What is to be Done? Homeschool

Commenter Bohemund writes:

Homeschooling is the one thing that traditionalist conservative parents can do preserve civilization.  And it now comes with snazzy propaganda posters:

Homeschool Domination

He continues:

The most stunning conclusion was how flat homeschool achievement (measured presumably by standardized test scores) was across family income levels. If the association is actually true, it would probably be a hop, skip, and a jump to showing low variability of success across races (maybe not, but maybe). And from there: BANG the 1 sigma cosmological constant of sociology, the holy grail of the edumacational establishiment is solved… In a few years you could say stuff like: “Whaddya mean you oppose homeschooling? You raciss?!”

Well, it could happen!

HT: Aretae (anarcho-libertarian… ish).  See also the Grey Goose for a cautionary tale.

37 thoughts on “What is to be Done? Homeschool

  1. Anecdotally, my first-born, h-schooled for 13 years, is straight A’s at the local community college thru 4 semesters (I know… small pond… grade inflation, yada yada, but still…). He never got higher than a ‘B’ from me (usually worse… I teach the math(s)), and other than LD debate, really did very little in our poorly organized “curriculum”, never took a science class… ever. Now he is looking to transfer to a 4yr school for ChemE (hopefully Cornell but Rutgers is the fallback).

    • Yes, obviously. Unless you think 34% of the general population are professors, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and accountants.

      It can’t be 100% selection bias, though. The closer you get to 1:1 student:teacher ratio, the better, so there’s that working for you. Plus, the wife of a professor is going to be, on average, smarter, more knowledgeable, and more motivated than a government school teacher.

    • There is no doubt selection bias–Huge selection bias, but the interesting thing to note here is the low correlation of “results” to family income. Everything else is unsurprising (to veteran homeschoolers at least, perhaps not to the garden variety citizen).

      Will a homeschooled kid do better by objective measures (e.g., test scores, college competitiveness, graduation rate) than a kid in a rich exurbian HS? That is, at best, an even money bet. Exurban traditionally schooled kids probably have statistics very close to those shown for homeschoolers.

      But will a homeschooled kid do better by those same measures compared to one in an overcrowded urban hell-hole or rural backwater school, i.e., the ones dragging down the average? Almost certainly.

      Even then, it’s still selection bias (parents who are smart enough to be fed up, hard working enough to select the home option, possessing the focus and willpower to stick with it, etc.). But the question you have to ask is: Does self-selection itself, a sheer act of will, fundamentally change something? Brains are quite plastic. Even intelligence, largely heritable, can be raised (or lowered) by environmental factors, and this is never more true than with young people. (Adults tend to regress toward the genetic mean, i.e., correlate more highly with their parents.)

      Of course, as traditionalists, we don’t homeschool principally to give our kids an economic edge (especially if we live in rich exurban school districts), but to better pass on our culture and faith. (And they don’t have objective measures for this transmission, but it seems to be working pretty well. I suppose you could do a longitudinal study and see who among homeschoolers after 20 years remain in the faith that they were brought up in at roughly equal commitment levels.)

      But there are millions of kids out there stuck with utterly crappy dysfunctional schools for whom the option of home eduction would really “work”, i.e., give them a measurable advantage, independent of parental commitment to particular culture and faith. And if more of those millions get to take this option? Well, unbeknownst to most of them, this is a profoundly reactionary tack, even for devout collectivist leftists. It could in fact be the single most reactionary thing you can do–it is a commitment to put one’s the well-being own offspring ahead of collective interests, even of your own personal interests. And when you do that, you start to be very skeptical of government-sponsored, universalist solutions. And when that happens, who knows… the cognitive dissonance necessary to be a devout leftist will at least be less stable.

  2. Charles Peguy, as quoted by historian John Lukacs: “the true revolutionaries of the twentieth century will be the fathers of Christian families.”


    Welcome to the underground.

    Our four children are all adults now. Looking back, I have to admit that there was occasionally a quiet element of fun in being so “odd,” e.g. such that not only our small town weekly but a regional newspaper (city about 45 minutes’ drive away) wrote us up.

