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I haven't made up my mind about homeschooling, so I'm not going to convince anyone to either go for it or stay away. This may be of interest, though: I have two good friends who were homeschooled, and they coincidentally have these traits in common: They are extremely bright, mature, and grounded, but they don't seem to get along with anyone their own age - they seem to only be able to carry on a conversation with someone much older than they are.


Thanks for posting the link, Bill! Here's a link to an article written in the Sun-Times about the other kids from the previous post... It talks about how they were homeschooled, too!


Nathan Davis! I never called you and Liz back. I will. I promise. If you're still coming up here in (January, was it?) Please, definitely call me. I will be your tour guide/realtor free of charge.

Nathan Davis

Wow. I think I've just been convinced. Seriously the prospects of homeschooling sound really exciting. I feel like overall it would just make you more aware of your child's development. Not that you couldn't have that with public school, but if you are essentially the one planning your kids' education it would force you to be more aware I think.

I wanted to make a point about the idea of exposing children to the "real world" as it were: I agree that the so-called real world we're exposed to in public (or many private) schools is not necessarily more real (not to mention healthy) than the diverse world that they could engage in a home schooling program. But I do think the world of public school has a MASSIVE affect on our society. Because the vast majority of people in America spend a MASSIVE percentage of their developing years in schools. And so the culture that develops within schools is something that all people will have to be able to engage effectively on some level. But I don't think that necessarily means fitting in or blending in with the crowd so to speak. I don't see this as an argument against home schooling either. I was just thinking that I want my children to be able to challenge and rise above social norms without becoming isolated from them, and thus transform society.
In a sense, I think this happened with me, although I wasn't homeschooled. I went to a small, private school through 8th grade and then went on to a public highschool with about 2,000 students. I feel that because I spent my earlier years in a more intimate and very supportive environment, I was able to go through high school and be more myself. Of course I felt pressure to "fit in" as it were, however I was very sure of my own standards, the kind of things I wanted to get involved and the kind I didn't. I'm not saying I would be totally different if I had gone to public school at an earlier age, but I really believe in the positive affects of learning from people who truly know you as an individual and have your best interest in mind at all times.

So ... well yeah, maybe more later I have to go


Here's a link to a story about Erik Demaine, the professor Allen mentioned, from October 2003, when he won a MacArthur "Genius" grant:


I've commented on your post at GREAT length on my webble. Aren't you glad I didn't put a ten page long comment in your skinny-format comment box?


It's so great to hear all these voices! Your comments stirred so many thoughts and this is the only way I can think of to respond.

Allen- Whoa! That's amazing! I'd love to know more about how those kids were educated. I'd love to talk with you when you have kids, mostly just to see what they're like. They'd have to be amazing!

Katie- That does scare the poopy out of me. We've just been talking all week about testing and NCLB in the class I TA for. I like the idea of standards, but beyond that I don't know what to think. Who should set them? What should they mean for actual teaching practice? Do they mean anything? Testing I'm not so sure about. They seem more punitive than educational. I don't know that you an evaluate anything, let alone something as complex as a school, with one test. Thanks for the insight into the trenches!

Nathan- I'm not sure what you're saying exactly. Seems like the kids you've interacted with would be that way no matter what school they went to. Homeschooling doesn't seem to play a part in that. Private schools, even some public schools in some parts of the country, teach very similar things. And to judge an entire movement by one subset doesn't seem to work.

Heather- Yeah, it does kinda seem natural. When you think of an educational timeline, public schooling is just a blip. Even Thomas Jefferson couldn't get people to sign on. Seems like 'homeschooling' has been the pattern for thousands of years and in many parts of the world.

Carmen- Good point. I guess when I think of homeschooling I don't really envision Amia spending much time at home. We see it as a way to broaden her educational horizons, to help her see the whole world as her school, and everyone in it a potential teacher. In that context she could have an 'assignment' of developing a teaching campaign, designing a social and economic development project. And when I think about the resources within the community, both the Baha'i and the larger one, I think she'll get a lot of practice communicating with all kinds of people.


Wow! I think you just convinced me to homeschool my children. I'll have to talk to you when I have kids. :)

By the way, have you heard about the Waldorf schools? I just read about that yesterday...

I think you're totally right in that homeschooling can go leaps and bounds beyond its historical origins of restriction and ignorance.

