Wrestling with the Hivemind and Homeschool Guru Susan Wise Bauer

November 18th, 2010

Last week an anonymous reader linked my Pie Near Woman Goes on the QVC post to a forum called ‘The Well Trained Mind’. This message board is a place for classical christian homeschoolers to get together and share the love of Jesus through the powerful witness of disappearing into a subculture that actively shuns anyone who believes differently than they do.  Although some posters to the forum were entertained by my post, others were highly offended and proceeded to strip, scourge and crucify me with all the passion that is displayed in the actual passion.  I feel so resurrected now!

Strangely, the forum on ‘The Well Trained Mind’ is subtitled ‘The Hive Mind’ which according to an Dictionary Online means…

“a type of collective consciousness where individuality is stifled; a state of conformity; also written hivemind”

It has long been my (oh so humble) opinion that Christian homeschoolers seem to suffer from a particularly viral form of ‘hive mindedness’ – almost uniformly believing that public school teachers are only thinly disguised demons that seek to infect their children’s minds with every brand of evil from ‘new math’ to exposing children to atheist writers like Mark Twain and Thomas Jefferson.  Their paranoia towards anyone outside their ‘circle of trust’ is so profound that they don’t even want their kids to go to college as they might get exposed to OTHER PEOPLE’S IDEAS and this could send their kids STRAIGHT TO HELL!

Fortunately, the founder of The Well Trained Mind Forums offers a bit of perspective.  Susan Wise Bauer believes herself to be the rare and wondrous homeschooled child of the 1970s (back when homeschooling had yet to become a cultural meme for right wing nutjobs. Instead, it was strictly for regular nut jobs whose right-wingedness was merely happenstance).  Bauer is a Liberty University grad, a Westminster theological seminary grad and also holds a couple of advanced degrees from William & Mary where she has taught English since 1993.   In her free time she homeschools her own four kids with her pastor husband and churns out history textbooks for religious right homeschoolers.  Still – Bauer fought the homeschool hive mind when they e-mailed her in droves about how to find a college that had professors who would agree to accept the hive mind of their children without question and never allow their kids to question their faith.  This is how Bauer responded…

“Your typical good-sized department will probably contain one or two observant Catholics, two or three observant Episcopalians, a handful of nominal Presbyterians and Baptists who are for all practical purposes secularists, a couple of militant left-wingers out to make converts, one or two ex-hippies, the odd evangelical, and an array of folks who have never had a religious thought in their lives. In any university, you’re likely to find sympathetic faculty and hostile faculty, Democrats and Republicans and Libertarians, gay faculty and straight faculty, faculty with kids and faculty without kids. Universities are kind of like real life in that way (if in very few others). There will be many different voices and many chances to hear them.”

It is somewhat strange that she accuses left wingers of being “out to make converts” and though I certainly agree with her that evangelicals are odd, I am pretty sure that they are WAY more interested in converting people than liberals are.

Later in the same response she shockingly says….

“I myself have had a very frustrating time teaching students who come into William & Mary primed to resist the lies of “liberal faculty.” (That includes a lot of home educated students, who register for for my classes because they think I’m safe.) Every time I say something that strikes them as possibly “liberal,” all of their defenses go up and they tune me out. I can’t play devil’s advocate or dialogue with them–they immediately put me on the list of untrustworthy professors and stop listening.

And at that point they become unteachable.

I’m often asked how home educated students stack up against others in my classes. My overwhelming impression is that they’re more fragile. They’ve got little resilience; I can’t push at their presuppositions even a little bit. Maybe they’re afraid those presuppositions will shatter.”

Holy shit Susan?!?!?!?

Are you saying what I think you are saying?!?!?!??!

That Christian homeschooled kids can’t tolerate debate regarding their belief system? That they don’t know how to think thoughts that did not originate in the minds and wombs of their bible bullying mamas? That they are closed minded infants who tremble at the site of a professor with a different view point?

You are not going to believe this Susan!

But that has always been my impression of Chrisitan homeschoolers too!

We agree!

I don’t think you should tell your hive minded forum people about this.

You can read her entire post on this topic here.

But that is not all that I learned about Susan Wise Bauer after posters to her message board took after me with their sword shaped bible bookmarks, I felt compelled to dig into the history of the leader of this hive minded forum in the hopes of coming up with some sexual scandal which she seems a bit fixated on for a pastor wife/homeschooling mom.  But what I found instead was an article on Belief.net entitled, Dodging the Homeschool Sterotype, in which she proceeds to perfectly model every homeschooling sterotype in existence…

“…When my mother tells the story of her decision to homeschool my siblings and me, back in 1972, she talks about my brother’s boredom, my kindergarten teacher’s worries that my love for reading was unhealthy, the bullying on the bus that often delivered us to school weeping. But one incident finally pushed her into homeschooling. My brother, age 7, came home one spring and confronted her in the kitchen, putting both hands on his hips and glaring in the knowledge that someone was pulling the wool over his eyes. “You said God made the world,” he announced, “and the teacher says no one made the world. Now I want to know: Who’s telling the truth?”

Here is how Susan’s mom remedied this problem..

“She couldn’t accuse herself of untruth; nor did she want to explain to my brother that he was to sit, for the entire next year, under the teaching of a person he could not trust. We started homeschooling the next fall.”

So according to Susan’s mom, her only options were to…

1.  Call herself a liar.

2.  Call her son’s teacher untrustworthy.

3.  Homeschool.

The misbegotten option of saying -  ‘Listen kiddo – not everyone agrees on the origins of the universe.  Momma says God did it and your teacher says no one did it.  Someday you will have to decide for yourself.” was not an option?

Here is the break down of Susan’s moms claims for why she chose to homeschool her kids…

1.  Her daughter’s kindergarten teacher believed that reading was unhealthy.

2.  Her son was bored.

3.  The bus driver allowed Susan and her siblings to be bullied to tears.

4.  Her son’s second grade teacher was an outspoken atheist.

Oh now c’mon Susan Wise Bauer’s mom!  Where were you sending your kids to school?  Hades?  Who was this outspoken atheist second grade teacher in Virginia?  I want to meet her!

