Monday, November 25, 2013

Concluding Thoughts on the Botkins' "Ready for Real Life" Webinar

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.


  1. You nailed it, as usual. I suppose fundies think they just need to "have faith" and God will make everything work out properly regardless of the normal ways objective reality operates. However, it's pretty obvious that those brought up in this way will rarely be found in real leadership positions in the future, other than leadership of fundie religious organizations (themselves rapidly declining in influence in the broader culture).

    1. Infidel -- They can't have their cake and eat it too. They can't seclude themselves in a fundamentalist bubble AND become leaders over the larger culture.

  2. Thank you!
    This review helped me answer a question I never really got: Botkin has been preaching about the importance of early marriage - that whole praying over his newborn daughter's ovaries bit which is really, really creepy - but has two unmarried daughters who are not young by fundamentalist standards. Turns out daughters are expendable to the goals of their birth family. I think women have very few real choices in this culture, but those two young women have no choices. They bring in cash with their SADH books and so will be virgin sacrifices to the Botkin 200 year plan. I hate to say this, but if they want to have their own families, they're gonna need to write some really crappy books. Seriously, go incoherent. Espouse liberal virtues; imply that spacing babies two years apart might be acceptable in some circumstances. Posit that working at the a local grocery store is ok for unmarried daughters.

    The more I hear about this family the more I think Anna Sophia and Elizabeth are valued more as cash cows than women.

    1. NatureLover -- I worry for the Botkin daughters. They've been raised in an unhealthy ideology that is wastes their potential and reduces them to devotees of their father. You're right -- they have few if any choices.


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