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Daniel doing schoolworkKids at Museum Feb. 1998 Southern Chile

Daniel doing schoolwork in our house (July 1999); Kids at Museum Southern Chile (Feb. 1998)

Daniel next to Rachel eating

Daniel next to Rachel eating (Feb. 2000)

Mom watching kids open their new presents

Mom watching kids open their new presents (Feb. 2000)

Homeschool schedule | Newspaper article (Life without TV) | Links
Letter to the editor of the Liberty magazine | Wall Street Journal quotes | Note from parents


Dad’s main functions in the home-school program are curriculum selection, baseball, chess tournaments and training, skiing, Bible and theology, vocabulary, other outdoor activities, computer use (word processing, HTML programming, etc.) and occasionally (but not often) filling in for mom with the regular routine. All of the kids are, of course, bilingual English and Spanish. They enjoy reading very much and the older kids are able to complete their daily tasks with little direct supervision. They are even able to help the younger kids with basic reading and mathematics problems. We hope that the kids will be able to use the CLEP program to complete the first two years of college via home study before entering college in the USA or Canada for the last two years. (Of course, at this stage we have not ruled out Europe, Australia, or New Zealand as possibilities, but we have ruled out Latin American undergraduate programs, at least for the time being).

“[S]elf-identified home-schoolers have bettered the national averages on the ACT for the past three years running [1997-1999], scoring an average 22.7 last year, compared with 21 for their more traditional peers, on a scale of one to 36. Home-schoolers scored 23.4 in English, well above the 20.5 national average; and 24.4 in reading, compared with a mean of 21.4. The gap was closer in science (21.9 vs. 21.0), and home-schoolers scored below the national average in math, 20.4 to 20.7.[new paragraph] On the SAT, which began its tracking last year, home-schoolers scored an average 1,083 (verbal 548, math 535), 67 points above the national average of 1,016. Similarly, on the 10 SAT2 achievement tests most frequently taken by home-schoolers, they surpassed the national average on nine, including writing, physics and French...[new paragraph] With average family incomes of $40,000 to $50,000, lower than the $50,000-to-$60,000 median rung, the home-schoolers defied the demographic correlation between high incomes and high SAT scores. They also contradict the stereotype that they are strictly rural white fundamentalists. Nearly 4% are black. Another 4% are Hispanic. And their parents have more education than the national norm.”
Daniel Golden, "Home-Schooled Kids Defy Stereotypes, Ace SAT Test", The Wall Street Journal (February 11, 2000).

“Public schools will never excel because they lack "intellectual capital" and have to compensate for too many social problems.”
Daniel Golden [paraphrasing homeschooler Jason Scoggins], "Home-Schooled Kids Defy Stereotypes, Ace SAT Test", The Wall Street Journal (February 11, 2000).


Table of things the Cobin Kids do for Homeschool and estimated average minutes they spend doing them per week

(during the academic year mid-March through early December, excluding most of July)


9th Grade

6th Grade

5th Grade









Bible (and 1689 Confession)




Chess (instruction and tournaments)












Health, Safety & Manners




Computers/Word Processing/HTML








Reading (Obligatory)




Reading (Fun)








Spanish grammar




English grammar












Kids opening Christmas presentsDaniel and Grace in Vilches

Kids opening Christmas presents (Dec. 1999); Daniel and Grace in Salto del Leon, Chile (Dec. 1999)

(Article from El Mercurio [The major Chilean daily])

Front page article in El Mercurio (Chile's major newspaper)

Translation by Joshua Cobin with Dad's help

Life without TV

Santiago, Chile, El Mercurio, Front Page, Saturday, January 29, 2000

[Photo caption:] Unplugged—Those who today don't have TV at home, or don't watch it, are part of a small minority. Recent studies have shown that, at least in the Metropolitan Region, there are 2.3 TVs per household and that 87% of the people who live in Santiago use their free time watching TV, taking doses of three hours a day. But the "non-TVers" assure that they use their time better and that they have a good quality of life. In the picture, John and Joan Cobin are together with their six kids, who have lived for 16 years without watching TV.

