Article: Propaganda Has Been Effective

Article: Propaganda Has Been Effective

It seems it is dreadfully difficult for most Americans to remember, understand, and apply the history of the past 300 or so years. After 30 years of the modern homeschool movement, always-present private institutional schools, and the largely home-based education children experienced in what is now the United States from 1700 to 1900, the cry for the “common experience of public school” – and against homeschooling – still rattles around the country, on blogs, and in academic journal articles.

Yesterday, the author of “Why Homeschooling Has Gone Mainstream” explained her sudden enlightenment about the benefits of home-based education.[1] She was pretty positive about homeschooling. Immediately, however, commentator Lynda wrote:

My one concern is that the home schooling trend takes away one more experience that is common to all citizens. Our communities seem to be breaking into smaller and smaller groups with very few activities encouraging real involvement with people who are not just like we are. It takes significant energy to develop relationships with people who do not share our religions, our races, our family structures. Public education had a significant role to play in creating an American “melting pot” during past decades. Clearly that doesn’t happen now. Perhaps it is time to move away from the “melting pot” idea of citizenship, but I think that losing the common bonds formed through hours spent together in classrooms will have consequences for our democracy. …..

I appreciate the willingness of the article’s author, Susan, to question the norm (e.g., State-run schooling) and reconsider her originally negative view of parent-led home-based education. Lynda, on the other hand, presents a common specious argument.

What empirical evidence is there after about 120 years of State-controlled schooling for the large majority of Americans that graduates of State schools are more civil toward others, more respectful of others, more engaged in community service, more engaged in democratic processes, more literate, better critical thinkers, less involved in drug and alcohol abuse, and less frequently having children out of wedlock than are those who have been engaged in home-based education over the past 30 years and the many generations before 1900 who did not attend State-run institutional schools? None. There is no evidence to support that implied or explicit claim.

In fact, history and research suggest the opposite. Empirical evidence from just the past 20 years indicates that the graduates of homeschooling are more civically engaged, more involved in community service, doing somewhat better in college (both academically and socially), finishing college a little faster, and enjoying life more than their general public-schooled counterparts.[2] Where is the empirical evidence to the contrary? Nowhere to be found at this point.

Putting all citizens for 13 years of their childhood into a State-compelled-and-run institution does not guarantee brotherly love. One need only visit the occupants of the State and federal prisons and find out what percent attended the common-to-all citizens institution called public school.

Propaganda can be defined as “the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.”[3] Why does Lynda (the commenter quoted above) think that attending State/public schools by children is the nirvanic road to world peace and joy? Maybe it is difficult for most Americans to remember, understand, and apply the history and research of the past 300 or so years because they attended state-controlled (public) institutional schools for 13 of the most worldview- and critical-thinking formative years of their lives. Maybe one day research will let us know the legitimacy of this hypothesis.

Brian D. Ray, Ph.D.
National Home Education Research Institute

http://nheri.org/

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Endnotes:

[1] Why Homeschooling Has Gone Mainstream, by Susan Schaefer, retrieved July 24, 2012 from http://gulfport.patch.com/articles/why-homeschooling-has-gone-mainstream-cabb9b06#comment_4094611

[2] See, for example: Ray, Brian D. (2004). Home educated and now adults: Their community and civic involvement, views about homeschooling, and other traits. Salem, OR: National Home Education Research Institute, www.nheri.org.

[3] Retrieved July 24, 2012 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/propaganda.

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