14-08-07 Responses to HS Article in Mercury


Here are some great responses that homeschoolers have written to the Mercury newspaper in response to their negative article on hsing last week! Thanks Robyn

The Editor

The Mercury

In reaction to the article about the MEC, Ina Cronje’s, attack on Home-Schooling and the “seriously negative impact” it supposedly has on a child, I just want to mention a few things:

Socialization is not limited to the schoolground and classroom, quite contrary. The very fact that children are forced into a specific age group (even when competing) and a specific schoolsituation, is limiting on any form of socialization. It doesn’t support freedom of association.

When you remove a child from this so-called microcosm (which it definitly isn’t, life is not about being the same age and doing the same thing), the possiblities for socialization is unlimited. Now you can enter other sportclubs, clubs or groups for specialist interests, join supportgroups for homeschoolers, visit museums, national parks, homes for the old aged, hospitals, factories, local and national government buildings, a day with dad in his office or workplace, visits to grandparents, joining churchgroups. All which is a reflection of the real, everyday life – life after school, – as no school can offer you.

Here the child is exposed to a much wider group of people, persons of every age group, not people necessarily forced together, but people who chose to be associated. Even going to the shop with mom provides ample oppurtunities for educating and practical experience of real life.

In the words of dr James Dobson, well-known and renowned American Psychologist and founder of Focus on the Family:

“The great advantage of homeschooling, in fact, is the protection it provides to vulnerable children from the wrong kind of socialization. When children interact in large groups, the strongest and most aggressive kids quickly intimidate the weak and vulnerable.” And they have no form of defence. It is either sink or swim.

School provides wrong socialization. Research shows that if these little children can be kept at home for a few more years and shielded from the impact of social and peer pressure, they become confident, more independent and often emerge as leaders. If acquainting them with ridicule, rejection, physical threats and the rigors of the pecking order is necessary to “socialize” our children, I’d rather keep them unsocialized for as long as possible.

Problem is that school IS all about passing or failing.



The Editor,
Natal Mercury

In response to your article by Colleen Dardagan ��� ���KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Ina Cronje has slammed home education..���

It saddens me that somebody of such high status such as the MEC of education can make comments on something she clearly has no personal experience of nor has not researched sufficiently.

We choose to homeschool our kids, for a number of reasons mainly because we believe that by home educating them, we are giving them far more than just some schooling, we are preparing them for life. They learn to think and reason for themselves instead of being forced to fit the mould of what the education department wants them to be. Some other influencing factors are the lack of safety in schools and the lack of decent affordable schools in our area. To me raising my children is a calling not just a job ��� and I certainly will not abandon my children for several weeks while I strike for higher wages.

As for the social aspect – I am not sure why this is always such a big issue and the first thing to be brought up when homeschooling is discussed – some of the most well balanced and well socialized kids I have met are homeschoolers. They learn to socialize at all levels and not just with their age similar peers – as they do at school, my ten year old is just as happy playing with his two year old brother as he is being around teenagers and a bonus is the fact that he does not have to deal with all the peer pressure that goes hand in hand with being in school.


The Editor
The Mercury

The article on the MEC, Ina Cronj�� and home schooling refers.

The MEC should have addressed the evidence of public schools��� academic and
social problems, which in itself, highlights the benefits of home education.

There is and remains an adversarial relationship between parents and schools
represented by the DOE, concerning discipline, contradicting morals, and
undermining of parental authority.

Home education allows parents to implement the most important right; that of
freedom of religion and speech; a child���s right to be educated, and a
parents right to protect their children and safeguard their future.Home
education allowed us to teach according to biblical foundations, with secure
parental authority and to teach our child in freedom with flexibility.
Academically, socially, spiritually – a parent knows their child best, and
loves them like no other person can.

Home education develops better parent/child and sibling relationships. The
child can be taught according to his/her specific learning style with a
custom selected curriculum with a one-on-one ratio and instant feedback.
Parents can integrate education into family activities and family interests,
controlling the exposure to sensitive subjects.

Sought after adult character qualities like initiative, leadership etc grows
from encouraging the home-schooled child to be self-reliant. No wonder that
in many 1st world countries tertiary education establishments prefers home
schooled children as a result of these qualities and traits practiced
throughout their home school years.
On the ���Social��� front, this should be the least the MEC should worry about!
These children benefit from relations with people of different ages,
cultures, wisdom, and experience in lieu of isolated age grouped classrooms.
Less exposure to increasing violence and drug use, less exposure to peer
pressure and bullies and no angst ridden teens! And no exposure to sexual
advances from poorly educated educators!

