Tomb Swanson, my reaction was “He looks like a High School Dork from Central Casting!”

      First time I heard a sound clip from Womb Tomb Swanson (he’d gotten in the mainstream news for shooting off his mouth about something), my reaction was “He sounds like a Whiny High School Dork!”

      I am convinced he grew up an Omega Male who found a way to become Big Dog Alpha Male (literally by Divine Right) and now that he’s a Big Dog is throwing his weight around HARD every opportunity he can find or create. “GAWD SAITH!”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Though looking at a pic of Womb Tomb these days, I wonder if he’s actually Stephen Hawking’s Evil Twin without the ALS.

  • You sound like Kevin Swanson.

  • Yes . . . AND it is up to us, and apparently only us, to speak out and make sure that the next generation gets better than what we got. This is the ONLY way anything we already appreciate today became a reality.

  • You were given all of the tools and preparation that you needed in order to succeed. Your situation is nothing at all like the kids who grew up with educational neglect, and cannot be compared.

    When I hear or read things like the Swanson quotes here, I think of the girls in China who grew up with their feet bound. When those bindings were removed, the girls were not suddenly able to run around with no ill effects–they were essentially hobbled and disadvantaged for life. Kids who grew up in a neglectful homeschooling environment cannot simply put the effects of that neglect behind them and deal with life in the same way that those who had sufficient educations can.

    I was unable to gain admission to a traditional four-year college because (at the time, nearly 25 years ago) homeschool grads were viewed with enormous skepticism in my state. I enrolled in a local community college instead–which was fine, really, because it saved a lot of money and my parents certainly weren’t going to pay for college. But I was unable to complete even College Algebra-level math, I had no clue how to participate in lab exercises because I’d never even seen a microscope or Bunsen burner, I did not know how to take lecture notes, I was so terrified of interacting with my peers (due to years of social isolation) that when it was time to transfer to a 4-year school I deliberately chose a very large university where I could complete my degree as anonymously and invisibly as possible.

    For years I had dreamed of going to medical school, but because I was so unprepared for college in so many ways, it was simply not a viable career goal. Sure, I could have spent years in remedial coursework, dealing with the hand that life dealt me, but given the options of 1) fulfilling my career dreams, no matter how long it took, or 2) getting a degree as quickly as possible so that I could enter the workforce and get away from my family…well, I chose option 2. My choice, yes, but my god what a horrible set of choices for a young adult to be faced with.

    THAT is what educational neglect looks like.

    • Actually, your initial comment sounded very much like you were negating or invalidating the experiences of those who have a history of educational neglect. It is bad form to tell a group of people that they are being “bitter” or that they need to “deal with the hand life dealt them” and “get over it,” especially when you don’t have any experience with “it.” That comes across as patronizing or dismissive, although I don’t think you intended it that way. I’m glad you’ve overcome your past–which sounds pretty awful, too–but everyone has a different path to walk.

  • Moderator note: Commenter “Caelie” asked that their comments be removed. To anyone reading who might be confused: note that all the comments from “Guest,” “Lauren S.,” and “linnea” were in response to the now-deleted comments, not to the original post.

  • Loura Shares A Story

    How can I help? I am very frustrated today. A relative and former tutoring student is in this same situation, with parents blaming the young person for a lack of personal responsibility. I stated my concerns several times and was cheerfully and then forcefully told it was none of my business. I checked the laws and did some homework: The parents are correct. There is not a thing more I can do.

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