Introduction: Botkins Launch Webinar on Making Kids "Ready for Real Life"
Part I: Ready for What?
Part II: Are Your Children Ready for Real Life?
Part III: Arts and Culture
Part IV: Science and Medicine
Part V: History and Law
Part VI: Vocations
Part VII: Q&A Session
After receiving a tip from one of my readers, I purchased access to the "Ready for Real Life" webinar, hosted by the Botkin family of the Western Conservatory for the Arts and Sciences. After listening to the seven-part webinar, I was struck by how paradoxical the content was. On one hand, Christians are to teach their children to take dominion of the world and assume positions of leadership, according to the Botkins. On the other hand, their instructions on how to raise homeschooled children would make this next to impossible.
The Botkins place little value on college degrees or certifications, but without degrees, advancement to leadership positions in most fields would be difficult if not impossible. Geoffrey Botkin speaks coldly about the so-called "slave economy" in which most mainstream jobs are situated, discouraging homeschooled youth from working at such jobs. The Botkins' distrust of secular academia, the mainstream scientific community, the modern art and music scenes, the military, and the secular state (evident in Geoffrey's hostility toward so-called "statism") precludes young people from working in those fields as well. How can youth raised with the Botkins' ideology be leaders in the world if advanced educational opportunities and multiple career fields are off limits?
Furthermore, leadership involves understanding and working alongside the people one intends to lead. The Botkins, however, are wary of people and ideas outside of their immediate subculture. People who think differently than them are viewed at best as "sheep" in need of a shepherd, and at worst as enemies. In the Botkins' day to day lives, such people are largely avoided. How can Botkin-aligned youth lead other people if their ideology prevents them from interacting with others at length or learning about them?
It goes without saying that in the Botkins' vision, such leaders will be men. The Botkins' ideology relegates women to the home, where they are assigned the tasks of homeschooling children, keeping the house in order, possibly running a home business, and accepting the blame when things go wrong. College and careers outside the home are off-limits, and gifts are to be put aside in favor of marriage and motherhood, as in the case of Geoffrey's daughter-in-law. Women can help their men, but not serve as leaders in their own right. How do the Botkins expect their fundamentalist Christians to rise up as leaders when half of their number are barred from meaningful participation in the outside world?
In conclusion, the Botkins' webinar encourages Christian homeschooling families to take dominion, but fails to provide realistic instructions for doing so. The ideology they preach is not only inadequate for achieving the dominion they crave, but inadequate for preparing young people for real life. Life in a fundamentalist bubble simply isn't good training for leadership in the real world.
A warm thank you to Homeschoolers Anonymous for cross-posting this series.