Saturday, September 5, 2009

Battle of the Beliefs

From everything I can gather, I am a rather unique homeschooling parent. I guess that makes sense, considering the fact that I'm unique enough to not fit in pretty much everywhere I go. Finding my "clique," so to speak, has never been something I could do. 

I am a homeschooling parent for one reason and one reason only. My children need me to be one at this time. Were our educational choices different in the area in which we live, I would happily send them off each and every day for a well rounded education elsewhere. My passion lies not in cracking the books each and every day, trying to shape and mold everything which enters my children's heads -- but in making sure that they are thriving and learning. A rabid homeschooler I am not.

There is a case in New Hampshire in which the courts have ordered a mother to enroll her daughter in public school. The daughter is ten years old and the mother has been homeschooling her since first grade. The mother appears to be doing a fine job in covering the academics (and even has her enrolled in certain classes at the public school)... but she's divorced, and the father does not share the mother's religious beliefs. The father has requested the court send the daughter to public school and the court agreed. According to the court order, " Education is by its nature an exploration and examination of new things. A child requires academic, social, cultural, and physical interaction with a variety of experiences, people, concepts, and surroundings in order to grow to an adult who can make intelligent decisions about how to achieve a productive and satisfying life." 

In all honesty, I can see why this would be a sticky situation. When two parents have vastly different views on life principles and religious values, who gets to decide? Does common sense dictate that the person with primary custody gets the final say? 

Apparently the guardian ad litem had some profound influence on the case. The court order also said, "According to the guardian ad litem's further report and testimony, the counselor found Amanda (the ten year old) to lack some youthful characteristics. She appeared to reflect her mother's rigidity on questions of faith." 

Question for you... how many ten year olds do you know who run to explore different faiths from their parents? How many do you know who voice a different political viewpoint? Not many, I'm sure. They're TEN. They're still trying to figure out how things work, and they often parrot the views of their primary caregiver. Yes, even those children who are in the bowels of the public education system tend to be little parrots. 

The interesting thing about this case is the point on which the court focused. Religion. That little girl was ruled "too Christian." The court decided the father was right - the little girl "would be best served by exposure to a public school setting... and different points of view at a time when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief... in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs."  Fascinating reasoning, really, when you consider the fact that one of the girl's own parents is obviously exposing her to a different point of view already. 

Apparently, the court system in New Hampshire thinks that the best way to teach a child to think for themselves is to expose them to the biggest "group think" racket ever. Public school. 

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