- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Sugar coding your homeschooled moron

The New York Times asks [1] students 13 and older whether or not they would want to be homeschooled. Gotta love these reactions. Typical:

No I would not like to be home-schooled. I don’t think you learn as much and get the skills needed to survive in the real world. One of the huge real world skills is being able to socialize and when you’re home-schooled you don’t really get any social activity. Therefore, you really wouldn’t have many friends and it would be hard to apply for a job and speak well at an interview.

— Jacob H


In my opinion, i would never turn to home schooling. When you are home schooled, you automaticly loose the whole social experience of school. In the real world you need to be social. Otherwise you’re going to get know where. I understand that the learning education might be to an advantage while homeschooling because its all one on one and you are the only student reciveing all the help you need whenever you need it. I would never home school my child because I would be holding them back from friends and the social life they will need in the feature. I would never even consider home schooling.

— Macie P.


I don’t think homeschooling can prepare children for a real world because when your home schooled, you’re away from the real world and you probably wouldn’t know how to communicate with other people. School is where you learn how to work with others and communicate but if you don’t have no one else but your parents with this type of education, it would be hard when they release you into the real world. But if you’re home schooled, you wouldn’t have to be pressured with drugs. I also disagree with the writers mother when she says that working at one’s own pace and following one’s genuine interests is the best way to learn.

— Bella R.

These two are great:

I believe that home-schooling doesn’t prepares children and teenagers for the ” Real world”. It doesn’t let children that chance to be in a social community with more kids or people. I think Home-schooling has his dos and dont’s.

— Ilenia P

I think homeschooling is dumb. I think homeschooling doesn’t prepare kids for the real world. they don’t learn how to socialize with other people. Some parents may sugar code the kids. So they might not know everything there suppose to know. no i do not agree.

— Leslie R

Homeschooling parents, are you sugar coding your children? Stop it right now! One homeschooling mom says [1] about these student comments:

Those of us who argue that our kids learn more at home, in spite of their untrained, non-unionized teachers and limited budgets, can take the rest of the day off. The public school kids’ comments have rendered argument on that score unnecessary.


75 Comments (Open | Close)

75 Comments To "Sugar coding your homeschooled moron"

#1 Comment By Fred On November 13, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

Answer: (0, 5/4).

Here’s another problem tens of thousands of public high-school students can solve: Consider the 1st-quadrant area under the curve y = x – x^2. Find “m” for the line y = mx which divides that area into two equal pieces.

Many of my most brilliant classmates at MIT were from public high-schools. And they were also high-school athletes, band geeks, debaters, etc. And MH is correct. Those are the people you can thank for the iPads, phones, and laptops you enjoy.

#2 Comment By Rod Dreher On November 13, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

I went to public schools all my life. Please don’t hold that against public education. 😉

#3 Comment By John E On November 13, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

Oh well…

#4 Comment By Joseph R. Stromberg On November 13, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

Pushed off the sidewalk once too often by a clump of 9th-grade bullies, I learned how to hit the tallest bully in the back of the head with a Latin textbook at twenty paces.

Alas, this acquired skill has not been very useful since. But the Zen moment was interesting.

The Latin itself has been quite useful.

#5 Comment By Luna R. On November 13, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

I think the whole idea about exposing kids to bullies so that they will be somehow ready for/immune to them at a later date is flawed. It makes me think of those ignorant people who hold chickenpox parties, or send infected lollipops through the mail, so that their kids will contract the pox and somehow build up their immune systems. What such criminal stupidity leads to is kids contracting the chickenpox and setting themselves up for shingles later in life. Research has shown that kids who contract childhood illnesses are often vulnerable, for the rest of their lives, to other illnesses. Oh, and the fact that there’s a proven vaccine for chickenpox, available at one’s local pediatrician, has apparently had no influence on these bumbling dolts. In the same way, certain kids exposed to certain types of bullying are marked by it forever, and while some may become quite tough and strong because of or in spite of it, just as many may be socially pockmarked and suffer compromised emotional responses the rest of their lives. The idea that being bullied in school helps you to become socially adept is analogous to the idea that being exposed to chicken pox is good for you.

#6 Comment By MIke On November 13, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

The idea that public schools are full of bullies just waiting to torment children is as ridiculous as the idea that homeschooling is full of barely-literate Christians trying to protect their children from society.

The socialization piece is more complex than that. We don’t really have very much data on outcomes for homeschool kids, so we are stuck with lots of anecdotes from partisans who are on the defensive. I’d like to see some research on outcomes for homeschoolers and not just anecdotes from blogs.

