How Black women’s empowerment (BWE) is like homeschooling

Both are ok individual solutions for individuals and individual families, but cannot effectively scale up at all and thus remain incomplete solutions.

Black women’s empowerment at its most simplified consists of American black women removing their financial, social and psychological support from dysfunctional American black communities, institutions and people in favor of giving that support to more functional groups and individuals that support them as individual black women.  For an individual black woman, loving and being loved, supporting and being supported in healthier, more functional ways in work, life, community and love is completely viable as a strategy.  But it doesn’t scale.

Likewise, homeschooling is great for individual families who have the resources to make it work for their children.  Having the resources can mean many different things, but in practice it often means having girls and/or wide spacing between older and younger children, along with support from relatives and community.  Again, this doesn’t scale either, especially since it’s a norm among homeschool leading lights to downplay the extent of the support infrastructure they rely on when selling the homeschool dream to poorer conservatives with little or no support.

But despite the key differences (BWE is very practical and narrow in focus, designed around providing useful suggestions for American-born black women to make healthier life choices, while homeschooling is kind of thrown out as a conservative cure-all for the epic loss of major institutions and near-total erasure of the private household and domestic sphere), both movements are good for individuals who want to go those routes and terrible as larger-scale solutions for the given communities.

Vox Day is a Practical Conservative

Being a practical conservative means doing things that are useful and helpful to those who’d like to live normally.  One of those things is producing high-quality homeschool curricula.  While some conservatives dismiss the importance of developing such things, they are actually pretty darned important to the task of creating a parallel society of educated, conservatively reared children.  Homeschooling isn’t a cure-all, but it is certainly one tool in the tool box of practical, conservative, traditionally focused living.

Vox Day is being serious here, using his new publishing house venture to publish and develop high-level homeschool curricula.  This looks like useful stuff.  

I’m busy popping out babies left and right, so I’m years away from having to worry about schooling options, but it’s good to see more efforts to develop high-quality curricula among those who promote homeschooling.

Deconstructing some homeschool myths

This is a general attempt to cover some of the myths of homeschooling that liberals seem peculiarly prone to thinking.

Myth #1: “Homeschooling works, but only because smart liberal college-educated white women do it!”

I have no idea why so many liberals really seem to believe this is the case.  Homeschooling’s effectiveness is boosted by selection bias, but it’s mostly in favor of conservative, intelligent, often (but not always) college-educated women.  Clever people can in fact be conservative and even go to “real” colleges like Swarthmore or Yale or Vanderbilt.  The entree of “crunchy” unschooling liberals into homeschooling has not panned out so well at all, and it’s interesting that anyone thinks so.  There is an idea that “ultra-conservative” homeschoolers are simply by virtue of being conservative and Christian too stupid to educate their own children.  Funny how that works.

Lydia McGrew (linked above) is far more typical of the original vanguard of conservative Christian homeschoolers than the mythical “fundie high school dropout” that is apparently associated with homeschooling and conservative Christian faith now.  Likewise, much of what became unschooling was not the product of what current liberals would consider “liberal” at all.

Myth #2: “Crunchy liberals collectively organize brilliant co-ops and arrange access to tutors and public school resources for their homeschooled kids, but conservative Christians just never, ever do!”

Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  I have beefed at great length about the problems with collective organization among Christian homeschoolers, but among non-Christian homeschoolers, there isn’t even anything to beef about.  For the most part they flail around and their kids suffer for it, as fewer such mothers who can make it happen without any other resources are neither Christian nor conservative.  It is true that much of what passes for homeschooling today can’t compete with Oxbridge tutors, but the idea that fundie and conservative women are just uneducated slatterns incapable of teaching fifth grade level reading, math and writing to children is basically misogynist.  Which is also par for the liberal course.  Liberals do not organically organize for homeschooling as any kind of norm.  Conservatives kind of do  as a norm and sometimes effectively do.  That’s a huge difference.  And every single time, the functional cooperatives involve the support of the local neighborhood, parish/church and community.  Funny how that works, too.

I was going to cover some more, but I think that’s well enough.  I do think homeschooling is part of a path to better schooling overall, but that it can’t work with an assumption that each individual mother can do it all alone along with all the other household stuff.  I do find it interesting that I consistently see among liberal criticisms of homeschooling the idea that liberals can somehow pull Exeter-level cooperative private schooling out of thin air when there is zero statistical data to that effect but that all conservative SAHMs everywhere are uneducated drudges who are probably teaching their kids that the earth sits atop a turtle and is only 400 years old when there is also zero statistical data to that effect.

A brief bit of realtalk before I end this post.  The fundie kids getting the craziest bad education in homeschool settings?  Are being taught by their fathers.  It’s the people who make weird idols of a “patriarchy” of a single family (which is not patriarchy) and really do think the women are too stupid for words who are doing that sort of “educating”.  Not mothers, not even mothers who didn’t finish high school.