From there Susan goes on to proclaim that she is the only teacher in her area that is capable of giving her kid both sides of every story and therefore is the only one that should teach them.  And what an interesting two sides of the story  that is!  According to Susan…

1.  Columbus was a missionary minded, gospel sharing, new world explorer with little concern for money or fame.

2.  The Spanish Conquistadors were humble servants of God who only wanted to bring the Incas to Jesus.

3.  And both evolution and intelligent design are 100 percent correct as long as you realize that God did it.

4.  In conclusion may I present Susan Wise Bauer’s  You Tube contribution to rational thinking….

In this video Susan Wise Bauer clears up that whole nasty slavery issue in the bible.  She decides that when Paul told slaves to obey their masters – he was only being ‘descriptive’ and not ‘prescriptive’.  Evidently the option for Paul to clearly state in his letters that “Slavery is sick, wrong, and you shouldn’t be doing that you immoral pig eating gentile ho-bags’ was not an option.  Instead he had to wait two thousand years for a godly homeschooling woman named Susan Wise Bauer to rise from Liberty University, attend seminary, and market her special brand of trivium education to thousands of right wingers  and then explain to the world that what Paul really meant was….

was…?

was……..???????

I don’t even know WHAT she is saying in this video.

It was a principal that was good?…. but it was distorted to support slavery?

How can a principle be good and distorted?

And how exactly is power being twisted here Susan?  There is no twisting necessary.  Paul said, slaves obey your masters.  There can be no simpler more direct statement than that.  I am afraid that it is you Susan, who is twisting and contorting this simple sentence in a bizarre attempt to make the bible work for you.

Comments

  • some kid:

    Speaking of your nemesis and her pie, she’s on the Food Network right now (right now!) and she just stuck her fork straight into a pie for a bite, because “we don’t use plates in Oklahoma!” (?!?!?!?)

    Poor Bobby Flay… There are also (suddenly! unexpectedly!) cattle in the road, blocking the way to the house. They couldn’t possibly have been driven there by the ranch hand conveniently nearby to underscore just how country (!) Ree’s homestead really is.

    This is the rare occasion on which I actually hope he beats the poor, unsuspecting thrown-down guest cooker (that’s a guest who is cooking, not someone cooking a guest – unfortunately.)

  • Rechelle:

    I don’t know if I am going to be able to watch it unless I can find it somewhere on the internet.

    In the meantime – Christopher Hitchens is debating William Dembski on thursday morning. Now that is something I really wish I could see. Hopefully it will get stashed on the internet too.

  • annmarie:

    Well don’t waste your time watching it – I watched half of it and it was really boring, plus she cooks with her hair hanging all around her face and no apron and the whole thing grosses me out. Sadly she beat Bobby, although the highlight was when her little daughter admitted to liking Bobby’s dessert more than Ree’s. There is something about her that came across as arrogant. Bobby usually is the one to approach people about doing the the “throw down” but as it turns out, SHE contacted Food Network about doing this particular show. She seems to be very into self-promotion, but when asked how her blog got so popular she always remarks with an “aw shucks, I don’t even know, it just sort of happened” response. Her husband was lurking in the back alot. He is a lurker. They didn’t even show his hot ass. Oh, and why am I wasting my time writing about this woman? Seriously, life is short, don’t bother looking up the episode. It’s a snoozer. Read a David Sedaris book instead. Now there is someone I want to see more of.

  • Christine from Canada:

    “I can’t…dialogue with them…”

    Ugh. People, people, people: let’s please stop using this expression. Let’s please go back to using “dialogue” as a noun (I know, I know — it’s perfectly acceptable to use it as a verb, but it’s so overused).

    I used to be a public school elementary/jr. high school teacher. Every once in a blue moon we’d get a homeschooler (usually enrolled for a very short stint). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: these children behaved oddly. Sweet, polite children, but they behaved as if they’d been told to be very wary of “others”. Sad. They were also not nearly as academically gifted as they’d like to say they are.

    • Emily:

      My mom is an elementary teacher, and she says much the same thing about the homeschool kids. Their parents will enroll them for short periods, until the teacher/school/county does something to piss them off, then pull them out until the next time. Or they bring them in for one or two classes, usually things like PE or maybe foreign languages. It must be really disruptive to do things that way.

    • Bridget:

      I am working with a homeschooled kid for a class project and he is socially fragile. He was making me so frustrated and annoyed and I didn’t know that he was homeschooled. when I went to explain my frustration to my teacher, he told me he was homeschooled and after that all of his behavior made complete sense. Some how he is president of the honor society, but he has no idea how to work in a group, how to work within group dynamics, or how to listen politely to others. Not saying that non homeschooled kids always no how to do this, but his inability to work within a group stems from having no social skills. And he isn’t all that smart and gets very rattled whenever he feels someone is challenging his world view such as when we had to discuss evolution.

    • Rennie:

      Sure, some homeschooled children behave oddly. Some publicly schooled children behave oddly. That has more to do with the child’s parents and environment. There are plenty of perfectly normal, well adjusted homeschooled children. You probably just haven’t me them, because, well, they are still being educated at home.

      • Rechelle:

        Okay Rennie, but you gotta play a percentages game here. There are about a million public schooled kid to every one homeschooled kid. Clearly the odds of being well… odd as a homeschooled kid are MUCH HIGHER than the odds of being an um… odd public schooled kid. Why is that? Well first off – genetics. Weird people tend to homeschool because they lack the ability to cope with intricate social systems and it makes sense that weird people would have weird kids. Second – environment. Spending all day long with your weird mom is going to highly increase the odds that you will turn out weird where that same kid might have been a bit less weird had he/she been able to escape from mom’s weirdy weirdness for eight blissful hours a day at the local public school.

        • mad scientist:

          You might want to do some fact checking here.

