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Third wave of homeschooler persecution

In an article by Michael Farris of the Home Schooling Legal Defence Association (HSLDA), the assault on the homeschooling movement over the last three decades is being described in terms of three waves.

The first wave used the argument of educational standards against homeschooling. The second wave used the argument on socialisation to criticize homeschooling. In the USA, Farris has now identified a third wave. This wave makes use of religious arguments.

Since Homeschooling has been legalized in South Africa in 1994, it has been growing exponentially. Initially the idea of homeschooling was very new to the general public, and the criticism against homeschooling was based on the argument that the standard of education that home learners receive might be inferior to the standard of education provided at schools. It is due to this concern that the South African Schools act requires that the Department should be satisfied that the education provided at home " ... will be of a standard not inferior to the standard of education provided at public schools." Over that last decades however, research in the USA as well as South Africa has shown that that standard of education provided to home learners is superior to that provided at public schools.  The first wave of assault was successfully resisted.

When there is a debate in South Africa on homeschooling, the standard of education provided to home learners is not questioned any more. The most common objection to homeschooling now seems to be the issue of socialization. Television programs and magazine articles almost always include comments by a psychologist raising concerns that home learners do not learn to socialize if they do not go to a school. These psychologists usually do not have any research to back their opinion, but the public is expected to believe these psychologists because they are “experts”. This is the second wave of assault, and it seems that this is still where South Africa situation is. Very little research on the socialization of home learners has been done, and the arguments of psychologists have not been fully refuted with local research.

In the USA however, the criticism around socialization of home learners has been refuted by extensive research that was done on the subject. In the USA, the second wave has been successfully resisted.

The third wave of assault is based on religious grounds and is specifically aimed at Christian homeschoolers. Critics claim that Christian homeschoolers teach their children values are teaching their children values that mainstream education establishment believes is detrimental to the homeschooled kids themselves as well as to society as whole.

Some of the Christian values that Farris has identified that are viewed as dangerous are that homosexuality is sin, that men should be the leaders of their families, that Jesus is the only way to God and that other religions are false. These values are viewed as intolerant and dangerous.

This wave of assault is going to be more difficult tot resist previous waves. Where the previous  assaults were based on false assumptions around standards en socialization, this assaults is based on true assumptions around what a lot of Christian homeschoolers are teaching  to their children.

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Monday, 15 July 2024

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