The Editor,
Natal Mercury

In response to your article by Colleen Dardagan ��� ���KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Ina Cronje has slammed home education..���

Interesting that the MEC of education chooses to attack home schooling families on the only issue that cannot be objectively measured and has been poorly researched in this country ��� socialization. Since the opponents of home schooling cannot criticize home schoolers on average test scores, sporting achievement or even behavior, they focus on a problem that does not even exist!

If behavior is the biggest concern you have – Go to your local public school, walk down the hallways and see what behaviors you would want your child to emulate. If you are concerned that children are not allowed to have the freedom of association why then restrict them to the same peer group and a selected group of adults for 6 hours, 5 days a week?

Home schooling parents choose to home school for a variety of reasons, but I have never heard any home schooling parent say that the reason they want to home school is to isolate their child from all of society. But, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for home schooled children to stay away from public school administrators, the Department of Eduction officials, sociologists, and others who cannot properly “socialize” with children.


The Editor:
The Mercury

I refer to your article by Colleen Dardagan ��� ���KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC
Ina Cronje has slammed home education..���

The MEC is quoted as saying, “If schools are microcosms of society,
depriving the child of that learning experience will have a very serious
impact on overall development.”

I sincerely doubt that schools could be viewed as ‘microcosms of society.’
In my experience, schools are places where children learn to stop learning
and to obey, memorise and repeat. Schools are places where children are
taken out of the real world and placed in an artificial world, together with
a teacher, whose job it is to teach children about the real world.

Why not leave children in the real world, with their families and their
communities, where they learn (in addition to academics) how to interact
with people of all ages, cultures, and walks of life? This is exactly what
home educated children are exposed to. They are certainly not deprived!

H Hyde

The Editor: The Mercury

I would like to thank the MEC for Education for the comments she made regarding homeschooling, because she has just proved to us that we made the right decision by recently removing our children from ���school��� in favour of homeschooling them. You see, we want to prevent our children from spending 12 years going through an educational system (as the MEC has) that results in such a narrow-minded mindset.

The government should be welcoming people who have taken the initiative to nuture and stimulate a future generation of independent, free thinking, highly enlightened and extremely social citizens. Surely they can see the benefits that this will bring to assist in easing the social burdens th
at they are already struggling to carry. But, instead of welcoming this as something positive for the future, the government (the MEC) chooses instead to blindly lash out at what they do not know, and have never taken the time to understand.

Perhaps if they stopped fretting over the fact that they are not in control of our children and their thinking (because that is the crux of the matter), and started instead considering the benefits to ���the child���, then we may just get somewhere. Perhaps if they ceased only taking into account what they all ���think��� on the matter (and the importance that this brings them) then maybe, just maybe, there will be a future for more than just all of our extremely fortunate homeschooled children who are being given the skills needed to have the world at their feet. Here is to all the children of South Africa and their RIGHT to the best education possible, and their parents��� RIGHT to choose that form of education���������

An Enlightened Homeschooling Family


The Editor
The Mercury

I am glad that the honourable MEC, Ina Cronje, knows that “education is much
more than simply failing or passing”. Home schooling offers a child much more
than failing or passing, it prepares a child for the real world, rather than a
fabricated world (“microcosm of society”) that is limited in scope to those who
are within one or two years of being the same age of the student. A person who
is well socialized is able to relate to people from a wide variety of age groups
and lifestyles. Homeschooling is the ideal option for this type of training.

There are two types of socialization: peer-group socialization (“babies teaching
babies”) and adult-child socialization (otherwise known as “mentoring”, “walking
with the wise”, or “training”). In public schools the adults are outnumbered as
much as 30 to 1, so the main form of socialization is peer-group socialization.
If the peers are paragons of virtue and fountains of wisdom, this is not a
problem. Unfortunately, in real life, peer groups tend to fall to the level of
the worst influences among them, which is why you hear so much about “peer
pressure” today and why public school children even have to worry about just
saying no.

The greatest predictor of genius is the amount of time a child spends with
adults. In other words, the more time my child spends with me or other adults,
the more likely he or she is to exhibit advanced intellectual abilities.

