Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"God's Harvard"?

There's a very interesting review on SFGate this morning about the new book by Hanna Rosin entitled God's Harvard:A Christian College on a Mission to Save America. The book is a report on the year and a half Ms. Rosin spent embedded at Patrick Henry College, the well-known "homeschooler's college." It's an interesting term, "embedded" - it wasn't widely used until the Iraq war, but now it appears to mean anyone who spends significant amounts of time living with and studying, and then reporting on what they see.

Ms. Rosin is Jewish, which gives her a different perspective on Patrick Henry College from either the prevailing secular or the homeschooling point of view. But unlike so many reporters, she actually spent the time really studying PHC and getting to know it from the inside. It sounds like she quite fairly assesses the reality of life at PHC. Look at these paragraphs from the review of her book, for example:
Patrick Henry College, or PHC, which opened its doors in the fall of 2000, was founded on the principle of enlisting "the purest of born-again Christians in a war to 'transform America' by training them to occupy the 'highest offices in the land.' " Not a modest goal. But ever since Patrick Henry's first students unpacked their Bibles and Palm Pilots, class after class has shown an almost single-minded determination to meet it. Over the past five years, at least one of the school's 300 students has won a place in each set of the coveted three-month internships offered by the White House. After graduating, some have gone on to attend elite law schools, including Harvard. One graduate is making connections in Los Angeles with the aim of writing major Christian-themed screenplays.

We might not have suspected the homeschooling movement to cultivate such outgoing personalities. But those are precisely the students Patrick Henry works to attract.
And this one:
At the heart of this book, though, are portraits of PHC students, from the "ultraconservatives" who follow the rigid Student Handbook to the letter, to the overachievers shooting (without irony) for the White House, to members of the "den of sin ... [a] group of boys [who] had worked the roommate selection process to commandeer one wing of a dorm," into which they smuggled cigarettes and beer and where they hung a "Pulp Fiction" poster.

The students she portrays are not the brainwashed automatons usually found in the descriptions of homeschoolers - especially the PHC variety - given by the secular press. I found the review of this book fascinating, and I'm really looking forward to reading this book. I'm not sure where I stand on Patrick Henry College myself - I have some significant concerns about it. And I know I will disagree with some of Ms. Rosin's conclusions. But it seems to me this book will be a worthwhile read for those of us in the homeschooling world who may be considering what our children will be doing for college.


Kimmer said...

Definitely looking forward to your review of that book!

Marcy Muser said...

Thanks, Kimmer. I hope I can locate a copy! ;)