Why homeschool?

by Jennifer Hartley

A year ago, Guy invited me to write about my educational philosophy-in-progress and said he would post it on Nature Bats Last. I have been thinking about this invitation and dithering ever since (until now). The invitation gave me much to chew on: how exactly would I go about articulating such a complex thing? Why ARE we homeschooling? The dithering has happened, no doubt, out of fear of judgment and my own perfectionist tendencies.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Guy in person at the Village Church in Cummington, Massachusetts, where he gave a talk. It was bracing to go through the facts, once again, of our collective predicament (climate-wise, energy-wise, killing-the-planet-wise), and to circle around again to the same conclusions: We denizens of Civilization are in for a rough ride in short order. And those of other species, or humans not living in the heart of Empire, have already paid far too great a price for the depredations of Civilization’s greedy hands.

However, what struck me with particular force was not so much the content of Guy’s talk. It was his courage. In the face of being branded with all sorts of unpalatable names, he is willing to take a strong moral stand on behalf of his convictions and throw down a challenge to his readers and listeners: What will you do? How will you respond? How will you not respond?

I decided that the least I could do was make a firm commitment to writing about why we are homeschooling, in the hope that it might provide a speck of inspiration or assumption-questioning to others.

The more I think about why we’re homeschooling, the more I realize it’s tied to why we do anything at all. Underlying values and motivations are threaded through every realm of our lives, not just how one “schools” one’s children, so I hope that those who are not parents or whose children go to school will still have something to glean from this.

A brief caveat: I recognize that there are many different circumstances and beliefs that people are grappling with, and that questioning the architecture of how lives are organized tends to be a hot button issue. My intent is not to sit in judgment, but describe my own process of determining values, assessing our family’s circumstances, and acting accordingly.

I hope that this will be the first essay of several that I write on the topic.

Reason #1 I’m Homeschooling: Time with my kid.

When my daughter was born in 2007, I was a couple years past my “End of Suburbia” moment (as Rob Hopkins has put it) (also known as the crisis period of realizing, holy crap, peak oil is happening, climate catastrophe is happening, we are all screwed, head for the hills, etc.). I have had occasions to grapple with my own mortality, not only during full-on TEOTWAWKI freak-outs, but at various periods in my life. On top of that, my baby’s birth was terrifying and there was concern that she would not be born alive, so I was given a head-start on grappling with her mortality as well. The reality, of course, is that we all end up dead, and we often don’t know how much life we have left. So let’s just plunge into this topic with an existential crisis, shall we?

I believe that this degree of mortality consciousness can be a double-edged sword; in its darkest aspects, it can be wholly debilitating and lead straight to catatonic depression. On the other hand, it can be a huge gift, this knowing that death is coming: We had better make the most of the life we have.

So what does this have to do with homeschooling? A lot, in our family.

While I’m alive, what kind of person do I want to be? What kind of person do I want to encourage my child to be? I want us to be connected. I want us to give and receive love. I want us to show kindness and compassion. I want us to be curious, creative, resilient beings. There is so much I want for both of us.

Most of all, I want us to enjoy each other’s company, while we’re alive. We don’t know how long we have. If I’m attempting to be realistic, based on all the reading and critical thinking I’ve done, I know that the likelihood of us living “long” lives is low. I don’t even know how to define a “long” life at this point. How long is long enough? We don’t get to choose. We especially don’t get to choose when there are so many lethal forces that are out of our control. We can try to prepare durable living arrangements (to use Guy’s words) as much as possible, and we’re certainly in the midst of doing that. I hope we live long, happy lives. But my pragmatic self still insists, “Make life as good as possible, right now, because it could be short.” This doesn’t preclude preparing for a longer life, but it does maintain a constant awareness of mortality.

Enjoying each other’s company, while we’re alive, necessarily means spending time together. I don’t think I have to spend every waking moment with my child; in fact, I think having some space to be alone or with other people is very important. It’s a matter of degree. But the fact remains that if we want to enjoy our relationship, time is an essential ingredient. I’m not sure I really buy the concept of “quality time” — that is, that it’s only the quality of the time spent together, rather than the amount, that counts. That feels like a justification of the manic pace of industrial culture, an excuse on the part of the institutional overlords. I think quantity of time still counts, as well as quality. I don’t intend this to demean people who are enmeshed in the voracious demands of the current economy and culture, who might like to have more time with their kids but feel that they have little choice in the matter. Almost everyone I know is enmeshed in those demands.

By not sending my child to school, there is a lot more time for us to be together. There’s also a lot more opportunity for us to engage with one another and with friends and the community at large. There is time to go outside. There is time to cook together. There is plenty of time to focus on things we both love, like music and reading. There is time to go to the library. We still have ample time with friends of all ages. We have time to learn at a pace that feels comfortable. I get to witness all of this astonishing growth in my child. I feel so lucky that I get to be on this life adventure with one of my favorite people in the world. I feel lucky that in the face of a dire future, my daughter and I are solidifying our bond through shared learning and daily joy.

There is so much more to say on this topic, but I will end here for now.


Jennifer Hartley is a homeschooling mother, radical homemaker, permaculturally-inspired gardener, and local food activist. She was a founding board member of the non-profit Grow Food Northampton, and lives on a budding, quarter-acre homestead with her family in western Massachusetts. She is also a former reference librarian and still gets excited about connecting people with resources and ideas, helping people evaluate information, and collecting scads of books. These days she and her daughter can be found biking around town, harvesting violets and sprinkling them on salads, reading like mad, inventing songs, attending skillshares at Owl and Raven, studying chicken coop designs, and finding learning opportunities under every rock (literally).


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Comments 85

  • Thank-you Jennifer for that insightful essay. You’re right about time. I’ve wasted so much of it in my life chasing empty goals and money.

  • ‘On the other hand, it can be a huge gift, this knowing that death is coming: We had better make the most of the life we have.’

    especially while young. instead of imparting this crucial info to youth, repressive civilized cultures tend to be at war with youthful exuberance and passion, perhaps because they interfere with the matter of ‘education’ to become ‘productive responsible citizens’.

    good luck with endeavoring to give your daughter a better life, jennifer. sounds like u’re off to an excellent start. thanks for sharing. i loved your essay and look forward to more from u.

  • One of the most important aspects of education is teaching how to think. Those who have not learned how to think, live under the assumption that there is no need for this, with the belief that everyone naturally knows how think. Such people end up being controlled by those few others who have learnt how to think. 

    The Trivium method

  • FWIW, we homeschooled our daughter from 2nd grade up through college. Last year she graduated magna cum laude from a liberal arts college, and is currently in a PhD program in mathematics at a top 20 graduate school. Her TA duties involve teaching college calculus. She is working to become a math professor.

    We learned the best way to homeschool was to harness to the greatest extent possible the many resources of our community. And in her teen years, math and science classes at the community college were a godsend.

  • Thanks, Jennifer, for your very personal essay. As with most of us, you appear to be cognisant of the fact that, whether we recognise it or not, we all have serious choices to make now and into the future concerning Collapse -certainly where personal relationships and education are involved (as well as a host of other important issues!). You sound like you are off to a good start. I wish the very best for you and your daughter.

    One question did come to mind, however, as you wrote. I don’t mean to be personal, but is there a father involved? Youu didn’t mention him, but I would be interested in how he feels about home-schooling and the coming Collapse and what kind of support he is able to offer. Certainly if there is a father involved, it would seem important to have him onboard in all this – if for no other reason than to shoulder some of the monetary expense, share ideas, share difficult moments and decisions, and share time with your daughter.

    If there isn’t a father involved, then how do you do it? Work from home? I know single parent households have entirely different challenges to face where it comes to kids, financial burdens and emotional stress.

