Can homeschooling make you more tolerant?

A new study of students at a Christian college found that the kids who had been homeschooled were more willing to extend basic civil liberties to their political/cultural opposites than those who had gone to public school. At The Conversation, scientist Robert Kunzman critiques this study and explains how it fits into the larger context of what we know about home schooling.

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  1. rknop says:

    This is about a very specific subset of homeschooling. There are a lot of people out there who homeschool their kids because they're conservative Christians who want to avoid having to send their kids to public school. But, there are lots of other homeschool types out there, who homeschool their kids for a wide variety of reasons. One should be hesitant to draw broad conclusions about homeschooling generally based on observations of a very specific subset of homeschooled kids. (Likewise, the "control" sample here are students at conservative Christian colleges, which are also very different from the population of USA college kids generally.)

    Anecdotally (i.e. not good evidence for anything statistical, although also not completely meaningless), kids I've seen in college who were homeschooled run the gamut. Some are extremely bright, flexible, can think well, and have a good background. Some make me wonder "home" really means "not" in "homeschooled". I haven't anecdotally noticed a trend in homeschooled kids compared to kids who've gone to either public or private school, with the possible excpetion that they tend to be more diverse. Not racially, but in terms of how they think and approach things, and in terms of how capable they are. Some are borderline disasters who shouldn't be in college, some are great, and the dispersion seems to be greater and the individual less predictable than kids who've been through more traditional schooling.

  2. Honestly, I thought this study was interesting BECAUSE it was focusing on kids who were likely homeschooled for religious reasons. I would not have expected them to be more willing to allow people they disagree with to exist than other people who share their same basic religious beliefs. Though the criticism of the study in the piece I linked is also important here.

  3. I wonder if this is less about home schooling than it is about public schools. I wasn't home schooled. Instead, I attended private schools until middle school. I remember being shocked at how dehumanizing public school seemed (I think I told my mother that they were mean and picked on the different kids) and confused by the general acceptance of the treatment of students by faculty.
    It seemed like the main focus of public schooling was getting students to conform to what they wanted with no respect for individuality or different ways of viewing the world. That conformity seemed less important to the faculty than education.
    This was a wild departure from my previous experiences in school and contrary to all the stuff I was watching on childrens television.

  4. I support public school. I'll say it again, I support public schools. I support making public schools better.

    Public schools have indoctrination built into the system and curriculum. Ever morning kids repeat the pledge of allegiance. This is VERY bad. Young brains haven't developed enough to understand what this pledge fully means and what it's doing to their minds and behavior. Politically speaking we should end the pledge. It's nationalistic nonsense.

    And what do you do when you go to school, you sit a row, remain silent, and do what they are told. This trains people to do the exact opposite of what we need them to do as adults. We need adults who say "NO" to all the bad things that get jammed down our throats and determine what to say "Yes" to.

    Testing, get rid of it yesterday. To quote a teacher that I'm very close to, "I'm not a teacher anymore, I'm a data collector."

    The curriculum is all F%&^ed up. Why? Influence by federal, state, local government, and private corporations trying to get their needs meet first, not educate. Kill bad text books while we are at it. I'm not say not have text books, we need them but textbooks can be developed and written by not-for-profits and university. We don't need private corporations writing textbooks. The done a poor job it. Let teachers do their jobs which they actually want to do, at least the good ones.

    No Child Left Behind was the worst legislation for education ever written. Get rid of it yesterday.

  5. You don't understand the problem.

    Parents who have enough education, acumen, resources, connections, etc. to get their kids into the best school possible are already doing that. What we want, for the long term benefit of our nation (and the individual benefit of each child), is for the children whose parents cannot or will not do everything possible to help them succeed in school to still be able to go to decent schools.

    For example, I live in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago. My last address was in the catchment area of the highest rated (at the time) public grade school in the area. At least 5 other families "lived" at my address. Got their mail all the time. Talking with my neighbors, I learned this was a common phenomenon. Any parent WHO UNDERSTOOD THE SYSTEM and had no other way to get their kid into the least-bad school in our area of the south side would pretend to live at a local address. If they didn't get away with it, no harm no foul, because the public school system would still be legally required to take the student somewhere; but the reality is that the state of bureaucracy is such that this trick often does work.

    These kids have parents who understand that getting into a good school is key, and are willing to do what it takes to enable that to happen. Thus, they've got an advantage in life over the other kids in their neighborhood whose parents don't care, or don't speak English, or don't have a way to get them daily to a school that isn't close by, etc.

    This is why public tax money needs to stay within one system, the public school system, and used to make EVERY child get at minimum a decent basic education. Private money can set up any school they want. Charter schools don't have to be supported by the government, especially not to the detriment of actual government-supported education.

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