Who's Dick Cavett, you ask? In the 60's and 70's he was a pseudo-intellectual talk show host. Beyond that, I can't say what he's done. But he's written a nasty New York Times opinion piece on Rick Santorum, his Catholic faith, and the dark, backward world of homeschooling. His inquiring mind wants to know:
Who knows what sorts of fears haunt the minds of home-schooling parents?I can think of one: that our children might end up as breathtakingly ignorant as Dick Cavett. Or as bigoted:
We learn from him that contraception is a sin. Giving birth (sorry) to the possibly rude question of how the Santori as a couple and as obedient Catholics managed to have only eight children over all those years if they didn’t … well, never mind.Follow the logic: Because Santorum owns up to having compromised on some votes in his senatorial career, he's a fraud, politically and personally. Cavett cleverly deduces that any "obedient" (his word) Catholic couple with fewer than, I dunno, a dozen kids, must be "cheating."
Remember the “rhythm” method, humorously called “Vatican Roulette”? A friend of mine says he knows full well that he and his sister “owe our existence to it.” An apt name, roulette being the worst-odds sucker game in the casino: Let’s do it, dear. The odds are only 37 to 1 against us.
Maybe they cheated now and then. The thought might not have arisen were I not typing this shortly after one of the most soundly defeated incumbent senators in recent history spent part of his time at the — one dearly hopes — final “debate” reeling off the number of times he was forced to vote contrary to his beliefs!
You'd think, with his superior, non-homeschooled education, and at his advanced age, Mr. Cavett would have learned all about the birds and bees by now. But along with a dominant contraceptive culture comes an ignorance of normal human biology. Fertility varies from couple to couple, and women who breastfeed ... well, never mind. He'd probably view that with contempt, too. As for ye olde "rhythm method," it, like Cavett, is a dusty relic of a bygone era. (My condolences to his tackily unplanned friend and sister. Perhaps they've found life worth living anyway?)
When Cavett is finished mocking Rick Santorum's religion he makes fun of his looks. Then he moves on to homeschooling. I'll give Cavett credit for thoroughness: he hits all the cliches.
My soul similarly rolls over and groans whenever Santorum uses the phrase “home-schooling.” I first heard about it in the dim days when the John Birch Society was a going thing. (Young folks, I don’t blame you for not believing that this organization held that President Dwight Eisenhower was a “conscious, dedicated agent” of the Soviet Union.) Some benighted McCarthy-admiring parents decided to pluck their children from the clutches of “commies” teaching our kiddies their godless doctrine.Odds are they did pretty well. (You've got to wonder who lost track of whom.)
I have lost track of distant relatives of mine, parents who also snatched their young kids from school and, for their remaining school years, stuffed them mainly with the Bible. (I’d love to know how they did on their SATs.)
Besides, aren’t you arguably a better person for having gone to school rather than having it funneled into you by dreary old Ma or Pa in their faded bathrobes at home?(Note to self: Gotta git me 'n' Paw some fancy new duds next time we ride into town.)
I feel sorry for the poor kids whose parents feel they’re qualified to teach them at home. Of course, some parents are smarter than some teachers, but in the main I see home-schooling as misguided foolishness.I guess all those ignorant parents were homeschooled? If you'd like to see some sad, real-life examples of poor spelling and usage, check out this post from November of last year: Getting know where: Public school kids explain why it's better than homeschooling
Teaching is an art and a profession requiring years of training. Where did the idea come from that anybody can do it? How many parents can intuit how to do it? (Pardon unconscious rhyme there.) My parents were teachers and the thought of home-schooling sent them rolling before they were in their graves. Especially when parents, complaining of their kids’ schooling, wrote in report card responses things like “I am loathe to critacize…”; “my childs consantration”; “normalicy”; “my daughter’s abillaties”; “her examatian grades”; “she should of done better”; “greater supervizion,” etc., into the night.
Back to the tolerant Mr. Cavett:
And what is the argument for it? For some, is it to protect their innocent ones from hearing words like, oh, “sex” and “contraception”? From forced association with those less desirable ethnically? Maybe it’s to keep them safe from radical notions like the idea that fossils and carbon-dating aren’t put there by the Devil to fool the scientists, but prove the world has billions, not thousands, of years on it. [. . .]It's all good, but I think I liked the accusation of racism best.
Who knows what sorts of fears haunt the minds of home-schooling parents? I guess it’s always possible, when Sally or Billy is walking to school, that a dark figure might leap out of the shrubbery, maniacally shrieking, “There’s climate change!”
Again, teaching takes skill and education and dedication. Home schooling as an idea is on a par with home dentistry.
Read the whole thing if you can stand it. In Cavett's world, homeschooling for religious reasons is simply not valid. And enlightened as he is, he somehow missed the memos on the academic failures of the public school system, the down side of "socialization," the academic achievement of homeschooled students, the movement away from mass instruction, and the spread of homeschooling to every demographic, not just knuckle-dragging Bible thumpers.
Mr. Cavett needs to get out and mix more.
Updated to add a link to an excellent, substantive response: Schooling Dick Cavett
Thanks to Pew Sitter for the link.
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