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The dark side of home schooling: creating soldiers for the culture war

by Katherine Stewart posted on May 08, 2013 08:59PM GMT 

The Christian home school subculture isn't a children-first movement. Some former students are bravely speaking out

A house in Cleveland, Ohio. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP

Several decades ago, political activists on the religious right began to put together an "ideology machine". Home schooling was a big part of the plan. The idea was to breed and "train up" an army of culture warriors. We now are faced with the consequences of their actions, some of which are quite disturbing.

According to the Department of Education, the home schooling student population doubled in between 1999 and 2007, to 1.5 million students, and there is reason to think the growth has continued. Though families opt to home school for many different reasons, a large part of the growth has come from Christian fundamentalist sects. Children in that first wave are now old enough to talk about their experiences. In many cases, what they have to say is quite alarming.

When he was growing up in California, Ryan Lee Stollar was a stellar home schooling student. His oratory skills at got him invited to home schooling conferences around the country, where he debated public policy and spread the word about the "virtues" of an authentically Christian home school education.

Now 28, looking back on his childhood, it all seems like a delusion. As Stollar explains:

"The Christian home school subculture isn't a children-first movement. It is, for all intents and purposes, an ideology-first movement. There is a massive, well-oiled machine of ideology that is churning out soldiers for the culture war. Home schooling is both the breeding ground – literally, when you consider the Quiverfull concept – and the training ground for this machinery. I say this as someone who was raised in that world."

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Kids need a vacation from their nutty parents.   What a nightmare experience home schooling must be a grown up who had to suffer during their childhood.

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IS there a way those schools can be checked? I mean that's a crazy education.

America is weird this way; there is a lot of leeway in what is considered schooling. I grew up in Uruguay, and homeschooling is illegal there. Children have to be sent to either public schools or accredited private schools. The idea is that going to school teaches you social skills and how to be part of the community at large, not just reading, algebra and geography.

Exactly. The social element is so important, missing out on that at an early age would seem to stunt growth in the skills needed to get along with your fellow crazy people.

Home Schooling, and Charter Schools, are both used to prevent children from acquiring a real education. Though there are a few examples of home schooling being chosen because of the religious nature of the local areas and schools, that's a pretty rare occurrence.

Also, home schooling is a great way to preserve parental authority, right? Nobody else (other than the occasional minister) will mess up my kids brain. I'll make sure they'll turn into the exact same kind of idiot I am.

Would be funny if not true. =(

I find it weird, that there is such a big number of homeschools in America. Here, either you are in a private school or government school and if there is homeschool, it is negligible because then you are setting up that child for trouble ahead. Jobs one needs papers from recognised institutions unless of course the idea is to train pastors

I understood that for most states throughout the school years students have to take a state exam if they want to get a high school diploma. They can forgo the diploma and just take a equivalency exam and get a GED which stands for General Education Development. I suppose home schooled kids can opt for the less valued later. I don't see how the state would present them with a diploma, or pass a  GED if they think the world is 6000 years old, people walked with dinosaurs, and and an invisible all powerful creator and ruler of everything controls their every movement unless of course the all powerful's  arch enemy, master of disguise, and all things evil, the devil himself, happens to be in control because the student wasn't praying for forgiveness for being human.

Home schooling is one reason the U.S. is so fucked up and religious zealots abound.

I forgot, and correct me if I'm wrong. School districts administer the tests and present the diploma, or GED so if the student and parent/teacher/zealot live in Christianville, inerrant bible U.S.A. It's ok that the world is 6000 years old and etc because those kind of questions are balanced out by other questions the parent/teacher/zealot wouldn't object to so the student will still pass the tests.

It is not quite the same in Australia, but when you home school your child you still have to follow the state curriculum and the child still has to meet the standards that apply to their peers that go to school. In NSW should you be home schooled for your high school years then you still have to pass the School Certificate (end of year 10) and Higher School certificate ( end of year 12) exams. SO it makes it hard for the nutters to push their agenda through their kids schooling. 

I quite agree with your last sentence Adriana!

This is key (from the Guardian article):

Smith is referring to the Calvinist movement, founded by Rousas John Rushdoony, that advocates a Christian takeover of the political system in order to "purify" the nation and cleanse it of the sin of secularism. Rushdoony taught that public schools – "statist education," in his words – promote chaos, primitivism, and "a vast disintegration into the void". He advocated home schooling as a way to rear a generation that could carry out the mission of retaking the nation for Christ.

A slow, deliberate power grab, to convert or eradicate the 'others' - by crazies on a crazy mission. The sad part is that they have millenia of experience in doing that. And perhaps even worse, they are doing it in a system precisely designed to allow this kind of freedom.

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