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Homeschooled Kids, Now Grown, Blog Against the Past

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http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/articles/2013/04/11/homeschooled-kids-now-grown-blog-against-the-past.html?source=upworthy1 

In 2006 the evangelical magazine World featured 15-year-old Kierstyn King—then Kierstyn Paulino—in a piece about homeschooled kids who blog “to rebel against rebellion.” She was quoted describing her heroes: “‘First, Christ. After that: soldiers, my parents, and Ronald Reagan.’” On her blog, she wrote posts with titles like “The Case for Christians in Government,” arguing, “Our founding fathers built this land on Judeo-Christianity, and we have strayed too far from Christ.”

These days King, 22, has a hard time stepping into a church without having a panic attack. She escaped—her word—from her family in Georgia on her 18th birthday and lives in Maine with her husband, also a former homeschooler. Very little is left of the ideology her parents worked so furiously to instill in her. She’s ashamed of the work she did as a leader in various homeschooling youth organizations, which, she writes, “contributed to the amount of hurt I and many others who grew up in this radical/evangelical/conservative/christian subculture endured and continue to endure.”

She is, however, still blogging, both on her own and as part of Homeschoolers Anonymous, a new site that publishes children of Christian homeschooling families speaking out about upbringings that, they say, have left them traumatized and unprepared for adult life. “Our primary concern is for people to be exposed to our experiences growing up in the conservative Christian homeschooling world and to see how those ideologies can create abusive situations,” says Ryan Lee Stollar, one of the site’s founders.

The Christian homeschooling movement first took off in the early 1980s, in tandem with the broader rise of the religious right. The Home School Legal Defense Association was founded in 1983 to promote homeschooling and protect parents from state oversight. Its founder, Michael Farris, dreamed of creating a generation that could do battle with the corrupt secular world and reclaim the institutions of American life for Jesus. At the extreme edge of Christian homeschooling culture, the Quiverfull movement, which picked up steam in the late 1980s, preached the duty of women to submit, bear as many children as God would give them, and train them up as dedicated culture warriors, arrows in a divine quiver. Estimating the size of these movements is tricky, but official statistics give us some hints. According to the Department of Education, 1.5 million kids were being homeschooled as of 2007, up from 850,000 in 1999. Eighty-three percent of homeschooling parents said they did so to provide religious or moral instruction. Not all these parents are Christian fundamentalists, but Christian fundamentalists predominate.

Now the first wave of kids raised in these homes has reached adulthood. Many were trained to be activists, to argue, to question the verities of the dominant culture. Debating skill is hugely important in many homeschool circles, because it’s seen as a crucial tool of Christian apologetics. (Patrick Henry, the Virginia college for homeschoolers that Farris founded, has a moot-court team that has twice defeated Oxford’s Balliol College.) The movement’s leaders never intended, though, for students to turn their prowess against the culture they were raised in. “Michael Farris, his whole idea was creating this cultural army. The finishing point of everything was supposed to be debate,” says Stollar, 28. “That was the ultimate weapon for his soldiers in the culture war. Ironically, debate has given us the tools to think through all that indoctrination.” Of the 30 or so formerly homeschooled kids behind Homeshoolers Anonymous, Stollar says, all but two were debaters.

Stollar was very good at debate—so good that he spent years traveling the country training other homeschoolers in the art of argument. “I didn’t just grow up in the subculture,” he writes. “I was one of its most outspoken advocates and champions.” His trips exposed him to a broad swath of the movement, and though he didn’t say so at the time, some of what he saw shocked him. Though Stollar’s family was extremely conservative, they were liberal compared with many of those he encountered on the road. “Traveling exposed me to all the different craziness within homeschooling—Quiverfull, ATI,” he says, referring to Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute, an influential homeschooling curriculum that emphasizes fathers’ absolute authority over their wives and children. (Gothard’s most famous followers are the Duggars, the reality-TV-show family with 19 children.) “It really took a toll on me,” says Stollar. “I have huge issues to this day with authority.”

She dreamed of going to Patrick Henry College, but her parents saw no reason for women to pursue degrees.

For years Stollar struggled to suppress his doubts, but when he went away to graduate school in New Mexico, he realized he had no idea what he really believed. “Everything kind of washed out of me,” he says. But even as he left his youthful faith behind, he stayed in touch with people he’d met through debate and soon came to realize that many were suffering in similar ways. Like him, they’d experienced depression, anxiety attacks, and suicidal thoughts. “There’s a lot of depression and body-acceptance issues,” he says. “I’ve seen a lot of self-injury, even to this day. When I was 16, cutting was a huge thing, especially among female teenagers in our community. There’s also a lot of coming to terms with one’s own sexuality, being able to embrace it as OK.”

Independent-minded girls had an especially rough time, particularly those raised in Quiverfull families. As the eldest of eight, King was told that her divinely ordained role was to be a helpmeet to her mother until her own marriage, when her job would be to sexually satisfy her husband, bear as many children as God would give her, and homeschool them in turn. She dreamed of going to Patrick Henry College, but her parents saw no reason for women to pursue degrees. King never learned algebra; instead, she was taught “consumer math,” which was mainly about creating a family budget. She learned about fractions and multiplication by cooking, since she often had to double recipes.

