Can homeschooling make you more tolerant?


This is about a very specific subset of homeschooling. There are a lot of people out there who homeschool their kids because they’re conservative Christians who want to avoid having to send their kids to public school. But, there are lots of other homeschool types out there, who homeschool their kids for a wide variety of reasons. One should be hesitant to draw broad conclusions about homeschooling generally based on observations of a very specific subset of homeschooled kids. (Likewise, the “control” sample here are students at conservative Christian colleges, which are also very different from the population of USA college kids generally.)

Anecdotally (i.e. not good evidence for anything statistical, although also not completely meaningless), kids I’ve seen in college who were homeschooled run the gamut. Some are extremely bright, flexible, can think well, and have a good background. Some make me wonder “home” really means “not” in “homeschooled”. I haven’t anecdotally noticed a trend in homeschooled kids compared to kids who’ve gone to either public or private school, with the possible excpetion that they tend to be more diverse. Not racially, but in terms of how they think and approach things, and in terms of how capable they are. Some are borderline disasters who shouldn’t be in college, some are great, and the dispersion seems to be greater and the individual less predictable than kids who’ve been through more traditional schooling.


A friend of mine who taught at a community college told me that his absolutely worst students were home schooled specifically for religious reasons. He said they were completely incapable of critical thinking or forming an argument, only of regurgitating information. But of course that says nothing about homeschoolers as a whole or on average, much less about those who were homeschooled for different reasons.

I’m skeptical of this survey, if for no other reason than their definition of “politically tolerant” seems to be less “the willingness to extend basic civil liberties to political or social groups that hold views with which one disagrees” and more “willing to let other people in social groups that hold views with which one disagrees even exist.”

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…kids who had been homeschooled were more willing to extend basic civil liberties to their political/cultural opposites…

No, the study measured how they wanted to appear to the person taking the survey, or how they wanted to see themselves.

Studies asking “what hypothetically might you do?” are not studies of what people actually do.

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Honestly, I thought this study was interesting BECAUSE it was focusing on kids who were likely homeschooled for religious reasons. I would not have expected them to be more willing to allow people they disagree with to exist than other people who share their same basic religious beliefs. Though the criticism of the study in the piece I linked is also important here.


I wonder if this is less about home schooling than it is about public schools. I wasn’t home schooled. Instead, I attended private schools until middle school. I remember being shocked at how dehumanizing public school seemed (I think I told my mother that they were mean and picked on the different kids) and confused by the general acceptance of the treatment of students by faculty.
It seemed like the main focus of public schooling was getting students to conform to what they wanted with no respect for individuality or different ways of viewing the world. That conformity seemed less important to the faculty than education.
This was a wild departure from my previous experiences in school and contrary to all the stuff I was watching on childrens television.


The U Arkansas Department of Education Reform seems to be a bit of an apologetics organization for charter schools, voucher programs, and other conservative education initiatives…


I think that charter schools and voucher programs, which give parents and students choices in how they will be educated, are actually liberal, and efforts to oppose them, conservative. “Pro-choice” isn’t just liberal when it comes to abortion. It’s an inherently liberal position.

That said, conservatives tend support those things out of a knee-jerk rejection of government solutions (and things that liberals like), just as those on the left tend to oppose them out of a knee-jerk rejection of private solutions (and things that conservatives like).

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Charter schools and vouchers would be fine if they didn’t take money out of public schools coffers.


Yea… I’d not believe any general interpretation of these results. The population studied is very unrepresentative of the entire country.

One example: I would expect those who’s homeschooling was motivated by xenophobia to be underrepresented in any type of university, even a religious one. What Mr. & Mrs. I hate X spend years homeschooling little Chastity and then send her off to say Regent University, where 34% of the students are minorities and they have “diversity luncheons” and study abroad programs? Preposterous.


As a secular liberal homeschooling parent, I’m skeptical of studies like this. I think there’s an equally wide variety of personalities and attitudes in kids, regardless of how they’re educated. There’s an equally wide variety in quality in homeschooling parents and school teachers, creating even more complexity among the respective students.


One Glenn Beck outweighs every participant in this study.

