Thursday, June 4

"Duggar School Daze"

I was so disappointed by this episode of 18 Kids and Counting. Mostly, I once again felt mislead by TLC. The episode seemed to advertise that the Duggar kids were going to see what public school was like, but that really wasn't the case at all. Instead, the four oldest girls (plus baby Jordyn and Josiah, one of the middle boys, for some reason) went with Michelle as the guests of honor at a local elementary school's assembly about authors. Attending an assembly arranged especially for you is not really getting a taste of what public school is like. High school-aged children going to an elementary school isn't really seeing what public school is like. But we'll get back to this in a minute.

The first half of the episode focused on the Duggar's homeschooling methods. In their earlier TV specials, we were shown scenes with all the kids gathered around the table while Michelle instructed (which was weird, since they probably ranged in age from K through 12). We've also seen them on a couple "field trips" where they learned "per-pen-dicular" and "A-ma-zon." We now know these scenes were totally staged, because Michelle explained how their homeschool curriculum actually works. For the first three years, the younger kids work out of workbooks, directed by Michelle. To illustrate this, we are shown an endless stream of kids basically arguing with her about fetching their workbooks from the upstairs office and claiming they've already done the lesson. They clearly hate their schoolwork and it looks like a neverending battle to get them to sit down and do it. And Michelle getting pulled in a million directions with the various kids' lessons, diaper changes, and discipline obviously can't devote enough attention to all those "students." The house is basically chaos and it's surprising that anyone can learn anything there. Michelle says getting them to work is "a challenge. But amazingly, they learn!" After 3rd grade, the kids do all their schoolwork on the computer, with work graded online. One of the older girls has the password to go in and check everyone's grades. So Michelle is pretty uninvolved at this point? So much for homeschooling fostering family closeness and whatnot. But I guess she's got her hands full with all the little ones.

There were a couple interviews about letting the kids persue education outside their home. Jinger (who has a talent for photography, according to her brother Josh), says she's considered taking additional classes in photography... then sort of trails off. How sad. Let her take the classes! Jim Bob says they've discussed further education with the kids, including college or training for a specialized career such as a midwife. Of course, if they did that they might meet people who challenge their beliefs..! Quick interviews with the kids reveal that most of the boys want to be missionaries when they grow up, one wants to be a policeman so he can shoot a gun and help people, John David is fixin' to start a tow truck business (so much for that dream of being a pilot...), and little Hannie wants to play outside and eat yogurt. She is darling. When asked if they're still helping support Josh (and Anna), Michelle says that Josh was on his own financially the moment he said "I do." Of course, they gave him a business as a wedding gift, sooo...

The last part of the show was the trip to the public elementary school. What a contrast to the Duggars' home school! The kids were polite and well behaved. Some of the student ambassadors need to work on their handshakes and greetings, but otherwise, normal kids. Weird that the Duggars pride themselves on "training" their children on self-control, yet they were totally out of control at home. The public school kids start their morning assembly by doing a little dance routine. The Duggars are invited to join in, but of course, they can't dance. Michelle at least seems to enjoy watching the other kids dance, but the older girls just look on in horror.* Michelle introduces herself and the kids she's brought with her. The assembly today is about authors, because the school kids apparently just completed a project where they wrote their own book. The Duggar girls go on stage to play a song on their violins, for some reason. (Though Jana, Jill, and Jinger are in the floor-length skirts, Jessa's hits around mid-calf. You go, girl!) Around this point, Michelle straps on her Breast Friend pillow, dons her nursing poncho, and wears baby Jordyn around for the rest of the day with her little legs sticking out from underneath. It looked ridiculous and I don't see how it was at all safe. Also, nursing I thought was supposed to be a bonding time for mother and child, not a "strap 'er on and let her suck if she wants" thing.