Legally, parents have enormous discretion in raising their children: in some states, there’s no oversight at all over homeschooling curricula, meaning that it’s perfectly fine to educate daughters for a life of housewifery rather than for higher education. Some people involved in Homeschoolers Anonymous hope eventually to change that. Meanwhile, along with their own stories, they offer advice about survival. Twenty-nine-year-old Heather Doney endured a Quiverfull upbringing in which she was beaten for the slightest infraction and forced to spend her days caring for nine younger siblings rather than learning until, thanks to the intervention of her grandparents, she was allowed to enroll in high school; she went on to earn a master’s degree in public policy from Brandeis. She’s published a guide for those planning to flee bad homeschooling situations, as well as what she calls “A Quick and Dirty Sex Ed Guide for Quiverfull Daughters.” Someday she hopes to become an advocate for homeschooled children’s rights, but she writes, “all I’ve got right now is my blog.”

by on Apr. 12, 2013 at 7:26 PM
Replies (11-20):
JCB911
by Bronze Member on Apr. 13, 2013 at 9:51 PM
9 moms liked this

The studies have shown that homeschooled kids still do better than public school kids even if their parents lack a certain level of education.

The kids complaining in the blog were complaining about religion.

Parents' education level matters little.   What parent, even with an 8th grade education, can't instill a love of learning and exploring in their children.  They can still help teach basic concepts and then they simply learn with the child, or find a tutor, friend etc to help out. By the time the child is high school level, hopefully, they will be able to learn on their own and wouldn't need Mom and Dad anyway.  (And even at the high school level there is plenty of help available).

Homeschooled kids top public school kids in every measure - Our real concern should be the public schools abysmal graduation rates and math/reading ability - we should be more focused on public schools since they have the bulk of the kids and cranking out more "adults" unable to make it in this world.  

I homeschool - I have two kids.  If one kid "fails" I'm pretty much as good as any inner city school - and so much cheaper!   But since I'm their mother and way more invested in their education than any teacher, principal or administrator could ever be they won't fail.

Quoting mikiemom:


the main issue with homeschooling is the parents lack of education. it's not really abou religion, it's about the the child learning wha they need to learn to be sucessful in the world we live in.


 

Quoting JCB911:

I don't doubt the article - but IMO there are kooks everywhere. It sounds as though their complaint is more with parenting and religion than homeschooling.

And the suicide, cutting, depression - that happens to kids who go to school as well, not just the crazy religious homeschoolers.

We're homeschoolers, not for religious reasons (although we are Christians).  I just don't want my kids to be bored in school like I was.  Learning is fun and school just sucks all the fun out of it!




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JCB911
by Bronze Member on Apr. 13, 2013 at 9:52 PM
5 moms liked this

It started a long time ago.  Those public school kids grew up and pushed against the public school indoctrination by homeschooling their own kids.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

I honestly surprised it took this long for the kids to start pushing back against the indoctrination.


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AdrianneHill
by Platinum Member on Apr. 13, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Kids are kids and no one wants all of their life decisions made by someone else, even if that person says it's for their own good.

Quoting JCB911:

It started a long time ago.  Those public school kids grew up and pushed against the public school indoctrination by homeschooling their own kids.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

I honestly surprised it took this long for the kids to start pushing back against the indoctrination.


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Farmlady09
by Silver Member on Apr. 13, 2013 at 10:15 PM
3 moms liked this

Mine did ~

I didn't homeschool for religious reasons, nor did I base anything I taught on religion. In fact, I insisted that my boys study a great many other religions, both historically as well as for the purpose of understanding that there are a great many things that people believe. I unschooled more than I 'schooled' in any case, and all three of my boys held part time jobs while they were homeschooling. All three bought their own first vehicles, all three attended college afterward.

I realize there are parents who are NOT capable of homeschooling. I realize that there are parents who ONLY do so for religious reasons ~ but I will not say they are wrong except on a case by case basis. Parents DO have a right to teach their children about their own beliefs ~ and to expect those children to adhere to those tenets while they are growing up and living at home.

No one here who is against religion seems to do any differently, but 'you' do consider yourself to be far better for not including religion in your home. The plain truth is that 'you' teach your beliefs just the same way a religious parent does ... and most of you gripe loudly when anyone 'dare' even say something or pass along a religious pamphlet that 'your' child might see.

Well, get a grip, because what you don't believe is JUST as offensive to people who believe differently than you do as what they believe is to you. 'You' can not prove that 'you' are right any more than they can.

After reading the article a second time, I stand by my original thought which is that the issue here wasn't religion, but the parents/parenting skills and teaching ability.


Quoting mikiemom:

 

the main issue with homeschooling is the parents lack of education. it's not really abou religion, it's about the the child learning wha they need to learn to be sucessful in the world we live in.


 

Quoting JCB911:

I don't doubt the article - but IMO there are kooks everywhere. It sounds as though their complaint is more with parenting and religion than homeschooling.

