The Quiverfull Movement that Vyckie Garrison spoke about last night encourages parents to home school their children. These people are so far gone that they even view parochial schools, let alone public schools, as sources of contamination of dangerous ideas. These parents want their children to be just like them or even more religious if possible, and that requires that they carefully control what their children read and who they associate with. The Quiverfull Movement hopes that by producing vast numbers of children just like them, they can transform the US culture just by sheer numbers alone.
So how successful are they in producing religious clones? According to Milton Gaither, professor of Education at Messiah College, not so much.
In general, both the quantitative and qualitative studies have found that most homeschooled Christian children continued in their faith when they grew up, as did most Christian children who attended public and private schools.
The type of schooling did not really make a lot of difference, especially not the sort of transformative difference many parents who choose it hope for.
If anything, homeschooled children, especially those raised in very conservative homes, tend to liberalize over time, especially if they went on to college.
So what does it all mean? Anecdotes and biased studies aside, it seems from this emerging body of work that homeschooling itself will not automatically produce adults who share the conservative political, religious and moral beliefs of their parents.
The data also suggest that family climate, especially faithful religious devotion by both parents, delivered in a context of loving nurture, is far more important than where a child goes to school.
Gaither says that unfortunately much of the public perceptions of homeschooling is dominated by a few anecdotes on both sides, of children who grew up to be pro-life culture warriors or the flip side of those who became harsh critics of homeschooling.
What worries me is the psychological effect of children growing up in a highly sheltered world where so much knowledge (academic and social and cultural) is denied to them, and what happens when they inevitably leave the home and enter the workplace where they simply cannot avoid the fact that everyone else has had a vastly different life experience and knowledge base. How do they cope? Do they feel cheated that this entire world of ideas and books and films and TV had been closed to them?