And this is why feminism isn’t normal.  It can’t stay away from misogyny because it’s a critique of men that ends with despising women.

Fraud Alert, John Taylor Gatto edition

If you’re going to set up alternative sources of authority, you need to vet them for fraudulence.  John Taylor Gatto is demonstrably set up as a homeschooling authority figure and even when his name isn’t directly mentioned, the boilerplate about the “Prussian system” and “everyone was college-level literate before the evils of public school” shows up in plenty of conservative advocacy of homeschooling. But Gatto’s claims are not vetted, and when they are questioned, the response is that *footnotes are a tool of the man to keep you from going on a heart journey*.  An example of not vetting Gatto is the claims he makes about literacy being higher before compulsory public education by comparing WWI literacy *data* with literacy *reports* from before WWI.  Subjective reports that ranged from being able to compose a complex essay to being able to sign one’s name are not really a useful way to assess historical literacy or compare it to hard data after the World Wars, yet that very digging into the primary sources and trying to get at the heart of things is ostentatiously absent when it comes to Gatto among homeschool advocates. This is part of a larger problem with modern people conservative and liberal alike running screaming from explicit authority, but then becoming ensnared by the allure of false authorities.

How homeschooling could be more effective and practical in application

Co-ops could be structured more effectively.

Paid staff are important.

Merry bands of roving tutors!

Specialization!  This is why you need merry bands of roving tutors. And also household services for homeschooling SAHMs.  Business opportunity!  Way to employ single mothers and older women!

Basically, stop expecting women to do five jobs poorly and then boast about how this will be a way to retake society.  Not gonna happen.  Early homeschool successes and stories were the result of massive selection bias and in a number of instances outright lying.  Many of the people promoting homeschooling via their popular monetized blogs have household help and private tutors for some subjects.  But Americans are obsessed with a Walter Mitty worldview where it really is possible in a single 24 hour day to homeschool effectively, clean a 2000 square foot house, cook three full gourmet meals and pay all the bills and do four loads of laundry a day.

So there’s the biggest way homeschooling could be more effective and practical– stop freaking buying into the SuperMom Myth.  You can’t do it all and it is ridiculous to even contemplate.  Do one thing well and truly.  Outsource the rest within your local community.

Homeschool curriculum ideas

Just a few quick ideas.

  1. Accurate black history and accomplishments (yes, black people have Done Stuff, there is a world of notable achievements that may not be spaceships in Egypt but is also not all made up feelgood myths.)
  2. Accurate history in general.  True neutrality for basic histories of America (since I’m American).
  3. Accurate women’s history (cf. my post about the domestic sphere).  I’m not linking back to my post about continuity preservation in the domestic sphere because I don’t want to get further in the weeds of using one version of an idea to stand in for further refinements.  And there will be further refinements about why accurate women’s history is crucial to restoring normal life.  It’s more than just the domestic sphere, it’s providing children with an understanding of the tradeoffs that come when women have more or less hard power in a society.  And the tradeoffs that come from the various ways women wield their soft power.
  4. Honesty about how a lot of ‘traditional nationalism’ is warmed-over pap from the 19th century and no earlier.
  5. Making a curriculum out of the extensive home economics and household efficiency literature that is easily available and totally ignored, but adapted to modern living.  No, appliances aren’t your handmaidens.  But there are body and health-saving ways to do a lot of basic tasks.
  6. Real mechanical/technical information.  How to use an ax, for example.  That information is incredibly useful, but extremely difficult to find online, yet would easily lend itself to a well ordered curriculum.
  7. Proper science.  This lady is a great start (and covers more than just science!), but it’s not like there could be too many quality science homeschool curriculums.  Caveat for us Protestants– she is quite devoted to her Catholicism and her curriculums obviously reflect this.  Still, there is plenty of wheat available without getting into a doctrinal fistfight.

Homeschooling is not a cure-all for education of children

Stop declaring homeschooling the cure for all educational ills.  Make money and start proper academies.  And if you haven’t the chops to be Mr. Bingley’s grandfather, accept your proper place and stop acting like an authority.

And the core sadness of it all is that conservatives promoting this (those who aren’t con artists profiting by selling poor quality curricula) remain liberal, deracinated and atomistic, unable to think of the world in terms larger than their individual efforts or their individual family’s efforts.  Thus, homeschooling is the cure for the destruction of the neighborhood school because a few individual homeschool families got their kids into Ivy League colleges.  The idea that this is a measure of success that only a SWPL could love never enters into their heads.  For pity’s sake, one can’t complain about liberals and then desperately seek to become part of their turf and sneer at any other alternative.  College has never been for all, full, active good lives were had and can still be had without being on the SWPLtastic college treadmill, homeschool edition.  But it would mean accepting hierarchy, true authority and real order.  And it would mean accepting being lower on the totem rather than higher for many of the lower middle types promoting homeschool as the cure for all ills.