    We didn’t anticipate this kind of attention and didn’t homeschool for glory; we didn’t think we had much choice, not simply because we wanted our children to be taught as Christians but because the quality of public education is so low. You have some golden years of opportunity: children are designed to learn; what a shame to have them waste those years in a public school.

    We did encounter a little criticism and we occasionally had to educate the educators (e.g. the local principal to whom our state-mandate “monitor” reported). I’m not naturally a brave person at all, but being a homeschooling father helped me grow a spine.

    There certainly are some fine private schools. Check out the Logismoi blog, whose author is a private school teacher in Oklahoma. What an awesome education those children must be getting.

  3. If the association is actually true, it would probably be a hop, skip, and a jump to showing low variability of success across races (maybe not, but maybe). And from there: BANG the 1 sigma cosmological constant of sociology, the holy grail of the edumacational establishiment is solved… In a few years you could say stuff like: “Whaddya mean you oppose homeschooling? You raciss?!”

    In case anyone missed the joke, none of this follows at all. Even if it is true that black homeschoolers’ children do as well as white homeschoolers’ children, that would prove nothing because of selection bias. If it were true that black homeschoolers’ children did as well as white homeschoolers’ children and that blacks and whites (importantly: controlling for nothing) homeschool at equal rates, then you would have the beginnings of an argument. Similarly the lack of income gradient isn’t evidence of much of anything unless you also know that there is no income gradient in rates of homeschooling.

    It puts the shoe on the other foot though. Lefties are unlikely to enjoy explaining these facts away. After all, they have to say, in effect: “Only the deserving poor homeschool. The dirtbags don’t. More rich people homeschool because the rich tend not to be dirtbags. Thus, the comparison is unfair.” This might be amusing to watch, but the fact that the lefties are likely right, at least in part, kind of moderates the fun.

    • Well like I said above, it all depends on what selection bias really means… Does selecting yourself change something in the equation? I remember reading somewhere (probably Sailer) that a female born in poverty (not sure if it was black female or just female) has something like an 85% chance of NOT living in poverty if she does three things: 1) graduate high school; 2) not have any babies out of wedlock (or maybe before she turns 21… memory fuzzy); and 3) be married to the father of her child(ren). Is there selection bias there? Of course, and in spades. But any female has the freedom and ability to select herself into that class of people. Same goes for homeschooling. What part is in-born intelligence, SES, future time orientation, persistence, hard work? Who the hell knows… But the choice to do it is a binary decision.

  4. The European ethnic base of homeschooled children vs modern American public schools is a variable to consider. Homeschoolers have better material to work with on average, I imagine.

    • Hard to say. Selection bias means you only get stats for homeschoolers who care about stats. There are plenty of (white) people ‘homeschooling’ or ‘unschooling’ their kids who get poor outcomes, but since those children are invisible by definition, we can only infer them as a portion of all homeschooling children.

      Selection bias is part and parcel of the public school problem as well, but is of course handwaved since it caters to negative prejudices.

  5. Gotta love the “Homeschool Domination” pictures, shot through with Feminist Supremacy: a woman arm wrestling a man, and he’s sweating. Another place, the dainty lady clean and jerks the weights, and the man fails. Third instance: the woman graduates with a trophy, the man is a FAIL.

    • It’s propaganda, of course. Yeah, the girl cleans 6 plates — that’s 315 lbs (~144 kg) for those counting! Propaganda is one front, perhaps the most crucial one, on which we are losing, and one which we can also do the most about.

  6. Pingback: The Rise of the Homeschoolers | Jesus Reigns

  7. About the feminist slant, not only is the woman (with the usual smug smirk on her face) cleaning the weight while the public school man is failing, she’s the picture that goes with the three top occupations of homeschooling FATHERS.

    Man, the collapse of conservativism in this area is depressing. How often do you read otherwise traditionalist writers using “he/she”, “men and women”, ‘humankind”, “layperson” and the like.

