A Society’s Selective Silence on Education

“Colleges now, including all the major ones—Stanford and Yale and Harvard—are actively seeking kids who were homeschooled or unschooled or who had an alternative type of education because what’s different about those kids is that they’re still interested in learning… In fact, I read a statistic that… and I may have the numbers slightly off here, but I think Stanford’s admission rate for homeschooled kids is 26 percent as opposed to 6 percent for traditionally schooled applicants…” (Jeremy Stuart in an interview with Chris Kresser)

I was shocked and excited to see that Chris Kresser, a well-respected alternative health (integrative health) guru, ran a blog segment on homeschooling. Unfortunately, I cringed at the paucity of usual comments from his typically active readers.

Sixteen meager comments. Sixteen. Compare that to the 111 comments on his organic meat article! Everybody wants to talk organic and glyphosate and gluten. But darn. Kids’ futures and alternative education. Near dead silence!

What really counts? I mean, I’m a real-food, watch-for-food-intolerance believer, but what does it mean when kids don’t learn to read or get bullied in school? When parents are beginning to feel like school is an elephant on their families’ chests?

What does it mean when Chris Kresser’s responsive readers will leave 200 comments on proton pump inhibitors and only 16 on alternative education? (When there are only 26 comments on a distraction and mindfulness article. . .)

I heard a great story once. I was at a conference, and I attended a teen panel of unschoolers. These were all kids who had never been to traditional school. Many of them had never actually set foot in a school. There was one young man there, and he had enrolled to a university to study astrophysics. . .

And someone said to him, “Obviously you’re interested in astrophysics.” That wasn’t the question. The question was, “Why would you enroll yourself in a college when you’ve never set foot in a school? What’s that like, and how did you manage to get in?” And he said, “Well, I realized that the only way to really study it to the degree that I wanted was at this particular institution, and so I applied, and when I applied, I realized I didn’t really know any math.” He said, “I went to my parents, and I was kind of upset. ‘Well, how come you never taught me any math?’ And they said, ‘Well, you weren’t interested.’” And he said, “Well, I need it now,” and they said, “Well, you know what to do.”

So he went to the library, and he got grade one math, then grade two, grade three, grade four, and so on. So He spent three months just reading math books, and in three months he took the necessary examination to enter the college and got 92 percent on the test. (Jeremy Stuart in an interview by Chris Kresser)

Do go and check out Chris Kresser’s interview of homeschooling filmmaker Jeremy Stuart. If you can make time, leave a comment! (Even if it’s just to say, “Hey, interesting!”)

Blogs are live productions. You comment. Blogger responds generally in some way (perhaps not right away–but over time they get back to it).

I’d LOVE to see more people exposed to the idea that education doesn’t have to come in a box! That one-size (one school, one curriculum, one teacher) doesn’t fit all! Maybe if we comment, generate questions, and create discussion, maybe Chris Kresser will remember and do another piece like this in the future.

If you homeschool, you may have fun  reading (or watching) this interview. If you don’t homeschool, and school isn’t going so well for your children, maybe you’d want to consider homeschooling. He calls it “unschooling,” but I’m of the opinion that anyone who chooses to teach their children outside of the classic halls of education is “unschooling” to one degree or another. The interview covers:

  • How did public schooling come about? (It’s only been around about 150 years.)
  • What was the purpose of public school?
  • Student (and parent) “burn-out” and how homeschooling can avoid that
  • How our modern education is “banging its head against a wall”
  • Discussion of Finland’s education system
  • Misconceptions about homeschooling and unschooling
  • How colleges are coming to view homeschoolers
  • What kinds of things homeschoolers can learn
  • And so much more!

Unschooling as a Cure for “Industrialized Education”–with Jeremy Stuart

Check it out! You learned once. Or didn’t learn. How did that happen? How could it have been better? Don’t be selectively silent. More standards don’t brighter kids make! I’ve watched my own kids learn and the differences among simply three kids is ASTOUNDING.

These schoolkids of today will be running your nursing home.




27 thoughts on “A Society’s Selective Silence on Education

  1. agmorze

    Hi Teri!! This has been on my mind for the past year or so as my son just finished pre-school at a Montessori school. He’s very bright but doesn’t like “sitting in group” and has expressed other dislikes and he is very active. I have many concerns for him about going to a public school, right now I signed him up for kindergarten at the Montessori school but I’m not sure that’s the best fit either…well that’s what my gut tells me. I would not even know where to begin…where did you start? The baby is 14 months now and I’m trying to imagine what our day would be like…and my head starts to spin!! I’m trying to figure out how I would teach him subjects that I myself don’t enjoy without my negative energy effecting him…like grammar (as you can probably tell 😉 Thank you for this!! It’s really time I make a plan and this has spurred me into action!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      My third one did Montessori too when we moved states several years ago. She still doesn’t like to sit! (My husband says it’s because of Montessori and I say, no, it’s how she was and we were lucky we had a Montessori…:-) But the teachers of the classes we do for homeschool co-op say she behaves very well, so I’m not wororied! My husband hated elementary school because he could not sit also. It really did not go well for him. Obviously he reached the same road as others as he is a surgeon, just with a more rocky start, maybe less academic confidence, and bad phonics and spelling (because they never do go back over that stuff in later elementary—when he had finally learned to sit better).