Those who have chosen to do without a TV say they have more time for their families and do other activities.

In the mid 1980s, John and Joan Cobin decided to take TV out of their lives. Today, living in Chile for the past four years, the economist and American professor John Cobin and his wife have lived 16 years without TV.

Why? First, because they considered it to be a waste of time and it is better to read and get information out of the newspaper or from the internet. Second, for moral reasons, especially "because American television leaves a lot to be desired". And finally, on account of the appearance of their first son. The five that followed strengthened these fundamentals even more.

"We didn't want to let our kids grow up watching TV. We don't agree with having it as a babysitter and sitting them in front of the screen for 3 or 4 hours", says the public policy professor from the Unversidad Finis Terrae.

In this way their daily conversation does not take into account declarations made by the [Chilean] Minister of Defense in a round table discussion of a nightly news bulletin, nor the dresses of Cecilia Bolocco, nor the talk of new television series.

This family uses their free time, in addition to other things, to play sports, to make outings, to take trips, and even read together. They do not jettison movies though, since they have a VCR, which gives them freedom to sit in front of a TV screen when they choose to and then only to watch what they wish.

"I feel that our kids have obtained something that others don't have the opportunity to develop. We teach them a different culture?one of critical and intelligent thought. They understand better and their vocabulary is excellent", says John. Partly because they read close to three hours a day, both for fun and for assignments.

And it is the lack of TV is only part of their lifestyle. The Cobin kids study at home. The family has instituted what is known as homeschool or "schooling at home", for which Joan is in charge of 90% and John the remaining 10%. To provide for socialization needs that a common school gives, they participate in clubs and other activities with kids their age.

The result, in the eyes of the Professor, has been satisfactory. "We are a very close family and we spend a great amount of time together. "I do something every day with the kids". His final verdict was: "There isn't a day that we end up lacking for not having a TV; we don't miss it".

The people who don't watch TV

What might seem as the "hard line" of foreigners is not so. It is a lifestyle preference that is also found among Chileans, either definite and permanent or as a summer alternative. Reading, getting together to talk, cook, play sports, paint, surf on the internet, play with friends or family, play chess, or even do a puzzle. There are no recipes or fixed plans to spend their free time. One thing that everybody agrees on is that nobody will die without TV and one even lives better.

"It's good for nothing and it is not useful; it is a pure bombardment of sound and things you don't care about. It's not that it is bad or harmful, but rather it is not necessary", comments Marcelo S. (26), a lawyer and journalist who has lived for a year and a half without TV. "You waste too much time, when in the end you find out about everything by other means anyway. It's different having been born with TV in your house than to put one in, especially if it is a small house like mine. And if you add cable TV, you will have hundreds of more channels from all over the world; it's too much noise".

José Manuel Allard (26), a designer, doesn't have much free time and spends a large part of the day in front of a screen?a computer screen?mainly for work. "I use my time better without TV", he says, "I have a girlfriend and I do other things". He chose this, he explains "like a form of safeguarding our space, without TV capturing you and being part of your family".

From his judgment, this sort of problem of this kind requires a lot of will power to handle. "I listen to the radio all day and it keeps me informed, but it lets me do other things".

Translator María Eliana Tagle (53) doesn't watch TV at all on vacation, in order to rest and disconnect. "I take advantage of doing other things; reading, painting, taking a walk, talking, playing. Without it you have a real life; with it you live what it shows.

The Fantasy of Rest

But this is an minority alternative. A study completed by The National Council of Television between 1993 and 1999 confirmed that there are 2.3 televisions per home in the Metropolitan Region [of Santiago].

