James Joyner has concerns about places like Patrick Henry University, a University composed generally of home schoolers.
My argument isn’t that such schools should be outlawed, merely that I find the idea of cloistering one’s children for the purposes of religious indoctrination objectionable and, especially, that I fear for the future of the Republican party if it moves even further into the control of such people.
Are there people who home school their children for reasons other than religious brainwashing? Sure. By and large, I’m still not sure it’s a good idea. A large part of schooling is the social process of interacting with other students, dealing with the rigors of a set schedule, learning to live with seemingly arbitrary rules set by others, etc. While I’m often disgusted with the quality of the teachers at public schools, they at least expose their students to views beyond those of their parents. That’s a good thing.
At the university level, a different dynamic is at work. Historically, many if not most of the great universities in this country started as religious institutions. But they quickly became secularized and aimed at broadening the minds of their students rather than reinforcing their preconceived notions. This is even true of most of the religiously based schools such as Holy Cross and Notre Dame. But it’s far less true of places like Liberty, Oral Roberts, Bob Jones, and Patrick Henry. Schools that exist to reinforce the prejudices of the parents and insulate their students from the world around them are anathema to the very concept of higher education.
Furthermore, schools like Bob Jones and Liberty exist on the fringe.
First, full disclosure: I haven’t read the Times article about the University. I share James’ concerns, however, that the students may not be encouraged to question everything. I, for one, found that the best way to ensure I believed what I believed was to be challenged by a liberal professor who didn’t believe it. When everyone believes the same thing at the school, it is hard to really justify — not rationalize — and defend what you believe.
That said, I ran a Congressional campaign with most of the volunteers being home school students. I found them to be of varying opinions, much more sure of themselves, more adaptable, and better able to communicate than their publically educated peers. I think if Patrick Henry fosters individualism through the Socratic method it can only be a good thing.
But, as James hints at, if the views at the University are monolethic, the students may succumb to the misguided notion that everyone believes with them.