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By Samuel L. Blumenfeld

May 24, 2002

The only effective group of citizens today in open opposition to big government are the home schoolers.  They are the only Americans willing to take on the public education system that props up the entire statist enterprise of big, intrusive government.  Forget about conservative politicians.  They are more concerned about conserving their legislative privileges than rolling back increasingly intrusive government.

Although President Bush has said nice things about home schoolers, he is doing more to expand federal control over education than any previous Republican president.  His call for nationwide standardized testing is in reality a call for a federal curriculum, which will be used by the establishment to continue dumbing down the nation.  Even with the multi-billion dollar literacy initiative attached to the No Child Left Behind reform bill, it is expected that the educators who get the money will continue to provide faulty reading instruction to America’s children.

In the last two months, I’ve spoken at four home-school conventions in liberal New England, and there is no doubt that those who attend the conventions are revolutionaries in the true sense of the word.  They have rejected the tax-supported school system, which is the chief instrument the totalitarians are using to construct a socially controlled society.  The computers are already in place in Washington, and the data is pouring in. 

Only by reasserting the need for educational freedom can this nation restore its adherence to the principles of a free society.  Leading in that fight is the Home School Legal Defense Association, founded by Michael Farris and other home-schooling attorneys to defend the rights of American parents to educate their children at home in accordance with their own values.  Two years ago, Farris founded Patrick Henry College to educate home schoolers in Constitutional Law and train them to serve as aides to conservative congressmen who badly need them.  Aides that come out of liberal state universities know little history and not much about our Constitution. 

But the fact that parents can still legally take their children out of the government schools and educate them at home is an indication that this revolution can be won peacefully.  What is important to know is that the home-school movement has reached critical mass and cannot be destroyed without causing a civil upheaval, and no politician can afford to let that happen.  After all, there are more parents than teachers, and politicians know how to count noses as well as dollars.

Why are so many parents home schooling?  Because they’ve come to the realization that the schools are destroying the brains of American children.  It all starts in the first grade where teaching methods are used to deliberately cause dyslexia and reading disability.  The method is popularly known as whole language, or the sight method, in which children are required to memorize a sight vocabulary.  That is, they are required to memorize English printed words as whole configurations, like Chinese characters.  Sounds harmless enough, unless you understand that that kind of memorization results in a conditioned response, or a holistic reflex.

What’s wrong with a holistic reflex?  It becomes an obstacle to learning to read phonetically.  An alphabet is a phonetic system in which letters represent language sounds.  To become a fluent reader, you must develop a phonetic reflex, not a holistic one.  With a phonetic reflex, achieved through systematic phonics drill, the reader can easily see the phonetic structure of the words he is reading and discern the syllabic units that make up a word.  But a reader with a holistic reflex, who has been taught little or no phonics, cannot see the phonetic structure of the words, because he has the automatic habit of looking at and seeing words as whole configurations.

In other words, the holistic reflex and the phonetic reflex are mutually exclusive.  And it was Ivan Pavlov, in his pysch lab in Moscow in the 1920s, who proved that when an animal is subjected to two mutually exclusive reflexes, it has a nervous breakdown.  All of this is known to American psychologists, for the results of Pavlov’s experiments were published in 1932 in a book, The Nature of Human Conflicts: Researches in Disorganization and Control of Human Behavior, by A. R. Luria, professor of psychology, State Institute of Experimental Psychology in Moscow. It was translated by an American student of Pavlov’s, W. Horsley Gantt.

And to prove the point, all we have to do is quote Dr. Walter Dearborn, professor of educational psychology at Harvard, who wrote in 1940:

The principle which we have used to explain the acquisition of a sight vocabulary is, of course, the one suggested by Pavlov's well-known experiments on the conditioned response.  This is as it should be.  The basic process involved in conditioning and learning to read is the same.

So there you have it.  And now you can understand why so many American children are becoming reading disabled.  The other day, a mother called me on a radio talk show.  She complained that her son was having trouble with reading.  It turned out that the school was teaching phonics and also requiring the child to memorize a sight vocabulary.  I told her that her son was experiencing a collision of two mutually exclusive reflexes, which was causing his confusion and difficulty.  I told her to get my Alpha-Phonics program and teach her child to read at home.

The literacy scandal is only one reason why parents are now home schooling.  Other reasons?  There are over four million kids on Ritalin and other drugs; mind-repelling academic chaos in the classroom; a Mickey-Moused curriculum of excruciating boredom; pornographic sex education; school massacres; anti-American multiculturalism; depressing death education; values clarification that leads to family conflicts; teaching techniques based on Skinnerian operant conditioning (your child is an animal and being trained like one); drug education that dare children to try it.  In short, if you love your kids, get them out! 


© Samuel L. Blumenfeld - All Rights Reserved




Samuel L. Blumenfeld is the author of eight books on education, including “Is Public Education Necessary?” and “The Whole Language/OBE Fraud,” published by The Paradigm Company, 208-322-4440.  His reading instruction program, “Alpha-Phonics,” is available by writing The Tutoring Company, P.O. Box 540111, Waltham, MA 02454-0111.