And another pioneer analysis about Chileans' free time that was completed last year by the department of Sociological Studies of Universidad Católica, showed that watching TV is the main "activity" done while not working. After compiling questionnaires, which were done every 15 minutes with over 2,200 people over the age of 15 in the Metropolitan Region, showed that 87% of people surveyed watched TV on weekdays and 82% on weekends, with an average of three hours per day.

The first explanation for this current rate is that there is little left of what one could call "free time", properly speaking, but it is not the only explanation.

"Today, life is stressful and the home has come to be the place of rest, not of activity", explains the psychologist Nadja Antonijevic.

"The Chilean society", adds the sociologist Carlos Catalán, "is working more and it feels that way". That adds up to the following: in large cities, much time is spent commuting, and a growing safety problem exists, both of which favor staying at home.

From that point of view, watching television can be the ideal scenario?because it is a passive and safe activity. "Actually relaxation and rest are associated with doing nothing", comments Nadja Antonijevic. "If one is stretching out and watching entertainment, there will be a natural tendency to continue doing so".

Of course, you don't need energy or creativity or effort of any kind. "It's the maximum expression of the fantasy of rest, they have the lives of others, the whole world, while laying down on a couch or a bed, she adds.

From her point of view, Chileans have changed into "vicarious people". As she explains, you live around other people's lives more than you build your own. "To sit down in front of the TV and watch a political forum or a lunch, is in essence the same as bringing friends to your house and talking live via TV".

What happens, according to the psychologist, is that those other themes generally end up being more open and interesting. When you don't have activities or your own creations, getting together to talk may be boring. "It is much more entertaining to sit down and watch a movie?the life of others".

Therefore, TV is usually the subject of conversation in social meetings.

To all of these things must be added the fact that we live in close quarters and we lack places to play and have fun.

The Issue of Habit

The Universidad Católica study also showed that the predominance of TV has not detracted from other actions of direct social relation, like talking and reading.

"It's not that the means of communication and information technology substitute for other activities but rather they coexist", comments Catalán. As he explains, the means support sociability. "After seeing a TV show, what it reproduces is a social conversation.

The study postulates that when work is reduced and there is more free time, people are very active in distributing free time and reduce the amount of time dedicated to TV. The second preference is talking, followed by listening to radio, making or receiving visitors, talking on the telephone and going out for a stroll.

Thus, family cultivation becomes central, because a vicious circle of role models exists. The parents are role models of TV spectators and hence non-participants in alternative activities.

Nadja Antonijevic adds that some parents choose TV because they see it as an activity in which the kids make less mess, are quieter, and do not participate in risky activities.

Part of the problem, in the eyes of the psychologist, is that the people have gotten used to being entertained by it and to buying products through it.

However, she proposes that because people are disposed to leisure and an eagerness to entertain themselves, interesting ideas will occur to them.

Letter to the Editor of Liberty magazine by Dr. John Cobin (dad), March 29, 2000, published in the June 2000 issue.

Liberty has published one of the most amazing -- even preposterous -- and cowardly (because anonymous) swipe at homeschoolers.

Pages 31-32 of the article "Is It True What They Say About Hillsdale" in the February 2000 issue of Liberty say:

"This points to another problem Hillsdale faces: its students body. Hillsdale may manipulate the students' lives, but many of the students like it that way. An active recruiter of home-schoolers, Hillsdale attracts the sort of students who have led intellectually cloistered lives, being taught comfortable traditions rather than challenging ideas. Many of these students arrive believing, for instance, that Genesis is the literal truth, and that evolution is a hoax. Roche himself wrote an entire chapter in his book A World Without Heroes attacking Darwin's theory of evolution."

"...tradition, dogma, authoritarianism, are central to Hillsdale College. And the students who are willing to accept that are intellectually, much like medieval peasants. And this is why so many Hillsdale professors praise the Middle Ages, as a time when people "knew their place." Hillsdale education stops before the nineteenth century begins -- read Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, and Adam Smith -- but no Foucalt, no Derrida, and no Darwin."