  • John Anderson: this is in no way critical of the success of your talented daughter, merely an observation (i too teach math to college students). i wish her (and you) all the best for career and life.

    The problem, to me, has always been the whole notion of being somehow “beknighted” or “blessed” by some “in” group (like the teacher accreditation board) which demands conformity to the (pretty obvious) worthless way of teaching (based on standardized or other accepted testing methods) meaningless information (or valueless, unconnected dots of “facts” and/or unarguable dogma) to a captive audience who were also cultivated via this Carnegie machine. There is no independent, “other” way of doing things so that we can compare them in some way (other than “test results”) by the outcomes they produce and steer that way. Do we want the same blind, indoctrinated, “formed” or “molded” robots enslaved to chase money and calculate “value” based on that sick system? When do we get to question whether we’re doing things correctly, make necessary incremental changes to adapt to a vague future we may apprehend while we’re discovering and learning to analyze all the interconnected facets of civilization past and present?

    The educational system of the U.S. is one of the worst in the world even using their own testing-based methods for evaluation! But, though we get these same results year after year, nothing changes to help our future citizens to be able to change, fix, or keep up with the world they’ll inherit and struggle with long after we’re gone. Like almost everything nowadays, current education is a fraud, a giant scam that removes money from the student while (inherently) “promising” some “means of success” upon graduation and delivering a worthless piece of paper instead.

    The few who make it are then, if they have any conscience at all, or at least can be a bit honest with themselves, find that they’ve been had, that the conditions of their recurring employment are burdensome and sap the life of those involved (rather than generating enthusiasm, inspiration and the ability to act to influence the world in a positive way – producing the same result in their students). This is just one of so many things, i’m trying to avoid a long-winded rant. We become part of the problem rather than part of the solution because we’re in a self-referential, self-preserving system that has been corrupted by the money-making business model that schools have become, and won’t adapt to any changes unless they’re based on making even more money.

    In other words – we’re not doing any good! We’re keeping the status quo alive and well, though clearly we’re driving off a cliff environmentally, economically, and socially (to mention a mere few categories). We’re producing conformists instead of thinkers. i watch as students fiddle with their phones, laptops and other distractive devices – they rarely talk to each other in public (unless guided by classroom management), comparing and contrasting viewpoints, experiences or feelings, especially on critical issues effecting their world.

    i hope the new teachers will somehow find a way to change this.

    One side (on-topic) anecdote: there are homeschooled children who turn out pretty badly too as far as life-styles, drug addiction, relationship troubles (why don’t we teach that?) and the like due to the overwhelming environment of sickness the world has become.

  • Jennifer, thanks for sharing your wonderful efforts of educating and raising your daughter. Our world would be much better by many factors if more parents would view childrearing as you have.

    In particular, your observation “Most of all, I want us to enjoy each other’s company, while we’re alive. We don’t know how long we have.” is right on. I’m reminded of that every day. An older gentleman patient of whom I’ve grown quite fond was in my clinic yesterday for profound grief. His wife (also my patient) killed herself Sunday and his 7 month old grandson (who lived next door) was found suffocated on Wednesday. So, I echo your comments. Take advantage of every day you have, not just for yourself, but also for your loved ones.

  • Jennifer,

    I believe home schooling is a critical tool for providing an alternative to the prevailing paradigm, so thank you for doing this and sharing your story with us.

  • Jennifer, I enjoyed your essay quite a bit. I have in the past thought that homeschooling prevented kids from adjusting to socialization with their peers but at this point in history that becomes irrelevant.

    Your being able to look mortality in the face and let it become a good, a motivation to make the most of whatever time you and your daughter have, should be a model for all of us. It is perhaps more than anything what gives our lives meaning. Endless living would never prompt us to take advantage of the moment for there would be endless future moments. While I know this I am often to focused on the denial of mortality and attempting to break through that denial. Thus I forget to talk and even think about what a beautiful gift mortality is. Thank you for reminding me.

    Your daughter is a very lucky human being to have you.

  • TRDH, how lucky your patients are to have you to open up to and share with. I know that means you carry not only your own load, but shoulder some of that of others. But it also means that you are fully involved in the human experience. What else matters in the end.

  • TRDH

    Taking your point a step further, when I reflect on our society’s inability to deal with the issues we face, whether it be climate change, peak oil, diet and health, it’s apparent to me that the psychological concept of “tomorrow” is the mechanism by which we delay taking “right action” today. It is in this way, “tomorrow” never comes. Such thinking is incredibly damaging when it creates a loophole for not being the best we can be in all relationships with others, our planet, and our selves in every moment, rather than in some ambiguous point in the future that never arrives due to the fallacy of this self-referential psychological concept of “tomorrow.”

  • Tom

    Our education system is working perfectly as designed. It’s primary aim is to create obedient workers with just enough skills to do the jobs they are paid to do. It’s second aim is to keep students from learning thinking skills lest they turn into adults who actually begin to figure out what the elites have done to them.

    I aim always amazed at the difference between elite private schools produce such a different class of student. It is because public school (UK) students are taught to think independently, value themselves and are introduced to a classical education. The publicly-funded schools turn out a completely different product.

    There is really no mystery here. Certainly some exceptional graduates from public schools break into the other class at times, but for the most part the entire system performs admirably well for the ruling elite.

    As for the teachers, they appear to be defined in a similar fashion. Those from the elite schools end up teaching elite children. Teachers are like lawyers in that respect. Both go to university with high ideals and a deep desire to make the world a better place. By the time they are certified in their professions they have been introduced to the REAL teaching field and the REAL law profession. Many sell out and conform. Some simply can’t deal with it and change professions.

    So many people wonder with all the knowledge and tools we have developed over the years, why our children’s education never seems to improve – indeed, many observe it slowly deteriorating over time. They simply do not understand public school’s role in society. If they did, there would be no mystery.

  • TRDH

    You are a real credit to your profession and to humanity. We need so many more like you.

  • Taliban and al-Queda also do home schooling and they teach them so well that young men are willing to wrap a bomb-belt to blow up something or somebody to get reward of seventy two virgins. Also, women cover themselves from head to toe and they are property of their fathers, husbands and brothers.

    We comingle our genes through marriage and/or rape and we have to commingle our memes through engaging our minds civilly and/or through propaganda.

    The real problem we need to focus on the quality of education not isolation from human race with all its virtues and vices and preparing our children to be better than us.

  • Taliban and al-Queda also do home schooling
    They have been reduced to underdogs in their own regions. Homeschooling is a matter of community survival.

    The most compelling argument against public schools is the personal example set by the President of the united States.

  • K – “A British double agent offered to assassinate Hitler in a suicide bombing mission, newly-released archives reveal — but MI5 turned him down.”

    On 9/11 “Because the surprise attacks were unfolding, in that innocent age, faster than they could arm war planes, Lt. Penney and her commanding officer went up to fly their jets straight into a Boeing 757.”

    World War 2, dispatched to a suicide mission against the Imperial Japanese Navy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbBpdxvaHu8

    I only provided the link for the last one as multiple links make a post a (temporary) suicide post until Guy releases it.

    And sometimes stupid leaders send soldiers into suicide missions – like Gallipoli and the Charge of the Light Brigade – stupid leaders educated at fine universities.
    What makes you think it is home schooling that creates suicide bombers? Clearly non home schooled humans from the first world also become willing to run suicide missions.

  • K,

    Is it not clear that in the case of the Taliban, it’s not the method of homeschooling that is the problem, but the content of the curriculum?

  • Tom,

    I’m completely onboard with how sick the system is.

    I mention my daughter’s success only in a superficial way to hopefully entice people who are on the fence to consider homeschooling. Many more would try it if they could be reassured that homeschooling can also be a way to medium-term conventional career success in the still existing sick system.

