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Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschoolingby Robert Kunzman
Synopses & Reviews
Homeschooling is a large and growing phenomenon in American society—between 1999 and 2007 it grew at twelve times the rate of public school enrollments, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Current estimates suggest that about two million kids are homeschooled, but information about this booming population is terribly incomplete. Nearly a fourth of states don’t even require parents to notify authorities if they homeschool their children, much less offer any sort of verification that they are doing so.
Of all the diverse groups of homeschooling families in the United States, conservative Christians are the largest subset, and it is this group that most influences public perception of and rhetoric about this movement. In Write These Laws on Your Children, Robert Kunzman uses his unprecedented access to six conservative Christian homeschooling families to explore this elusive world, from the day-to-day lives of its adherents to its broader aspirations to transform American culture and politics. Drawing from hundreds of hours of interviews and observations of parents and children, their churches, movement leaders, and related activities, Kunzman offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into one of the fastest-growing education movements of the last twenty years.
With Kunzman we visit homeschoolers in urban Los Angeles, central Vermont, rural Tennessee, northwest Indiana, and central Oregon. The families we meet range in size from one child to ten, and include parents who are professional teachers with advanced degrees as well as those who never finished high school. Their reasons for homeschooling are as varied as their families, and Kunzman takes on the invaluable task of showing us what their homeschooling experiences look like firsthand, what their political and religious beliefs are, and what their kids learn. This extraordinary access allows us to see conservative Christian homeschooling families not only as part of a larger political phenomenon—which is how they’re usually discussed—but also as unique entities with fascinating stories to tell.
The growing popularity of homeschooling raises important questions about the value of ethical diversity, what it means to think for oneself, how we prepare our young people to be democratic citizens, and what role (if any) the state should have in the education of children. Beyond competing visions about the proper aims of education, Kunzman shows, lies a complicated relationship between faith, freedom, and citizenship.
About the Author
Robert Kunzman studies the intersection of education, religion, and citizenship in the United States, and spent ten years as a high school teacher, coach, and administrator. He is currently an associate professor in the Indiana University School of Education and the author of Grappling with the Good: Talking about Religion and Morality in Public Schools.
Table of Contents
1. Shaping a godly world — 2. The Palmer family : in the world, not of the world — California homeschool convention — 3. The Rivera family : "I can see that I'm doing the right thing" — Bridgeway Academy — 4. The Branson family : "a godless conspiracy" — Academic achievement and socialization — 5. Generation Joshua and HSLDA : "a few good soldiers" — Civic engagement done differently — 6. The Carroll family : "public school is the enemy" — Race, homeschooling, and the common school vision — 7. The Wallis family : "God gave her to me" — Indiana homeschool convention — 8. The Shaw family : "nobody can teach my kids better than I can" — 9. Becoming a public — Acknowledgments — Bibliographic note — Index.
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