          “The results of the 2003 NHES survey reveal that the weighted estimate of the number of students being homeschooled in the United States in the spring of 2003 was 1,096,000, a figure which represents a 29 percent increase from the estimated 850,000 students who were being homeschooled in the spring of 1999 (table 1). In addition, the estimated homeschooling rate—the percentage of the student population being homeschooled—rose from 1.7 percent in 1999 to 2.2 percent in 2003.” http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2006/homeschool/

          2.2%, 7 years ago. It’s undoubtedly grown since then, but even if we use 2.2%, that’s one homeschooled kid for every 45 public+private schooled kid. You’re just a wee bit off.

          • Rechelle:

            Nope. It’s a million to one. I’m always right on my blog. And pretty much everywhere else too.

  • My college was filled with Missionary Kids and Preacher’s Kids. Never in my life, before or after, was I impacted by such distorted and warped thinking, living, and points of view – Christian or otherwise. These people, literally, live in another world. The fact that they were supposedly being trained to enter OUR world was made even more ludicrous by the idea that the setting in question was a Christian college. Thanks to Facebook, I still hear from these miscreants from time to time. Funny, forty years on, they are still as loony as when they stepped off the boat and onto the campus. EFH

  • First: Jon Hodgman calls his twitter followers the hive mind. I love him. He will address questions to “Hive mind!”
    Second: Wow! That was…interesting. I love her bit about how the “‘Christian’ slave holders” didn’t see how their reading of scripture was self-serving. Because clearly that would never apply to anyone reading the Bible today…or throughout history. Ever.
    Third: I aspire to be the kind of parent someday who can explain to their kids that people have different opinions, and that exploring the world and people around you won’t actually turn you into a demon of the underworld. It might not be as easy as saying “Don’t listen to them! They’re bad bad people!” but I hope to try.

  • Also, can’t resist, one of the comments on Bauer’s blog:
    “Thank you for this response. My children are not yet college ready but I am preparing myself and them for that day. My goal is to have young adults ready to face this world with strength, intelligence, and wisdom. (As far as I am able, anyway) While I would like, as a homeschool Mom, to hide and protect my children from all that is evil and wrong-that is wrong. I must guide them and give them strength. All of us must learn at some point to stand on our own two feet and God, Mom and Dad will not and should not always be there. We should strive as parents to teach our children how to rely be discerning, well thought, and Godly. Thank you for all you and your Mother do for homeschoolers. God Bless.”
    So SHE ADMITS! God will not always be there! Okay, just kidding. But really: protecting them from all that is evil and wrong? But also making them strong and intelligent? These seem mutually exclusive.

  • D:

    Hey dufus-not all WTM board members are Christian. Some of us go there to garner info on the latest classical homeschool curriculum. There are plenty of secular folks there as well. It was disappointing to see the waste of space devoted to your inane babbling blog. Catch a clue and stop hiding your profound insecurity behind your newfound cliche of atheism. What is next in your arsenal of hate?

    • Rechelle:

      What’s next in my arsenal of hate… what’s next in my arsenal of hate… hmmmmm – I was thinking of taking on people with cat allergies because that happens to be ruining my Christmas. What do you think?

      • Brilliant! I’d love that one – how ’bout false cat allergies, ie people who claim to have them because they don’t like cats and/or don’t want to come to our, uh, uhm, I mean, *your* house.

        • Rechelle:

          What is it with the fake cat allergy holiday control freaks?

  • Caro:

    “This message board is a place for classical christian homeschoolers to get together and share the love of Jesus through the powerful witness of disappearing into a subculture that actively shuns anyone who believes differently than they do.”

    Saying it doesn’t make it true. What gave you the idea that the board is for Christians? I’m an atheist, yet I’m an active participant. In general discussion I’ve brought up atheism several times, and have not once received a negative response. If you spent any time there at all, you’d see that WTM is most certainly not about conformity, religious or otherwise. That would be antithetical to Classical education.

    • N.:

      Hm. Well. I post there at the WTM board pretty regularly, merely because it’s a very active homeschooling community. I’m not a Christian- I’m Jewish. And not a very particularly religious Jew at that. I homeschool secularly. Oh, and I don’t do a “classical education,” I do a pretty relaxed/hands-on/eclectic type of education. None of this has ever been a secret there on the board- and I’ve NEVER gotten a negative response either. I’ve found the vast majority of posters there to have a good sense of humor, to be friendly and outgoing and accepting of others, regardless of their religion (or lack thereof), regardless of what style of homeschooling they are into, etc. Your statements here really are neither true nor fair.

  • GothicGyrl:

    First–you’ve been linked **again** from over there. Expect the bashing. One has already started by saying you are seriously misinformed and you “need to do a little more research” and that you are “only looking for numbers”.

    Two–Let’s not start the homeschooler bashing. I am unabashedly, unashamedly, atheist and I homeschool. My girls are neither “ill-prepared” nor are they “indoctrinated”. Do they “behave oddly?” YES! But not because they are homeschooled. They behave oddly because they have personalities and are very energetic towards their life and friends.

    And I would wager the twats on WTM would say the same about their kids too. However, they are also going to say you are the one who has issues and that they are homeschooling their kids because of people like you. I would wager that at least half of those women do not even use the WTM method nor have they read the book and I would also wager that they **still** (wrongly) believe that the WTM forum, as a whole, is Christian. Truth is, even on the older forum, most of the members were not Christian or were Christian but did not homeschool for that reason.

    And to be honest–that forum has gone straight to pot. Most of those women are lying through their teeth and would never behave like that in real life. Anonymity of the internet allows them to be petty little bitches who get their britches in a wad when you disagree or call them out. And when they get here to “correct” you and tell you how “wrong” you are, they’ll know exactly who I am and will insist I got banned because I asked to be. When the truth is, I told Susan that if she could not contain her circus monkeys the proper way, she should ban me because I refuse to stop calling out the daft fools who insist it be their way or the highway.

