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Why I Homeschool--Part Four: (I can brainwash my own kids, thankyouverymuch!)Posted Monday, January 16, 2012, at 8:04 AM
Of all of the reasons I have for homeschooling, avoidance of public schools is way down near the bottom of the list. I usually prefer to focus on the positives of homeschooling rather than the negatives of public schools.
However, I feel obligated to point out that there is a dark side to public schools. History tells us that at times public schools were used for the purpose of brainwashing children. The Communist Manifesto argues for the free education of all children, because Karl Marx believed that children needed to be removed from the influence of their parents so they could be taught how to be good little Communists. Indeed, under Joseph Stalin, public school textbooks in the Soviet Union contained object lessons about ants working together for the good of the colony in order to emphasize the benefits of embracing Communism.
It's true that we are not living under Communism here in the United States in 2012. It's a different time, different culture. We can't project the past onto the present. I know that. On the other hand, I do believe that there are many groups out there with agendas which strive to use the school system to implement those agendas. There are still elements of brainwashing present in the school system today in our country.
Most of this subtle brainwashing has to do with stating opinions as facts. Now, there's nothing wrong with opinions. Everyone has opinions. It's extremely hard to write a textbook that is completely free of bias. I have seen books where the authors tried very hard to write an unbiased text, but somehow their opinions--such as a disdain for George W. Bush--managed to leak through anyway. Others are not so subtle, but teach things as fact that I fundamentally disagree with.
Here are a few examples of viewpoints that I disagree with:
Evolution: Billions of years ago all of the matter in the entire universe was squeezed into a dot no larger than a period, even though in chemistry we learned that solids and liquids are not compressible--only gasses. But never mind that--we just all accept that the teachers must know what they are talking about because after all they are educated and we are not. Then that dot exploded and stuff went flying around, and life started from nothing even though we learned in biology that life only comes from life, and eventually all of the characteristics of all of the species of the world were added, even though Mendel proved that information is not added, only passed on from our parents.
Sexuality: Gender is not the same thing as biological sex, and there are more than two biological sexes. It limits people's expression of gender to make them choose between the two. Some people are both or maybe they started out as one and gradually became another one. We shouldn't try to think of people in male/female terms but allow them to explore their sexuality and marry whomever they wish. And if they want to have babies, that should always be optional, but nobody should have to limit their own happiness in order to personally care for their babies.
The Environment: We live on a very delicate planet that cannot sustain everyone, so we should all work to make sure we don't upset this balance by having too many children that might breathe the air or drink the water or leave any carbon footprints. We should also feel guilty about using air conditioning or driving a car and should at least humbly submit to paying lots of taxes to the government as penance for being here and liking the technology we invent. Oh, and everything that happens with the weather--even snow in April--is because of Global Warming and if people would just stop polluting then things would be okay.
Hopefully you recognize that the above points were all written tongue-in-cheek. But before you cry out, "My school isn't like that!" I want to say that I understand not every school is the same. Your school might be different. I'll concede that it's possible.
These aren't the only issues that crop up in public schools. School boards argue over which history texts to use--ones that frame the Founding Fathers in a favorable light or ones that highlight their shortcomings. They argue over how to decide what authors to use--should they include more books written by minorities in order to encourage diversity, or should the skin color of an author be a non-issue when selecting textbooks? What about political slants or books that dogmatically push issues like global warming? Should a text be used that promotes capitalism or one that questions it? All across the nation school boards wrestle with the choosing of curriculum.
As a homeschool mom, I also have to wrestle with issues of textbook bias. Right now I am primarily using Rod & Staff. It's a Mennonite curriculum. I'm not Mennonite. That means there are going to be worldviews reflected in the textbooks that do not line up with my worldviews. For example, one of the Health textbooks implies that God judged Jezebel because of her make-up. I'm pretty sure that her idol worship had more to do with it than her eye shadow. Another example is the English curriculum which claims that God prefers that people speak proper English. When my kids ask me about it, we discuss the issues and I explain why I don't believe grammar is exactly a moral issue.
Even though I have chosen a curriculum with a level of bias for my school, I feel it's one I can live with. I'd rather have them wrestle with issues of what God thinks about grammar than whether or not God created the world.
It's not that my kids will never hear other sides of issues. I teach them the theory of evolution, too. After all, they aren't going to know how silly it is if they never learn about it. But I teach it from the perspective that it is a worldly and faulty theory invented by godless men, and we look at the scientific evidence to prove it.
You might think I am brainwashing my kids, and you might be right. But let's face it--everyone wants a crack at brainwashing my kids. It's just that as their parent, I am going to retain my right to brainwash them with the truth.
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