Sunday, April 06, 2008

Is Homeschooling a Libertarian Idea?

Some days ago I somehow ended up on a website run by an apparently atheist libertarian who supports homeschooling as a libertarian concept. One of his readers, also a libertarian, took issue with this idea, claiming,

Home schooling is resorted to by parents intent on limiting the childs freedom - it is the liberty of the parent that is at the front here, not the child's.

Libertarianism, at it's deepest, surely means that a child should be given an education that maximises it's liberty - not one that allows the parents to limit the childs experience and freedom.

Not being one to sit idly by and watch as someone made uninformed and inaccurate statements about something I believe in as deeply as homeschooling, I entered into a discussion with the gentleman, and after posting several comments, it occurred to me that perhaps the readers of this blog would be interested in what I had to say. (I should preface my remarks here with the clear statement that I am not a libertarian, but rather a solid conservative; nevertheless I find homeschooling to be strongly libertarian in nature.)

Here is my answer to the commenter's first post.

You said, "Home schooling is resorted to by parents intent on limiting the childs freedom - it is the liberty of the parent that is at the front here, not the child's."

I find this completely untrue. I, and most homeschooling parents I know, homeschool in large part because school is so terribly limiting to children. Kids in public school are limited in who they interact with (pretty much only other children, and mostly only those in the same grade); in what they do with their time (exactly what the teacher says); in what outside activities they do (only what they have time for after school and homework); in how they feel about themselves; in when they can travel with their families; and so much more (even in when they can go to the restroom or get a drink of water!). What's libertarian about that?

My kids, on the other hand, have far more choices than the average public school student. Because they learn one-on-one, they don't have to waste time waiting in lines, waiting to use the restroom, waiting for the other kids to finish an assignment. If they're interested in an activity, they don't have to stop doing it when a bell rings or a teacher tells them to. They can eat when they are hungry, rest when they are tired, go to the bathroom when they need to, take a break if they need one, and get a hug from Mom if they want one. They have far more free time than kids who go to school every day, so they read, paint, build, color, daydream, explore, play with friends, sew, do crafts, experiment, cook, and much more - and they do those things when they want to and because they choose to. They can take their time when we visit a museum or the zoo, moving at their own pace so they can really take it in and make it their own.

At the same time, they are getting a far better education than they would in school, and will be far more ready for college and for the world beyond when they get there. How can I be so sure? I was homeschooled myself for six years, including all of high school. When I went to college, I watched most of my fellow students struggle to make the adjustment to the workload, the expectations, and the independence, while I moved easily into the college world. My kids are following a similar path.

I agree - "a child should be given an education that maximises it's (sic) liberty" - and that's exactly why I homeschool.


Shawna said...

**Home schooling is resorted to by parents intent on limiting the childs freedom - it is the liberty of the parent that is at the front here, not the child's.**

Hmmmmm, this is interesting to me. Although I completely disagree with the first half of that statement, I do agree with the second half.

It seems to me that home education is more about the parent since the child cannot make a decision based upon any experience of school. As the child ages and grows and can claim some experience in regards to being educated at home or about school then the concept of homeschooling can be more about the child than the parent, more about a child's concept and benefit of freedom than the parent's concept and benefit of freedom.

But I do not believe any parent goes into homeschooling as a means of limiting their child's freedoms, quite the opposite... however, if they do, then there are some serious issues with that parent and that family.

Umm Layth said...

When I was in school I always felt that that was all the life I had. I didn't want to be a part of social activities outside of public school because I was overwhelmed with the many hours I spent daily at school.

I agree with what you said. When I left public school and homeschooled myself, I felt more human. I could do more things and not feel so tied down. And this is why I want to homeschool my children.

Marcy Muser said...


I believe I understand what you're saying. And yes, of course, especially at the beginning, the homeschooling decision is made by the parent, since a five- or six-year-old can't possibly grasp all the implications of what school is about. For example, at that age, my kids both really thought they wanted to go to school - because the playgrounds looked so cool! Obviously as their parent I wasn't going to make the decision based solely upon the quality of the playground.

I think, though, that the original poster was trying to say that parents choose to homeschool in a deliberate effort to limit the child's liberty. And like you, I completely disagree with that; even at the beginning when the parent decides for the child, I've never met one who decides to do it in order to limit their child's liberty. Most choose homeschooling because it will give their child a better education, they think the child would be better off with another year at home, the child is having trouble in school and needs more intensive tutoring or fewer distractions, or even specifically because the child will have more liberty (including more free time) at home than they would at school.

Thanks for the comment - and I like your new picture! :)

Marcy Muser said...

Umm Layth,

Thank you for the comment. I agree - I think school is very limiting to kids. Which is why I contend that homeschooling is a libertarian concept. :)