    And many, if not all, of the women (and some men) who have been banned from there were banned for the same reason. Susan refuses to control her “hive” like a good Queen would and should.

    So to end this: your viewpoint of the forum is absolutely spot on. Don’t let them try and tell you otherwise.

    ~~GG

    • Rechelle:

      GG – Thanks for your comment. I was surprised by some of the diversity that I read in response to my post. It was very clear that some of the people were either atheist, agnostic, or open minded christians. And trust me – I have come to understand that homeschooling is a diverse community fueled by lots of different motivations. In Kansas, it’s rare to find a homeschooler who is not intensely religious and paranoid about public education, And Kansas has great schools! But I am glad that some parents are able to offer this option to their kids and I honestly wish them the best. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to even TRY to educate my own kids.

      • :-(:

        I wouldn’t want you to either. Your poor kids.

        • Rechelle:

          Christian homeschoolers ARE THE BEST PEOPLE EVER!

          • :-):

            Heh. Well, some of them are. Others, like me, are countercultural crunchy left wing secular humanist homeschoolers. Whatever.

          • Rechelle:

            Funny – you come across like a right winger ultra judgemental fire and brimstone jumper clad conservative christian homeschooler. Whatev.

      • Clayvessel:

        <<>>

        Wow. I’m am so glad to see you have evolved a bit, Rechelle. If anyone bothered to look at any of your other many posts about homeschooling in your archives, they certainly would have a difficult time finding this attitude. (Because it doesn’t exist.)

        There is hope in the world.

        • Clayvessel:

          Hey! The quote disappeared.–

          “But I am glad that some parents are able to offer this option to their kids and I honestly wish them the best.”

  • Jenny:

    I just have to speak up for the WTM boards. I’m not a Christian, never pretended to be one when I was active in that community. I found them after I had signed off of several secular or liberal homeschool lists because I was so frustrated and saddened by the negativity and intolerance I saw there. I even had to quit a list of Unitarial Universalist homeschoolers, because they were so rigid in their thinking.

    However, in several years of participation on TWTM boards, I found those people to be some of the kindest, warmest and most helpful people I had encountered. Honestly, I was suprised to find those “right-wing, crazy-conservative Christians” were a whole lot nicer (and much better educated) than most of my real-life liberal “inclusive” friends.

    And I was far from the only liberal, secular type there. When I was active, we had regular posters who identified as Christian, Unitarian-Universalist, Catholic (yes, I know it’s a kind of Christian, but I’m making a point, here), LDS (ditto), Jewish, pagan, agnostic and athiest.

    What draws people together in that community is a desire to give their children the best possible education, not a specific worldview.

    While I, myself, did not go to school in Hades, I experienced some of what is described. I was bored from kindergarten on, was bullied with frequency and treated by teachers and students alike as a freak because I loved to read. Anyone who thinks the description is not accurate hasn’t spent enough time in public schools.

    By the way, the “hive mind” thing is an inside joke, something members, themselves came up with some years ago. It’s not something Susan Wise Bauer imposed in an attempt at world domination. I may not share her theology, but I do respect her.

    So, maybe you need to re-think that broad brush.

    • Rechelle:

      Jenny – I find it very hard to believe that any teacher on the planet treats a kid as a freak because they love to read. That simply does not make any sense. I have four kids. They are all in public schools. I have met many public school teachers. I love them all and consider them to be some of the finest people on the planet. I have spent my life around conservative christian homeschoolers because I was raised in conservative christian churches. I know what these people believe and I see very little positive about it. Their kids are taught paranoia and struggle with the difficulties of the real world. Besides – it’s not me that is criticizing the results of homeschooled kids in this post. IT’S SUSAN WISE BAUER!!!!

      • phoenix:

        Actually, many teachers in another era thought that too much reading was socially isolating and unhealthy. I doubt you would encounter this attitude today, but to have encountered it thirty or forty years ago doesn’t surprise me terribly. Think of Scout’s teacher in To Kill a Mockingbird, who chastised Atticus for letting her learn to read and thereby ruining her forever.

        I’ll also just second what others are saying and point out that the WTM forums aren’t all Christian by far. Nor are they all classical homeschoolers. For many, it’s simply the most active, welcoming and diverse homeschooling forum online today. Many members do fit your stereotype but others don’t. There’s quite a lot of disagreement there as well. Just sayin’.

        • Rechelle:

          Too much reading is socially isolating. No one can read and play with a friend at the same time. I can see how a teacher could develop some concerns. I still think that Susan’s mom’s story is a bit far fetched. ‘Tis the skeptic in me.

      • Jenny:

        Well, then, you must be right. Your children’s experiences clearly are more relevant than mine or those of friends who have children in public schools now. You caught me.

        Happy now?

        • km:

          You forgot to add nah nah nah nah NAH nah!

  • :):

    Wow. I’m in “the Hive Mind” and I’m not CC and have never (gasp!!) ever read TWTM and don’t intend to for a while. That forum is easily the most active HSing forum I’ve found, period, and almost no one cares that I combo CM/child-led and never plan to teach my kids Latin beyond roots. And I use secular science. And I’ve only read one thread that made me feel unwelcome, ever. I HS because my kids are advanced academically and one is a visual learner and I don’t want them to be bored out of their minds in PS. Dd has already watched scientific college lectures and so far, she hasn’t walled up or shattered, but maybe there’s still time :p

  • GothicGyrl:

    By the way, those that come here, from there, and think that I haven’t “moved on”… try again. I have FRIENDS there and I keep an eye on them.

    And no, the WTM is NOT the most open-minded board ever. There is a much more open, much more welcoming board– mine. :)

    Too bad most over there are so close-minded that they would never “come to the darkside” to see what it’s about.

    Bwhahaha…really ladies (over there), don’t think so highly of yourselves.. truth hurts and Rechelle just knocked you on it.

  • GothicGyrl:

    Last one, I promise– it’s GothicGYrl, not GothicGIrl. Please, if you are going to bash or name-call, at least spell my name correctly.

