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Myth #5: Homeschooling Is Undemocratic

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Myth #5: Homeschooling Is Undemocratic

Homeschooling fault-finders  have  had a lot  of fun tossing this myth about.
The only rationale I can find for this blatant lie is that critics, most likely A-
students  from  government-sponsored  universities,  consider  the  status  quo
democracy. Therefore, any action that bypasses or, in their perspective,
threatens the status quo must be undemocratic.
Many  critics  fondly  quote  Thomas  Jefferson  who,  after  witnessing  the
horror  of  the  French  revolution,  renewed  his  commitment  to  an  informed
citizenship.  The  part  of  Jefferson’s  beliefs  that  critics  forget  is  his
commitment  to  “reason  and  free  inquiry  [as]  the  only  effectual  agents
against error.”
Jefferson and HomeschoolingTo  assume,  and  then  further  build  an  argument  for  1990’s  public
education  on  Jefferson’s  vision  of  an  informed  citizenship  is,  once  again,
commencing  from  a  wrong  starting  place.  For  Jefferson,  reason  and  free
inquiry  were  essential ingredients of  education. The lack  of these  qualities
in  20th  century  public  education  is  painfully  evident  everywhere  from
politics  to  economics  to  religion  to  our  family  lives  and  everything  in

Homeschooling and Free Inquiry

Family  centered  learning, homeschooling,  provides  its  students  (and  teachers)  a  rare
opportunity  for  free  inquiry.  Unshackled  from  dogma,  propaganda,
watered-down  textbooks,  conformity,  learned  dependence,  behavior
modification  and  politically  correct  teachers,  inquiry  is  free.  Free  inquiry
must occur if we are to learn how to freely think. Free thinking must occur
if we are to be truly educated. True education must occur if we hope to ever
find our way back to a society capable of free inquiry.

A  good  professor  is  a  bastard  perverse enough  to  think  what  he
thinks is important, not what government thinks is important.”
– Edward C. Banfield
Professor of Government, Harvard University

I can’t think of any educational approach more undemocratic than public
school. From its more innocuous practices – telling you where to sit, stand
and take your place in line; what books to read; what days you must show
up;  when  to  talk,  change  rooms,  eat,  and  relieve  yourself;  to  its  spirit-
destroying  teachings  – you  are  in  competition  with  and  cannot  trust  your
classmates;  you cannot trust your own thoughts so  we  will  give  you  ours;
you  must  be  graded,  scrutinized  and,  if  necessary,  humiliated;  you  must
respond to reward and punishment; you must enter the acquisition race and
shun  the  spiritual  – public schooling  is  worse  than  undemocratic.  It  rapes
young minds and murders human spirit. It is society-sanctioned child abuse.

Public Schooling or the Freedom of Homeschooling?

The  freedom  necessary  to  inquire  and  reason  is  alive  and  well  and
growing  in  America  – in  homeschooling  educators’  homes.  The  practice
does, in fact, by-pass the status quo. If you believe the higher estimates of
current  practitioners  (and  factor  in  homeschooling’s  phenomenal  growth
rate), it does, in fact, threaten the status quo. But at the same time it is one
of the purest practices of democracy alive today.
It is up to you to decide for yourself if the status quo – a failing national
education system that U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley questions
“whether [it is] changing fast enough to save and educate this generation of
young  people”  – is  worth  protecting.  The  price  for  this  protection,  we’re
finding,  is  your  family’s  very  life,  liberty,  and  pursuit  of  meaningful

As  the  happiness  of  the  people  is  the  sole  end  of  government,  so the
consent of the people is the only foundation of it.
– John Adams

See also “Myth #2: Homeschooling Takes Place In Isolation at Home”

This homeschooling piece appears in The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self (1995, Home Education Press) by Linda Dobson

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One Response to “Myth #5: Homeschooling Is Undemocratic”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vicki, Parent at the Helm. Parent at the Helm said: "The freedom necessary to inquire and reason is alive and well and growing in America – in… […]

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