      When I started in South Carolina, I had to list and submit my curriculum. So I read and read on-line and decided that people seem to say to keep it simple in the early grades. So I chose a little art book (Abeka), math (Saxon math), a writing book (can’t remember), and a reading book (Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons). Reading, writing, and math. I loved all the materials. But she (my oldest) DID NOT. You know what we ended up doing? What she stinking wanted. Stubborn cuss. Man. Ha!

      She wanted to do crafts, crafts, crafts, crafts. (I hate crafting. Messy. Do I have all the stuff? Is it too hard for her to make?)

      *So we worked on crafts. (Art)
      *We wrote a few words related to the craft, like if it was a snowman, we’d write “Frosty” and “snowman” and “hat.” (Writing and reading)
      *We did Saxon math worksheets at her horribly slow, distracted speed and did some fun little activities with food and hopscotch (etc). (Math)
      *I read, read, read aloud to her. She did love to hear stories. I tried to make her read. No. Sometimes I could get her to read one word. She didn’t learn to read fluently till second grade. (I have a friend whose son JUST at 15 years old started to read fluently. She just thought that he never would read fluently. It wasn’t for lack of her trying! It just took his brain that long to develop that skill for him. She still taught him, though, and got him professional reading help. But it didn’t meld until 15 or 16 years old!)
      *She played, played, played.

      School has developed and matured along the way, of course!

      I read lots on the internet. I read Jessie Wise Bauer’s book on a Classical Education. And another book about what a child “should” learn each year. Eventually, I’ve stopped reading those! We’ve just gotten our groove. I will e-mail you the books that I read before I started that I found helpful. Now, I’d say between kindergarten and second-third grade, I keep it light. My entering second-grade child reads, does a math worksheet (flashcards when I can find the time), Explode the Code for phonics/spelling, and handwriting. Oh, yes and Jessie Wise Bauer’s First Language Lessons for grammar. Slowly, it gets amped up now. And I don’t lose any patience anymore over who is learning what. Her school takes NO MORE than one hour. Seriously.

      Your grammar is great! I’ve had to look up a lot on-line as I write posts! I’ve learned a lot! Especially that there are many acceptable ways to punctuate and spell!

      Have a great Fourth weekend! Ask anything!


      1. agmorze

        Hi Terri! I’m just reading your reply after seeing you emailed me. I must have missed it! Oh boy, I completely relate with the crafts haha 🙂 And so much more of what you’re saying. 1 hour, wow! I really do need to get a better idea of what is involved, I imagined hours and hours of tedious work. You’ve inspired me to reach out to a some local homeschooling moms. Sitting is so hard…I still can’t sit! I’m going to read your email now! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Lots of love and blessings to you and your family!

  2. Kate

    Love this. I’m often thinking about homeschooling and how I could make it work. Very interesting. 🙂

  3. Tim Steele

    Hey! Interesting!
    I’d never even heard (or paid attention to) the term “unschooling” before this. It’s great that the stigma that has surrounded homeschooling is lifting. Keep up the good work!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Thanks for sharing the link! I sure do appreciate it!

      I feel like education dogma is similar to nutrition/medical dogma. And it’s time for it to go or at least be exposed for what it is. Just accepting blindly is not a good option when it’s not working.

      Happy 4th!

  4. EmilyMaine

    I’m never going homeschool as I think it might send me crazy but I do believe in finding the right school and education style for my kids and because of that they may go to different schools or independent schools etc I can def see how the traditional system, while perfect for some, isn’t for everyone and the best thing for learning is a happy environment.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Ha! Never say never! Once not too long ago I said I’d NEVER give up my white flour. And look where that got me. But, haha!, I get what you mean about never homeschooling. I hope your son has a super experience at school and you never have to once look back! But if you do, then may you have the courage and fortitude to do what needs done. I hope you are all healthy now and glowing.