After the assembly, the Duggar family is split up to speak to smaller groups of kids. Michelle, strap-on Jordyn, and Josiah all go with a group of younger kids, where she reads them a book. Jessa and Jinger go to another class. Jana and Jill do a Q&A session with a group of older kids. One of the kids asks Jill what she likes to write about (I guess the students were mislead into thinking that all the Duggars were authors, even though it was really just Jim Bob and Michelle who wrote their book). Jill says she journals about her day - I can just imagine how boring that would be! "Cooked breakfast. Laundry. Changed diaper. Cooked lunch. Laundry. Practiced violin. Changed diaper. Cooked dinner. Laundry. Bible time with Daddy. Changed diaper. Bed." Another kid asks what her favorite book is, and she recommends Before You Meet Prince Charming (which isn't really a book for kids to read so much as a manual for girls looking to remain pure), or The Reverend Spy for boys (who I guess don't need a purity manual as much as girls do).

At the end, annoying Josiah comments that there are more kids in public schools than in his family homeschool. Very good, 200 is more than 18! Wow, that homeschool really works! However, he says that he thinks they get more attention from Michelle than a public school teacher would be able to give their large class, and I have to disagree. First of all, he might not have realized that what he saw were a school-wide assembly and large groups of students by grade, not individual classes. Also, Michelle has students in basically every grade, all working on different things (plus diapers to change, other kids to discipline, etc.). So I would think she's much more scattered and unavailable than a public school teacher, who probably is responsible for the same number of kids, but they're all working on the same thing together.

* If Jim Bob and Michelle are really preparing those kids for the real world, they have to work more on how the kids react when presented with something that goes against their beliefs, and how to politely decline. When the waiter offered Josh and Anna a wine list at the restaurant on their honeymoon, Josh made a big deal of explaining how they don't drink, when a simple "no, thank you" (or even, "we're only 20") would have sufficed. When the kids at the school started dancing, the girls could have enjoyed watching them, instead of glaring at all these people whose souls will surely be going straight to hell (even though there's dancing - and wine, for that matter - in the bible).


Sarah said...

Alright you must send this to the Duggar family or to TLC at least. It is written really well and your points are beyond valid.

I can't watch this train wreck of a show for the VERY reasons you give. This woman is a puppy mill that depends on surrogacy parenting from her older children.

Here is what I still don't get....they hate everything that has to do with TV and the outside world as a whole...then why in fuck sake are they on a TV show?

Seriously Jen, send this in....

Lola said...

Thanks :o)

I'm with you, I don't understand why they are on TV if the institution is so evil that they won't even have one in their house. (Well, they have one, but the keep it in the closet and only use it to watch Andy Griffith videos.)

Pretty much all the points that I made are shared by the people who post on the Television Without Pity message boards, and we know the producers read there, so don't worry, I'm sure they'll get the message.

calibrat said...

I thank you for this blog,it is how I feel,these children are not prepared for the "outside world" and if tragedy were to occur and they were left without parents they would not be able to handle anything on there own.

Anonymous said...

I like your article a lot.
I read about the show and the episode guide and wondered how their day ins chool would be , but couldnt find any thing on youtube regarding that.Will you write a comment on the episode when they visit the amish? I wonder how they react to that. It is said to see indeed that they do not get the children any preparation, and although the Amish don't either I like that at least they have the possibility of the rumspringa phase in their adolescent which these children don't seem to have.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful family and how they live there life is working. Sorry your so angry.

Anonymous said...

People always bash what they can't have. The kids may seem rowdy at times, but for Pete's sake! They're KIDS! They play and run.
And when they are all sitting at the table, they are probably doing the opening for school, or Bible, which all the kids can listen to.
And have you seen the interviews with the entire family? Wow. Those kids behave wonderfully! (not like ANY other TV show w/ multiple kids!!!)
AND We use the SAME curriculum they use. And yes, it does teach independence. And if you WERE a homeschooler, and visited homeschool forums, you would see that most parents teach this, and their kids are well prepared for college and don't need hand-holding. No, I don't think Michelle is out of the picture, I think she lets the older ones help. I do the same. I have twins, and they study together. Sometimes older Sis helps younger w/ language, etc. Same way in school, you know. The teacher lets students work together on projects, and sometimes in certain class times. Not all the time, because in a PUBLIC SCHOOL, it would be CHAOS! But at home, they can learn to work together. How wonderful!
As I said, people bash what they can't have. Wonder how your kids behave? Are they respectful to elders? Do they fight w/ siblings? Do they lie? No?
Wait till they get to be teenagers. Will they still love Mom and Dad?
Time will tell.
See how long their marriage lasts.