#7 Comment By John E On November 13, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

Here’s another problem tens of thousands of public high-school students can solve: Consider the 1st-quadrant area under the curve y = x – x^2. Find “m” for the line y = mx which divides that area into two equal pieces.

Fred, let me know if there was an easier way to do this, but this was my approach:

First, find the total area under the curve by integrating (x – x^2) dx over the interval 0 to 1.

Answer: 1/6, easy enough. Now all I have to do is find the value of m so that the area between the curves is 1/12…

So, integrate (x – x^2 – mx) dx over the interval… well what exactly?

Obviously, I need to find the value of x where the line y=mx crosses the curve, which is where the y values are equal.

y = x – x^2
y = mx

so x – x^2 = mx
divide, rearrange, to get x = 1-m, well that’s interesting…

Area between the curves needs to equal 1/12 over the interval 0 to 1 – m

1/12 = (x – x^2 – m*x) dx

1/12 = ((1 – m) x – x^2) dx over the interval 0 to 1-m, that looks promising…

plug and chug, solve for m, get m = 1 – the cube root of one half


m = 1 – (1/2) ^ (1/3)

#8 Comment By Connie On November 13, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

send infected lollipops through the mail, so that their kids will contract the pox

Yeah, I’ve been waiting for Rod to blog about this particular idiocy.

#9 Comment By Rod Dreher On November 13, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

Yeah, I’ve been waiting for Rod to blog about this particular idiocy.

Really? This is the first I’ve heard about such a thing. It’s insane. We vaccinate all our kids, though we do stretch the inoculations out, and don’t pile them on all at once.

#10 Comment By MH – scientismist On November 13, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

Connie, the antivax movement coupled with chick pox idiocy drives me bonkers. It’s the liberal version of young earth creationism.

#11 Comment By David J. White On November 13, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

wow, I thought it was called sugar coat,as in sugar coating the truth so it goes down easier. wtf is sugar code! talk about morons!


Yes, it is “sugar coat”, and that’s presumably what they wanted to say. “Sugar code” is evidently an illiterate spelling by a student who obviously doesn’t read very much, or at all, and was trying to spell it phonetically. (In colloquial English, medial t’s tend to become voiced and pronounced as d’s; notice that most people pronounce “water” as “wahder”.)

I once taught at a place where many students were similarly illiterate; the idea that a word has a consistent spelling that should be used every time you write the word, and that you don’t need to recreate it phonetically each time you write it (often differently from the way you wrote it just two paragraphs ago) seemed to be an unknown concept to many of them. I got many papers with “poem” spelled both “poem” and “pome”, often within the same paragraph or even the same sentence. (The students who were most consistent were generally the ones who always wrote “pome”.)

#12 Comment By MIke On November 13, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

Or “coated” got converted to “coded” through autofill or spell-check.

#13 Comment By Connie On November 13, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

Rod, Google is your friend.


#14 Comment By Larry On November 13, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

Reminds me of a phrase from an old book: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

#15 Comment By Stef On November 13, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

Some students are not happy with homeschool socialization options. For some, weekly structured activities are fine. For others they’re boring at best, a nightmare at worst. And sometimes families who are out of line with the prevailing mores (i.e. Jewish or pagan in an area dominated by Christian homeschoolers, for instance) are going to feel out of place.

I would be interested to see how many homeschooled kids go on to homeschool their own children.

#16 Comment By pentamom On November 15, 2011 @ 10:29 am

“If you can’t answer that question, you may be doing your homeschooled child a disservice. There are tens of thousands of public high-school students who can answer that question.”

Which is pretty ironic, considering there are millions of public high school students. Would it be a greater or lesser disservice to send them to school and have them fail to learn that, or to fail to teach them that at home?

I disagree that someone who can’t answer that question is doing a disservice by homeschooling — if that person knows (or better yet is married to) someone who can and will teach their kids high school math. I’ll bet most high school English teachers can’t answer that question, either.

That’s one of the myths surrounding homeschooling — that all homeschool parents rely entirely on their own knowledge and do not access people and resources with knowledge they lack.

At any rate, I have/am homeschooling my kids through eighth grade and then sending them off to a public magnet high school for just such reasons — I don’t want them to suffer for my lacks. But this game of “let’s try to dig for academic weaknesses in homeschooling parents so we can pretend it’s a bad idea while ignoring the fact that kids aren’t getting all that good of an education except in the very best of public high schools” is rather silly.

#17 Comment By Faith On November 15, 2011 @ 11:53 am

For the poster who is so worried about homeschoolers not getting a good math education so they can go on to develop wonderful technologies for society, I want to assure them that there is hope! I am not much good at math myself, though I homeschool. So when my older kids needed to learn higher level math, I hired a tutor. My current 16 yo is taking an online precalculus class. Then there’s the homeschooler I know just interviewed by MIT. He took his high school math at the local community college (he got a perfect score on the SAT math section). So really, there are many ways around it. The fact that you think the only way to be educated in math is to go to a public school shows a real lack of imagination on your part.

