Homeschooling vs. Howard Zinn
There is a popular belief that the best way for children to learn is for them to be sent away to a “brick and mortar” school, where highly trained educators will teach them the subjects they need to succeed in the world.
This belief rejects homeschooling, because dedicated mothers and fathers are simply not as good as government school teachers.
For the sake of argument, let's say they are right. Let's say that, as a homeschool dad, I'm not as good.
Still, when I teach my children about our nation's history, I will be teaching from three different texts. The first is The Great Republic : A History of America by Sir Winston Churchill. The others, America: The Last Best Hope: Volumes I and II, are by Dr. William J. Bennett, former secretary of education under President Ronald Reagan.
Both of these authors know America's history and have created fantastic texts from which to teach it. While I may not be a history major, or a certified teacher, I can read these books, teach from them, and supplement the text with additional curriculum of my choosing.
If my child were in a public school, what would they be learning from?
One of the more popular texts is The People's History of the United States by the late Howard Zinn, a radical Marxist.
As noted on Big Hollywood, Zinn not only admitted his text is biased, he said he wanted it to be “part of the social struggle":
I wanted my writing of history and my teaching of history to be a part of the social struggle. I wanted to be a part of history and not just a recorder of history and a teacher of history. So that kind of attitude towards history, history itself is a political act, has always informed my writing and my teaching.
For an example of how bizarre Zinn's accounting of history is, consider his take on World War II. According to Zinn, America was at fault. We provoked Japan.
Zinn also fails to mention “Washington's Farewell Address, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Reagans' speech at the Brandenburg Gate.” D-Day's Normandy Beach invasion isn't covered by Zinn, but he dedicates several pages to the My Lai Massacre. His efforts to paint America as an evil country are visible on every page of the text.
While the untrained homeschool dad is teaching his children about American history from two authors who focus on facts, the trained teacher is busy educating students about how terrible America has been from its creation, because the author of their text “wanted to be a part of history.”
But then again, the students in the all important “brick and mortar” school may not even be burdened with learning history. North Carolina state education leaders recently floated the idea of starting high school level American history at 1877, foregoing all that unnecessary learning about the Revolutionary War or even the Civil War.
Why would this even be considered?
Rebecca Garland, chief academic officer for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, says they are trying to “figure out a way to teach [history] where students are connected to it, where they see the big idea, where they are able to make connections and draw relationships between parts of our history and the present day.”
The Foundry, the Heritage Foundation's blog, explained what that means:
By implication, nothing before 1877 has any meaning to students ...
Early 20th century Progressives also taught that nothing before 1877 has meaning for today. In his new book We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future, Matthew Spaulding recounts Progressives attack on America's First Principles. The Progressives sought to remake America, so that the Declaration's Founding Principles, the Constitution's institutional structures, and the Civil War's meaning as a victory for Founding principles would no longer ring true. The progressives argued that equal, natural rights were non-existent; government creates rights.
Between the leftist slant in the texts and the outright banishment of a century of American history, it is difficult to see how having the endorsement of the state government automatically results in a better education.
It must be the advanced training government school teachers have in the subjects they teach. That is another argument opponents of homeschooling offer in defense of public schools. Judge Sue Carol Browning wrote:
I have a doctorate degree. And I do not feel that I am capable of giving my child the education that he deserves.
I have not had intensive training in each of the aspects that high schools teach. You know, I don't have specialization in algebra, in chemistry, biology, language arts, all the different things.
Judge Browning believes that every teacher in the government school system went to school to teach the subjects they teach and are specifically trained experts. That just isn't true. Many teachers find themselves teaching subjects they know little about and have minimal, if any, training in. Shortages in teachers require schools to fill slots, so they do the best they can with what they have. But most teachers are no more prepared than the mom who buys curriculum secondhand from a local homeschool group.
In reality, it's the government school students who are at the disadvantage. Homeschooling moms and dads have more flexibility than government school teachers in what they teach, where they teach, and how they teach it. And while government school students are crammed into overcrowded classrooms, learning just enough to pass a state exam, homeschool students are in the museums and libraries, learning what it is to be an American.
Most importantly, homeschool students have teachers that are more emotionally invested in their success than any government school teacher could ever be.
Brick and mortar buildings can't compete with that.