The history of PS in the US & historical figures who HSed. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 11-16-2009, 10:37 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess the title says it all. I am wondering where I can find this info, when public school officially began in the US, beyond say the Little House style one room school houses. I have heard or read that Thomas Jefferson was home schooled, who else can be added to that list, and should he be removed . I am always looking to add to my arsenal of why we HS, when "pass the bean dip" isn't enough Lately I keep coming back to why our society, the US in particular, is so adamant about sending our children off to school, and then it makes me wonder how many parents investigate the qualifications of the people teaching their children because my qualifications are always questioned. Especially because I don't hold a degree in anything! How may mothers on the prairie had degrees in literature or math?!!!

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#2 of 6 Old 11-16-2009, 11:02 PM
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I always find it a little disingenuous when lists of "famous homeschooled people" are passed around. I guess you can say that Thomas Jefferson was homeschooled, but there wasn't much in the way of public school in the South 200 years ago, and if his family was wealthy it would have been the norm for them to hire a team of private tutors for him and his siblings. The boys would have been prepared to go to college or some sort of apprenticeship (in the mid-teen years was the norm, and the apprenticeship would not necessarily have been manual, but something like law), and the girls would have been taught enough reading, writing, and math to be able to run a household. If you want to call that home schooling, I guess you'd be technically correct, but it seems kind of desperate to me to need to claim that as some sort of validation for what you're doing now.

I see that sort of claim on lists and t shirts all the time, so obviously people identify with it, but it kind of completely undermines the modern realities of homeschooling and why people choose to do it, and the cultural norms that existed for privileged sons on vast estates in a time period pretty foreign to our own.

There was a thread on this very recently, in the past week or so, but basically my answer is that public schooling began in New England in the mid 17th century because it was very important to the Puritan faith that individuals be able to read the Bible themselves. Then the US was founded on the Enlightenment ideal of a rational, educated populace participating in a democracy and public schools were and continue to be the only way that ideal has a fighting chance. For practical reasons, the public education system evolved in various different ways around the country, but firmly took root during Westward Expansion when laws were passed ensuring public schools for settlements.

As for how many mothers on the prairie had degrees in literature in math, the answer would be not many. But are you insinuating that poor, rural 19th century children were particularly educated by said mothers? Because I'm not sure I'd agree. Such kids would be lucky if they could read and add single digit numbers. If you're referring to that "graduation exam" that goes around every once and a while that supposedly shows how educated 6th graders in Kansas were a hundred years ago, I believe that Snopes covers it.

I dunno, I guess I would concentrate more on your own reasons for homeschooling, instead of trying to make broad generalizations about US history that don't really mesh with the current reality. If you're looking to be able to quote modern facts and figures about the shortcomings of the modern public school system, my old standby is The Schools We Need, by E.D. Hirsch.

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#3 of 6 Old 11-17-2009, 03:10 AM
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Public schools really took off during the period after the Civil War and before 1910, thanks in part to the push for child labor laws. Since children were unable to fill their days with work and the cities were becoming filled with recent immigrants they needed a place where basic indoctrination into the "American way of life" could happen. School was that place. More geographically speaking, the American South's Reconstruction period showed a great increase in schools thanks in part to the government funding they received.

However, while this bit of information is fascinating, it's not going to help you. People who question your credentials are not looking for a history lesson, but a current events debate. The easiest way to avoid that is to not get sucked in. Acknowledge their opinion, don't give it any weight, and move on to the next topic.
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#4 of 6 Old 11-17-2009, 02:32 PM
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Is it bad form to link to my blog?

It's an entry about some info I found Family Matters, Why Homeschooling Makes Sense by David Guterson. The book is not just about the beginnings of schooling, but does provide it as an interesting intro.

But I agree it's not something that is going to back someone down. Honestly those folks don't care about facts, or why... they just want to share their opinion.

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#5 of 6 Old 11-17-2009, 02:41 PM
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I know of three books that can help.

The Underground History of American Education

Weapons of Mass Instruction

both by John Taylor Gatto,

and A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century by Oliver Van DeMille

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#6 of 6 Old 11-17-2009, 10:59 PM - Thread Starter
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I shouldn't have said I was using the info to argue my reasons for HSing. After three plus years of defending HSing, even when we weren't doing it, I am tired of my same old answers, whether they are convincing to others or not, I really don't care anymore, especially now that we are knee deep in it, finally! My favorite's are the ones that are more to the point. We do it because we can, and thats it. But being someone who loves history and especially obscure facts, I would rather divert the conversation toward sharing something new rather than having the same old argument/debate. Like I said, whether it's convincing or not, who cares. I'm already convinced. But thank you for the links and the info. I love links to new blogs!

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