by Denyse O'Leary
To hear British pop sci mag New Scientist tell it, home schooling in the United States is a real worry:
Ironically, home-schooling began in the 1960s as a counter-culture movement among political liberals. The idea was taken up in the 1970s by evangelical Christians, and today anywhere from 1.9 to 2.4 million children are home-schooled, up from just 300,000 in 1990 (see Graph). According to the US government's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 72 per cent of home-schooling parents interviewed said that they were motivated by the desire to provide religious and moral instruction.
Imagine that. In nations where the public school systems are increasingly unable to find common ground among competing interest groups, these home schooling menaces want to provide religious and moral instruction to their own children.
Worst of all, according to New Scientist's Amanda Gefter, the students are taught to doubt Darwin. This article is fascinating, but not for what it tells us about home schooling in the United States. It only skims the surface of that vast phenomenon, fastening on things that would scare the typical New Scientist reader who knows little or nothing about North America. No, it is fascinating for what it tells us about the presuppositions of the New Scientist staff - first and foremost that freedom to question or doubt materialism is a bad thing.
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the forthcoming The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Harper 2007).
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