    The worst example of this is a hero of mine: Father Robert Barron, a pretty solid defender of traditional Catholicism mangling the marvelous “God became man that man might become God” as “God became a human being so that human beings might become God”, and “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” It’s not just the aesthetics of it, it’s that the meaning is lost…the glory of God isn’t “A human being fully alive”, it’s “THE human being fully alive” (if you have to go inclusive). But so discombobulating is the need to do constant search-and-replace on your speech that this wonderfully literate, erudite and eloquent priest is reduced to mangling some of the most profound truths of the Christian Way, all in order to avoid offending some feminism-derived infusion of linguistic guilt.

    I can only say that I would not have anything to do with a homeschooling movement that displayed itself the way that poster does. Just as I would say that anybody who thinks it’s more important not to offend some angry woman critic in his own head would take it upon himself to edit tradition for inclusive language, thereby blowing his credibility out of the water.

    • Patrick,

      I have no patience for newspeak. I occasionally find myself reading a philosophy article where the writer uses “she” and “her” for a generic person, and I then find it difficult to muster the interest to carry on. When the writer starts switching without any intelligible pattern between masculine and feminine pronouns, even in the same paragraph, I stop reading and refuse to finish. I suspect that some of these folks have important points to make, but they disqualify themselves from my reading list by their submission to Moloch’s grotesque concubines.

      • I occasionally find myself reading a philosophy article where the writer uses “she” and “her” for a generic person, and I then find it difficult to muster the interest to carry on.

        Yep, me too. Even one of my favourite Christian bloggers, a philosophy PhD, does this. I’ve gathered over the years that it must be standard philosopher’s practice these days and the Christian guys do it to reassure potential colleagues and employers that they’re “real” philosophers, too, and not just Christian hacks.

        Bohemund’s right, as well, about the perfect being enemy of the good. I didn’t even notice the feminization in the poster.

    • Guys, let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good here…

      It cannot be stated with sufficient emphasis that information is one thing – propaganda quite another.

      The purpose of spreading information is to promote the functioning of man’s reason.

      The purpose of propaganda is to mobilize certain of man’s emotions in such a way that they will dominate his reason – not necessarily with evil design.

      The function of an information agency is to disseminate truth – to make available fact and opinion, each carefully labeled and separated from the other. The aim of an information agency is to enable as many people as possible to form their own individual judgments on the basis of relevant fact and authoritative opinion.

      The function of a propaganda agency is almost the exact opposite: it is not to inform, but to persuade. In order to persuade it must disseminate only such fact, such opinion, and such fiction masquerading as fact as will serve to make people act, or fail to act, in the desired way.

      — James P Warbur, Unwritten Treaty, 1946, as cited here (where else?)

      • Guys, let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good here…

        Thank God for small victories, that the kick-ass homeschooler chick wasn’t queer or brown.

      • For the record, a couple of observations: 1) no actual personal pronouns were neuterized in the making of the propaganda poster; and 2) the poster nowhere actually claims that homeschooled girls are on average stronger than traditionally schooled boys (nor that they can, on average, clean 315lbs). The pictures are purely allegorical.

        Carry on.

  8. Kristor,

    Coulter argues that the racial gap in student performance and in measures of social dysfunction almost dissapear when one compares white and black children from homes with two married parents. Whether the home situation is a cause of the good things or an additional effect (self selection bias) is not certain. Regardless, given that blacks who homeschool their children are likely to be married couples, I would imagine that the racial discrepancies would similarly be small.

  9. How much geographic clustering goes on in homeschooling? It’s my bet that local cultural power is heavily connected to geography. If homeschoolers move into the same neighborhoods (like, say, near the same church) they’ll benefit from additional community strength.

  10. The key fact about Homeschooling is not so much that outcomes are superior, or by how much, but that they are not inferior.

    This is like discovering that untrained surgeons are just as effective at operations as trained surgeons (which isn’t true!) – in other words that teaching is a phony profession – not teachable, and learnable by those who can learn it very quickly. Which is true – almost all the best schools in the UK (i.e. the private schools) use ‘untrained’ teachers.


    But people should not get carried away. Most comparative educational job outcomes (in so far as they are truly meritocratic, which varies) depend on differentials in intelligence and personality, which are substantially inherited and constant throughout life. Schooling cannot overcome these differences in intelligence and personality when they are of significant size.