For instance, what you said about self-directed learning... there's a guy at MIT who was an assistant professor there by the time he was 21 years old (youngest professor there ever!). He was homeschooled, and while most people would imagine his parents making him memorize multiplication tables day and night, it was really a matter of him loving to sit down and solve 3D puzzles with his dad that blossomed into his specialized interests.

I knew someone at U of I who was homeschooled, along with all of her siblings. She skipped a grade and got a 1600 on her GRE and her brother's going to medical school at Harvard after getting a degree as a Marshall Scholar at Cambridge.

Of course, this is all just one small aspect of intelligence, and doesn't speak for the wonders of the arts and technical fields... but the thing with homeschooled kids not getting "a good education"? Definitely a myth. ;)


As a result of endless preparation for the upcoming state tests here in North Carolina, I am exhausted beyond belief. Please forgive me if this isn't totally coherent.

I really just want to comment on testing, one tiny issue in your post that in itself, is a hugely-debated topic in education today. I really don't know how I feel about standardized testing, but it's not that I'm neutral. I just see the benefits of both ways (test or no test). The negative effects of these tests really hit me the other day though, when I had this conversation with my 9th grade English students.

We were, as EVERYONE in this state is right now, preparing for the NC End-of-Course tests that will be administered state-wide next week. I was trying to teach them about verb tense consistency and how you can't just change tenses without reason in the middle of a sentence. It became alarmingly clear that they had no concept of tense - present, past, future, etc... My jaw visibly dropped and the kids said, "Mz. Smlph, we ain't never learn that stuff. All we did in 8th grade was read passages and answer [multiple choice] questions."

Clearly, their 8th grade teachers, feeling the pressure from local administrators and state officials, were trying to prepare them for End-of-Grade tests and therefore spent the entire year teaching to the test. This should scare the poopy out of all of us because it means that our students are not reading self-selected literature, interacting with texts, writing, or practicing critical thinking. As their ninth grade teacher, I am DEFINITELY aware of the experience they lack in these areas. "It ain't our fault they never taught us that, Mz. Smlph," they protest. I have to agree.


But your exposure to homeschooling and the way it was practiced in Wichita is just one aspect of the form that homeschooling can take. I don't think it's fair to judge the entire idea of homeschooling solely on one scewed way in which it's practiced, especially when it can be and is practiced and implemented in a wide variety of ways.


I have an extremely negative impression of homeschooling. Here in Kansas, a state that flip-flops on whether or not evolution should be taught in schools, the function of homeschooling in most cases is still the same as what it was in the beginning: angry, arrogant, fearful, Christian fundamentalists who want to indoctrinate their kids with the same conservative, religiously bigoted ideals. Homeschooling through my contacts with it (and I have had some contact due to my jobs at the Wichita Science center) has come to represent not only ideals that attack public funding of schools and organizations, but also ideals that attack me personally, because I'm "not a person of God and going to hell." I realize that my experiences are a product of the omnipresent conservativism that exists in the Wichita and surrounding communities, but knowing that doesn't make me feel any better about it.


Homeschooling is regulated at the state level. I don't know about Ohio, but in Illinois there are no tests that must be taken, there are no grades that need to be passed... as parents, you get to make all the decisions about what you teach your children, when you teach your children, where you teach your children, how you teach your children, etc. Isn't that beautiful?! I think so. Education at home is so natural.

As for opportunities to teach the Faith, my experiences teaching the Faith came from my interactions with neighbors, friends, co-workers, acquantances, fellow classmates (I think that many people view homeschooling as never, ever taking classes outside the home... I took a bunch of classes at the Park District and other such places.) and more. I didn't just teach people my age, I taught adults as well as children younger than me.

Even as a young child, I felt just as comfortable talking to adults as I did talking to people my age. I can usually spot other homeschoolers just by talking to the children. There is just something about the way that they interact with adults, with everyone around them really, that tends to set them apart as incredibly articulate conversationalists that are completely comfortable conversing with people of any age on a wide variety of topics.

I have so many more stories and thoughts to share, but I will leave it at that for now...

Sarah Ingham


I've been secretly reading for blog for a time now. It seems that conversations I have with various people about parenting are being paralleled here. I had an epiphany reading just now. I always thought home schooled kids wouldn't have any friends, but thinking about it, I had no friends as a child. None. I also was terribly depressed and had other problems as well. None of this was noticed because I always behaved in school and at home I seemed normal. I think parents are more likely to notice these sorts of problems when they are that involved. And ps, my friends Jeff and Jill are home schooling and their daughter (who is 4) is about the level of a 6 year old.