I’ve been homeschooling for 15 years and have graduated two of my kids into college; one’s on the dean’s list at private classical school and the other got into a very selective music college. And I fall into the unschooly/relaxed variety of homeschooling. When kids have the freedom to dream about their futures and how they want to live their lives, they are very capable of learning what they need to know in order to achieve their goals.

#18 Comment By Faith On November 15, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

Also, I think it is kind of cheap and mean spirited to slam on those kids who responded to the article. First of all, kudos to them for reading a New York Times article and then actually caring enough to respond! Secondly, internet writing is laxer when it comes to typos and misspellings, isn’t it? We know people are typing quickly and not proof-reading. Thirdly, spelling errors are hardly a sign of unintelligence. My husband says he didn’t learn to spell until he was 30! And he is really smart! He just wasn’t too hot at the spelling thing. So to pick on spelling is lame, I think. And fourthly, I don’t even think the focus by the kids on socialization is that note worthy. Even homeschooled teens tend to find socializing important. It’s being a teenager! They naturally want to get out and mix with other kids their own age. It is part of growing up and becoming independent. While I think the peer pressure and unhealthy socialization that goes on in institutional learning is a definite drawback, the fact that teens were worried that their fellow homeschooling teens were missing out, doesn’t strike me as something to criticize.

#19 Comment By Kimberly On November 15, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

I think the most disturbing aspect regarding the students’ responses are the inherent similarities amongst them. Who on earth has told them that school is the “real world?” While I was growing up, parents and teachers continued to insist that we (students and children) were in for a “rude awakening” when we entered the “real world,” thus implying that school was *not* the “real world.” I find it odd that each of these students use the same arguments…real world…socializing (which is not the same as socialization)…communication. As a technology and communications specialist, my husband’s biggest complaint at present is the poor communication skills evident in the majority of young individuals he interviews. This is reality.

Have we, as a society filled with loving, caring parents, truly descended to the point where we can no longer see what’s best for the children? Our politician’s decry the state of the schools, the media decries the state of the schools, parents and local governments add their laments, yet we’re to believe that this is the best America has to offer? I disagree. Educate your children as you see fit. Pour yourself into it. This applies to home education, public and private schooling. Pretending that there isn’t a problem is ridiculous…throwing algebra and grammar around isn’t helpful in the least.

#20 Comment By KJ On November 16, 2011 @ 12:09 am

“Drop the unit circle into the parabola y=x^2. Where is the center?

If you can’t answer that question, you may be doing your homeschooled child a disservice. There are tens of thousands of public high-school students who can answer that question.”

No, you’re doing a disservice only if you can’t answer that question and CAN’T FIGURE OUT ANY OTHER WAY for your kid to learn the answer.

I *never* knew the answer to the above question, not even in high school. I am now a well-educated working professional in my field with a graduate degree. Strangely enough, I have managed to exist and excel in the world without the slightest interest for or use of algebra in my daily life. Nothing against it per se, just utterly uninteresting and unnecessary. Much as I would guess you exist without what I would consider basic knowledge in my field.

I can’t solve that equation right now. But there is zero doubt in my mind that I could learn how, and then teach someone else how to solve it as well.

#21 Comment By Monica On November 16, 2011 @ 10:04 am

“Socialization” is the main reason we homeschool. Being confined with a herd of people your own age and for the most part, your own socio-economic group, for most of your formative years, does not make for a well socialized person. As far as the education, my children are far better educated than I am (with my public school education). I encouraged them to learn how to learn, and to learn from everything around them. I have two children with graduate degrees (one in science, graduated with honors), one 3rd in her class in University, and two still at home. And more importantly than their degrees and certificates- they are good human beings who know how to communicate with other human beings of varied ages and backgrounds. They were ‘schooled’ out in the world, not confined to a classroom, and thus had the opportunity to learn from the world around them. They were not isolated as conventionally schooled kids are.
Oh, and they all write much better than I do. 🙂

#22 Comment By Monica On November 16, 2011 @ 10:45 am

“Here’s another problem tens of thousands of public high-school students can solve: Consider the 1st-quadrant area under the curve y = x – x^2. Find “m” for the line y = mx which divides that area into two equal pieces.”

I would suspect there are also thousands who cannot solve it, or solve much simpler problems. And there are homeschoolers who can solve it, and those who cannot. But I bet many of the homeschoolers would seek out the ‘how to solve’ themselves if they needed to know it. I suspect most public schooled kids would not. They’ve been conditioned to expect others will hand them what they need to know ‘for the test.’ Of course this is a generalization, there are exceptions on both sides.