Anonymous said...

Of course they get more attention than a teacher wd give her students!
A teacher at school, teaches, says "do these problems, here's your homework, goodbye!"
Michelle talks to her kids, and they love her. If they didn't, by the time they were teenagers, they'd be sulking and acting out on the show.


Anonymous said...

the duggars think that the state school is full of evil children it make mad. my son goes to state school


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This is the the best Duggar article I have ever read and also the best homeschooling article I have ever read. Thanks for writing it.

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Anonymous said...

I agree with almost everything. I too came from a huge fam me being #10. My parents believed that it takes a village to raise a child meaning we all took care of the younger kids. My childhood was normal I always had a friend to play with. I thank my parents for not believing in home schooling. I disagree with this blog on the breast feeding. What do u supossed one do starve the baby? She covered herself up modestly. There is NOTHING wrong with feeding in public. The act of breastfeeding is bonding u dont have to be in hiding to bond.

Anonymous said...

I think the Duggars are great. In a PERVERSE and dark culture they shine bright, and I for one am grateful for their example.

Anonymous said...

I wonder have you or do you homeschool? I do and it is not always easy. There is alot of work involved in homeschooling, and when you have a few kids it's even more challenging. Give her credit where credit is due. Her children are well behaved, polite and kind. That's alot to say when you have 18to raise. I think you are only seeing what you want to see and that is the negative stuff when you are missing all the good. And i think they made a good choice to put there family on tv so you can see you don't have to be like everyone else and still live a good life and a life with god which is the most rewarding thing. God has been taken out of our society I'm glad to see we are trying to let him back in. Don't knock them intil your in their shoes and then tell me if you could do a better job, I'm guessing probably not! Thank you Duggars for the example that ,yeah it might not always be easy but it will always turn out right with a little patience alot of Love and the Lord so Thank You!

Anonymous said...

WOW...haha...This overly ridiculous, not very well pointed article/blog goes to show excactly why you only have 11 followers. I LOVE the duggar family!! Oh...and by the way....the reason they do the show even though they do not agree with (most) t.v is because they are helping some of us out by allowing at least one good show that dosen't have a bunch of ridiculous content our little ones should not be seeing. I hope one day you gain some maturity in your valued life as a person instead of bashing a sweet innocent BIG family...maybe you should use your blog to uplift others and actually help people instead of what your using it for now.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you raise one valid point. These children seem very happy and well rounded. These people have raised and supported their children without the help of government, which is more than I can say for a lot of people. You just sound angry & judgemental to me.

Anonymous said...

I do not believe this is a train wreck of a show and even my 15 year old looks on and admires this family and she is a normal teen well attends a regular high school. She is actually asking i home school her states that she is distracted in high school and peer presure is great. i wish i had done it since day one. i have seen many families even kate plus 8. Duggart wife does an excellant job mainting a home with family values and the children are not out of control. I amdmire this family. U never see mrs. duggart stressed. Do you like the way Kate behaves? Always looks miserable like she hates her life. Michelle is so peacful and seems very well grounded. So what if they wear covered clothing and she is training her girls to be respectful. I'd rather see that then my teen behaving as shes 25. You should see what these teens wear in Arizona! Hats off to a family that can keep there family decent and in darn order. When do you see that anymore?It's my own family of 2 and its chaotic. I pride that family I also look up to them you cant turn tv on anymore and see anything wholesome period. You must not have children of your own. Or understand the presures of what kids and teens face I at school. I am very proud of you Duggarts keep doing what you are doing. You are truly a blessing to us. And show us a respectful family still exsist. And god will honor that openly give honor to him in your home.

KRISTEN said...

I think families should do what makes them happy, but in the same sense shouldn't judge others for being different. Also by the way, teachers do way more than just say do these problems and here is your homework. I don't judge homeschooling, but don't judge or sneer at public school either. The Duggars have some good points, but some things worry me such as how much their older children take care of the younger children.

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