South Africa’s jails are full of the products of public school socialization.
Are homeschoolers likely to do worse?

T van Deventer

The article on page 4 of The Mercury, “MEC slams home education” refers.

Ina Cronje’s remarks smack of ignorance. Alternatively it is a
deliberate attempt to discredit the most promising & powerful
educational movement in South Africa. Her remark, “If schools are
microcosms of society… ” shows total ignorance of reality. The
forced peer classroom integration, prescribed outcomes and agendas,
are totally unique to schools and bear no relation whatsoever to the
realities of life, economics or natural human interaction.

In which way, Ms Cronje, does the schoolyard bully, the threats and
verbal abuse of underpaid, incompetent teachers, the lack of older
role models, due to age segregation, contribute to a child’s
well-being and development? Or how does teaching a child to give the
answers the teacher wants, that will gain the highest score, encourage
critical thinking in children? School is all about failing and

Could it be that the agenda of government education officials is not
to educate the children of South Africa in the best way possible?.
Why else would they, apparently deliberately, ignore the volumes of
research world-wide and locally that indicate clearly the remarkable
benefits of home education? Or why would they insist on keeping
teacher salaries as low as possible instead of acknowledging and
supporting every educational effort wholeheartedly with word and deed?
Could it be that their aim is be to create a good ruling party
supporting drone, and not an well education, literate, critical
thinker – the leading scientist, literary genius or proverbial
rocket-scientist of the century? If it were indeed seeking the
proper, all-round education of the children of South Africa, they
would applaud every home-schooler and all the dedicated parents that,
often against great odds, choose to educate their children in the best
way possible – at home.

And the lack-of-socialisation-myth has been ridden so ridiculously
through, that it does not even deserve a response anymore.

In the paraphrased words of Mark Twain: Don’t let schooling interfere
with our children’s education.


The Editor

The Mercury

The article in your paper about this very important matter came across as unfairly negative. The aggressive attitude from the minister wasn’t that of a well socialized adult. In home education, however, we do teach our children to enlighten themselves with the correct facts and research before making public statements like these.

I would like to bring the honorable ministers attention to some research: Mrs. Deidre Bester has proved through her Masters (cum laude) that home educated children
are academically far better off than those in public schools. According to Bester they are socially well adapted. As a minister of Education, Cronje should be familiar with all research on education. Home education is also on the grow in Japan and it is especially supported by the business community to help feed the tertiary facilities with students who are able to make the grade. Please, please, dear Minister, do refer to highly acclaimed scholars like Prof. Ruth Beechick, Dr. Ray Moore and dr. John Holt. If education is a passion to you and not merely a salary, then the writings of these authors will intrigue you. You will also realize that your current attitude is not in the best interest of the individual child – it merely feeds a mass outcome with little originality and creativity.

Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Charles Roentgen, Jane Austen, Jan Smuts and many others had one thing in common: They were home educated.

As for my own children: They started reading at 5 years of age. They were avid readers from the beginning. At 7 years they were admitted to a private school. After the first semester the headmaster told me that their reading enthusiasm lead the whole school into a reading culture which didn’t exist before! This little story surely discredit socialization statements like those made by the MEC.


The article “MEC slams Home Education” refers:

I started researching the idea of home education more than four years ago because as a family, we found ourselves in the position where my middle son was struggling in the school environment due to a diagnosis of ADHD. Together with the teachers, we had looked at and tried various options, until eventually home education appeared to be the only option left to us. I was reluctant, because I had similar opinions to those verbalised by Ms Cronje, particularly with regards to the social development of home educated children.

However, I decided to put my opinions to one side, and do some research in order to discover the facts about home education.

Part of that research was to observe children who had been educated at home, so that I could ascertain for myself if these children were indeed, as I suspected, deprived – either with regards to their social development, or their intellectual development. I spent time visiting a number of the many home education support groups in and around Durban. As I surreptitiously observed these children, I was struck by how well-rounded, well-mannered, creative, intuitive and wonderfully inquisitive they all were. They displayed no negative social problems whatsoever. In fact, I began to realise that their social development was often advanced compared to most of the children I had observed within a school environment. Age was not a barrier to friendship, and neither was race, religion or social background.

Within months of taking our three boys out of a school environment, we were able to enjoy similar beneficial changes taking place within our family. My other two boys had both achieved well at school, and both had excelled intellectually – yet we still saw positive changes take place in other areas of their development.

