I know this one is a bit of a rough topic for myself. I grew up as a homeschooler for pretty much my entire life. I did attend a private Christian K-4 class, but after that I was homeschooled K-12.
I know often people’s first question when they find out my family homeschooled is why? Why did my family homeschool? I really don’t have a full answer to that as my parents never really stopped to explain their actions or reasoning. Generally a child’s feelings or preferences were rarely considered or discussed. However, my full belief is that my family homeschooled me to protect me from the world and to provide a Christian education for me.
I feel that fear is used to convince these families that their Christian children would not be safe in a “secular” school environment. I still don’t understand this fully. But often the public school system was portrayed as the villain. Teaching evils like feminism, evolution, sex education, and critical race theory (the new current evangelical boogeyman).
I know this is a dramatic example, but I heard this mentality a lot growing up. A very much us vs. them type of logic. Even if that conflict is entirely invented or imagined.
I would often hear how parents “rights” are overturned and trampled on in the public school setting. And how your children would be taught “left leaning” teachings and sex education without your consent. “Forced” vaccination was also presented as a reason not to attend public schools.
Homeschooling can often be a very faith based choice as well. My family was convinced that learning about the bible was a necessary portion of my education. And would often bring up how the g-d and the bible aren’t allowed in schools anymore.
However, this is a bit of a false teaching. Private readings of the scriptures are still allowed; but school sponsored devotions, prayer, and bible lessons are off limits. In effect teachers aren’t allowed to lead prayer or teach a specific religion as a class. However, individuals can still pray together and read their respective sacred writings. But to my parents this was equated to full removal of g-d and the bible from public schools.
G-d should be placed above everything else, or so I was told. And bible was often the first subject of my day. I spent at least one credit a semester learning about scripture, doctrine, and church history from a conservative point of view.
G-d and moral lessons were placed in almost every aspect of my education. For penmanship / writing I copied scripture and quotes from theologians. The same also applied to English and reading as the English and grammar lessons would use the same type of quotes and scriptures to teach grammar. Reading would focus heavily on the earlier years of mostly Christian authors and avoid more “modern” literature. In fact I don’t believe I ever did a book report on a book released within the last 20 years.
Modern art and literature were completely avoided if they didn’t teach a moral lesson or have a clear message. Abstract art was considered pointless and the classical era of panting was promoted as ideal. In fact my textbooks made it clear that the modern art movement was a sign of how society has moved away from Christian values. Choosing to embrace things that Abeka would not consider a form of art.
As for my history classes, I need to make a separate post for that. For now I will merely say that it was an extremely biased view, and it promoted American nationalism. Missions and the spread of Christianity were also a required portion in my history classes. Large portions of my classes were spent learning about “biblical history.”
Science would remain unscathed right? Wrong, science was also presented in a twisted view. With a heavy push for young earth creationism. The only discussion about evolution was a chapter or two spent “debunking” it. Earlier Christian scientists received a lot of focus with their discoveries being credited to their faith or scriptural passages. And modern science was viewed with a bit of skepticism as it was been deemed to be tainted by modern “evolutionary theory.”
It’s hard to explain the way that my education was twisted. How something like history, art, literature, or science could have an agenda behind them. I think most people consider education to be very fact based. With the mentality that the worst thing that could happen regarding an education is that someone did not receive one. And while that is an issue in homeschooling that’s not the topic I want to currently address.
In many ways, I received a very good education. But in other ways I have many gaps and deficits in my education. However, my main frustration was the way the world was presented to me in my education.
In everything I learned I was slowly learning a Christian nationalist worldview. Black and white thinking pervaded the entire curriculum with very little room for discussion about the other side. One side was presented as right and there was no room to talk about any counter points.
All subjects and conversations in my curriculum centered around what was called a “Biblical Worldview.” A view that filtered and told students exactly how to think on each subject. With each point of their subjects lining up with a literal view of scripture.
This would erase any view of history or science that insists that the world is older than 6000 yrs. Instead abeka presents a view of the world that starts with Adam and includes a biblical flood. This isn’t presented as a theory or their opinion; this is fact. It’s stated as true and accurate history (even though it’s entirely unprovable).
Most modern civil and criminal issues are presented as being caused by a lack of faith in the US. Racial tensions and ethnic violence are all due to a “sin problem.” Social problems and in-depth history of these issues are ignored or explained away. If America had a return to their “Christian values” all of these issues would be able to be resolved. Or so it is portrayed.
The complexity of social disparities was also something that was very much ignored. The simple answer I received was: anyone could make it in the US. It didn’t matter where you started you could always work your way out of poverty. Ignoring the laws and historical circumstances that have robbed many people of the opportunities many others take for granted.
My point is that I was taught a very narrow view of the world. With straight up false “facts” being taught as truth at times. In such a way that encouraged me to think in only one way.
So in many ways my parents were able to accomplish what they set out to do. I never received any teachings or views about history that they didn’t agree with. I never once was taught evolution as a factual portion of science. And I knew a decent bit about the bible by the time I graduated.
But after I left my home and college. (My college was the publisher of Abeka – the same curriculum I grew up with.) I found that in many ways I had been feed a lot of lies. The world wasn’t as simple as I had been told. Many facts about history and science that I had been fed were easily disproven.
Now I’m left trying to sort out what from my education was real and what was a lie. I truly don’t wish that on anyone. And it’s hard to see this type of education get pushed onto to next generation.
For many within the fundi world, there is no alternative to homeschooling. And there is a lot of pressure to generationally continue that practice. My own family has pushed against my personal choice to have my children attend public school. Expressing that my daughter would receive a sub-par and agenda driven education. Failing to realize that is what is often is occurring in the homeschool community.
I would love to see more discussion about homeschool curriculums. While I’ve seen some recent online discussion about Abeka and ACE, I generally have to really search to find anything. I believe it’s a problem most people are generally unaware of, and it often escapes public attention.
I’m going to give a few links and resources below if anyone wants to read more.
I recommend following RLStoller on Twitter. See this tweet for a good start on some of the issues within abeka history books.
This is also another great twitter thread that shows some of the issues regarding abeka history. https://twitter.com/JosiahHawthorne/status/1406455498875015174?s=20
Samantha Fields has also done several blog posts on the same subject, and they are definitely worth reading.
Here are two articles by the Orlando Sentinel that cover curriculum used by many homeschoolers. ACE, Bob Jones and Abeka. It discusses these curriculums due to their use within private schools, but private Christian schools and homeschool students often use the same curriculum. “Who is behind Christian curriculum companies that supply lessons to Florida’s voucher-funded private schools?” and “Private schools’ curriculum downplays slavery, says humans and dinosaurs lived together“
The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is also a great resource to check out. They advocate for safer and responsible homeschooling in the US. This is a link to their history of homeschooling page. It’s a good summary of the history of the homeschooling movement, and how it’s reached the point where it current sits.