  5. Simple Days Making for Exciting Adventures

    OMG! Terrific article. So I try not to be an overbearing homeschooling mom who believes everyone should homeschool, but secretly inside-I am! 1.In school, kids are stressed (there was even a sheet outside my daughter’s friend’s classroom with tips on how to deal with stress-fourth grade, my friend!!) Kids should not be stressed. 2. School is unnatural. All kids do not learn the same way. Kids are not sitters (even the kids who do sit more do not want to sit and listen to someone talk-they would rather be reading or crafting) 3. School keeps us apart. In school, siblings are separated; parents are no longer “responsible” for their child’s education (of course, ultimately we are always responsible for our children’s education). The family unit is disrupted. OK-my list could go on and on. I feel that kids at home are healthier and happier. The American rat race of go, go, go has gotten out of hand very quickly. My great grandparents did not make it past elementary school. They had a very successful farm. One set owned an ice cream parlor in their town. One set had various jobs throughout life. Life was simpler, more family oriented, slower and less stressful which also meant less health issues, better eating because there was time to cook, and community.
    It is such a catch twenty-two. I definitely use technology and modern engineering, but I also feel that our industrialization has caused a lot of disruption to the human race. Education is only one small piece.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Good morning! Our family initially started homeschooling for its travel-time flexibility, but the list of all the other advantages we see now are innumerable. I think my children’s ability to be adaptable will serve them in the tough job scrabble when the time comes. Like your grandparents saw needs and used their own skills to fill those, I think my kids will be prepared for that too.

      I lived in a poverty-stricken community in South Carolina for five years which tore my heart out, so I want all kids to have access to quality education and teachers. However, for the most part, the community continues to fail education needs; it has shoved all the high school students into a HUGE box where kids are afraid to go to the bathroom. Apparently, that’s where pot is being smoked. So if you go in, you could be pegged as smoking pot. And where teacher friends from there communicated to me the kids were physically making out in class and would not stop with reprimand. So they just let them continue on distracting the other kids. (These teacher friends were originally from Romania. They were shocked.)

      I know one elementary school that has made huge strides for a deeply afflicted population, but I don’t know what happens to them when they hit that high school. I will ask if they are following that.

      I’ve had two med school friends homeschool briefly. They decided it was not their gig. I just know that when my husband and I both worked, I was angry all the time. The mess. The late bills. The noise. The illnesses. Scrabbling for child-care. Fast-food meals. The fatigue. And so on. By not working and staying home and taking full responsibility for my kids, I was able to become in-tune with myself, my husband, and my kids. And as kids grow, the need to be in-tune seems to grow even more!

      Well, people waking up here!

      1. Simple Days Making for Exciting Adventures

        Agreed. It is funny that you speak of your experience in SC. When my kids ask me about public school, I always answer that the best and most amazing thing public schools have done is to make sure kids are fed and safe (from your high school comment-I fear they may not all be safe, but at least fed). Unfortunately that is not education.
        I was 100% on the career path. Kids in school, both parents working, etc. homeschooling was never in the plan but life doesn’t follow plans. We now don’t have cable and we budget and we have much less stress and a lot of fun together as a family.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Hello! Sorry for the reply delay! We were vacationing and the internet access was pretty bad. (Oh, tragedy. 😉 )

        Good point that there’s a difference between a “safe” environment ad education. Good thought for us as a society to mull on.

        Plans? Plans? I laid those somewhere. But I’ll bet they got used for some big craft project.

        Like you, we have a lot of fun together as a family. We all have to wake up and see each other tomorrow, so I figure, why not!?!?


  6. Pingback: A Society’s Selective Silence on Education – Simple Days Make for an Exciting Adventure

  7. myjourneythrume

    Homeschooling has been in the news here this week, (a child in Wales who was homeschooled died from scurvy, he hadn’t been seen by anyone in authority since he was 13 months and he was 8 when he died) calls are now being made for there to be an official register of all homeschooled children and for there to be annual local authority visits. I can clearly see the many amazing virtues of homeschooling (unschooling – love that term) but I guess it is a system open to potential abuse. I was surprised that there isn’t already a register and some form of oversight here. How is it in the States?

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      This is tragic, although I would not call it a consequence of homeschooling. I call it a consequence of people not capable of parenting, and it exists no matter what. Kids are locked in basements. Kids are burned. Kids are drowned in bathtubs. Kids are used for sex. Kids are shot down in school. I’ve admitted and taken care of alcoholic women (with disease endpoints like liver failure, indicating they were inebriated daily) who were the primary caretakers of children. I called our child protective services. Nothing was done. (I was also required to spend time with our child protective service people going to house visits with them. Tragic. Tragic. Tragic what people do and subject each other to, especially kids. As someone who easily takes on other people’s pain, this really hurt. So I know that child protective services have a bad time of it too. I see it both ways.)

