Homeschooling: "Freed to Learn"

Homeschooling as a form of Intellectual Freedom

For some of us, the decision to homeschool our children is related to our beliefs about intellectual freedom. We may believe that our community's public school blocks our children's access to information, discourages their freedom of expression, imposes some form of secular religion on them or prevents their free religious expression. For instance, in a landmark case in Massachusetts, "The Care and Protection of Charles," the parents chose to home school their children "[d]ue to religious convictions." (399 Mass. 324, 37 Ed. Law Rep. 934) The Supreme Judicial Court quotes a letter the parents had written to notify the school department of their decision to home school their children:

" 'As Christian parents, we are committed to introducing our children to and nurturing them in the truths of the Bible....Our decision to home-school is based on the conviction that what [our children] need most is exposure to us, their parents, and a family whose foundation is the Word of God."

While these parents, and many others who have been in the forefront of the United States homeschooling movement, are Christian, the opportunity to integrate a family's religious faith and practice into their children's education may be valued by members of any religion.

In our case, we felt that compulsory public education for our fifth grader, which took about nine and a half hours of his time each weekday (time at school, on the bus, and doing homework) was significantly decreasing his access to the information and experiences he needed to grow intellectually. Our middle school was not prepared to educate a child whom they described as the "most gifted and most disabled student" student they had had. Although he easily did eighth-grade math, he was only allowed to use a fifth-grade math book and had to be in a fifth-grade math class (and only a fifth-grade math class), simply because he was in fifth grade. Although he read on an adult level, learning disabilities made writing and organization painfully difficult, to say the least. Rather than work to accommodate him so that he could be in the advanced language arts class, the school assigned him to a slower class, one in which he would again study Sarah, Plain and Tall. It's a good book, but he had already studied it in both his second and fourth grade classes. By being home schooled, he was able to read the Odyssey the next year (his choice). He and his younger brother are exposed to a variety of information and points of view to which they would not have had access in our middle school, from Creationism to the Communist Manifesto, from Beowulf to A Brief History of Time. In addition, we are free to integrate our religious faith into our discussions of what they study, and we don't have to worry that they might say something about God in class. (Technically students are allowed to speak about their religious beliefs in school, as long as they aren't trying to convert others, but the regional environment suggests that we would have to educate people to that fact.)

In the Brunelle Decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court describes what is to me part of the great liberation in how we access, integrate and express knowledge as home schoolers:

"...[S]ome of the most effective curricular materials that the plaintiffs [homeschooling parents] may use may not be tangible. For example, travel, community service, visits to educationally enriching facilities and places, and meeting with various resource people can provide important learning experiences apart from the four corners of a text or workbook."

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Milo thanks Lee Ferry for help in creating this page. Lee and Milo can be contacted at .
Page revised July 17, 2000.
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