    Face it, most of us for the time being at least, must continue function within that system.

    I say that as a person who is increasingly distancing himself from industrial civilization.

    Car-free by choice since June 2011.

  • Actually I think that it is claimed that indoctrination of muslims takes place not in home schools but in religious schools called madrasahs http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1078850.html which would be perhaps similar to say catholic schools, or private religious schools in this country. However at our public schools, recruiters for the military regularly come and convince young people that joining up to shoot the bad guys would be exciting and patriotic. They don’t mention the likelihood of ending up with genitals blown off, head injuries, PTSD and death.

  • Robin Datta – Homeschooling is a matter of community survival.

    So do al-Queda and Talibans.

    Kathy C: Your comment makes no sense.

    I agree with Justin Nigh that content of homeschooling matters. And, it is so much easier to teach creationism at home!

  • Kathy C: Your comment makes no sense.

    Ah….this should be fun!… :-)

  • Off-topic, but nonetheless relevant in an oblique sense (think priovatisation of education and other similar issues) –


    I am certain many of you have seen the movie or read the book or at least heard others mention The Corporatioon, but I link to it here as a refresher on one of the most insidious ills of our world, and much of the reason things have gone the way they have for the last couple hundred years. Human society is being taken over by a legal being who is more than human and far more powerful if not checked (which thus far it has not been).

    I would encourage everyone to view this film, even if you have already seen it. Almost as basic to modern human society as human nature and even more invasive than political systems, this organisation touches every facet of our lives and that of the natural environment. It lives for and has as its sole purpose in life – profits. Profits at whatever expense necessary. It is the basis for the infinite growth model, and it is a voracious monster that must be stopped if humanity (and the natural world) is to have any chance of surviving.

  • If you read this, prepare to be angered and left ashamed of modern human society who benefit from these actions at the expense of a beautiful people.


  • Like a pack of wild animals surrounding its prey:


    Police forces over the world are turning into brutal killing machines whose enemies are the people they are supposedly paid to protect.

  • K,
    I made a comment about people who go on suicide missions that have not been home schooled.
    I made the comment that it is believed that many suicide bombers are educated in schools outside the home called Madrasahs not in the homes.
    I made a comment that in our public schools in the US recruiters for our military indoctrinate our young people into going to war in which they may loose their lives or body parts or sanity for the sake of excitement and glory.
    Which was the comment that makes no sense?

    Personally I think 72 virgins makes more sense than medals but here is a question for you. Some suicide bombers are women. What is their incentive? Could it perhaps be that they have seen their families destroyed by drones? Maybe they gave birth to a stillborn deformed baby caused by their exposure to depleted uranium?

    Just trying to make sense of your comments.

    Oh maybe it is the one about suicide posts. I like to provide links for every assertion I make. However more than one link in a post kicks a post into a status called “waiting for approval by moderator” which then depends on Guy being on line and approving your post. Not wanting to make extra posts for my comment on non-muslim suicide missions I only linked to one item, but all the others can be found by pasting the part in quotes into google search. But if you are going to make comments without any backup for your assertions that piece of knowledge is unnecessary.

  • The folks who made the documentary “The Corporation” are statists: they quite conveniently ignored the fact that no corporation could exist without the state. At best there could only be partnerships: each of the partners would bear a fraction of the full liability of the partnership in proportion to that partner’s stake in the partnership. And the enforcement of exclusive rights would devolve upon the partners, instead of being borne by the state. If they wanted to keep someone from selling a product, or a product under a certain name, they would have to hire their own goons for each geographic location, rather than rely on the state’s goons. But statists prefer that the pimp regulate the mischief.

  • Rather busy at the moment, but I’ll repeat what I wrote some time ago.

    The purpose of formal educaction is to provide pupils/students with sufficient information (and skill) for them to be useful to the empire, whilst denying them access to information that would make them dangerous to the empire.

    It is also heavily geared to indoctrinating the young with the general narrative of empire and industrialism.

    But most NBL readers know all that already.

    I rarely watch television these days, but I did recently see an educational cartoon, in which an outer-space-living hero was assisting a pre-schooler in her development. The skills being developed were hand painting and balancing on a gymnastics beam.

    What struck me was that all characters were Europeanised Chinese (dark brown hair instead of black). Practically all the action took place in/over China. With American voice-over.

    The balance of power and culture are changing fast.

  • Victor, thanks for the clips. The local police are considering getting tasers. A neighbor attended an event where the police were shown and told about tasers. He said a woman representative of the company said she had been tased over 100 times – not nice but not horrible she said. She also averred that no one had been killed by tasers…oh an that they will have cameras on them. But in the recent case Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. the cameras were on when they tased him but purposely turned off and then they shot him. The police didn’t realize that the medical emergency recorder was taping the sound the whole time and recorded the police saying “turn that thing off.”
    Several good programs on the event can be found at http://www.democracynow.org/topics/kenneth_chamberlain

    Re the Awa – what can I say – sad, stupid, evil…..

  • Kevin “The purpose of formal educaction is to provide pupils/students with sufficient information (and skill) for them to be useful to the empire, whilst denying them access to information that would make them dangerous to the empire.”

    Took the words right out of my mouth. But you state it better and more succinctly.

    A 2006 poll in the US found 55% of those polled believed in Creationism. Clearly this can be taught at home and church without home schooling and overriding any teaching in the schools. http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_public.htm

    Much of the indoctrination in the public schools is by omission – like not telling us that most of the US founding fathers were not Christians but deists. Or not telling us that there was not supreme court ruling making corporations people, just notes from a clerk. Or not telling any of the stories Zinn tells in A People’s History of the US. Or not telling us about the repression of unions, or the Battle of Blair mountain where American citizens, many veterans of WWI, were bombed from the air by the US government.

    I find the education by religious schools to often be abhorrent, the education by some parents to be abhorrent, but I also find the education in our public schools to be a tool of empire and also abhorrent.

  • The folks who made the documentary “The Corporation” are statists

    Not sure what you are implying here. In your opinion, is being a ‘statist’ good or bad, as it pertains to corporate governance? Seems to me that if the author was a statist, he would be for state regulation of the corporation, and if not, he would be for self-regulation. This, in my mind, was not the message at all, except to say that the state allowed corporations to become what they are, and should not have.

    they quite conveniently ignored the fact that no corporation could exist without the state.

    This thought never occurred to me reading the book or watching the film. The presumption, in my mind, was just that – the corporation cannot exist without the state, nor can it be regulated without the state. And that is our problem. The state does not implement capital punishment for corporations even though it has the right. And it does not sufficiently regulate the corporation.

    But statists prefer that the pimp regulate the mischief.

    Perhaps. Certainly that is the way the so-called “free market” system should work. But I don’t see where that takes anything from what the film says? Are you saying that the author of the book does not believe in regulation of corporate behaviour? I didn’t get that impression at all. Indeed, I got the exact opposite impression – that the author claims that the state has not been doing the job it should have been doing allowing corporations to grow in power.

    I thought the book (and the movie) quite provocative and well-done.

  • Excellent article from November of last year in the NYTimes magazine about a woman’s experience being homeschooled in the 60s and 70s by “progressive” parents. Good read.


  • “Police in Georgia defended their decision Tuesday to handcuff and arrest a 6-year-old elementary student after the school called to report a juvenile had assaulted a principal and was damaging school property.”

  • About time they started handcuffing kids….they should gag them too.

  • Influential Senator Warned in 1975: “Th[e National Security Agency’s] Capability At Any Time Could Be Turned Around On The American People, And No American Would Have Any Privacy Left …There Would Be No Place To Hide. [If A Dictator Ever Took Over, The N.S.A.] Could Enable It To Impose Total Tyranny, And There Would Be No Way To Fight Back”


    The NSA was turned against US citizens prior to 9/11. There is not a conversation that takes place within the USA that they cannot listen in to. And they do. No matter how high the official who might be speaking. They listen to all. And once Nevada is up this fall, things should get really interesting really fast.