    K? Thnx bi!

  • ally:

    Not all of us homeschoolers on the WTM board are conservative Christians. I am an athiest homeschooling to give my sons a great education, and if I ended up having to send them to public school it would be fine. Of course I live in Berkeley so I don’t think I even know any conservative Christians. Sometimes the WTM board becomes an education for me (I would have found it very hard to believe there were still people who didn’t believe in evolution. Wha??????)

  • Bridget:

    My most favorite comment from the forum:

    “Please don’t post this until I have had time to copy all the recipes off her website. I mean, it was funny. But I don’t want Ree to get mad and decide blogging is a thankless task. At least not until I get those recipes.”

    This woman is apparently worried that your Pie Near Woman on QVC post is going to get Ree to stop blogging. I can’t stop laughing at that. How F—ING foolish to think that Ree- the company- would stop blogging when she is making so much money off it. To Ree blogging is a very thankful task. Are people really this stupid? I guess they really think that she is still blogging as person and not as a company that has a marketing plan.

    • Nevermind:

      This is about gREEd:

      “Yes, she’s making money at what she’s doing and yes, she’s now marketing herself and being on talk shows — but I don’t think she was ever in it for the money.”

    • Rennie:

      The comment about the recipes was a joke. No one really thought Ree would take down her blog. Have you no sense of humor?

      • Rechelle:

        I read that comment and it didn’t seem like a joke. It seemed like she was just dumb enough to actually mean it.

        • Rennie:

          Then one could argue that YOU were dumb enough to take it seriously. Or just looking for something to pick apart. It seems you have a strong dislike for the WTM forum and it’s members.

          • Rechelle:

            Rennie – I have a strong dislike to religious homeschoolers. I could care less about the WTM forum. They linked to one of my fabulous Pie Near Woman posts, began to pick me apart and I did a bit of research, figured out what the WTM was and wrote a brilliant (if I do say so myself) post about it. Next question?

  • Elaine:

    Yep, you’ve figured out the board quickly. Bauer has her degrees in history, yet she admits to never studying peace-groups(at all) in times of war. ????
    The place is a cluster, definitely, tho lurking does give a person a few chuckles, as long as he realizes the rest of the country isn’t as screwed up as most of the homeschoolers there.

  • Karen:

    I didn’t go to public school in Hades, but I still had a miserable time in school. There were teachers who bullied kids, kids who bullied kids and got away with it, teachers who threw my books that I was reading on the ground, gave me detention for reading in class (after I had read the assigned reading, I pulled out my own book, and that was considered a crime. Bear in mind that I had FINISHED the assigned reading. That wasn’t good enough.)

    So yeah, public school can be hell. And so can private school. My husband has no fond memories of his Catholic grade school. And I’ll admit my experiences are just one of the reasons we decided to homeschool our kids.

    Our homeschooled kids are not wary of other people. If anything, they are friendlier and more conversational with adults than the “traditionally” schooled kids I’ve met–maybe because they haven’t learned to see adults as Evil Authority Figures Who Must Be Thwarted. My kids love meeting other adults and other children, so I doubt I’m stunting their social intelligence.

    At the same time, I have met homeschooled children and parents who give homeschooling a bad name. We have quit one homeschooling co op after being disgusted at the behavior that the moms consider acceptable and the lack of academic rigor. I have met amazing public schooled kids, and kids from the public schools who make me despair for the future of humanity.

    It all boils down to the parents. If you have good, decent, loving parents who are determined to raise adults–not kids, but functional adults–then in the long run, homeschooling, public school, private school, charter–doesn’t matter.

  • Bridget:

    I promise to stop commenting, but just this last one. I am recovering from a serious illness and have been stuck in bed, so the internet is what I have for entertainment these days. But I love, love how these women think that you are bitter, insane, mentality unstable all because of some posts where you satirize the pie near woman. Also aren’t the women upset at you for making fun of Ree when they are sitting there doing the same thing? Making fun of you?

    Also I love how they say that you were once a good girl because you were once Christian, but now you are bad because you aren’t. Also they point out the you are also a bad athetist because you are bitter and jealous. I love it. Everything comes down to spirituality as if a person can only be defined by their religion.

    I can’t even begin to discuss the whole christian homeschooling movement because then I will be revealed as the conspiracy (truth) wing nut that I truly am. Also my comment would be a couple pages long and people come here to read posts from you. And it makes me cry to think that there are going to be generations of kids that are going to be taught that dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time and instructed to not trust anyone that has a different faith or belief system. Don’t trust the educated because they are part of the liberal, elite that want you to spend an eternity in hell. Little do these homeschooling Christian moms- not all homeschoolers just the fundamentalist Christian ones- realize that religion isn’t about spiritual beliefs, but that most political and religious leaders use religion to hid their true motives which is money.

    See I just can’t go down that road because I won’t be able to stop. I LOVE THIS BLOG! I do. Even if it is run by a mentality unstable nut job who has allowed SATAN to plant the seeds of bitterness, jealously and resentment in her heart. I will pray for you. I also love how none of those women talked about reaching out to you or trying to understand your viewpoint, but were just concerned with trashing you. How different out world would be if we all reached out in forgiveness first with the understanding that we are all human. Or even with the thought that it is okay to laugh.

  • oldbefana:

    Too kind by half regarding the board. Harridans. I have not been banned, no sour grapes just a heartfelt thank you for stating what many, many persons feel about that place. Intellectual Chernobyl.

    • Meanie:

      Yeah, what she said. Intellectual Chernobyl. One must diligently search for rational thought on that board as if for a needle in a haystack. Not saying it isn’t there, just saying it gets buried amongst the flotsam that makes up the majority.

  • We read a lot of SWB’s stuff when homeschooling. It kind of reminds me of the Reformed teachings, in that it is a way to be super conservative while being, or thinking you are, intellectual at the same time. I think it involves a lot of compartmentalization, trying to live in both worlds that way.