Mark and I are also seriously thinking about homeschooling future children. We love city life, but schools there tend to be abominable (i.e. Ohio schools ruled unconstitutional - and no one is doing anything!). My understanding of homeschooling is that there are actually a fair number of guidelines set down by government (which one? state? I don't know...). For example, I think kids have to take some sort of general exam each year to get a certificate of grade level advancement. This may vary state to state, of course.

I had homeschooled friends all growing up - we met through Girl Scouts, summer athletic leagues, etc. Also, it's common to see groups of homeschoolers crop up, combining their talents, taking field trips together, etc.

How exciting!! Have we recommended you read Choosing Simplicity by Linda Breen Pierce (Pierce Breen?) - in any case, a wonderful book that I think is right up your alley (both of you, Husayn & Suzanne, not to mention a number of other folks that frequent your blog). Mark and I found it very beneficial, helping us to really focus on what is most important to us, and how we want to achieve it. It's not some self-help, guideline book. It's other people's stories - laid out to help you learn from them.


Thanks everyone for commenting!! That's what I hoped would happen. There's so many things to figure out with all this, whichever educational path you're talking about.


Isn't it the case that the reason most of your practices teaching the Faith came from your public school experiences is because that's where you spent almost all of your time and developed most of your friendships?

I've only just begun to research homeschooling, but in one of the books I've read, which is basically a compilation of stories of the experience of 20 or so homeschooling families, a common observation (despite the incredible diversity of their homeschooling philosophies) that many parents have is that their children learn to interact with and form deep and meaningful relationships with a very wide age-range of people instead of just knowing how to interact with people their own age.

Another observation experienced parents had is that often when they first started homeschooling they started by 'bringing school home,' and often this is what they found DIDN'T work for them. Later, once they loosened up and began listening more and being guided by the interests and capacities of their children, they had much more positive experiences.

People who have negative reactions to homeschooling seem to have this particular image of homeschooling in mind--that of having a home that becomes a school with lots of structured little lessons, essentially the same model as public schools where the teacher has the 'stuff' and the students are the empty containers that need to be filled with 'stuff.' Okay, that's not the best explanation of what I'm trying to say, but one of the most useful philosophies on education I've found so far is that espoused by John Holt. In his book, Learning All the Time, he basically explains that learning happens best when it is self-directed. He didn't come up with this philosophy of education in a philosophical vacuum but only after years of teaching and meticulous observation of children. Okay, I have more to say, but that's all from me for now.


I was homeschooled by my mother for 1st and 2nd grade. We should talk. Or have we already? Some of the things you listed as your pet peeves for discussion on the subject sound like the rhetoric I spew on the subject,,,,


I think Carmen makes a good point. I taught the Faith more, I think, in high school, than I do now. Although I'm generally against homeschooling (mostly because many people haven't put the amount of thought you seem to have, Husayn), I understand that it can be a really good tool when done correctly.

I really worry about children that I see that seem to be much too sheltered. There is such a thing, and it should be guarded against. There is also the thoughts about college...haha. I'm not educated enough on this subject, however, to make any profound statements on the subject. :-D


i am greatly intrigued by the notion of homeschooling and always have been. but i wanted to pose one question: what kind of affect (seen and unseen) will amia have on her environment in either situation? i know that most of the practice of teaching the Faith, for me, came from my public school experiences. i learned how to teach the Faith to my peers and elders through words and actions... and written reports! it's just one thing to think about from a girl who is thankful for the tests of public school. :)


See, this is why I love this blog. I'm excited about the material covered, there's in depth and objective coverage, and I actually learn something! I sound like an ad for a news station. In any case, thank Husayn for being so thourough and concise about issues that we all should be well informed about.
Could I sound any more commercial?!


I am so incredibly excited to hear that you guys are considering homeschooling as an option for Amia [and any future child(ren)]!!!!! I would love to talk to you guys about homeschooling. And, I would be more than happy to assist in any way by answering questions, sharing my experiences, introducing you to other homeschoolers so that you can get different, personal perspectives on how people school (or 'unschool') their kids, etc. etc. etc. Let me know if you'll be up this way over the winter break so we can get together and talk!!!

(You can tell my level of excitement by the number of exclamation points in this post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)


PS: The twins (Katie and Daniel) and their sister Erin are homeschooled. Did you know?

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