The Road to Homeschooling – Part 1
[This is Part 4 of the article “Please Don’t Homeschool Your Children!”]
In the 1950’s—100 years after the Public School Movement began—the dreams of its founders began to be realized in a most unexpected way: Private, “Experimental Schools”, began to appear. Some, like the one my public school teacher-mother sent me to during my 4th & 5th grades, were held in a teacher’s private home (my “school” was surrounded by woods, so we spent a lot of time outdoors). Others had more of the look and feel of Public Schools. Private Schools were “experimental” in the sense that their founders were trying to provide a less structured and, at the same time, more individualized, learning environment for their students. You will recognize the name Dr. Marie Montessori, whose ideas helped pioneer this Movement.
Many educated families longed to send their children to exclusive Prep Schools (where children of the rich and famous attended); but the cost of Prep Schools was simply beyond the budgets of middle-class families, so Private Schools were a tailor-made alternative.
Most people don’t realize that Public Schools were never intended to prepare leaders and entrepreneurs; they were intended to prepare employees of leaders and entrepreneurs. That is why America’s wealthiest families have never entertained the thought of sending their children to a Public School. Their children attend the kind of Private Schools that are expected to prepare young people to become leaders and entrepreneurs. [It is a fascinating study to discover how differently Prep Schools define education and how differently they go about preparing their students for a very different kind of future—one that definitely does not include employment].
In the 1960’s, many Christian parents began to wake up to the fact that both Public and Private Schools were moving more and more away from the family’s long-held personal values toward a more secular view of the world while, at the same time, purposefully withholding Christian worldviews from their students. As these schools were moving away from family values, they were taking the children with them. This was not a “drift” toward secularism, but the natural outcome of the original intention of the founders of the Public School Movement.
To counter this trend, the Christian School Movement began with its own particular brand of curricula that was mainly Public School curricula that had been carefully Christianized. Christian parents now felt that they had the best of both worlds: a public-school-style education that was also Christian, taught by professional, Christian educators.
With all these movements countering one another, and raising up their own brand of School, little changed regarding the majority of what the typical American child would be taught; the main differences were how and where. All education sprang from a universally held premise: children were to be taken from their homes, driven to a place called “school”, and educated by professionals whose training had prepared them to do a better job of educating children than could be accomplished by a child’s own parents.
How different all this is than what children experienced for generations before the Industrial Revolution and the passage of the first Public School Compulsory Attendance Laws! Since then, we have been—are still are—trying to figure out how to school our kids.
[Next: The Road to Homeschooling – Part 2: Here come the homeschoolers (is that really what we were?)]