Teach Your Children Well Part 3: Teach Your Children Quietly
There is a subversive way to homeschool.
So there is no way you can homeschool your children. I get it. Ignore the scolds who tell you that you still must. For us, homeschooling full time and for much of our child-raising years would mean one of us quitting his job, losing the house we had a mortgage on, stopping maintenance on our perpetually dying car, and possibly going on government assistance.
And don’t ask me what is more important than teaching my children. There are tons of things you teach your children. What they tend to actually retain is what you model.
Going on assistance would be the opposite of what we wanted to teach them. We wanted to model being working people and the rewards of hard work.
But yeah, we also wanted them to not learn idiocy, which is what they were learning in school.
So what we did was teach them after they came home from school. Sneaky, uh?
Sure, it meant we didn’t/couldn’t watch any shows in the evening, and other types of entertainment were limited to things like visiting museums or taking courses together. Because all the time after school and after the mandatory button-counting “homework” was devoted to teaching them.
Actually, this started with homework, like explaining to them why, no, we weren’t giving them a copy of our budget as the basis for homework, as the teacher asked. Even though we had nothing to hide, it was none of his class’s business. So we were going to make one up. Or when they asked Robert to color on a map where his ancestors came from, and I told him to color everything, even the sea, then explained both why it was true (if you go back far enough) and why the assignment was pernicious, dividing Americans into hyphenated groups. Or when I explained why the school’s definition of “culture” as “genetic heritage” was wrong, and in fact at the root of a bunch of progressive errors. (If you’re one of those people who doesn't know, genetics might give you certain abilities and tendencies, but they’re not culture. A Chinese infant brought up by an American couple is American. The idea that culture is inborn and non-changeable is what leads progressives to call us racist when we criticize Islam, or to think it’s “racist” to demand immigrants learn English. They think that’s objectively impossible since you’re born with one culture and one language. For the record, I’m writing this in my third language and the idea of inborn culture is a pernicious lie.)
But then we’d branch into other things. We never established a curriculum for these after-school sessions, but I see no reason you shouldn’t. Get hold of some Great Courses, or some school books published before the fifties. Then design a curriculum, and use it. It’s not difficult, truly. If you have a high school education and a willingness to poke around and inform yourself, there is no reason as a normal, intelligent adult you can’t teach your children. Throughout most of human history, parents taught their children. Yeah, our world is more complex, but not really. Do you think it would be easier to teach your children to hunt and gather or navigate the religious/political complexity of Elizabethan England? At least you can find experts online to teach your kids that which you can’t teach them yourself.
Most of what you’ll do if your kids go to public school is “work on what’s been spoiled.” A lot of what you’ll do is teach your kids to think clearly and express themselves with fluency. Most of what they need for that is a good reading list, and to be required to write essays. (There are books on how to format essays. I used my college book on “How to write a precis." Yes, my books were from Great Britain.) For grammar, I recommend Strunk and White, though there are any number of grammar exercise books on the market, which help.
Other than that, this mixed method of schooling will force you to learn things. You can’t explain to your kid why, in most states, saving water is a fool’s game if you don’t know the water cycle (most of their teachers don’t know it and think water is a non-renewable resource). You might also have to study glass manufacturing because otherwise your kid will think glass is a non-renewable resource.
But there are more fun things, too. As my kids became interested in things from ancient languages to game theory, we followed them into those things so we could learn/teach/discuss them.
Again, courses from the Teaching Company are invaluable. Some of them suffer from a progressive taint, but that’s easily identified and disposed of with education. Most of them are just pure geekery and a love of learning, though.
Yes, they’re expensive. There is a reason we dress from thrift stores, the kids never owned a gaming system (though they’ve each owned a PC most of their lives), and neither of them did a semester abroad.
I know, the country has free education. Why should you have to teach your children when they should be taught at school?
Because collective systems run for the government are always and ultimately run for two groups of people: government bureaucrats, and the people running the program.
If you don’t pay for it, and particularly if it’s mandatory, they have no reason to do what you want.
You brought these children into the world. They’re your responsibility. Besides, if you’re a normal parent, you want them to be happy, fulfilled adults.
You decide how much of an effort and sacrifice you can make for their education. And then you make it.
But don’t delude yourself that third parties will do it the right way.
The Communist Manifesto specified that all children should be brought up by the state and kept away from the parents so that they’d learn the correct doctrine.
If you put your children in public school – no matter how pleasant and innocuous seeming – and trust them to teach your offspring, that’s all the kids will learn: the correct doctrine.
If that is not what you want, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and take charge of your own progeny.
The future belongs to those who show up, and showing up intellectually means that you don’t let others fill your kids’ head with their indoctrination.
Go forth and teach.