Christian fundmentalist homeschooling

September 16, 2012 | By | Reply More

I’m not going to knock the concept of homeschooling. In certain times and places it might be a better alternative to the public school alternative. It also depends on the abilities of the parents and the educational needs of the children. I often wonder, though, what kind of homeschool education is being given to the kids of fundamentalist parents. I’ve wondered whether these kids master the basics and whether they receive any meaningful exposure to ideas other than those approved by their parents.

At Alternet, Kristin Rawls explored these issues.  First of all, she presents the following quote of a homeschool parent as somewhat representative of why many fundamentalist Christians home school their children:

[T]he only people we knew were exactly like us. We were told that the whole point of public school was to dumb down the children and turn them into compliant workers – to brainwash them and indoctrinate them into this godless way of thinking.” Garrison believes that homeschooling has become so popular with fundamentalist Christians because, “there is an atmosphere of real terror among some evangelicals. They are horrified by the fact that Obama is president, and they see the New Atheist movement as a vocal, in-your-face threat. Plus, they are obsessed with the End Times, and believe that the Apocalypse could happen any day now…They see a demon on every corner.

“We homeschooled because we wanted to protect our children from what we viewed as the total secularization of America. We listened to people like Rush Limbaugh, who told us that America was in the clutches of evil liberal feminist atheists.”

She also quotes a homeschool graduate:

When the school bus would come by, my youngest brother would go, ‘There goes the prison bus.’ Our parents had them believing that public schools were these horrible places, just dens of iniquity.

How are these kids doing upon graduating from their homeschool?

Given the scarcity of numbers on this issue, the best one can hope for at this point is anecdotal information about the problem. But because homeschooling is such a highly politicized issue, it is often difficult to get a clear sense of what is happening from homeschooling parents themselves. And because many parents see themselves as advocates of homeschooling, they are not always very eager to discuss potential gaps in homeschooling education.


The remainder of this article is filled with anecdotes raising many concerns with homeschooling, focusing on the homeschooling done by Christian fundamentalist parents. The article does mention that there are some success stories to go along with the many apparent failures.

This article reminds me of the danger of the Dunning-Kruger cognitive bias: Those who don’t know often don’t know that they don’t know.


Category: Education, ignorance, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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