by Mary Harrington
Tuesday, 21
April 2020
Response
08:21

Should home schooling be banned?

A law professor argues that it abandons children ideologically
by Mary Harrington
Home schooling can leave children at risk of abuse and abandon them ideologically. Credit: Tim Clayton/Corbis/Getty

When it comes to the education of children, is absolute liberalism even possible? In Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs Child Rights to Education & Protection, published by the Arizona Law Review, Elizabeth Bartholet, a law professor and faculty director of the Law School’s Child Advocacy Program at Harvard University, argues that home schooling should be banned in the interests of children over their parents.

Home schooling, Bartholet argues, can leave children at risk of abuse. It can also abandon children ideologically, with parents who ‘want to isolate their children from ideas and values central to our democracy, determined to keep their children from exposure to views that might enable autonomous choice about their future lives’ such as ‘racial segregation’ and ‘female subservience’. Bartholet recommends a presumptive ban on home schooling, with parents required to demonstrate a justification for adopting the practice rather than the reverse.

This points to a fundamental paradox. In effect, Bartholet suggests that in order to promote ‘tolerance of different viewpoints’ among the young, the education of the young by those with different viewpoints must be constrained. First Things columnist and integralist-in-chief Sohrab Ahmari remarked drily of Bartholet’s arguments: “Thank God our enemies are committed to a neutral regime that couldn’t be used to advance any one comprehensive account of the good”.

The liberal Bartholet is clearly reluctant to see children exposed to different (i.e., implicitly, incorrect) viewpoints when they are so young they may go beyond ‘tolerating’ them and actually believe them. Rather, it appears that liberal adults must be produced via less than liberal educational means.

But the paradox cuts both ways. American Christian post-liberals have in recent years argued keenly for a political order explicitly oriented around not liberal ‘tolerance’ but positive moral (religious) values. These same post-liberals seem unhappy about the way a ban on home schooling would represent an illiberal infringement on the ability of minority viewpoints (such as theirs) to educate their children according to their own values. When it comes to the young, then, liberals and post-liberals adopt each others’ positions.

The question of how much control the state should have over the ideological shaping of children bears consideration for both. Although liberalism may style itself as value-neutral, even the most liberal culture cannot function — as Bartholet more or less explicitly acknowledges — without some measure of shared ideals and values. And where it was once the case that shared values were transmitted via a majority religious faith, in a post-Christian world how else is the common culture to be transmitted save via state education?

Conversely, it is difficult to see how a society where all parents educated their children at home, according only to their own value systems, would not — absent a strong shared religious faith — be even more radically atomised than the one we currently have. Precisely, in fact, the dissolution of common culture post-liberals themselves decry.

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patrickparsons15
patrickparsons15
2 years ago

This isn’t about ‘rights’ or ‘education’ this is about Liberal totalitarianism and indoctrination of our children. I wish we had homeschooled our daughters, they would have received a far better education than the one they received in a third rate state ‘Catholic’ school in Scotland. My youngest daughter even declared that she learned more at the dinner table about her subjects than she did in the dumbed down, intellectually anaemic classes she had to sit through. Just to put my views in context I’ve been a teacher and lecturer in history, classics and archaeology, at both secondary and university level for 25 years. I have also been involved in teaching primary school teachers (don’t even ask). I have seen the decline from inside, as constructivism and scientific denialism has replaced learning and knowledge with disjointed, state imposed ‘true facts’.

Scott Allan
Scott Allan
2 years ago

The current push to ban home schooling is because the forced indoctrination of our children into the Neo-Marxist SJW Cult is performed by schools. There is a connection between home schooling and independent thinkers and leaders of Free Speech. Well we can’t have that in your Globalist nirvana can we?

I urge all parents to re-assert their dominance in the education of their children. This is a severe push to assert the right of the state to educate children and not this be the right of the God given parents.

My 8-year-old came home from school telling me that “indigenous people had no homes” and the “world was burning”. I had to remind her that she had actually been on both an Aboriginal Australian community town and First Nations reserve in Canada. All those people had homes. Not the greatest homes but homes none the less.

Also, I had to show her the Australian CSIRO data that proved that bush fires in Australia were not out of control but very much consistent with historical norms. I also showed her the Senate questions that revealed the biggest contributor to the more than average burn this year was that the GREEN policy of not clearing ground fuel, because that would disturb nature, was the key contributor to the fires being higher than average that year.

The truth is there are no scientists in these NGO’s they are mostly hysterical humanities studies students/graduates with useless degrees in navel gazing.

Do not surrender the formative education of your children to these fools.

D Alsop
D Alsop
2 years ago

Elizabeth Bartholet would have done well in the old Soviet Russia. Why did we waste our time fighting the Cold War for us to then let people like this into our system to promote their ideals anyway? When will people realize that people like this have infected all of our institutions, from Schools and Universities, local government, civil service, charities, quangos,media etc The communist may have lost the Cold War but they have definitely won the Peace!

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
2 years ago

Should State schooling be banned? Clearly there is a risk of ideological indoctrination. Shouldn’t children be free to make up their own minds?

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 years ago

This argument over home schooling is really just a proxy for disquiet with a society that increasingly seems to lack common values.

Miriam Uí
Miriam Uí
2 years ago

Home schooling in Ireland is completely legal, a constitutional right of parents as primary educators. It is also under supervision by the Alternative Education Assessment board, to ensure the children are being educated and not being abused. Most legal home schooling systems have such safeguards in place. No need to ban it at all!!

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

A very telllng final paragraph.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

If we permit Islamic, Jewish and Catholic schools (which in my opinion we shouldn’t) I don’t see why we can’t permit home schooling.

Scott Allan
Scott Allan
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Parents under the human rights charter have the sole authority and singular right to choose the education of their children. If that includes a set of religious values, that is their right.

Feel free to educate your children with your values but do not imagine to interfere with my child’s education.

heslin415
heslin415
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

well for the same reason i dont see why we can’t permit religious schools.