Four years on, and all three of them are on a par, and often ahead of their peers, in terms of their learning. They have been able to take part in many exciting projects which would have been impossible within a schooling context. They have had more time available to them to contribute meaningfully into the community around them, and as a family we are much closer than we ever were when they were at school for so many hours in the day. I feel privileged to have been far more involved in their growing years, knowing that we are preparing them well for their futures.

A big lesson I have learnt out of this, is the importance of separating opinion from fact – and I trust I am more careful to establish the facts before I entrench myself by my own opinions.

Home Educator

The Editor:
The Mercury

In response to the article “MEC slams home education” on the 9th of August.

I would like to encourage Mrs Ina Cronje (KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC)
to expand her nascent research into homeschooling. Small though her
knowledge on the subject appears it has clearly borne some fruit. For
instance it is heartening to read her (somewhat veiled) commendation of
the academic excellence often facilitated by homeschooling. “Children
may do well in a subject, but education is much more than simply failing
or passing,” Hear, hear we say! Academics is so pass��, education is
about fitting in, shared values, and “thinking” like everyone else,
about homogenizing our impressionable youth! And of course, all that
ideology aside, undue focusing on academics in our schools might just
lead to a few embarrassing questions for certain Education MECs.

What, in the minds of our education experts, is the definition of that
Platonic ideal: “The Socialized Person”? Alarmingly they sound like
thought police focusing on molding the children in their control to
“think” the officially sanctioned doctrines. Mr van Oostrum
characterized their position aptly in the article: “Children’s religious
and cultural identities are shifted by interfaith and multiculturalism
to common identities.” And how is this agenda answerable to parental
? Seemingly it isn’t.

I hope many more parents choose to pursue the very best for their
children, rather than mindlessly trusting the “experts”. South Africa
will be a better place for it.


The Editor:

The Mercury

I refer to your article by Colleen Dardagan ��� ���KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Ina Cronje has slammed home education..��� The MEC is quoted as saying, “I am utterly against it. Part of a child’s learning is to socialise and learn to cope in the world.��� So true, that is exactly why we home educate! I am by no means convinced that schools are preparing children for the realities of the 21st century! Institutionalized learning might have been the way to prepare youngsters for the mindless work in factories during the Industrial Revolution, but times have changed dramatically! Today a young person needs to be able to be an independent thinker, a risk-taker, a go-getter: someone that is confident; inward driven; that will see a gap, take it & create employment for himself! Most home schooled children in our circle of friends fit this description. Unfortunately the institutionalized friends that have attempted to exhibit these traits have been subdued with emotional abuse or Ritalin.

Secondly, Ms Cronje continues to say: “Children may do well in a subject, but education is much more than simply failing or passing,” Absolutely! As the poet W.B. Yeats said: “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire��� – this is something I delight in as a home educator! I love it when sparks start flying and learning becomes personal (instead of prescriptive), because that is when real education takes place!

A Fire Lighter

The Editor,

Natal Mercury

In response to your article by Colleen Dardagan ��� ���KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Ina Cronje has slammed home education..���

It does not come as a surprise to read that the MEC is ���utterly against��� home education. The accusations of social deprivation and stunting of overall development of home schooled children, are easily refuted by many positive experiences of many families where grave government school experiences have been turned around in an amazing (almost mind boggling) way by home schooling. And YES, this also includes the social blossoming of previously bullied, belittled, neglected, misunderstood and wrongly diagnosed children who were forced to socialise in classrooms of around forty children in similar variations of plight in their little microcosms of ���real life���.

What interests me more, is the underlying thread ��� the hostility against non-conformers. Is the real agenda here not the perceived helplessness that government is starting to feel with regard to control over home school parents and their curricula? If social engineering can be done through education, then any opposition to this must be seen as highly frustrating. The first step as seen here is to point fingers at soft issues of ���socialisation��� etc and after this accusations of ���fundamentalist fringes��� will probably follow. Government���s inability to effectively monitor, or even identify these perceived problem cases can only breed contempt! A huge concern is that this can even lead to the engineering of research, to formulate policy that will force control. The hardening of an official stance can only spell danger when the question must still be answered whether the government���s intent to have total compliance to the National Curriculum and their hidden agendas will stand up to an
y individual���s rights as prescribed in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of South Africa.

���Utterly��� interesting!

Mrs. M Pieterse




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