And the suicide, cutting, depression - that happens to kids who go to school as well, not just the crazy religious homeschoolers.

We're homeschoolers, not for religious reasons (although we are Christians).  I just don't want my kids to be bored in school like I was.  Learning is fun and school just sucks all the fun out of it!

 

 


 

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Apr. 13, 2013 at 10:21 PM

Yikes.  Not surprised.

sha_lyn68
by Bronze Member on Apr. 16, 2013 at 12:11 PM
2 moms liked this

I assume you've never looked at or are ignoring the statistics to make such a claim.  A parents educational level has very little influence on how their homeschool children perform on standardized tests. 

Quoting mikiemom:


the main issue with homeschooling is the parents lack of education. it's not really abou religion, it's about the the child learning wha they need to learn to be sucessful in the world we live in.


 

GLWerth
by Gina on Apr. 16, 2013 at 12:32 PM

The statistics you cite are apples and oranges.

Homeschooled kids are not required to take standardized tests, so the ones who do are those whose parents are sure they'll do well. Meanwhile, all public school kids have to take these tests.

So, yes, I'm sure that the cherry picked group of homeschooled kids whose parents are sure they'll do well do better on tests than the unselected group of all public school children.

I know several families that homeschool. Of the five, four have children who are VERY much behind my public school kids in terms of reading, writing, math, and science. One family has kids who are far ahead of my kids, but dad is a college professor and mom has extensive education as well and was trained as a teacher. Anecdotal, but illustrative.  

Oh and then there's my SIL who believes that her girls never need any education beyond being a housewife. They don't even need, according to her, to know how to budget because their husbands will do that. The oldest is 14 and already several "mature" men in their church have shown 'interest' in her, a fact of which they are super proud.  


Quoting sha_lyn68:

I assume you've never looked at or are ignoring the statistics to make such a claim.  A parents educational level has very little influence on how their homeschool children perform on standardized tests. 

Quoting mikiemom:

 

the main issue with homeschooling is the parents lack of education. it's not really abou religion, it's about the the child learning wha they need to learn to be sucessful in the world we live in.


 


 

LindaClement
by Linda on Apr. 16, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Their parents who feel that they are successful in the real world, believe that they are giving their kids what they need.

I also disagree that it's about homeschooling, because there are as many kids in exactly the same position who go to religious schools --have you seen the documentary about Amish kids? Wow.

Homeschooling is not necessarily about religion, even for very religious families. 

Overprotection happens in religious and non-religious families about equally, with pretty much identical results.

Quoting mikiemom:


the main issue with homeschooling is the parents lack of education. it's not really abou religion, it's about the the child learning wha they need to learn to be sucessful in the world we live in.


 

Quoting JCB911:

I don't doubt the article - but IMO there are kooks everywhere. It sounds as though their complaint is more with parenting and religion than homeschooling.

And the suicide, cutting, depression - that happens to kids who go to school as well, not just the crazy religious homeschoolers.

We're homeschoolers, not for religious reasons (although we are Christians).  I just don't want my kids to be bored in school like I was.  Learning is fun and school just sucks all the fun out of it!




KimmyShaw
by Member on Apr. 16, 2013 at 12:54 PM

I have some family that home-schooled their children and ALL 5 of them have issues. Only one is in a functioning lifestyle and thats because she married a doctor....she now is homeschooling her 2 children.

I can honestly say that I have yet to meet someone who has been home-schooled that arnt just...awkward.

sha_lyn68
by Bronze Member on Apr. 16, 2013 at 1:08 PM

In many states homeschoolers most certainly are required to take standardized tests. Also, most colleges require college entrance exams. The ACT tracks the scores of homeschoolers.

BTW: look up the Atlanta public school standardized test scandal. Also, the reason we pulled DS out of public school was due to our local school systems way of "fixing" the tests. The scores didn't count because they labelled the majority of the kids in the school with learning disabilities. When we fought their scam we were harassed.

Quoting GLWerth:

The statistics you cite are apples and oranges.

Homeschooled kids are not required to take standardized tests, so the ones who do are those whose parents are sure they'll do well. Meanwhile, all public school kids have to take these tests.

So, yes, I'm sure that the cherry picked group of homeschooled kids whose parents are sure they'll do well do better on tests than the unselected group of all public school children.

I know several families that homeschool. Of the five, four have children who are VERY much behind my public school kids in terms of reading, writing, math, and science. One family has kids who are far ahead of my kids, but dad is a college professor and mom has extensive education as well and was trained as a teacher. Anecdotal, but illustrative.  

Oh and then there's my SIL who believes that her girls never need any education beyond being a housewife. They don't even need, according to her, to know how to budget because their husbands will do that. The oldest is 14 and already several "mature" men in their church have shown 'interest' in her, a fact of which they are super proud.  


Quoting sha_lyn68:

I assume you've never looked at or are ignoring the statistics to make such a claim.  A parents educational level has very little influence on how their homeschool children perform on standardized tests. 

Quoting mikiemom:


the main issue with homeschooling is the parents lack of education. it's not really abou religion, it's about the the child learning wha they need to learn to be sucessful in the world we live in.


 




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