By default, many parents are homeschooling now. School closures have also raised questions about whether the high cost of government education is providing decent returns, given the all too often dismal results. The paradigm shift has some families pondering whether homeschooling is a longer-term option they want to explore – but have doubts about whether they’re up to the task. Homeschooling expert Sam Sorbo has a clear message: Yes, you can do it, and it is going to be okay. In fact, it can even be great. Sorbo began homeschooling her kids over ten years ago, well before the current Covid-19 crisis.
Back in 2016 Sorbo published They’re YOUR Kids: An Inspirational Journey from Self-Doubter to Home School Advocate, about how she figured out that she was more than qualified to educate her own kids, and to provide practical advice about how you can follow her lead. Hers is an unequivocal and principled pushback against those voices – including those featured in Harvard Magazine calling for a presumptive ban on homeschooling.
Sam Sorbo – the glamorous mistress of ceremonies at our 2019 Atlas Society Gala – is far more than a pretty face. She earned a degree in biomedical engineering from Duke University, and went on to have a successful career as a model. She then excelled as an actress, notably playing Serena in the hugely popular TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and eventually married the series’ star Kevin Sorbo. She has acted in a long list of films, recently adding writer and producer to her film credits. She co-wrote, produced, and starred opposite her husband in Let There Be Light (2017) and produced and starred in Miracle in East Texas (2019), also with her husband.
She is also a big fan of Ayn Rand:
The idea behind Ayn Rand is that we each have our abilities and we should be able to flourish with our individual ability, in freedom. I’m such a fan of Ayn Rand. Here’s a woman who grew up in Communism and somehow managed to escape that mindset and discover that the intrinsic value of each individual should be applauded.
So why would anyone, especially Sam Sorbo, worry about having the know-how to homeschool their kids?
That was just one of the questions Jennifer Grossman had for Sorbo when they chatted via Zoom in episode 2 of The Atlas Society Asks.
Watch the video here:
Grossman wanted to know how Sorbo planned the transition to homeschooler:
Well I jumped in, and I gave it a go, but here’s the thing: There are people who have been doing this for a very long time. So I’ve been recently promoting coronavirushomeschooling.com, which is a website that’s sponsored by the Texas Homeschool Coalition, one of the largest in the world. They’ve been around for over 30 years, and they put together more than a curriculum. It’s soup to nuts. The whole kit and kaboodle. I like to say, “All you need to do is add the love.” And so that will teach parents how to go about the process of education.
So why the nerves and self-doubt? Sorbo has a theory:
What I like to tell parents is, first of all, if you feel incapable to educate your children, there’s a reason for that. Because if you went to high school, you shouldn’t feel incapable of teaching a young person, you know, the basics. You went to high school so you’ve got the basics. And of course the proof of an education is the ability to impart the knowledge that you have. So why are you feeling so incompetent? I would argue you feel that way because you were taught that you don’t know how to do anything that you weren’t formally instructed to do by somebody standing at a blackboard or a whiteboard.
And one of the things that’s wrong with our school system is that it taught you that you’re inadequate.
And if you’re going to argue with me, then stop telling me that you’re inadequate to educate your children at home. And I win – again.
While you may be homeschooling now by default, Sorbo wants you to know that this is a golden opportunity to make a meaningful change in your family:
This is an opportunity for families to come together. It's really an unprecedented opportunity for everyone in this nation – and around the world – to test drive home education. And really… kick the tires and check the knobs and feel how comfortable the seat is. And see if it might be an opportunity for you and your family.
I’m already getting emails from people who say, “We’re not going back to the school system. We’re not putting our children back in the institution. It’s so much easier than we thought it was.” And of course that’s been my message all along: It’s easier than you imagine and it’s actually more rewarding than your wildest dreams!
Grossman also asked if there are reasons to homeschool beyond family togetherness and self-reliance:
One of the reasons might be that they don’t assign Ayn Rand as reading material in our schools.
But what are they assigning? And you might want to take a look at what they are assigning. And in fact, in this period that we have right now, we have a lot of curriculum that’s going home with the kids that the parents are now sort of in charge of administering, if you will. Take a good look at it. Really, examine it.
My son has already read The Fountainhead. I think Atlas Shrugged is a little bit advanced so I’m holding off on that one even though that one is my favorite.
Can teaching our kids about Ayn Rand better prepare them for successful adulthood than public schooling does? Sorbo thinks so:
Ayn Rand valued individuals, and she said that some individuals rise higher than other individuals and that’s a good thing and that’s an intrinsically American value. That’s why we all love our IPhones, or our IBM computers or what have you, because we understand that when great people are allowed to rise, great things happen for everybody.
I think it was an expression of sort of the original feminism, right? But what I love about it is she made no bones about it. She’s not like: “I’m a woman, and therefore, this.” No. She said, “I am a business person and therefore this is how I do, and this is what I believe and this is how I will behave.” So in that way, she was the woman who basically ushered in, in her novels in any case, equality of the sexes.
In the end, it’s about values, Grossman and Sorbo emphasized. “Children grow up to be adults.” The values they learn from us are the values they will entrust to the next generation.