  • Looks like some folks are going to get some unexpected and nasty weather tonight and tomorrow. I have my whole garden in due to the warm March and 38 is predicted for tomorrow night. Hopefully no lower.
    “Low pressure will intensify as it moves up the Eastern Seaboard from North Carolina later Sunday into the interior Northeast Monday. In concert with this surface low, a powerful dip in the jet stream and just enough cold air near the surface will team up to produce heavy, wet snow.
    The areas of concern are western New York, western Pennsylvania, extreme eastern Ohio, parts of northern West Virginia and extreme western Maryland. The timing of the changeover to snow is shown by the model forecast loop below (denoted by white shadings). Snowfall rates may exceed 1″ per hour Sunday night into early Monday, accompanied by thunder and lightning!
    How much snow? Below is our storm total snowfall forecast. (see link) No, you’re not seeing things. It may be late April, but we’re expecting significant accumulations in both Buffalo and Pittsburgh, and at least a foot of snow in the Allegheny Plateau and Appalachians!
    This would be a noteworthy storm enough, but there’s another factor that will likely make this spring snow destructive!
    Wind will whip wet snow
    Thanks to the intensifying low, strong winds will develop in these same areas late Sunday night, persisting through much of Monday, before slackening off Tuesday.
    These winds will combine with heavy snow to reduce visibilities, leading to hazardous driving conditions late Sunday night into Monday from western New York to northern West Virginia.
    However. these reduced visibilities will pale in comparison to the storm’s most significant impact….
    Widespread power outages, tree damage!
    One side-effect of the record warmest March for the Lower 48 States was the early green-up of foliage in the Northeast, in some areas 3-4 weeks ahead of schedule.”

  • Kathy C –

    First of all, I am flabbergasted that you presumed 72 virgins to be females only.

    Comparing Kamikazes to virgin seeking adolescent young minds is lunatic.

    And in the realm of asymmetric war, a bomb-belted young person is nearly like a robot on a preprogrammed mission, and difference between a living and mechanical is immaterial.

    Finally, why does every observation or a dialog be justified by some link to somebody else’s observation or dialog – ad infinitum, leading to primal cause? Could you not do your own research just by typing in Google or other search engine and enlighten yourself?

  • K – I personally would not want 72 horny virgin men, but 72 untouched women seems to be something men think is great. I would find 72 horny virgin men a trial, and anyway one experienced caring lover is enough.

    It seems to me that offering a reward in heaven is a rather superior way to get people to kill themselves for a cause than a medal and brief glory.

    I do do my own research, you apparently do not do research as you think that homeschooling is where most suicide bombers are made, when in fact my research reveals that religious schools are more important.

  • Robin Datta – Homeschooling is a matter of community survival.

    So do al-Queda and Talibans.
    Indeed. The nidus for both those organizations was planted and nurtured by the uS of A when their world-view buttressed the agenda of containment of the Soviet empire. With the fading away of that empire, the same world-view is now deemed pernicious. 

    A statist is one who deems the INITIATION of force against peaceful non-compliers as morally acceptable. Retaining the option to initiate such force is the entire basis of the power of the state.

    The statist delegates the wielding of the gun to a proxy, the state. The corporation does the same. The statist seeking state regulation of corporations wants the state to point the gun at the corporation a little more often.  

    The liability of the players who exercise state control on society is limited through the fiction called the state. Legislators vote for the fable of future fat entitlements for the populace, while concocting another fable of presumed future resources to fulfil those promises. But not a single legislator is held personally responsible or suffers personal financial ruin for the consequences. The fiction of the corporation shields its players by transferring liability for adverse outcomes from the officers and employees to the corporation. Shareholders are shielded from liability for adverse consequences that extend beyond the value of their shares. The corporation is an agency of the state. The documentary about the corporation is a hollow shell because it ignores the root problem: the weilding of the gun.

  • Jennifer–
    I enjoyed your post very much. As a public school bus driver I see a great many kids who would be so much better off if their parent or parents cared as deeply as you obviously do


    I enjoyed your post very much. As a public school bus driver I see all too many kids who desperately need a parent like you. Yes, I agree with you, Kevin, that the underlying and hidden goal of our educational system is to prepare our kids for serving empire, with all that entails. But there are many, perhaps the overwhelming majority of teachers and administrators who are trying their best, as they see it, to help and nurture those same kids. If they fail a lot of the blame comes from the homelife those kids have to endure. If we had more parents like Jennifer who were concerned and engaged, all forms of schooling would benefit.

    Off topic but may be worth your time:

  • Sorry. I’ve got to be more careful about proofreading my comments before submitting them, and generally screwing them up. It will never happen againn!

  • Robin

    After I posted my comment in response to yours, I suddenly remembered that you were speaking from the perspective of the anarchist. It all fell into place then. The state. The corporation as an agent of the state. Initiation of violence. Whilst I heartily agree with you on principle, the practical matter of the thing, as I have pointed out in the past, is that in a populous and complex society (which for good or bad is where we are at this point!) anarchism is simply not feasible or workable in any form. This leaves us with working with what we have to hand as best we can. And from that perspective, both shareholders and management of corporations should be held legally accountable for sins of the corporation. The corporation should be denied the right to externalise costs directly attributable to its operations. Multi-national corporations should not be allowed by law. And on and on. Therefore, the author of the Corporation was rightly pointing out that the state needs to carry out its statutory functions to the full, and actually provide real governance to the corporate structure.

  • John Stassek

    Your point was well made. The quality of a child’s education begins at home. Many parents forget that and expect the school to raise their children once attaining school age. And whilst many teachers do try very hard to do a good job, it is my understanding that they have a script to follow (a ‘lesson plan’, if you will, that strictly constrains them to teach certain things at certain times, leaving very little manoeuvrability for creative teaching. They are also faced with heavy constraints on how they are allowed to interact with their students and student behaviour (or misbehaviour!). I can’t speak with authority on that, so I will have to defer to the professionals on these points, I’m afraid. But it IS my impression.

  • Kathy C

    72 virgins sounds pretty good to me until I think of what it would take to keep 72 women happy. I have enough trouble with one….and she’s not even a virgin!….. :-)

  • Excellent essay on the subtleties of encroaching totalitarianism in modern life. The story of a German’s indecisions to act during the rise of fascism in Germany during the Hitler years. Should have been read by every American since 9/11 before it was too late.


    “What no one seemed to notice,” said a colleague of mine, a philologist, “was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.

    “What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

    “This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

  • Another man’s mud hut….under fire from the Empire.


    He builds for sustainability…the state wants adherence to established codes….

  • Another European nation seems to be hitting the wall:

    11.29am: Dutch finance minister Jans Kees De Jager is insisting that the Netherlands can still hit its budget targets, despite the apparent collapse of the country’s coalition government today (there’s no official word from The Hague yet).

    De Jager, who had taken a hard line during previous episodes of the eurocrisis, claimed that the Dutch situation was “better than peripheral countries”, and that the country could continue “demanding fiscal discipline”.

    De Jager added that the current government (which could remain in power for another five months), would seek support for its austerity measures within the Dutch parliament, even though the far-right Freedom Party has now walked away.

    Queen Beatrix (left) could be receiving a visit from PM Rutte imminently. Photograph: Patrick Van Katwijk/Patrick van Katwijk/dpa/Corbis 11.13am: Several Dutch government ministers refused to speak to the media as they left this morning’s emergency cabinet meeting in The Hague. That follows reports that they had agreed that prime minister Rutte should tender the cabinet’s resignation to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

    Under Dutch electoral rules, it is unlikely that an election could be held before September. Brussels, though, wants to see the details of next year’s austerity budget in a week’s time.

