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A new take on Homeschooling - “Luther Twisting”

Daryl Cobranchi finds the most interesting disparagers of homeschooling. You may recall that recently, he pointed us to the fifth grade teacher whose criticisms of homeschooling were greeted by a chorus of responses from Daryl’s readers, and who, in turn, responded with profanity-laden emails (Daryl tells us that this teacher has since apologized for his reaction).

Another recent critic found by Daryl is a Dr. Jim West, who appears to be a Southern Baptist preacher. Dr. West used a story of the kidnapping of a homeschooled girl by her pastor to point to the “dangerous isolationism of home-schooling”:

Interaction outside the walls of home and church are important socialization opportunties that this child was apparently denied.

Dr. West’s response to criticism has been to simply ignore it. Several of Daryl’s readers (including me) have submitted comments, but they have never appeared on Dr. Jim’s website.Or did he ignore us?

The surest way to get an angry mob stirred to spiteful rhetoric, and more, is to point out the pride and hubris lurking behind the rationale for home schooling.

Get out your pitchforks, folks. Who’s got the tar? The feathers?

Point out, for example, that home schooling parents feel superior to trained professionals, even though they themselves, for the most part, are not trained educators.

What is it he thinks the “trained educators” can do that I can’t? Oh, wait, he tells us - I’m unacquainted with the “educational method”:

Point out that though few would be arrogant enough to pretend expertise in medicine or law, many are willing to pretend expertise in educational method.

I’ll concede that I’m ill-prepared to take on 30 second-graders. I’ll not concede that the Ed schools are doing the best job in producing “trained educators. Nor will I concede that all these “trained educators” are accomplishing their objectives. I see the results of their “teaching” in my college classes on a daily basis.

What I really like about this post by Dr. West, who apparently has a Th.D., is that he has uncovered the fact that Luther (!!!) was a public school advocate:

Luther, that paragon of theological insight, wrote a very wise sermon “On Keeping Children in School” (which sounds terribly contemporary!). So far as Luther was concerned, removing children from school was equivalent to handing them over to the Devil!

Yikes! What did Luther have to say?

For if we are silent about this and shut our eyes to it, and the young people are neglected and our offspring become Tartars or wild beasts, it will be the fault of our own silence and snoring, and we shall have to render full account for it.

To which West says: “Tartans and wild beasts! That nicely describes the un- and under-educated.” (In case you missed Luther’s point).

Where are the preachers, jurists, and physicians to come from, if grammar and other rhetorical arts are not taught in the public schools? For such teaching is the spring from which they all must flow.

OK. Luther didn’t really say “in the public schools.” Don’t forget, this was the 16th Century. But I added it in, just for Dr. West.

I will simply say briefly that a diligent and upright schoolmaster or public school teacher, or anyone who faithfully trains and teaches boys, can never be adequately rewarded or repaid with any amount of money.

Again, I’m just trying to help Dr. West out. No mention of public school, really. Wait! Maybe I’m OK. After all, Luther was talking about teaching boys!

If I could leave the preaching office and my other duties, or had to do so, there is no other office I would rather have than that of schoolmaster or teacher of boys; for I know that next to that of preaching, this is the best, greatest, and most useful office there is.

I’m still missing the relationship to public schools here (except where I added it in for Dr. West). Luther seems to be saying that teaching is a virtue. Why should parents not have this opportunity, if they want it? Indeed, Luther is saying it’s a virtue!

It surely has to be one of the supreme virtues on earth faithfully to train other people’s children; for there are very few people, in fact almost none, who will do this for their own.

Luther’s saying that hardly anyone will teach their own children, so it’s a good thing there’s somebody else to do it. That is not the same as saying that nobody should teach their own children.

But, missing this point completely, here’s how Dr. West sums it up:

A higher estimation of teaching and public education cannot be rendered. Nor can one overcome Luther’s theological argument. So why do so many engage in homeschooling? Pride, hubris, and arrogance.

Luther extols the virtue of teaching, and West turns it into a critique of homeschooling. I ask you - whose arrogance do we really see here?

One Response to “A new take on Homeschooling - “Luther Twisting””

  1. Ticklish Ears » Is Homeschooling Racist? Says:

    […] Rev Jim (remember him?) wants us to ponder the racist roots of homeschooling by reading an editorial at the Baptist Center for Ethics, entitled, Is Racism at Heart of the Disdain for Public Schools?: As slavery was at the heart of the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845, racism was at the heart of the beginnings of the anti-public school movement and the founding of the Christian academies in the 1960s. Denial of either engages in historical revisionism and moral dishonesty. […]

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