Three cheers for homeschooling

by Marvin Olasky
Posted on Wednesday, October 3, 2012, at 1:07 pm

WORLD over the years has had lots of positive articles about home schools, but we’ve had a couple recently that rubbed some homeschoolers the wrong way. One was positive about homeschool co-ops and another questioned the decision of some homeschool parents not to inoculate their children. It seems that some think this means WORLD is questioning the value of homeschooling.

Uh-uh. I’m positive about homeschooling, and let me explain why by noting that NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last week had a discussion of a key issue that probably won’t come up in tonight’s presidential debate: Why many television shows do not have theme songs any more. Fallon complained about “something that’s going away in our world. … America wants theme songs.”

Fallon and compadres sang theme songs to The Jeffersons, All in the Family, Three’s Company, Happy Days, and others, ending with a Cheers chorus in which most of the studio audience joined. Surveys show that few Americans read books and most know little about our political and economic past and present, but it looks like many could ace a “History of TV Theme Songs” exam.

Many homeschoolers haven’t been socialized in that way. Yesterday I interviewed Micheal Flaherty, president of Walden Media—we’ll run the Q&A with him later this year—in front of Patrick Henry College students, and afterward had lunch with him and 10 who had been homeschooled. He asked about books that could be made into films, and they all had suggestions: One would mention a title, a second would say “I love that book,” and a third would give specific detail.

I’m not saying they didn’t also know some television theme songs—homeschooling families come in all shapes and sizes—but smart kids who have time to read, rather than sit in a dumbed-down classroom much of the day and watch dumbed-down TV at night, have enormous advantages. A lot depends on parents, but I never found such buoyant love of books among public-schooled students of mine at The University of Texas at Austin.

I’m not knocking schooling, because not only homeschooled students can find their way around Narnia and Middle Earth. I am saying that it’s far better to defend Redwall Abbey, ranch with Hank the Cowdog, solve problems with Encyclopedia Brown, and turn a boxcar into a home than to read public school textbooks written by committee. WORLD is for Christian schools. WORLD is for Christian home schools.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is Reforming Journalism. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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