    The thing I remember about her stuff, and I never sorted out if it was her or her followers, that there was a smugness about her teaching methods being the ‘right’ way, as opposed to just a good way, or whatever. “Teaching the Classics,” as though one should teach that way, as though everything that Susan grew up with and excelled with would make your children excel in the same way. It seemed very elitist, in a Christian homeschooling sort of way. Oh well, we are done with homeschooling, at least for the time being.

    • Rechelle:

      While reading about her online I was struck by the classical philosophy and how she insists on certain types of learning for certain age groups, but never once referred to any research to back up her ideas. It was just like – do this because I think it is right. I thought her education philisophy was extremely reactionary – no new idea is a good idea type thinking. And then I spent some time reading her ‘day in the life of a homeschooler’ journals. I am sorry – but she was teaching her kids from 8 am to 7 pm and then putting them to bed at 8 pm. I felt so bad for the kids. There were a few half hour breaks and then Susan would get upset with her children and lock herself in the bathroom and then the baby would get fussy and need some attention and then she would feed her kids unhealthy food and give them m&m’s for staying on task or finishing a work sheet. The whole day just seemed like chaos to me. Why would anyone do that to themselves and to their kids? It made my children’s plain old public schools seem like state of the art top dollar private schools in comparison. Here’s a link to what I read. http://www.welltrainedmind.com/fall-of-2000/

  • amy:

    My experience coaching various home-schooled kids throughout the years has taught me that most home-schooled kids truly are odd. Most are very polite. But they say and do odd things. I guess the strangest thing to me is how many are kind of “drone-like” in that they don’t seem to have very strong personalities. They seem to have been controlled by their parents to such an extent that they don’t seem to have much individuality.

    The other thing that occurs to me, as a person who has coached kids for many years, is that some of these homeschool parents are very much like the pushy and controlling sports parents I’ve encountered. They think nothing is good enough for their precious and very special child. Because their child is REALLY special, you know.

    It’s nice that these parents care so much about their kids. The downside, though, is that the kids will one day come to realize that the world is not going to view them as REALLY special. They world is not going to spoon-feed them and cater to their special whims. Part of the beauty of public education is learning that lesson. And how to achieve great things in spite of the world’s indifference.

  • A.D.:

    The WTM forums are a bit more diverse than you imply in your blog (a few moderates/liberals lurk about), but in general, your observations are fairly accurate. SWB is a mess, and I have never been able to understand why so many cling to her advice. Anyone who has ever met this woman in person would quickly see that there is very little in her life you would want to model in your own.
    For some real entertainment, see if you can find the threads defending slavery and the Confederacy. Always a good time!

  • Lisa:

    I got the link to your website from the WTM forums, poked around for a bit and then bookmarked you! I enjoy your blog immensely. Maybe that wasn’t the intent of the WTM post, but it had a happy ending for me. :)

    • Rechelle:

      Thanks Lisa!

  • politicaljules:

    Stopped reading when you completely got the description of The Well Trained Mind completely wrong, and you became completely offensive.

    Will not continue reading more lies and rubbish.

    Adding to my list of blocked sites.

    • Rechelle:

      You don’t actually have to block the site darling. It’s not like I can sneak my blog onto your computer. Did you read the quotes from Susan Wise Bauer? Because she seems to agree with me on a few points.

  • Cammie:

    As a Hindu/Christian, not living in the US, far let politically, pro-homeschooling mom who was very active on the WTM forums for over a year – I have to say you really got it all wrong. Yes, there are conservative Christians on the site but there is every other shade of homeschooler too – Wiccans, Atheist, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu. Lots of us are trying to follow the classical homeschooling method but not everyone is. It really is too diverse a group to be fit into one small description. Sorry you got it so wrong, perhaps you should spend more time on the site if you want to present it accurately.

    • Rechelle:

      Cammie – Explain to me how an organization that markets itself as a ‘hive mind’ can be so diverse? That makes zero sense. Also – on the internet people can say whatever they want about themselves. You claim to be a HInd/Christian (wtf? do you worship Jesus and all the hundreds of Hindu gods too, cuz that don’t fly with the God of the bible girly). But for all I know you are a baboon crapping in a forest high above the Himalayans. In other words – I doubt you are what you say you are. First because there is no such thing as a ‘Hindu Christian’ and secondly because religious homeschoolers are so deluded that they are completely unable to separate fact from fiction.

  • SM:

    You’re speaking from ignorance, and your characterization of WTM is wrong.

  • ilovecress:

    I just want to make a couple of points:

    1. Religion should be a part of education, not the focus of it. I have no problem with a chirstian/wiccan/muslim/buddhist teaching my daughter long division.

    2. The social interaction a child learns in class is important. Maybe a school might be so horrible that taking that aspect away is a good idea – but it would have to be pretty horrible.

    3. By homeschooling, you’re not protecting your child from the horrible parts of the world, you’re delaying it (and possibly underpreparing them for it).

    4. If your teacher doesn’t like your child reading a different book in class – then that seems ok to me? I mean they are meant to be in class learning aren’t they? Do the assigned reading, and then if thats finished, I’m sure the teachers have more activities relating to the lesson at hand. You can do your recreational reading at home (my kids do).

    5. Why are public schools and homeschooling mutually exclusive? If your goal is to help your kid get more educated, then why not give them extra lessons after school. unless the reason is to sheild them from diversity of thought.

    6. I’m a clever guy, but I trust the trained professionals to teach my kids. It’s the same reason I don’t do home dentistry.

  • I hate when you write about homeschooling–there is judgement implied that I find as annoying as homeschoolers who deem public schoolers as ________(fill in the blank with the negative word of your choice).

    I also get tired of the “I know a teacher who has a homeschooler in her class who _______”(fill in the blank with the negative word of your choice). There are shitty homeschooling teachers and shitty public school teachers whose styles are boring and ineffective. Some kids are just weird.