    11.05am: Breaking news from the Netherlands — Dutch broadcaster RTL reports that prime minister Mark Rutte will offer the cabinet’s resignation to the country’s monarch, Queen Beatrix.

    Rutte’s decision comes after this morning’s emergency cabinet meeting, which was called after his far-right junior coalition partner walked out of negotiations over the country’s austerity budget (see 7.50am for details)

    More as we get it….

    10.51am: Despite boasting a AAA credit rating, the Netherlands actually posted a larger deficit in 2011 than Portugal or Italy.

    Data released this morning by Eurostat (the EU’s statistics office) showed that the Dutch deficit was 4.7% of GDP in 2011. That compares with 4.2% for Portugal and 3.9% for Italy, although rather better than Spain’s 8.5%.

  • Kathy C –

    May all Merciful give you the strength to deal with 72 virgins!

    And, we let 72 virgin men and women rest!

    I agree that somehow unreachable reward system offered by religions is too enticing to those whose education was constrained and confined through paradigms as “home schooling”.

    Finally, you are intentionally misinterpreting my views. In my first post I said was:

    The real problem we need to focus on [is] the quality of education not isolation from human race with all its virtues and vices and preparing our children to be better than us.

    Homeschooling isolates our children from the real world; it is perverse and possibly racist as well.

  • K, Homeschooling isolates our children from the real world; it is perverse and possibly racist as well.

    Considering that prior to the 20th century the overwhelming majority of children were home schooled, if educated at all, I don’t see how you can support such a statement as anything other than your opinion.

    Widespread public education has coincided with the wildly destructive and self-defeating industrial economy. When viewed in that light, perhaps public education has not been a good move for us at all.

  • The Real Dr. House –

    Prior to 20th century, most children were uneducated from today’s perspective. However, they did learn how to farm, fish, hunt, build things etc., which were needed for making a living and in that context, they were educated well. To think of them as uneducated is arrogant.

    The 21st century world demands that our children are not raised myopically. Homeschooling is myopic. Further, most parents are not prepared to educate in wide ranging fields of studies. And, many parents do not have sufficient education as well as time to teach children.

    I would like to know which homeschool gave you that Dr label you use in your moniker.

  • The real Dr. House opined:

    Widespread public education has coincided with the wildly destructive and self-defeating industrial economy. When viewed in that light, perhaps public education has not been a good move for us at all.

    …while forgetting that, it is with the tools of the so-called destructive and self-defeating industrial economy he/she is able to post his/her myopic views condeming public education.

    By the way, you do not have to send your children to public school if you can afford private school.

  • K – if I am not mistaken your first post was April 22nd, 2012 at 4:29 pm
    and said “Taliban and al-Queda also do home schooling and they teach them so well that young men are willing to wrap a bomb-belt to blow up something or somebody to get reward of seventy two virgins.”

    Your later post where you said “The real problem we need to focus on [is] the quality of education not isolation from human race with all its virtues and vices and preparing our children to be better than us. Homeschooling isolates our children from the real world; it is perverse and possibly racist as well.” was April 23rd, 2012 at 11:37 am BTW I once agreed with you but have changed my mind.

    I was responding to the veracity of your statement on April 22nd and well tenacity is one of my characteristics – it works good in the garden and tends to piss people off on line :) which is why Victor made this comment in the midst of our discussion “Ah….this should be fun!” He knows me pretty well….

    Your first statement is incorrect at least in Taliban controlled parts of Afghanistan where women are not allowed to go to school or they have acid thrown in their faces when they do. If they are not schooled how could they home school. In fact they are usually taught this technique of fighting in Madrassas which are not schools in homes but religious schools outside the home. See this “Even before the latest attack, Afghan families with children studying at Islamic schools or madrassas across the border in Pakistan are starting to bring them home for fear that they will be recruited as suicide bombers.” http://www.atimes.com/atimes/south_asia/mg29df01.html

    US soldiers recently took pictures showing them holding up the legs and hands of a suicide bomber. They were smiling in the pics I saw. I don’t suppose they checked his pockets for a letter saying he was home schooled and promised 72 virgins. However it is such actions that make people angry and make the recruiting of the next round of suicide bombers easier. We give them a reason that is quite compelling – anger and desire for revenge. This method of fighting is known as asymmetric warfare which means that an overpowered country turns to other methods to fight – it really pisses off the powerful country that was supposed to win with overpowering weaponry – it works at times – like Vietnam (where we lost) or the American Revolution (where we won) where local boys who knew the country took pot shots at uniformed Brits marching in rows. IED’s are part of the tool kit of modern asymmetric warfare and quite effective as are suicide bombers.

    I am in no way endorsing the encouragement of suicide bombers, I am only showing that most are highly unlikely to have been home schooled into the action and that there is a rational behind its use.

    But what really got me rolling is that you would introduce Taliban, Al Queda, and suicide bombers into your comments on this post by a loving mother who is it would seem doing a fantastic job at raising her daughter.

  • OTOH to be fair to K, K raises an issue that is important – the effect of choosing non public schools. Here in the south a number of religious and not officially religious schools exist we believe mainly because of racism. They also protect the monied kids from lower class kids of the same race. No doubt most convince themselves they are just trying to get a better education for their kids but talk to many of them a bit and the race and class issues are clear.
    Taking the kids who have strong parent advocates out of public schools is a detriment to the public schools. Voucher systems also takes funds away from public schools. Where schools receive funding per student, home schooling would take funds away as well. So we have to ask what obligation do we have to the education of others who cannot chose private or home schooling? That is a fair question.
    OTOH since most of us here think the end of western civilization is nigh and with it public and private schooling alike, what else will there be in the future than home schooling?

    Disclaimer – I sent both of my sons to public schools, and I felt a great freedom when the youngest went to kindergarten. I loved them, I loved teaching them, and frankly I also tired of them and was glad for someone else to take over :) My husband and I have relatives that have home schooled, mostly for religious reasons. I am sure the 11 children total were taught evolution to pass tests only, and creationism as the real story. The kids are all doing well as far as I know (my nephew with 8 has moved to Tasmania and I don’t hear often from him). I wish they had not had the religious indoctrination but they would have had it even if they went to public school. I attended pretty good public schools in a well to do suburb of Buffalo (all white back in the 60’s) got my religious indoctrination at church (Sunday School and Confirmation), went to a Lutheran College (where I learned of the great Lutheran martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer who risked his life and lost in an attempt to kill Hitler) and am now an atheist. Never can tell what the schooling or home training will turn out.

  • Kathy C said: –

    But what really got me rolling is that you would introduce Taliban, Al Queda, and suicide bombers into your comments on this post by a loving mother who is it would seem doing a fantastic job at raising her daughter.

    Rest assured, no where did I criticize a loving mother doing a fantastic job at raising her daughter. Home schooling may work for the mother, but may not necessarily for the daughter and only time will tell whether it worked for the daughter. More than likely, the mother went to college and was not homeschooled.

    Now about Talibans, al Queda, virgins and all the other stuff: you really are so off base that I do not know where to begin. There are also pictures of the US soldiers pissing on the corpses that become equal fodder to recruit young men/women to learn the way of martyr whom we call suicide bombers. The punch line is simple: madrassah are the breeding grounds for suicide bombers and the future local enforcers for Talibans. madrassah ban the material that is not suited for their purposes. Similarly, many homeschoolers ban the books that teach well-researched science because these books do not meet their ideologies on various subjects . I also do not believe that a single mother or father is well versed in all subjects needed for living a life in the modern world.

