By Joan Garrett
|Melanie Thompson helps her sons David, Daniel and Joshua with a chemistry project. Photo: Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star|
Home schooling crystallized as a social movement in the late ’70s and early ’80s as a big tent for two groups with perpendicular views of human nature, according to academics who’ve researched the movement.
Some home-school parents were influenced by the intellectual traditions of the New Left and Free School movement. They sought to apply the teachings of John Holt, a famed ’60s author who disavowed institutional education and called for children to be unschooled, said Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of education and history at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.
“To many on the left, schools were oppressive institutions,” Zimmerman said. “It was a ... philosophy, that kids have a natural inclination to learn.”
At the same time, he said, many parents of the religious right were following the trumpet call of organizations like the Moral Majority, which railed against social corruption and the Godlessness of public education. Many evangelicals became involved in the Christian day-school movement, others turned to home education.