I think that I have hardly read anything so uninformed and outright inane. Even though I read a lot of things about homeschooling from various political views, including the hard left at times, I scarcely find such bald and baseless insinuations or attacks. Of course there are exceptions, but homeschoolers are widely recognized for having exceptional academic achievement and ability.

My wife and I have homeschooled our children for over eight years with considerable success. None of them has ever attended a public or private school. Yet they are all socially adroit, enjoy neighborhood sports, skiing, swimming, chess (where they compete in tournaments regularly), and are computer competent for their ages. I would invite everyone to have a look at the Our kids also excel academically, and are perfectly bilingual (English and Spanish) and are learning French to boot. Our two oldest boys read for pleasure for 2 or 3 hour a day (note: we do not have a television). The kids do receive strong "tradition" in their education but they are not isolated from opposing or a liberal dose of different views. Of course, I must admit that my children are ages 3 to 11 and the oldest is only in 9th grade. Thus, there is not as much discussion of conflicting premises as there will be later. The younger ones especially do not find much need to discuss different theories of cursive writing or whether 3 + 3 is really 6, and we do not encourage such debate.

I know some homeschooling families who are less successful than ours, but I see a general tendency towards betterment and success in all of them. One young lady we know well has been a straight A student at a secular Texas college for two years and has received a full scholarship. She was homeschooled by Genesis-believing, Baptist parents with little more than high school diplomas.

Moreover, not believing Darwin hardly makes one cloistered intellectually. After all, many academics and scientists -- some of whom do not accept Genesis as "literal truth" -- also reject Darwin. Think of Berkeley's Paul Johnson or Lehigh's Michael Behe to name just two of the more prominent ones. Roche (despite his sins) is neither singular nor academically loony on account of his views on Darwin. So far as I know, no one has refuted biochemist Behe's claim that "irreducible complexity" makes in impossible for a darwinian scheme to explain the development of the eye or certain specialized cells.

Maybe Darwin is not read as much anymore because he is simply not believable anymore, just like so many other forgotten giants of the past. No one in my family devours Pelagius, Anslem, Newton, or Semmelweiss nearly as much as people once did. Does that mean we are akin to "intellectually cloistered" and unchallenged "peasants"?

By the way, in spite of being in universities for 10 years and having 5 earned degrees -- and I didn't go to Hillsdale -- I have no idea who Foucalt and Dirrida are. Should I care? I did have the misfortune of attending public schools. Perhaps I missed Foucalt and Dirrida there, whereas I would have got them if I were homeschooled or at a private (even cloistered) school.

If the writer of this piece really wants to blame a primary and secondary system of education for producing "intellectually cloistered lives, being taught comfortable traditions rather than challenging ideas", and for causing pupils to miss out on intellectual greats like Foucalt and Dirrida, perhaps he should find another whipping boy besides homeschooling.

Rachel and Matthew playing barbies (March 2000)

Rachel and Matthew playing with their dolls (March 2000)


Homeschooling page

Homeschooling Is Growing Worldwide

Home School Legal Defense Organization

Snap Directory of Home School Organizations

"Home schooling works; pass it on" by Lawrence M, Rudner, Ph.D.

Home School World

Home School Central

Homeschool Resource Guide


Public Schools and gun control: Government Failure of the year 1999 by Jeff Tucker

"Clinton wants to 'organize' home schoolers" by Julie Foster

Creationism/Darwinism Issue

Institute for Creation Research

Creation Science Home Page

Creation Research Society

Read Darwin's The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection

Jay Richards: "Darwinism and Design" in The Washington Post

Fun stuff

Edys Ice Cream

RINGLING BROTHERS WELCOMES BABIES: Every child born in the U.S. within the last twelve months is entitled to a free admission ticket to the circus, which can be used at any time during the child's life!

About Semmelweiss, Ignaz Philipp (1818-65), Hungarian obstetrician


Learn Spanish: A FREE Online Tutorial - Index of lessons

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