When I was in high school, purity balls marked the passing of another year, conferences taught me not to hold hands until I married, and women discussed whether pursuing a career would betray their God-given calling to marriage.
I was in the thick of conservative homeschooling culture. When American Prospect published Kathryn Joyce's recent article on the "apostates" among us, I took note. In fact, I couldn't stop reading. It was a little like watching a train wreck with family members on board.
Joyce's piece profiles several homeschooling horror stories—narratives of children raised by hypersensitive, overbearing parents, parents who used mental and physical punishment. The article ties those stories to the history and culture of the broader homeschooling movement, which became popular in the 1980s and spread in the last few decades to more than 2 million practitioners.
While I know the kinds of heartbroken children of homeschooling Joyce profiles, I also know the other side. For every mistreated homeschooled kid who's grown up to be an outspoken rebel against the culture — and I know a few — I know a half-dozen young adults who grew up to go to college, get a real job, and find a healthy place in society without too much drama.
I say this not to discount the experiences of those who have been hurt by the patriarchal and overbearing bent in some homeschool settings. Those hurts are very real, and I hope with all my heart that those people find the healing they search for. I pray that such cultures have less and less power to harm as the practice of homeschooling spreads and gathers cultural diversity. Articles like Joyce's and this Daily Beast article by Michelle ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more