    Homeschooling is not, therefore, about outcomes in educational testing, but about the *content* of the curriculum – and whethe the content is Good (whether it is True, Beautiful and conducive to Virtue) – that is where homeschooling can *totally* outperform modern state education.

    • Jehu had a good idea with this suggested dissertation topic:

      Do a study of the ending outcomes of children who are homeschooled of the various main flavors (traditional or unschooling) vs the various flavors of private schools vs public schooling. Control by the IQ of the parents (you can get this from military records or the longitudinal studies that Murray used back in the Bell Curve, another alternative would use SAT/ACT scores). This beats the hell out of just controlling by race/SES/education, and controlling by the parent’s IQ gives you an indication on whether any of the modes of schooling might actually increase IQ, which after all isn’t 100% nature although most of it is in the context of a high surplus modern society. Some interesting questions you could answer this way, besides the obvious, might be which modes of schooling work best as a function of IQ ranges. Do homeschool kids overperform their IQ? Do homeschool parents tend to be smarter than their SES/education/race would tend to imply?
      I imagine you could walk this topic in any of a number of departments, and it’d probably be worth several journal articles.

      My guess, based on 14 years of experience, in two states, and rubbing shoulders with hundreds (thousands?) of diverse homeschoolers, homeschooling narrows, but does not eliminate, The Gap®. There must be thousands of ed school PhD candidates doing much less worthy studies on The Gap®–this one by comparison is at least interesting… I don’t suppose it eliminates selection bias (I don’t think that is even possible), but controlling for parental IQ is no doubt the next best thing.

      Dr. Charleton is no doubt right that homeschooling cannot fully flatten genetic factors, and that the principal reason to homeschool has little to do with economic or academic outcomes. But I do think that for many, e.g., those who suffer in the bottom half of public schools and who lack the wealth necessary to send their children to better (or excellent) private schools, homeschooling might very well have improve economic/academic outcomes as well. This could dramatically increase the homeschooling population, making it more of a mainstream activity, and (quietly, perhaps imperceptibly) more broadly prepare the soil for genuine reaction.

    • From a Biblical point of view, parents, especially fathers, are responsible for the instruction of children. If anyone requires demonstration, I can look up some references. But perhaps it will suffice just to be reminded.

      Very well, then, it’s the parents’ responsibility to see to the education of their children. The content? The things that matter most. In the Old Testament we see that this is largely the inculcation of a profound rejection of false religion and of the sense of atonement as necessary, and stories of God’s mighty works for Israel and the promises of the Messiah. Now the Church, the Una Sancta, the company of the Faithful here and in heaven, is the true Israel. (References available if anyone needs convincing about that.) So when Christians read the Old Testament, they are reading history, prophecy, etc. but the Old Testament is for them (1 Corinthians 10:11).

      This curriculum is centered on Jesus Christ, since He is the chief “topic” of the Scriptures (St Luke 24:44). The Old Testament is rich with passages that refer to Christ, the Church, and the Sacraments. For many of us, certainly for me, this matter is something to we have to learn about; we don’t already know about it. Sadly, the Scriptural and patristic use of typological reading of the OT* has, so far as I know, largely fallen out of use except in Eastern Orthodoxy.

      Rather than being dismayed by this, perhaps we parents can see the homeschooling challenge as a reason for a recovery of Scriptural study that will benefit us as well as our children. That was my experience.

      I don’t think it is necessary for parents and children to make this typological exploration of the Bible an exhaustive and exhausting thing. But there needs to be enough of it, repeated from time to time, that, at least, this Christocentric approach to the Scriptures with the Church will not be utterly alien or completely forgotten.

      For what they may be worth, I have some teaching notes on this that I would be happy to share with anyone who is interested — email me at extollager at gmail dot com. My sources, as I recall, were works such as the following: Jean Danielou’s THE BIBLE AND THE LITURGY, Seraphim Rose’s GENESIS, CREATION, AND EARLY MAN, some things by the wonderful Victorian Anglican John Mason Neale including his preface to a commentary on the Psalms, and John Keble’s TRACT FOR THE TIMES #89 “On the Mysticism Attributed to the Early Fathers of the Church.”


