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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 (21-30):
lga1965
by on Apr. 16, 2013 at 2:49 PM
I'm not surprised.
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lga1965
by on Apr. 16, 2013 at 2:51 PM
2 moms liked this
Indoctrination ?
Oh boy.
More tinfoil hat talk.


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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cammibear
by Gold Member on Apr. 16, 2013 at 3:02 PM
4 moms liked this
The smartest people I know we're homeschooled. None of them regret being homeschooled. They also have extremely smart kids. I really hate the "homeschool" stereotype. Not reality for the bulk of homeschoolers.
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tambrathegreat
by on Apr. 16, 2013 at 3:06 PM

I was wondering when that generation was going to grow up and get out of it.  Homeschooling, while it can be beneficial for some children, takes out a vital part of the system that is in place to deal with extremely deleterious family situations. 

tooptimistic
by Kelly on Apr. 16, 2013 at 3:18 PM
7 moms liked this

So which do you hate more ~ people who home school or Christians?  It is hard to tell.

What is it to you if I home school my children?  How does it effect your life?  Why is it any of your business?  Why do you care if people home school for religious reasons?

NOT that is any of your business, but I home school my son, and will home school my other two for many reasons.  My son is high functioning autistic with severe sensory integration disorder.  He is in Kindergarten reading on a fourth grade level.  He is doing second grade math.  How much attention do you think he'd get?  Think he may get picked on because he has ticks?  I do.  We looked at public school and we had a choice.  A regular classroom with over thirty kids (ever so wonderful if you have sensory issues) with a teacher who knew an autistic child once,  or the class where kids drool on themselves, and the teachers make sure no one gets hurt.  Not the best choices for my little guy.

My four year old has half a lung only..  Parents send their kids to school sick.  How do you think that would work out for us?  Know how many times she has been in the hospital with RSV?

Oh, and my education?  Again not that's its any of your business, I have a four year degree in education.  Does that make you feel better?

My son is thriving and LOVING school.  My four year old is doing kindergarten.

Maybe you should be less judgemental.  Parents have the right to do what they think is best for their children.

mikiemom
by Ruby Member on Apr. 16, 2013 at 7:56 PM

 I have looked at the statistics and I see that very few states have regulations regarding homeschooling. very few cases result in a child who is prepared to succeed in the real world.


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.


 


 

GirlWithANikon
by Member on Apr. 16, 2013 at 8:06 PM
3 moms liked this

I bet there are some pretty productive people who came from real home schooling. Also, look at all the eff ups that come out of the public school system? Its comparable.

buttersworth
by Silver Member on Apr. 16, 2013 at 8:20 PM
3 moms liked this

This article is full of implications but weak on facts. For one, I would like the author to define "Fundamentalist Christian" and then also just define "Christian".  Then define Quiverful along with that. It sounds like Quiverful is a cult, not normal Christians. You can't write a serious peice and lump all Christians in with a faction that is a cult. That is extremely disingenuous. It sounds as if to completely smear Christians and home schoolers across the board.

Furthermore, what's so horrible about teaching your children how to cook, or as the author calls it, "housewifery'? When's the last time any of you used algebra?

i would've let the girl go to college, however, if she did not have her parents' blessing or support on this, that should not be equated with abuse. Most children attend college when they're 17 or 18. She could have enrolled herself if that's what she wanted to do.

KreatingMe
by Bronze Member on Apr. 16, 2013 at 8:23 PM
Excellent reply.Our concern should be the failures of the public schools.

Quoting JCB911:

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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buttersworth
by Silver Member on Apr. 16, 2013 at 8:26 PM

 

I agree with jCB911. Now there's two of us with a tin foil hat. Merry Christmas, JCB911. I hope you had a super Easter Vacation. Those are things you can't say in public school. Oh wait...let me go get my poptart and I'll meet you out there playing tag

Quoting lga1965:

Indoctrination ?
Oh boy.
More tinfoil hat talk.


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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