Those No Good, Very Bad Homeschool Graduates

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on June 6, 2015.

Last weekend was the Illinois Christian Home Educators (ICHE) conference in Naperville. This afternoon homeschooling father and speaker Voddie Baucham, of Vision Forum fame, will be delivering the following keynote address:

TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN WITH YOUR GRANDCHILDREN IN MIND

I am surprised at how many homeschool kids aren’t sure whether or not they are going to educate their own children at home. I’m more surprised that some are sure they won’t. Usually, further examination reveals a complete lack of any theological/philosophical reflection on the topic. Their parents simply did what was best for them at the moment; not what was best, period.

Hi! I’m one of those terrible horrible very bad no good homeschool graduates who has decided not to homeschool their own children!

I was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school, but my firstborn just finished public kindergarten last week. The horror! She has an awesome teacher and made two years of progress in reading in just one school year. She’s ahead in just about every other subject as well. Socially, she’s thriving. She’s a social butterfly and exudes confidence. Her teacher told me recently that she has such a high level of self-confidence that she isn’t peer dependent at all. But who am I to think I have a better grasp of what is best for my child than Voddie Baucham? The nerve!

I guess I as a parent am more interested in looking for the educational method that works best for my child and my family than I am in adhering rigidly and dogmatically to a single educational method regardless of whether it fits me or my child. And I guess, according to Baucham, that makes me a bad person—and a failure as a homeschool graduate. Why? Here’s why:

In this session, we will examine key theological and philosophical motivations for home education, and how to pass these on to our children. Do your children know why you homeschool? Do you? Do they have a ‘big picture’ perspective on the impact home education can have on our culture for the sake of the Kingdom? Do they understand what government education has done to the culture at large (or that it has been intentional)? Are they thinking about ways their marriage, educational and career choices will impact the education and discipleship of their children? We will also look at the way our approach to educating our children figures into the scenario, and the kinds of things we need to encourage our children to invest in now so they can invest in their children in the future.

Okay, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the vast vast majority of homeschool graduates from Christian homes who now have their children in public school got all this. I know I did! I fully believed that public schools were horrible and that homeschooling was absolutely essential. I fully intended to homeschool my children. I did not believe there was any other viable option.

The issue here is not a failure on the part of Baucham and others to teach homeschool kids like me the importance of homeschooling our own children. We got that, and then some. The issue here is that we grew up to disagree. The irony here is that we were told that public school kids were sardines who followed the crowds and that we were to be independent thinkers. But when we grew up to be just that—to form our own opinions about public schools and about homeschooling separate from those of our parents—we became a problem.

Apparently being an “independent thinker” and “charting your own path” means “thinking just like your parents” and “replicating their path.” Apparently as soon as I actually headed out to build my own life and make my own choices I became a problem. For all that we were told how mature we were, the moment we made our own decisions independent from our parents we were treated as children who didn’t know any better.

And that is perhaps the biggest irony of the Christian homeschooling movement. As children we were told we were mature independent thinkers, but the moment we actually became that we were treated as children. No, there is a greater irony even than that. We were told as children that we were not peer-dependent when in fact we were, and the moment we worked up the self confidence to break that dependency we were treated as though we had just become peer dependent.

The hardest thing about putting my daughter in public school was dealing with my mother’s response to this decision. There were tears. There was pain. It hurt. I reminded her that my grandparents had disagreed with her decision to homeschool, but that she did what she believed was best for her children anyway, and not out of spite or as an act of rejection. I told her I was doing the same thing. She told me it wasn’t the same, because Jesus. Fortunately, she seems to have accepted my decision and doesn’t push it, except to make a pointed hint now and then. (“We can’t come up that day, Sally has school.” “You could just take her out and homeschool her, you know.” “How about we come up the next day? Does that work for you too?”)

And so, when I read yesterday about Voddie’s keynote, I just felt frustrated. Again. Has Voddie thought about asking homeschooled students and homeschool graduates who don’t plan to homeschool why they don’t plan to homeschool? I sincerely doubt it, and do you know why? My mother never asked me why I had decided to send my daughter to public school. It’s like she couldn’t consider that maybe, just maybe, I had done my research and thought through this decision carefully. What mattered was that my decision was wrong, because it wasn’t hers. The same appears to be true for Voddie, for all of his talk of preparing a strong capable generation of young adults to reform this country morally and politically.