      Should we regulate the ability to conceive until a person meets certain standards and require checks? On the one hand, you certainly want to when tragedy makes your heart sick for people unable to protect themselves. On the other hand, we all know this is not something a government should be doing. We always walk a fine line between protection of humanity and supreme control from a singular source. Historically, over and over, we’ve seen the damage from a supremely singular government.

      I read the articles about this boy, Dylan, and family. I considered: Will sending an “invisible” kid to school allow that person to be “visible?” Think back hard. I went to a public school in a fairly (very poor, actually–but I didn’t know better) poor rural county. Kids were pretty brutal to other kids. I feel very bad now because the kids that were picked on so badly were the kids I now know were probably abused at home in many ways. They sat next to me. They didn’t do well in school. Had unusual mannerisms. They withdrew. They got pregnant early. I argue that school did not help them. School did not allow them to escape the path set before them. Yes, they were alive, thank God for that. But it became no better than it was for them. So we can say that sending a kid to school will “help” them, but will it? I am curious now thinking back, what did the teachers think of these kids? Did they feel helpless like the authorities described in Dylan’s case (the young boy from Wales)? What would the path have been for Dylan had he gone to school or been registered? He received health care at emergent times in his life, and authorities did know about him and that things weren’t right–so he wasn’t invisible. Authorities didn’t feel they had the right to step in. This has nothing to do with homeschooling.

      Here in the United States, each state has its own homeschooling requirements–but all have some set of requirements. (The United States was originally intended to be more state regulated than federal government regulated, and this is still pretty well reflected in our homeschooling laws from state to state.) I do believe that all states require homeschooled children to be registered. Home checks sound lovely, but again, you run into a singular entity who has an idea of how education should be, how a house should look, how kids should behave, how a yard should look, what food should be eaten and in the cupboards. Who can and should decide that?

      Well, that was a relay of some thoughts I have on this. You’re a lawyer and a compassionate human being, so I know you have your own. I noticed Dylan died in 2011 and the reports are coming out now. Do you know why there is such a delay on this? And did you notice the emphasis on the parents being “strict vegetarians?”

      Not light coffee or tea talk, eh.

      1. myjourneythrume

        It is definitely tragic and I couldn’t agree more that it is a result of incapable parenting and not the type of education. I guess attending a school out of the home increases visibility of potentially vulnerable children but as you say that does not guarantee any action taken or indeed whether any action is appropriate and yes what is appropriate is a real grey area.
        I believe the outcome of inquiry has just been announced and that’s why it has taken until now for this to have made the news. 5 years seems a shocking amount of time to have passed for an inquiry outcome tho, things are always so slow, possibly lawyers have a role in that…
        It is incredibly sad the amount of children born and raised in homes that do not provide a level of care that most of us would see as necessary/appropriate/adequate but as you say you run into issues of who has the power to determine on a society level what is right, the dreaded ‘nanny state’ so to speak. But equally where do you draw the line to prevent children being the victims.
        Not easy and an ongoing debate for sure that seems to get forgotten until another tragic story hits the news, discussion gets some temporary traction but then slides out of the public eye until the next time.
        Our media struggles with anything out of the ordinary, hence the veggie line I guess.
        Truly not light talk.

  8. rachelmeeks

    I have no idea where I stand on this. On one hand, I hated school. I felt so confined. I was bullied a lot. And any positives for public education aren’t really education-related: I made friends, and they’re still my closest, dearest friends. Marching band and theater, teachers that made a big impact on me. But always trying to find a way “around” school, never really relishing learning.

    On the other hand, I’m a terrible teacher. That’s from multiple sources – I’m impatient and bad at explaining things. So that makes it seem like I shouldn’t even consider homeschooling. But there are so many problems with public education… hmm… *flip-flopping forever and ever.*

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      NOT flip-flopping! I know because I do it myself. It’s the wonderful ability to see all sides of the elephant!

      I loved my school extra-curricular and my high school friends and I are very, very close still too. (Actually, once you become my friend, you get kind of stuck with me. LOL!) So I never though I’d homeschool. And we did so only because we wanted to be able to travel. Now I have so many more reasons.

      I hate that you were bullied, confined to learn things that stifled, while probably being limited in the things that you thrived on. Together our society has the answers if we’re willing to admit “the marriage” isn’t working and everyone is willing to work toward change.

      I just don’t like seeing people settle. I like to address problems instead of letting them fester. I love kids as people. I’m not all gushy over them. I see them as individuals, not as a population. I feel public schools see them as a population. No answers. But I just don’t want people to settle. More standards won’t cut it.

      Well, must go. Thanks for commenting, Rachel. Glad you’re thinking about this already! It’s the invisible illness that permeates education…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.