    I would whole heartedly agree that we need to improve education and the system. Here are my pet peeves: I think schools are too big (over 2500 students in a high school), classes are two large, too many extra-curriculum activities and not enough focus on excelling, and, many schools are baby sitting services and way too much emphasis on grades.

  • K, you said:

    Prior to 20th century, most children were uneducated from today’s perspective. However, they did learn how to farm, fish, hunt, build things etc., which were needed for making a living and in that context, they were educated well. To think of them as uneducated is arrogant.

    The 21st century world demands that our children are not raised myopically. Homeschooling is myopic. Further, most parents are not prepared to educate in wide ranging fields of studies. And, many parents do not have sufficient education as well as time to teach children.

    I would like to know which homeschool gave you that Dr label you use in your moniker.

    I wouldn’t argue for a moment that pre-20th century children were not well-educated in terms of how to live and survive. To the contrary, they were far more equipped than we are today, in that arena. But, then again, that wasn’t the definition of education we were using in the ongoing conversation. So, if we’re going to change the meaning of the words we’re using in the discussion, it would be helpful if you let me know about it beforehand.

    As to my “Dr moniker”, while I attended public schools, I will be the first to admit that I was woefully unprepared before I entered medical school – I take the lion share of the blame for that, btw, even though the school said I was one of the top of my class. If I had not taken it on myself to study multiple subjects on my own, I would not have been accepted.

    A friend of mine, who also is a doctor, WAS home schooled. And not just primary and secondary schooling, but he also never attended college. His parents taught him HOW to think and HOW to approach learning, so that when he reached the limits of what they could teach him, he started learning on his own. When he had made up his mind what he wanted to do for a career and was ready, he took the medical school admission test and was accepted without ever stepping into a traditional classroom. I suspect that if the state didn’t require 4 years of traditional medical school in order to get a license, he probably would have skipped that too. Somehow he managed to become a wonderful doctor.

    Admittedly, he’s a very smart man, but he also received incredible instruction early in life which equipped him for future learning. Not bad for someone who received a “myopic” education.

  • The Real Dr. House,

    Sure there are exceptions and many aboriginals (reluctantly I am using them to provide a comparison) do doctoring without our western education and many are quiet good at that. In the wild, chimps, monkeys and gorillas have been observed to use medicinal plants as well. Honestly, most of the doctoring – like many other professions – is routine and once learned can be practiced quite successfully. Besides, empathy towards the patients takes one a long way to heal.

    I will agree that our educational systems (public and private) have a long way to go to make students and future citizens to be able to think for them and make decisions that enhance values and wealth.

    Kathy C –

    I appreciate your last comment. My take is that as adult, homeschooled and shielded children would lack important early life experiences, especially about living in a multi-cultural and multi-racial world. I also believe most parents are ill-equipped to teach and they will likely confuse parent-teacher roles and create much more conflicting upbringing of their children then they realize.

  • Honestly, most of the doctoring – like many other professions – is routine and once learned can be practiced quite successfully.

    Very true for 90+% of patient encounters. But a physician or surgeon who has an adverse outcome in one out of ten – or for that matter in one out of a thousand – patient encounters, will very soon be doing something else.

    that the state needs to carry out its statutory functions to the full, and actually provide real governance to the corporate structure.

    To the extent that the corporation serves the ends of the state, it will not meet any hindrance from that quarter. In the balance, as long as the interests of the corporation rate higher with the power-brokers than constituents, the corporations will hold sway

  • I’m very appreciative of all of these thoughtful comments. I’ve already thought of several essay topics I might want to explore as a result.

    I’d like to clarify a few points about my life, family, and beliefs, if that helps the discussion at all.

    First, in response to Victor: yes, there is a father involved, and he is my husband. I am acutely aware that his support (financial, emotional, etc.) is a big factor in our ability to live the way we do. He is fully supportive of homeschooling and is also collapse-aware. Since his job pays more than my assorted past jobs ever did and also includes health benefits, our family’s division of labor has ended up being that my husband does more of the stuff in the current BAU economy, and I do more of the stuff in the parallel mostly-unpaid economy, which has included child rearing, working on our house and garden, launching a local non-profit focused on food security, being involved in various community resilience efforts, skill building such as becoming a wilderness first responder, learning how to store and preserve food, learning to harvest and filter rainwater, studying and practicing permaculture, etc. In some ways I’m the designated collapsitarian/transitioneer/prepper/what-have-you. It makes a huge difference to have his support.

    I probably should have stated from the get-go that we are not religious homeschoolers. No creationism taught here. Nor blind obedience to any deity or dogma. No suicide bombing taught here either, in case any of you were wondering.

    There are some very important points about socialization, oversheltering of children, racism, parent qualifications to teach, myopia, etc. that were made in the comments, and I want to respond to them, but I think I’d like to respond in essay form rather than in a comment. But just briefly, I’d say that these are issues that matter to me enormously, and that part of my motivation in homeschooling is *precisely* that I want my child to be in the “real” world, to meet people from all walks of life, to be actively anti-racist/anti-classist, and that I don’t expect that I know everything or can be a unitary teacher for absolutely everything my daughter could ever need. That’s not how we’re approaching homeschooling at all. I hope to describe in more detail my thoughts on these topics.

    The issue of whether homeschooled parents are somehow cheating the public school system– certainly open for debate, but I find it morally repugnant that I somehow “owe” a huge institutional entity my daughter’s life and my own time and care. I suppose I “owe” the government and the corporations too, in that sense. To me, this debate comes down to whether somebody is a strong believer in reform from within, or whether somebody has abandoned the project of reform. I don’t object to people attempting to reform public education. I don’t object to people sending their kids to public school. I know that there are many well-meaning, hard-working teachers and administrators and parents who want the best for kids in public schools. But please understand that I, personally, have no interest in reform of just about ANY institution at this point. I have no confidence that public education, in its current form, will continue to exist. I don’t plan for my family to spend our possibly shortened lifespans on kowtowing to the demands of institutions that I have deep, fundamental objections to. Meanwhile, we are still paying property taxes (among other taxes), a large portion of which go straight to the public schools.

    To whom do I “owe” my allegiance at this point? For me, it comes down to the community of life: real people, real animals and plants, my bioregion, the health of the soil and the water, the health of the oceans and the air, ultimately extending worldwide. But it starts here, with my actions with this family, this community, this land.

  • K, you wrote “Home schooling may work for the mother, but may not necessarily for the daughter and only time will tell whether it worked for the daughter. More than likely, the mother went to college and was not homeschooled.”

    I grant you that only time will tell whether it “works” for my daughter. Time will also tell whether other forms of education “work” for other children. The issue of how to measure the success of education is rather large. Maybe you and others might want to comment on how to measure that success? I’m sincerely interested.

    You are correct, I was not homeschooled and went to college. I also nearly committed suicide on several occasions while in school. And I was what would be considered an exceptionally gifted student. There was one teacher in particular who gave me great inspiration and solace (and she is still in my life! and is delighted that I’m homeschooling my daughter). I’m grateful for the friends and mentors I found along the way. However, I also suffered irreparable damage in school– bullying, slurs against my background, mind control, staggering levels of stress, lack of exposure to subjects and environments I consider crucial now, a huge emphasis on cut-throat competition. I think it’s fairly miraculous that I’m still alive.

  • Jennifer,

    I am touched by your candid post. I am sorry that your early learning experiences were so stressful and I understand why you might choose homeschooling for your children.

    Your daughter will decide success or failure of her homeschooling. It is her life and it will be her yardstick. It will be long after she is out in the real world, and, like most of us, only after through a crisis or two, surviving to be stronger and wiser. I wish her the best.

    We humans are competitive but in a collective. So we are perpetually pulled and pushed from many directions and almost always it is our inner makeup that leads us on our journey. Education is only one of the many tools we acquire through experiences as we live the life. I hope that you see the inner force within you that moved you away from the brink and led you to where you are. In my book of life, parents teach by examples how to channel the inner force; and, a teacher is a mentor, a guide post in this journey. Peace.