      Back to homeschooling. Obviously there is much more to educating a child for life than Bible instruction. There is much available to help parents teach the typical school subjects that youngsters need to learn about. Also, the parents may choose to delegate to others some of the instruction that their children receive, especially as the children grow older. Our children did eventually have some public education. Parents don’t have to do it all, and they don’t always have to work with other homeschoolers for these things. I think more and more public schools are becoming receptive to, or at least resigned to, homeschooling families making selective use of their facilities and teachers. If you do this, your children may encounter a little pettiness — for example, one of our daughters, who was an outstanding public school student when she attended as a junior and senior, was not allowed to “march” with the other graduates to receive a diploma (she had not met their requirement for PE — physical education). But it was not a big deal for her. And perhaps it was a good wee taste of the inevitable social cost of Christian choices.

      By that last sentence, I am not implying that I suppose that every Christian who does not homeschool or send a child to a private Christian school is sinning!

      *In typological reading, one recognizes that true historical events, objects, and persons are “types” of a greater thing to come. In the New Testament, St. Peter indicates that the Ark and the Flood are types of Holy Baptism (and, I think, the Church): 1 Peter 3. (Some translations may muddle the Greek.) St. Paul suggests that the passage of the children of Israel past the water of the Red Sea and into the wilderness, fed by manna, before the entrance into the Promised Land as a type of Holy Baptism whereby we are brought into the time of testing that occurs in this life, wherein we are sustained by the Eucharist, before we enter the eternal Promised Land (see 1 Corinthians 10) — I have “filled out” the typology here a little, I admit. See also Galatians 4:22ff. When this pericope is read without explanation from the lectern, I suppose the Faithful often are not edified very much!

      • I wrote, “The things that matter most. In the Old Testament we see that this is largely the inculcation (1) of a profound rejection of false religion and (2) of the sense of atonement as necessary.”

        I have added those numbers to help clarify what was ambiguous.

      • I wrote “So when Christians read the Old Testament, they are reading history, prophecy, etc. but the Old Testament is for them (1 Corinthians 10:11) ALSO a prefiguration of the greater blessings and truths that come with Christ and the Sacraments.”

        I apologize for neglecting to finish the thought in my original posting, herewith amended.

  11. We homeschool our four oldest children and plan to homeschool our two youngest boys as well. For two or three kids, it’s not real hard. You can purchase a curriculum for a reasonable price and they’re pretty self-explanatory and easy to follow. My wife and I have very inferior public school educations and our homeschooled children are still better educated than most of their public school peers.

    With six children, it is becoming increasingly difficult to homeschool for us. We are looking for a private Christian school that is inexpensive or even free. We’ve found one that is free (K-8) and one that is very affordable (inexpensive to begin with and it has signifcant discounts for lower income families and your 5th child and beyond are free.). We’ve also noticed that both schools are in small areas with homogeneous populations (in larger areas I suspect they’d be inundated with all sorts of takers).

    Does anyone here know of any low cost or free Christian private schools?

    • They may be hard to find because they may often appear to be a secular charter school, like the one near us, ACE http://www.aceclassicaled.org/

      They are not allowed to have a cross up in public at school, or mention religion on their website, but they pray at school, & study from the bible. Many of my homeschooler friends send their kids to ACE a few times a week. We also homeschool and have considered ACE since we have 4 kids.

      Someone mentioned “geographic clustering” and I have to say that is a major factor where I am. My church alone is full of homeschoolers, and we even ran a homeschool co-op one summer. We rewiew and preview eachother’s curricula, aggregate for field trips, share tips, and encourage one another.

      Only a few kids @ our church are strictly public schooled- maybe 5-10%.

      • Oh, and I forgot to mention that the geographic cluter effect is also how we all learned about ACE, which is an hour away from our small town.

  12. In the Grey Goose piece, school as such was not the problem. The internet was the problem – and specifically, easy access via a hand-held device. Even if your kid is home-schooled, you have to make sure he has no friends who have access to an iPhone, and you have to make sure your kid never goes to somebody’s house and uses the internet unsupervised.

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