I could see some reasoning behind this. Social structure in public schools usually fall prey to clique. People self identify within their own group and hold prejudices against people outside of that.

I don’t see most home schooling structures setup to where a child will be as involved in cliques. That isn’t to say the kids are less social, but that their social structures are different. I see public school as usually having a small circle of friends in one large population. Home school I see more of there being several smaller populations they are members of. Ironically, there is more diversity and variety.

When I home schooled my kid we had several programs she was in, so she had friends who were near in the neighborhood, friends from dance class, friends from soccer, friends from art class etc. Her day-to-day socialization was with a new group each time.

Now that she is in a regular (private) school, her main interaction is with the same people day after day. And already at 2nd grade I see the social structure falling into cliques. Kids are intolerant of one another based on which group they hang out with. She finds it really dumb the way the other kids act. “If you don’t want to play with me, then don’t, you don’t have to be rude about it.”


being home schooled jr high- sr high and based on my own personal experience id wonder if some homeschoolers might be more tolerant is because in many ways homeschoolers are a social minority and can empathize with other minority groups even if they disagree with them


I support public school. I’ll say it again, I support public schools. I support making public schools better.

Public schools have indoctrination built into the system and curriculum. Ever morning kids repeat the pledge of allegiance. This is VERY bad. Young brains haven’t developed enough to understand what this pledge fully means and what it’s doing to their minds and behavior. Politically speaking we should end the pledge. It’s nationalistic nonsense.

And what do you do when you go to school, you sit a row, remain silent, and do what they are told. This trains people to do the exact opposite of what we need them to do as adults. We need adults who say “NO” to all the bad things that get jammed down our throats and determine what to say “Yes” to.

Testing, get rid of it yesterday. To quote a teacher that I’m very close to, “I’m not a teacher anymore, I’m a data collector.”

The curriculum is all F%&^ed up. Why? Influence by federal, state, local government, and private corporations trying to get their needs meet first, not educate. Kill bad text books while we are at it. I’m not say not have text books, we need them but textbooks can be developed and written by not-for-profits and university. We don’t need private corporations writing textbooks. The done a poor job it. Let teachers do their jobs which they actually want to do, at least the good ones.

No Child Left Behind was the worst legislation for education ever written. Get rid of it yesterday.


Well, it is very complex. For poor and middle-class families who have been very unhappy with their local school for generations, the argument that giving them another choice for a school would take money away from the school that’s been failing them for years isn’t really important. What’s important to them is that they receive a quality education that meets their needs and desires. And for these families, the availability of a school that does meet their needs and desires is like a dream come true.

If the system as it exists requires that all poor and middle-class kids are only allowed to attend one particular school, whether it satisfies them or not, then it’s the system that needs to change, not the natural human desire for choices in life.

Obviously, even the kids with parents who don’t care if they go to a terrible school deserve a high quality education. Considering that we spend more money per-pupil than all but two or three other countries, I sincerely believe that we can come up with ways to give families choices beyond their unsatisfying local schools, while providing the less fortunate the education opportunities that everyone deserves.

EDIT: I just realized that this is off-topic (yes, I’m a little slow; why do you ask?). Perhaps it’s best discussed on another thread.


at least the good ones

This. As a parent of three public-schooled kids and spouse of a teacher, I have observed that there is a true 90/10 rule in effect.

Ten percent (in some cases less) of public school teachers are pure time servers who hate their jobs and show little more than the barest tolerance for their students. Get them the hell out of the system and watch the levels of satisfaction and achievement start to climb.

I would love to see a system in larger cities of magnet schools, or charters integrated into larger public schools. But what happens is they cream highly motivated students from public schools, then the politician cut funding those schools because of a drop in performance.

Talk to any purveyor of a charter school and they will tell you straight up they do not want every kids going to their school. They have no magic sauce.


I appreciated the fact that Kunzman pointed out the distinction between theory (sure, I’m OK with a gay person making a public speech) and practice (yes, I’m willing to work with a gay person and ignore some of my beliefs so that we come up with a 50/50 compromise).

Perhaps homeschoolers believe they are tolerant of other opinions because they haven’t actually experienced real intellectual disagreement and don’t know how difficult it can be to engage with an opinion that is different from their own.

Just a thought.

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