#23 Comment By ratiocination On November 16, 2011 @ 10:59 am

Holy Cow, Rod! Just now found you after a very long hiatus! It’s good to be back!

The debate in the combox here has been a very interesting one, with lots of good points on both sides…thought I’d weigh in with my own story.

We pulled out oldest out of public school after just one month of kindergarten. She had been in a Montessori preschool and was already reading fluently while her classmates were still learning their ABCs. Since they used a computer program to teach the kids reading and they didn’t know what else to do with her, they just let her play on this computer program the whole time. Their idea of “snack time” was to let parents bring ice cream sandwiches for the kids to share EVERY DAY. Talk about sugar coding…

So we homeschooled for five years, with an eclectic mix of Montessori, Classics and Unschooling. My kids can read major novels AND understand them…their knowledge of vocabulary, history and the arts is prodigious…and by being exposed to others in our homeschool group, their manners are such that we receive compliments ALL THE TIME, even from the teachers at their new school.

Yes, we decided to put them in school…but that’s only because we actually found a small private school that shares our values. And though I miss homeschooling, I willingly admit that I allowed the children to follow their interests rather than insisting they finish their math. Mea culpa, but at least I am not blind to it and now that is being rectified.

But the interesting thing is this: if you know HOW to learn (and your natural desire to learn hasn’t been strangled out of you…), you can learn just about anything, from paleontology to parabolas. When no one tells you you’re not ready for those things yet, it never occurs to you that you wouldn’t be. So yes, my kids were behind in math, but they are catching up VERY quickly with almost no help, because they know how to learn and they love it.

Above all, I wouldn’t trade my homeschool years for anything in the world, because now they are young *people*, not “kids” or robots or even (OK, I couldn’t resist…) sugar coded. They are able to carry on a conversation with an adult that at times leaves the adult in the dust.

Of course, they all love school, and don’t miss their homeschool days. Why? Because now they get to socialize ALL the time! Studying is lonely work. 🙂 They’ve been begging to go to school for a long time, but they’ve also been shocked to hear the stories that some of their previously public schooled friends tell them, and my daughter actually told me the other day that maybe I was right about not sending them to public school.

I went to public schools nearly all my life and it was hell on earth. And this was before sex, drugs, electronics and school shootings. Nearly everything I’ve learned in my life that was worthwhile I either learned in college or I taught myself. So I admit I’m more than biased.

Oh, and I could do parabolas back in the day, but that has been crowded out of my brain by the crush of everything else I’ve taught myself since then, including starting my own publishing business from scratch. That’s what I call a LEARNING CURVE. **wink**

#24 Comment By Jake On November 16, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

As a home schooled student of 11 years, I find the statement that homeschoolers are less educated and/or unsocialized ironic. I have been ahead in math for almost as long as I can remember. Very few public school students can boast to be in charge of publications and administration for an organization of over one thousand members, as I am. I get to spend a large chunk of time on communications, not to mention the actual work/planning involved! I normally have a strong dislike for bragging but I feel that I must defend homeschoolers and homeschooling in general. Home schooling doesn’t mean that you live under a rock, as is apparently widely misconstrued! It just means that you do most of your learning at home, at your own pace. And yes you still have friends, and lots of them.

#25 Comment By Melda On November 17, 2011 @ 2:45 am

Really? Is the world so deluded? Do they not realize that less than 100 years ago nearly 80 percent of children in USA were homeschooled?

These naysayers should really “get educated”. . . see below

–If you can

1. use or benefit from a sewing machine–(Elias Howe invented)

2. fly on, operate, or work on an airplane–(the Wright Brothers and William Lear)

3. talk on or use a telephone–(Alexander Graham Bell)

4 .use electricity in your home-(Thomas Edison)

5. enjoy hunting, shooting and are thankful that our Peace protection officers and regular honest law abiding citizens can ‘bear arms” as our constitution supports.-(John Moses Browning)

6. appreciate fine literature, art, and music-(Robert Frost, Ansel Adams, Claude Monet, Leonardo DaVinci, Irving Berlin, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Hans Christian Anderson, Agatha Christie, Samuel Clemens, Charles Dickens, L. Ron Hubbard, C.S, Lewis, Beatrix Potter, Walt Whitman)–just to name a very few!!

7. listen to a radio-(Guglielmo Marconi)

You can thank home schooled person or parent that home schools their children!! Yes folks, its true! As well as 15 of our nations Presidents, 4 US Supreme Court Judges, and many more–go to link below and see for yourself. That list is not complete either!