Horace Mann promoted the “common school” not primarily to increase literacy or prepare kids for college. No, the movement that gave birth to the modern public school system in America was designed to inculcate good citizenship by putting all kids through a “shared experience.”
A few years ago, Mann’s notion was re-iterated by a college professor in an essay called “The Civic Perils of Homeschooling.” Public schooling, he wrote,
is one of the few remaining social institutions . . . in which people from all walks of life have a common interest and in which children might come to learn such common values as decency, civility, and respect.
Are we really supposed to believe that public schools instill decency, civility, and respect?
In “Does Homeschooling or Private Schooling Promote Political Intolerance? Evidence from a Christian University,” Journal of School Choice: International Research and Reform, 8(1), Albert Cheng left bald assertions aside and conducted some research. He concluded that private schooling does not decrease social tolerance, and “those [college students] with more exposure to homeschooling relative to public schooling tend to be more politically tolerant.”
Why might this be the case? Cheng himself offered two possible reasons — greater self-actualization in homeschooling, and religious instruction — but I can think of others.
For one, public schools bring together many, many kids, but through regimentation and Mann’s desire for “shared experience,” the results tend toward more conformity, and bullying, and less tolerance.
Meanwhile, homeschoolers are doing something different than the crowd, and perhaps are that much more wiling to accept others doing their own thing, even if not the norm.
So, hooray for homeschooling! The cradle of liberty.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.