Conservatives, Liberals and Diversity

Neo-Anabaptist Scot McKnight has written a response to a recent Slate article entitled “Liberals: Don’t Homeschool Your Kids.” The primary argument of the Slate article is that #homeschooling can never be progressive because homeschooling by its decentralized nature cannot serve the needs of society at large.

McKnight counters that a diversity of perspectives benefits a polyglot society more than the monolithic perspective a 100% compliant public school system would foster. He writes,

Aren’t we better off in a society that draws on folks who got different sorts of education? Some progressives seem to think a diverse society is one where every 14-year-old in America arrives at school, pledges allegiance to the nation’s flag, takes out an American history textbook shaped by panels of bureaucrats in California and Texas, and proceeds to be guided by a teacher with a state issued credential in how best to pass a standardized test. Who is celebrating diversity, the champions of putting every kid in the education wonk’s vision of the ideal classroom, or the folks who want some kids to start their day interacting with multi-ethnic classmates while others start their school day praying and still others learn about raising backyard chickens?

It is interesting to me that liberals/progressives generally claim a monopoly on embracing diversity, when my understanding of conservatism (based largely around the local agrarian insights of a Wendell Berry or, dare I say, Thomas Jefferson) is based precisely around preserving specific instances of diversity.

As McKnight summarizes, “society as a whole requires people who challenge the prevailing system if it is to identify the few who can offer new insights.” Clipped from its context defending homeschooling as one choice among many (and McKnight emphasizes that it may not be the best choice), this could be part of any progressive mantra.

What do you think? Who has the corner on diversity? Is either homeschooling or its eradication more likely to benefit society as a whole?



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