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I’ve finally got my hands on some of John Holt’s books, they are a hot commodity in our local library systems, and within the first sentence of Teach Your Own, he discusses the question: why do people take or keep their children out of school? To which he responds;

Mostly for three reasons: they think that raising their children is their business not the government’s; they enjoy being with their children and watching and helping them learn, and don’t want to give that up to others; [and] they want to keep them from being hurt mentally, physically, and spiritually.

I think I’ve been rather clear that I fall into the second category, but it is always interesting to hear additional reasons, and also to know that this “feeling” may be so prevalent that it accounts for a potential top three motivation for homeschool parents.

Why do you homeschool? Do you think Holt is right, or are there other, more prevalent reasons for “keeping children home?”

Edited to add: Another passage in the book really struck me, and I wanted to share it. The title of the section is “A New Sense of Responsibility”:

Even though many and perhaps most adults today dislike and distrust children, there is at the same time a growing minority of people who like, understand, trust, respect, and value children in a way rarely known until now. Many of these people are choosing o have children as few people before ever did. They don’t have children just because that is what married people are supposed to do, or because they don’t know how not to have them. On the contrary, knowing well what it may mean in time, energy, money, thought and worry, they undertake the heavy responsibility of having and bringing up children because they deeply want to spend a part of their life living with them. Having chosen to have children, they feel very strongly that it is their responsibility to help these children grow into good, smart, capable, loving, trustworthy, and responsible human beings…We may think of these views as very old-fashioned or very modern. They are probably some of both.

This passage ironically overlaps some of the concepts discussed in another excellent boom I am reading called How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough. While that book focuses in on character’s role in life long success, Holt echoes the view that it is the parent’s self-imposed sense of duty to “raise their children up right,” rather than the local school district’s.

This reminds me of a recent discussion on one of my Facebook status updates, where I expressed disdain that several run of the mill American natives living in Massachusetts could not: name the three branches of government, state how many stripes were on the American flag or what they stood for, how many Senators are in the U.S. Senate, and other seemingly incredibly common knowledge American government facts.

My friends were quick to point out that these were not as widely known as I had thought or hoped, and that the lack of knowledge of these facts was a reflection of the way they were or were not taught, and that they may be simply uninteresting to young children at the time they are presented.

To me this begs the question as to whose duty it is to raise up good strong Ammhericans (pretend I have a long southern drawl there). Aside from ensuring knowledge of the basic manner in which our government functions, should we leave the duty of teaching steadfastness, patriotism, and dedication (amongst about a million other things of course) to teachers? Even if children are taught in a traditional school setting, is it fair to assume that teachers must tack on character as another component in addition to academics? Is that even possible? The ramblings continue…