  • Jennifer

    Your comments exceed your essay. I personally look forward to more from you as you get a chance. Thanks.

    As for measuring the success of education, I suppose it depends upon the goals you (or society) sets for education. Only then can one measure.

    I find that for today’s public education, most people do not understand its goals – they are not necessarily ‘hidden’ from view, but instead are developed in circles that most people either have limited access to or no access at all due to other interests and goals in life. This is why I said that the current public education system is performing admirably as designed.

    Most people see education in a very narrow way – a way to jobs and careers, a tool to personal enlightenment, a rite of passage to a fulfilling adulthood – things we all want for our children. To this view, modern education has been and continues to be an abysmal failure, which is why so many people are concerned today about its direction and frustrated that after all these years it seems to be getting worse not better, as measured by those goals.

    But when measured against other, less known goals, education is doing quite well.

    If your goal is to produce people with job skills that can do the work needed, it has succeeded.

    If your goal is to produce people who are capable of obedience to their superiors and identify and marginalise those who won’t or can’t, then education today is a resounding success.

    If your goal is to place stricter control over those with college education (who sometimes provide the most fertile ground for revolution or changing the ‘system’), then you produce young graduates who are so deep in college debt that will assure them taking on debt so early in their lives that they will likely never be able to pay it, debt which keeps them fearful of losing their jobs and therefore being politically obedient, then education is doing its job.

    In short the goal of public education is to work, obey and not question the system. The goal of elite private education is to rule. And to these ends modern education is meeting its goals.

  • Jennifer, I also received a lot of harsh treatment from peers in school. But I didn’t have a mother like you. Had my mother home schooled me one of us surely would have ended up dead – probably me. She was a master of control and guilt.

  • K you wrote “Now about Talibans, al Queda, virgins and all the other stuff: you really are so off base that I do not know where to begin. There are also pictures of the US soldiers pissing on the corpses that become equal fodder to recruit young men/women to learn the way of martyr whom we call suicide bombers. The punch line is simple: madrassah are the breeding grounds for suicide bombers and the future local enforcers for Talibans. madrassah ban the material that is not suited for their purposes”

    Exactly my point, the madrassah is where most suicide bombers appear to be recruited. The Madrassah is NOT home schooling, but public religious schooling at facilities away from home. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madrasah That is why I posted (with link) this excerpt “Even before the latest attack, Afghan families with children studying at Islamic schools or madrassas across the border in Pakistan are starting to bring them home for fear that they will be recruited as suicide bombers.” In other words children are being taken out of these public religious schools and brought back home because parents fear they will be recruited there and know that they themselves will not recruit their own children to be suicide bombers.

    The problem of suicide bombing is not in home schooling vs public schooling, but in an invaded weaker country resorting to asymmetric warfare and using religious persuasion to encourage this form of asymmetric warfare. When religious and public meld, as is true in many Muslim countries and was true in Europe for centuries, they both gain increased power over the lives of the subjects and generally use that enhanced power to promote the ends of the elite. Separation of church and state certainly helps mute the worst of such a collusion.

  • When religious and public meld, as is true in many Muslim countries and was true in Europe for centuries, they both gain increased power over the lives of the subjects and generally use that enhanced power to promote the ends of the elite.

    Religion is often blamed for the ills of the world. But the situation described is true of much more than religious influence on the state. Religion, like any other social medium, is quite often used by the elite to gain influence over lives. It is not a religious issue. It is a human nature issue. The elite will use any means possible to influence the state in order to exercise control. So it is not religion that is the problem. It is only a tool. It is TPTB that are the problem. It is the very structure of the socio-political model that is the problem. It is human nature that is the problem – especially in an over-populated, complex, highly globalised society. Even if you got rid of all religion (which you surely will not do), you would still be stuck with the exact same issues – just different tools.

    If you really want change, then prevent people from the possibility of becoming rich, prevent private ownership of land and re-distribute power to the masses. Short of that, you simply can not expect anything other than BAU at this level of complexity – religion or not. Indeed, if you were to limit riches and re-distribute power, there would be a huge population drop and society would become much, much simpler as it was for thousands of years. Even more simple, since people would not be allowed to become rich.

  • Although I’m a product of public education, I’m not a fan. As I noted this time last year, quoting from my 2006 book Letters to a Young Academic, “The entire system of public education in the United States was designed specifically to prevent students from thinking for themselves.”

    Homeschooling and unschooling are difficult in large part because these efforts run counter to the mainstream. Any attempts to counter an insane culture will be met with ridicule and resistance. This culture is no metric for sanity, and it’s obvious to me that Jennifer is taking a rational, reasoned, and thoughtful approach to education despite the system. Obviously, I applaud her efforts.

  • Jen, thank you so much for sharing your story (in both the original post and your incredible comments). My already enormous admiration and appreciation of you is only deepened by reading this. Your daughter is a lucky girl, to have such thoughtful, intentional, devoted parents. I am looking forward to reading more of your posts on homeschooling (perhaps you could even consider your own blog on this topic?). I also want to commend you for responding graciously, generously, and honestly to reader comments, some of which seemed to run far afield from your post and engaged in speculation that must have been hurtful to you. You inspire me.

    My family is part of the public education system. My sisters are award-winning, grant-winning, innovative teachers in public schools, and they have accomplished what they have despite open hostility from some (peers and administrators) in their workplaces. Before she was tenured, one of my sisters was routinely targeted by the tenured teachers to receive a class composed almost entirely of the “special needs kids” (which coincidentally enough included all kids of color), until her school ran afoul of state law for de facto racial segregation with her class. I have heard a lot about what is broken in public education and the costs exacted from teachers who want to fix things.

    As a college professor at a state school, I sometimes have home-schooled students in my classes. As a rule, these students excel. They are far more disciplined and self-motivated than their peers. (I would also like to say, I have an Ivy League doctorate, as do some of my colleagues, and we are teaching a student body composed almost entirely of first-generation college students, many from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. So the stereotype that those educated at elite institutions use their education to replicate class privilege is just that, a stereotype. The real story is more complicated.)

    Our local public schools are a source of concern for me. Theoretically, I appreciate the argument that public schools will only flourish if students who are gifted or have involved parents attend those schools, but on a gut level, I completely understand Jen’s comments about wondering why she “owes” an institution her child’s education, time and life. Parents I know have indicated to me that our local schools segregate based on academic performance, which has a class- and race-based impact. It’s as if they are telling me with a wink that I can send my kid to public school and feel like I have done my part towards being a good liberal, yet rest assured my kid will be segregated into classes where he will encounter kids who are just like he is.

    Private schools in our area are also complicated. (We are in the rural South.) Most are Christian. Some involve corporal punishment as they deem necessary. Selecting any will involve some squirmy self-reflection as to whether I am the same as parents who engaged in white flight during the 70s, choosing private schools rather than supporting racial integration. Meanwhile, my husband has had his own very mixed experiences with private schooling when he was a boy; after a dreadful public school experience, he attended an even more dreadful private school. He was saved by a unique (and costly) private high school experience that changed his life for the better.

    As we get to the point where my husband and I need to choose a path for our child’s education, I feel more torn, not less, about the best way to go.

    Again, Jen, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences in such an honest, open, generous way. Much love to you.

  • Home schooling is certainly not for everyone. I would estimate that relative to the overall population, home-schooling would be appropriate for perhaps a maximum of 5% of the children of the world – and I think I am seriously overstating that. I could not conceive of my parents having home-schooled me. They had relatively little education themselves. Nor for most of those I grew up with. It would be a disaster. It is not just because of the limitations in knowledge of the parents, but also their ability to be teachers in the first place. And though they might have materials to assist them in their home-schooling, nothing but nothing takes the place of a real teacher whose mission in life is teaching.