    I just don’t think you get homeschooling, Rechelle. I think you get mired in the whole “My way or the highway Christian Whackjob” aspect that certainly does exist and lose sight of the bigger picture. I homeschooled my daughter to college and my son to high school. I didn’t homeschool for religious reasons and it was fucking hard work and our family gets so tired of the same stereotypes spouted over and over again. Having been part of the homeschooling and public schooling system, I just wish everyone would just be grateful we have choices and being so sure which is best for each and every child.

    • Rechelle:

      Mrs. G. And I suppose that you have never openly mocked public education?

      In this post I was specifically attacking religious homeschooling. I used the term -Christian or religious each time I used the term homeschool or homeschooling attempting to separate it from a more secular approach. I have never met a religious homeschooler who was not extremely paranoid about public schools and who deeply feared that the other children in the school were going to influence their children negatively. I find this mentality to be ludicrous. There is no such thing as a bad kindergartner or a bad first grader or a bad second grader. I volunteered in all of my kid’s classrooms when they were young. I helped the kids with reading and math exercises. We worked one on one and in groups. I was only a helper and had no where near the management skills of your average classroom skills and I never met a child who was not eager to learn and enjoyed the activity. I think what these people mostly fear is simply difference. Any kid that behaves slightly differently than their own or looks differently than their own – they are to be feared and avoided.

      Of course I don’t ‘get’ homeschooling. Why would I? From my perspective I generally see it as a choice made out of the depths of paranoia and an overly zealous impulse to protect a kid from what… reality? I don’t see any value in that choice. But I will say – I think that most parents who choose to homeschool are difficult people. And I imagine that the average classroom teacher is not sad to see them go. But I worry about their kids. Do they end up being less able to handle social situations simply because they have less practice? Yeah, yeah, yeah – your homeschooled kid may be able to ‘work at their own pace’ or ‘passionately explore their own interests’ or surf the world wide web all day long’ or watch Focus on the Family videos or memorize bible verses or learn how to bake – but holy Jesus! Most of life is figuring out HOW TO NAVIGATE! How to win people over – how to influence people to go your way – how to get along with people who are different – how to convince someone to give you more time – how to charm your way past the door. I can guarantee you that the average public schooler is far more adept at all of those things than the smartest homeschooled kid could ever dream of being.

      • Bridget:

        I couldn’t agree more. The homeschool kids that I have to work with are so lacking in social skills and understanding how to work within different group dynamics. They don’t understand why things are going they way or why people are changing things, and not doing it their way. The way that the established the project should be done. Also I have noticed with Christian homeschooled kids that as soon as one of their beliefs comes up against an opposing belief. They crumble and have no idea how to defend the facts that they know. Once this kid heard about evolution he just melted and shut out the teachers, and refused to participate any further.

    • Rechelle:

      Mrs G. -One more thing. There are tens of thousands of sites that speak to the wisdom and beauty of homeschooling and tell you how wonderful it is and how their kids are so much smarter than other people’s kids and how their families are so close and how perfect their lives are. There are also many sites that frequently deride public education. Often these are the same sites, but not always. However! I don’t know of a single other website or blog or any type of publication that will tell you that public education is a sound choice that puts your kids into contact with wonderful teachers who are experts in their subjects and will elevate your children’s minds and get to know them as people. Nor do I know of a single other site that is willing to criticize homeschooling and point out it’s flaws. If you know of one – please let me know. Because I would love to read it!

  • ” I’m a clever guy, but I trust the trained professionals to teach my kids. It’s the same reason I don’t do home dentistry.”

    I also hate the “Trained Professional” theory–there are suck ass professionals in every field. Would you like to have to go to the same shitty dentist five days a week because he was the only one in your district?

    • Rechelle:

      That’s not how public education tends to work. Usually kids come into contact with multiple teachers throughout the school day. So if a child struggles with one particular teacher – it is rarely for the entire day. My boys have had a few years with teachers who were not exactly their best friends. But that is the way the world works. Sometimes you have to learn to cope with people who are difficult. This is a great life lesson. My kids figured out how to deal with it. I still think that spending part of your day with a ‘shitty’ teacher five days a week is better than spending your entire education with your bible beating mentally ill mom who is inept in every subject except protection and paranoia. At least you might make a few friends.

      • ilovecress:

        This.

        Teaching is a skill, and a skill that some people are trained to do, are assessed on, and is actually a very complicated discipline.

        It is often confused with ‘instructing’ which is very different, and easy to do.

        I’m not saying that there are no ‘shitty’ teachers out there. But teaching is a long term thing that a school does together over a sustained period of development. The system is designed so that a child doesn’t get simply one point of view in their education.

  • Jennine:

    I homeschooled my seven children for ten years before I faced my great fear of sending them to public school.

    Yes, I homeschooled for religious reasons AND because I was selfish. I LIKED spending the day with my kids. However, one thing was certain, I was fully indoctrinated, by my homeschooling network, of the evils of public education. I was terrified that my 3rd grader was going to come home from her first day of school and ask for her navel to be pierced.

    So much of my fear was irrational.

    Now, several years later, I have established true friendships with many of the teachers in our small school district. I have volunteered in many ways and have learned that these “evil” folks teaching “a government agenda” are actually very caring individuals who have invested so much into my children!

    Here’s an example of how I was humbled into realizing that I was a f****** hypocritical judgmental b****:

    http://jenninejohnson.com/2009/05/to-the-corp/

    I am SO THANKFUL that my children are benefiting from public education.

  • Actually, other than one post on busting the socialization myth where I suggested I believed most homeschooled kids are socialized just fine and some cases in a healthier way because they don’t spend an entire day dealing mainly with their peers, I don’t believe I have ever openly mocked public school. In fact, if you read any of my past posts I go out of my way to suggest that I don’t, across the board, believe either choice is superior to the other. Many families have kids who are in school and kids who are home at the same time. They choose to do what they believe is best for each kid. They participate in both systems.

    I advocate parents doing what they think is best for their child, period.

