12 February 2006

Is Homeschooling Treason?

The Eternal Flame - Lest we forget.
Key Words has pointed out a blog written by Carrie Luce called "Sense and Compassion - Looking at the issues without blinders". Carrie is very anti-homeschooling and anti-libertarian and Key Words was making the point that it is good she is blogging as she opens up topics that need to be debated. I had a good browse of her main page and pondered her point of view.
There is no benefit arguing homeschooling with Miss Luce as the more fundamental differences are the real issue. All the benefits we claim arising from homeschooling she metaphorically raises her hands in horror and cries, "Exactly! That's why it is so terrible!"
We have a fundamental difference in core beliefs.
Our basis for homeschooling, and in fact every facet of our lives, is how we view ourselves and our relations with the world around us. (I examined this previously in the post Family Roles) We need to ask the question, "Why are we here?" and "Why did God make us?" If one denies the existence of a soul and eternal life, the answers to our existence on Earth change dramatically.
We believe we are in this world to
"know, love and serve God in this world and to be together with him forever in the next."
(This is a classic paraphrase of Jesus' answer to the question "What are the two greatest commandments?")
Also, we believe that the family is the key institution in any society and the individual is best served growing within a loving, caring family. An individual raised in the security of a family can provide the best benefit to the society as the society exists to serve the family and not the other way round.
That is our big difference. Miss Luce argues that society is the more important and families exist to serve society.
Therefore all our arguments for homeschooling don't help, as all our positive points are her negatives.
Unfortunately when one looks back at the history of the two competing viewpoints - family first vs society first - the score card is not good for those believing in Society First.
Nazi Germany was a big fan of society/country first. The compulsory youth groups and government controls of schools and child care all did exactly what Miss Luce argues for. Germany had a strong national pride and cohesion of the individuals with little room for any individuality which may have threatened the social order. One may argue that the resulting war and expansion were not related to the society first concept so I won't claim that. However we will look at the situation in Germany before 1938/39.
Germany improved from a mess economically following high inflation and joblessness into a lean, mean, organised machine under the changed social order. Unfortunately, this also resulted in the suppression of churches, organisations and relocation and imprisonment of individuals that wouldn't fit in and stay quiet. (This is before the War) Also, sterilisation and "termination" of the "unfit" and Eugenics were introduced and practised. These last steps are only the logical results of a society first program.
Other recent famous examples of society/country first governments are those claiming to follow communism and socialism. You can choose Russia or China as the biggest examples, both had similar results. Surface level cohesion and co-operation with the underlying coercion, forced relocations, executions, sterilisations and wars (that supposedly could not be blamed on a society first policy).
Oh, add in Zimbabwe, and every other tinpot dicator in Africa and South America. They also argued/argue for society first and for the individual to sacrifice themselves for the greater glory of the country and the riches tomorrow will bring.
There is little point arguing about homeschooling unless you can come to some common ground as to why the individual exists. If Society exists for the individual and family, homeschooling makes sense and can be considered an option.
If the individual exists for society and the country, then compulsory public schools are one of the better options to ensure the desired level of cohesion and uniformity.
As to Treason, (Here is Miss Luce's post) we return to one's belief in the purpose of the individual. Treason is the betrayal of your country. To be guilty of Treason under law requires far more proof, but I suspect Miss Luce is using the looser definition. If you believe that anything outside the official guidelines is harming the country, then almost all of us (homeschooling or not) are guilty of this loose definition of treason. On the other hand, if you believe that the country is as strong as the collection of all it's members, then any actions which strengthen those members is actually patriotic.
So, with the same facts at our disposal, homeschoolers consider themselves a most patriotic bunch, whilst Society First people consider us treasonous.
This does not mean that those arguing for either side are saying society ONLY or family ONLY. Individuals and families have duties to others and the social order around them. Society always has some responsibility for the individuals within the society, but societies with disordered views of the purpose of an individual are more likely to vary their responsibility depending on the perceived value of the individual. An individual's value is either based on some measure - such as productivity, social standing, wealth, race, creed, colour and so on, or everyone is truly considered of equal value. To Miss Luce, an individual who is less productive because they are not specialising in a skill (excluding the raising of one's own children - that is deemed not useful) is of less value and therefore harms society.
We believe Miss Luce is certainly of great value, just wrong in her views. It appears from her writings that homeschoolers, as traitors, have less value.
The photo accompanying this post is "The Eternal Flame" which is present at all Australian War Memorials. It is to remind us that eternal vigilance of all members of society is necessary for freedom to survive. Each name inscribed on the nearby wall is that of a real person, of inestimable value, who, realising the worth of their own life, risked and ultimately gave that life for his fellow men and women. Now that is really placing the individual and family first.

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