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October 3, 2014

Professor: Parents Incapable of Teaching Reading and Writing

Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly is HSLDA’s director of global outreach. Read more >>

David Zinger, an education lecturer from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, claims that all children should learn in a school and that only highly trained professionals can help children to read and write. Zinger was interviewed on Australian television along with two homeschoolers.

The full six-minute interview can be seen here.

Stuart Chapman, founder of Homeschool WA, a support organization for homeschoolers, says that home education is growing in Australia. Chapman visited the United States to attend a homeschool leadership conference where he explained that in Australia homeschooling is legal, growing fast—and that Zinger’s claims are simply preposterous.

“The homeschoolers on this program demonstrated that the idea that homeschoolers don’t get an education is nonsense,” he said, referring to the television interview. “The lecturer had no research to back up his preposterous claims. I was pleased to see that the interviewers clearly understood that the education lecturer’s position was untenable, and this is often the case since there is a lot of concern about Australian public education.”

Chapman added: “I work with lots of homeschooling families, and I can tell you that they are doing a great job educating their children. We plan to continue to organize to make sure the ideas of people like David Zinger are not acted on seriously by Australian policy makers.”

Possible Reform

The interview occurred against the backdrop of a parliamentary inquiry in New South Wales Australia. The legislature there is considering whether the current regulatory regime for homeschoolers ought to be relaxed. See HSLDA’s story on the issue.

HSLDA Director for Global Outreach Michael Donnelly said the idea that children can only learn from a teacher is silly.

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“This lecturer sounded a bit robotic in his claims that children should only learn in schools,” he said. “His claim that only trained professionals can teach children to read and write is baseless as millions of homeschooled children around the world have conclusively demonstrated that home education produces exceptional academic and social results.”

Donnelly added: “My concern with these statements is that it reflects a growing global trend in opposing home education based on the idea that homeschooling doesn’t work or that children should only learn in state controlled schools. In the United States numerous academics and education lobbyists have opposed homeschooling for their own economic or political reasons. However, I’m pleased to hear that Australian homeschoolers are organizing to defend their movement; they can count on the support of HSLDA.”

Growing Movement

There are an estimated 30,000 homeschooled children in Australia, and advocates suggest that the numbers are growing well over 10% per year. Zinger’s views are not idiosyncratic, however, and reflect what appears to be a growing opposition to homeschooling by those who believe that the state should control education and that children should only learn in schools.

This view was explored by HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris in an article for the prestigious Peabody Journal of Education. In that article Farris explores the philosophical foundations of people like Zinger. His article is available for download free here.

“The loudest voices call for an outright ban of home and private education,” Farris explains. “In order to achieve philosophical homogeneity and ‘tolerance’ they are intolerant of diversity in education. These loud voices use straw man arguments and invent hypothetical families with extreme views who simply don’t exist. While their claims are unfounded their influence apparently reaches around the globe as this Australian lecturer demonstrates.”

Disturbing Trend

HSLDA has written about a slow but discernible trend that reflects Farris’ concerns. Countries like Germany and Sweden are notorious for their persecution of homeschooling families. However, other countries like the United Kingdom’s Northern Ireland and also the Republic of Ireland have shown that there is hostility to home education. See the HSLDA articles “New UNCRC-Linked Policy Threatens Homeschool Freedom” and “Homeschool Mom Jailed.”

HSLDA’s mission is to defend the rights of parents to homeschool. Because we have been successful here in the United States at securing the freedom to homeschool, millions of others around the world have been inspired to seek the same opportunities for their children. We feel it is appropriate to help others enjoy these same blessings of liberty. In a world where bad ideas and philosophies travel at the speed of email, addressing the arguments of people like Zinger and others around the world not only advances homeschooling freedom but helps secure our own.

HSLDA is a membership organization of nearly one hundred thousand like-minded families united in the conviction that parents should be protected in their right to direct the education of their children. It’s our constitutional right here in the United States, and we believe it is a natural human right for everyone else. We invite homeschooling parents and supporters to join us. You can also support our global freedom operations by contributing to the Homeschool Freedom Fund.