    I have also written posts busting all the” my child is Einstein and a special orchid that needs special tending” and all the other presumptuous, obnoxious declarations that are often uttered by some people at homeschool gatherings. But let me be honest and say that similar themes crop up at PTA meetings too.

    As for not respecting teachers, I tought creative writing in my local alternative public school for eight years while I homeschooled my kids. I am very familiar with how public school works and was happy to be a part of it.

    So, no, unless I am spacing out my past writings, I don’t mock public school. My son is a sophomore in one right now.

    And, Rechelle, I read your blog because I appreciate your honesty and because you make good book recommendations and You Tube suggestions. I cleaned my living room Saturday while listening to the entire Hitchens debate you linked. But on the subject of homeschooling, you don’t just mock or jest, you condescend and are mean spirited.

    You mentioned that this post was attacking RELIGIOUS homeschoolers and then a few paragraphs down you write:

    ” But I will say – I think that most parents who choose to homeschool are difficult people. And I imagine that the average classroom teacher is not sad to see them go. But I worry about their kids.”

    Wow. Just wow.

    I chose to homeschool my kid because she was born with a rare (1 to 5 in a million) skin disorder that affects 100 percent of her body and is disfiguring. I chose to take on the huge responsibility of educating her in her early years because I was concerned that my happy confident kid would be shunned or bullied, be more concerned with dodging teasing, than discovering the amazing joy of learning. I worried she would feel less than and excluded rather than become the snappy young woman she is as she heads off to grad school next year. I’m not a believer in the school of hard knocks when the knocks are systematic, or that kids are kids and some just have to suck it up even if it makes their life a living hell. I believe chronic bullying changes who you are, who you might have been if you hadn’t been a constant target. If going to the mall or to get a fast food hamburger became a starefest or trying to enjoy a day at the pool was ruined by intrusive questions or comments as it was for my family , I just couldn’t imagine what a middle school of 800 kids would be like.

    Had I intended to stay home with my kids all day long for seventeen years? Hell no. Did I resent it occasionally? Yes. Was it a blast to live on one income? No. Did I quit worrying that I was doing a good job until my daughter went to community college her junior year in high school and thrived and my son eased into high school with no hitches? No!

    And when I listen to the stories of bullying on the news or speak with adults with her condition who described their school days as a living hell, I know I made the right decision, know it was worth the effort to find a tribe of fellow homeschoolers who became our friends, her friends, and treated her with kindness and respect.

    Also, I know many Christian families who did not choose to homeschool for religious reasons. I also know some of the Christian nutjobs you criticize and just avoided them. It’s a shame that they get most of the attention. You give them a lot of it.

    I think I felt the need to share our story because there are many homeschoolers out there like us who choose to educate at home for reasons of which you are clueless. It isn’t just a sprinkling, there are many of us.

    I actually don’t think of myself as an oversheltering, “difficult” parent and I get on quite well with my teacher friends. This and some of your other posts on homeschooling hurt my feelings. I gave up a huge chunk of my life because I felt it was the best thing for my kid and while you say you are only addressing Christian homeschoolers your brush is regularly broader than you cop to on this subject..

    I’ll quit rambling now and just accept that we disagree on the subject. No crime in that.

  • Bridget:

    Dealing with difficult people, bullies, the problem people: I completely think that is a very necessary part of life. Or sheltered middle class lifestyle does not wrap us up in a cocoon of safety, not matter how much we think it will. Also the world is not just place filled with horrible people. The sooner that we are able to go out into the world and realize that the world hits back and learn to discern danger from safety from harm the better. The sooner a child learns that his middle class bubble does not protect him from the world- the better. When a child can actually experience through direct contact all the different types of people then that child has been taught the skills he/she needs to survive in the world.

    The world hit back. Many teens believe they can do what they want because, so far the world has not come at them. Maybe the parents, but not the world. So they go around doing asshole things, saying asshole words, and treating people pretty crappy.

    Because the world is a safe place- I can do whatever I want. We are building a society full of Patrick Batemens *google him:)* We have generations of kids that have been overprotected and don’t think that the rules of the world apply to them. This thought is found in the mind of many teenagers who read the message from different source,

    But the world does hit back. It bites back. Even if you are the nice person in the world, It will bite you and being given the chance to live in the world, a chance to go through the hardships out there, being a little less protected would be the best gift any parent could give. Do it within your comfort zone but exposing your kids to some hardship most likely cause you child to be compassionate, grateful, loving, giving, understand and give her the skills she needs when the world bites them.

    Also it will keep them out of trouble. If they experience a bite from the world and are not protected from. Then they begin, I hope, to see that they are not safe in their bubble and life can happen to them. If they do something bad then there is a potential for them to get in trouble.

    Parents it is near impossible to teach this to your children even if you discipline them because they are still being disciplined in the safety bubble of the family. WHen young adults begin to realize that their actions have influence in the real world and that there are serious consequences for their actions.

    We are way too focused on kids. When we should just let them grow.

    HELP RECHELLE- I think that I started out what a good point, A point that was worthy of entering the debate. Or maybe not. But then I went far, far way out of left field. On top of which I made countless spelling, typing erorrs. Sorry to have inserted myself with such long length into an intelligent conversation.

    • Rechelle:

      I understand what you are saying Bridget. It is a delicate balance between protecting our kids and allowing them the freedom to figure things out on their own. Even the best parents sometimes produce a wild child that goes bonkers on them. A person is comprised of a fine soup of experience, genetics, environment…, and the results aren’t always what one expects – sometimes we are wonderfully surprised and sometimes we are tragically disappointed in how things work out with our kids. I know for sure that I have screwed up as a parent and will continue to screw up as a parent, but I hope I am smart enough to learn from my mistakes and if I teach my kids anything it would be to learn from their mistakes as well.

  • [...] few weeks ago, I wrote a little post on Susan Wise Bauer and her self-labeled ‘hive mind’ followers. That post contained several homeschooling quotes from Bauer, the author of the Well Trained Mind, [...]