    I really do not see the importance of home-schooling with respect to the issues civilisation faces today, except in the case of those few who can educate their children for the future we face.

  • Nancy

    Perhaps you should write an essay as well? I would be really very interested in more from you. I am particularly interested in your views as you alluded to in the following statement:

    So the stereotype that those educated at elite institutions use their education to replicate class privilege is just that, a stereotype. The real story is more complicated.

    I would like to hear more about the real story as you see it. Do you not believe that the elite in society as a rule send their children to exclusive schools? And that those schools have a different emphasis than public schools (or private schools established more on religious or ethnic grounds)?

    I am not implying here that children of non-elite families do not attend such schools. Nor am I implying that children from public schools cannot break through the class barrier. Nor am I even implying that elite children do not end up pursuing idealistic goals after school – indeed, many do. But I would surmise that most, though admittedly not all, business and political leaders at a national level in society will be found to have attended exclusive schools. There is a reason for that.

  • In the podcasts linked to in the comments, John Taylor Gatto is interviewed. It is noted that it is highly unnatural to segregate children on the basis of age, and nowhere in nature does this happen. It is also highly unnatural to demand a uniform level of performance from groups so segregated.

    As an aside, if the family of president of the uS of A demonstrates no sense of obligation to public schools, it is quite stupid for anyone else to labour under that delusion.

  • There are many sides of the school issue and the religion issue. I admittedly went to one of the best public schools in the country. I was stunned when I went to college and got in an advanced history class that only two of us had ever had world history, myself from NYS and another from Chicago. School was my refuge from home. My mother sexually abused my brother and emotionally abused my sister and myself. I stayed after school whenever I could and will be forever grateful for the teacher who did her lesson plans at school and let me and a few others “hide out” in her room. I also escaped by going to church youth group functions, and volunteering with church groups to help at a nursing home. Had I not had those escapes I am sure I would not have survived. When I left home I never went back until just before my mother died. Homeschool is not the answer for a whole lot of kids like myself and my siblings. Anyway my mother was often sleeping all day with all the tranquilizers she took.

    Now I am angry at what my school didn’t teach me (although we had some excellent reading matter on our suggested reading lists, including Grapes of Wrath, The Jungle and 1984). Despite a more liberal stance in some ways, overall they presented a world that favors the elites. I am angry at the guilt that my church instilled in me and the lies they put forward as truth.

    I don’t know how to fix it in this modern world so that every child can have what they need (in my case a different mother :) ), but if any humans survive the coming collapse, they will go back to the modes of living and learning of the world we evolved in as hunter-gatherers, in which case kids will be tribe schooled.

  • There are many issues in both the guest essay and the comments one could focus on.

    But to me the most important issue is that parents that CHOOSE to home school do not make that choice lightly and one of the things I have learned in my life is that living thoughtfully, living maybe against the flow of current mainstream might actually be the leading edge of good and positive change

    As an artist I understand that a creative approach to living is not what MOST people do, they prefer to let someone else make the decisions and patterns of living for them.

    Some….. do not.

    I think that home schooling in light of where our civilization is RIGHT NOW seems to be both prudent,important and to be honest more ‘of the same’ is not going to allow us to make different decisions.
    Thoughtful living DEMANDS we do things differently. That starts with ourselves AND any offspring we can influence to think bigger thoughts and to conceptualise their world in different ways.

    I don’t think cookie cutter schooling ALLOWS for that empathy and creative and critical thinking required in any ‘next generation’. If indeed humanity is to have any chance at all – we need as a friend put it… more *oddlings*

    I for one appreciate how difficult it is to *hang yourself out naked in public*… which is what you do when you talk about your private life in a public forum…. or in my case hang paintings I create for all to ‘see’ and as Jennifer has done in this guest essay. I think she brings up an important point…. and that is how can LEARNING TO THINK happen in an institution that prefers OBEDIENCE.

    The end result is the same. The personal private self is exposed to the vicissitudes of those that read/think/feel/see the created.In this case the essay… Something maybe to take into context in this situation. We need the sane people teaching their kids for living in a very different world. A world where humans are more connected to their community, their environment and take responsibility for themselves and that are not frightened of asking the hard questions.


    “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

  • I taught in a small liberal-arts college for many years, and often had one or two homeschooled students in any beginning writing class. In general, they came with higher skills than their public school-educated classmates, learned faster, and worked harder. Even those who had been homeschooled for religious reasons were better students, and I noticed that their religious blinders usually disappeared after six months in a college atmosphere. I was always glad to find out that one of my students had been homeschooled, and that was even before the Idaho legislature declared war on teachers and public schools.

    Where homeschooled students were at a disadvantage was in social skills and streetsmarts. The women, in particular, were often taken advantage of due to their naivete–they had something of the veal calf about them. The public schools did create toughness and resilience in those students that survived them. In any event, things balanced out. By graduation, it was hard to see any difference between those who were homeschooled and those who were not.

  • Another good place to learn Social Survival Skills – the home In 2006, child protective agencies received an estimated 3.6 million referrals involving the alleged maltreatment of 6 million children.3 Approximately one-quarter resulted in a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect. In other words, approximately 905,000 children were determined to be victims of abuse or neglect in 2006. http://www.popcenter.org/problems/child_abuse
    Of course the church, particularly the Catholic church, has been doing a good job a child abuse as well.

    Obviously someone like Jennifer can provide a quality education for her child in a loving atmosphere free from the propaganda of the state. What is important is to have a good philosophy behind your homeschooling as she does. And given that collapse may be just around the corner, homeschooling can give parents a chance to teach skills and knowledge not taught in public or private schools. At this point in time for parents who know what is coming and have such knowledge to impart home schooling seems the thing to do.

    But just as obviously the home is a dangerous place for some children.

    We come to this discussion laden with the emotions of our own backgrounds and childhood experiences. Jennifer mentions being harassed in public school. I was as well, but I still preferred to be in school rather than home. Catholic friends mention the physical abuse they received in Catholic schools, which at least in NYS public schools was not allowed. I knew a mother who used a belt on her 2 year old for minor infractions out of religious zeal and likely home schooled her child later so she could continue to raise him up in the way that was right in the eyes of the Lord she believed in. I never could quite bring myself to reporting her to child welfare as I knew that many foster homes were worse. I had another neighbor who was raped from age 6 to 16 by her foster mother’s brother and only escaped by early marriage.

    The problem is far deeper than education, it is the whole structure of our society which creates abuse in the home, the church, the school, the work place, and in fact in the whole community. Thank dog it is coming down even though the crash is going to be a terrible thing.

  • We are going to make a difference. Thanks for all you are doing. It is so refreshing to be among people who are seeking knowledge, rather than obstructing that effort or else plainly, consciously and deliberately playing stupid in a ‘rear-guard’ defense of a catastrophe-in-the-making status quo.

  • Off topic but a must read – how Orlov can be so funny about depressing things – he says its a survival techinque


    Snippet “There are some important projects that need to be up and running starting like yesterday, because they are key to human survival. Unfortunately, they cannot be funded in the usual ways because of the warped nature of market economics and global finance, which dictates that the only goal of investing money is to make more money. The project of averting disastrous outcomes is not a money-maker, per se, and does not get funded. But shipping in millions of plastic orange Halloween pumpkins from China every year is a sure bet, and so the free market prioritizes orange plastic pumpkins above doing what is essential to keep us all alive. The invisible hand of the free market, it turns out, is attached to an invisible idiot. “

  • Off topic.

    Lovelock backs off.


  • With huge thanks to Jennifer, a new post is up. It’s here.