I spent my childhood being treated like an adult. It seems I’ll spend my adulthood being treated like a child.

Welcome to the world of a homeschool alumna.

12 comments

  • This is not the world of homeschool alums. This is the world of our narcissistic parents.

    I get Libby Anne’s point. I really do. But this Voddie Baucham guy is selling something. To our parents. I don’t take him seriously. Who do you think he’s talking to?

    And not all parents remain in that world (not that I’m defending them). But seriously, folks, we have the internet and stuff. You can’t remain willfully ignorant THAT long (talking to you, mom). The fact that Bill Gothard and Voddie Baucham exist only means a market for them exists.

    Libby Anne is writing about her mother’s narcissism, not about homeschooling. Her mother felt a narcissistic injury about public schooling. My mom would feel the same, except that my wife and I not having kids to begin with.

    Our monsters only have the power we give them.

    Voddie Baucham is a red herring. Do you see?

    *

    Here’s how to understand Voddie Baucham or perhaps your own parents. They are the main characters in their own life movie. Children are secondary characters in that movie. They are supposed to echo the existence and substance of the parents’ identity. Thus Libby Anne’s mom makes a lot of sense. My mom makes sense.

    Remember: this crap APPEALED to our moms and dads at a key point in their lives. What kind of person willfully becomes a homeschool parent (or a Catholic priest) in that fundamentalist lifestyle?

    Sorry, this suddenly got a billion times more serious. I’m just saying, something about that lifestyle DEEPLY appealed to my parents (and Libby Anne’s).

    That is the real (scary) point.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Voddie “Beat the shyness out of Fluttershy” Baucham.

    Voddie “As a man ages, his eyes turn to fresh young women; that’s why God sends him daughters” Baucham.

    The same appears to be true for Voddie, for all of his talk of preparing a strong capable generation of young adults to reform this country morally and politically.

    Uruk-Hai for the Culture War Without End, Amen.

  • Pingback: Being an “Independant Thinker” Means Following Your Parents. Plus Homeschool stuff. | Life and Other Musings

  • I think this gets awkward when parents see their children as a reflection of themselves, rather than free thinking, independent people. They need their kids to validate their own raising by making the exact same choices for themselves.

    • Matthew Chiglinsky

      My mom always treated me like a free-thinking, independent person.

      Then when I got out into the workforce, I tried to act the same way, and I got fired for it. This world doesn’t value free-thinking, independent people. It values brainwashed, non-thinking, conformist sheep.

      “The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, ‘Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?’ The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      “The only reason I didn’t drown you at birth is because you were a Lannister.”
      — Tywin Lannister, Patriarch of House Lannister, Game of Thrones, to his dwarf son Tirion

  • I think you need to read this post through once more and consider carefully what Libby Anne is saying here.

  • Oh ICHE, when will you ever get it? You stopped having Doug Phillips when some of the more radical reconstructionist board members left in 2005 to from their own organization (http://www.libertyday.net/), but now it’s Baucham, Swanson, McDonald, on & ON! Why does the ICHE board keep drawing on loons? The refrain is “We’re changing! We aren’t against college anymore, we just think there are better home based alternatives.” 🙄

  • This sentence from the post matches my experiences exactly. It’s infuriating: “Apparently being an ‘independent thinker’ and ‘charting your own path’ means ‘thinking just like your parents’ and ‘replicating their path.’

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      My Dear Wormwood:

      I refer you to my previous epistle on Semantics, specifically on the redefinition of words into their “diabolical meanings”.

      Your Ravenously Affectionate Uncle,
      Screwtape

  • I am a proud home school son! I have chosen to be home schooled. I was home schooled for 10 years, then this year I decided to try charter school. IT SUCKS! I am glad that next year I am going back to home schooling.

  • As someone who homeschooled relucantly (we had no choice, common core sucks!). we love it. My kids love it and are better for it. As now (5th & 7th grade) they both say they will homeschool their kids. But honestly if the educational system somehow miraculously gets fixed and they choose not to that’s ok. My only prayer is that my grandchildren (hopefully I will have some) get the education that meets their needs and challenges them to do their best work. Other than that it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other.

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