Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

October 22, 2006

Dr. Phil disses homeschoolers

Filed under: education reporting, Homeschooling — texased @ 5:40 pm

Just in case anyone relies exclusively on Dr. Phil for information on homeschooling.

The Homeschool Scuttle: The Great School Debate – Local Homeschool.com:

The Great School Debate The Dr. Phil Show, “The Great School Debate” (Proposed Air Date: October 27, 2006) begins with a couple that calls themselves “Radical Unschoolers.”

During a recent discussion on the California Homeschool Network E-mail list, Kirsten shared her first-hand experience as an invited guest on the Dr. Phil show for an upcoming episode about the controversial subject of Unschooling.

First of all, I was present during the taping of the program, which is scheduled to air later this month. Additionally, I’d like to provide a little background history into the Dr. Phil Show.

The Homeschool Scuttle: The Great School Debate – Local Homeschool.com:

Presenting, “Radical Unschoolers,” as the norm of homeschooling to the mainstream world, implies that all homeschoolers are radical, controversial, Unschoolers. Unschooling is by far the least understood and radical concept of homeschooling, and the easiest target for critics to judge and condemn.

To use this family as representative of the homeschool population is sensationalism at best, and deceitfully manipulative, at worst. The film portrays the Unschoolers as spending all of their days basically playing and hanging out. To seasoned homeschoolers, that may not seem a bad thing, and, to some, would even seem a good thing. But, to every mainstream American, who does not understand homeschoolers and homeschooling, let alone Unschooling, the film and the footage shown of the family serves to reinforce every negative stereotype mainstream America has about homeschooling.

The Homeschool Scuttle: The Great School Debate – Local Homeschool.com:

Stereotypes and Hype I know that we value play, and why we value play. But mainstream America does not value play the way homeschoolers do, and has many ingrained negative stereotypes about homeschooling. To them, we are Religious Zealots, or Unschooling Hippies, or Over-Permissive, Overly Attached Parents, or Paranoid, Overly-Protective, Control-Freaks, or, perhaps, Just Plain Lazy.

Dr. Phil plays upon every one of these stereotypes in his “Great Debate,” episode. There were so many homeschooling families that Dr. Phil could have chosen to represent homeschoolers, and he deliberately chose the family with the least understood homeschool style to promote his own bias and agenda on homeschooling that day.

The Homeschool Scuttle: The Great School Debate – Local Homeschool.com:

It was then that I realized that the huge groups of teenagers were from local high schools from the San Bernardino and Inland Empire Areas, and that these school children had been deliberately and purposefully bussed in specifically for their presence on the Homeschooling Episode.Ontario Christian High School was represented; San Bernardino High School was there, as well as several other local Inland Empire High Schools.

After the lady who chewed homeschoolers out as the future of her government had spoken, Dr. Phil then did something that clearly indicated why the homeschoolers had been brought to be part of an audience of an episode in which hundreds of high school students had been bussed in: Dr. Phil then asked the audience, “How many of you support Homeschooling and how many of you support sending children to school?”

Well, of course the 10% to 15% of the sparsely spread audience that were passionate homeschoolers proudly raised their hands in support of homeschooling. And when Dr. Phil said, “How many people do not support homeschooling,” all those young high school students that had been unwittingly bussed in specifically for that question in this episode, raised their hands — A forest of “No’s,” against homeschooling.

Although, that was just one brief question in Dr. Phil’s episode, he took no chances. He deliberately rigged that audience to be a few sparsely spread homeschoolers, and an imposing majority of those who were currently in traditional schools.

The Homeschool Scuttle: The Great School Debate – Local Homeschool.com:

We certainly left our young ones behind. We did this, because of our passion for homeschooling, and Dr. Phil preyed upon this passion in having us as his audience, so that we could be the flimsy 15% that raised their hands in favor of homeschooling, so that he could have his biased TV show. He preyed upon our cause, our dreams, our passion and our hope. A true predator.

The show is actually only about a half hour long. In between sets, the guests are quickly hurried off stage, and swiftly replaced with new, equally bewildered guests. Between sets, Dr. Phil deliberately goes out of his way to avoid eye contact with the audience, thus avoiding engaging the audience.


  1. That is just so wrong! The entire homeschooling community needs to boycot the Dr. Phil show. I hope it doesn’t actually come across this bad on tv, but it will probably come across even worse.

    I am going to have to blog about this on one of my blogs.

    Comment by George — October 22, 2006 @ 11:25 pm

  2. […] Friday, November 24th. Maybe he’s hoping people will be too busy shopping or with football games to watch the show? See previous post for more info. Dr. Phil.com – Shows This Week: Great School Debate Parents want the best for their children, but what’s the best way to educate them? Dr. Phil’s guests face off in a debate about whether to school, homeschool or unschool. Dana and her husband, Joe, call themselves radical unschoolers. They say education happens as a side effect of life, and they don’t believe in tests, curriculums or grades. Are their three kids learning what they need to know? Then, RaeAnn says public schools are death traps and wants to homeschool her children. Her husband, Steve, says their kids are safer at school than they are at home. Can this couple reach a compromise? Plus, Nicole feels like an outcast at 26. She says she hated being homeschooled, and couldn’t relate to other kids. Dr. Phil weighs in on this important discussion. […]

    Pingback by Dr. Phil Disses Homeschoolers on the biggest shopping day of the year « Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas — November 20, 2006 @ 1:03 pm

  3. I agree with the ones in favor of the public school, you can learn a lot from experiencve but just because you are a Dr. I do not want you doing heart surgery on me unless you have had the FORMAL Education to do that, If your child wants to go into a specific field, such as medicine, can you give him the opportunity to experience the things that he might need before he even takes his SAT.

    Comment by Lois Covey — November 24, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

  4. I have been homeschooling for two years and we just began to unschool a couple of months ago. My issue with todays show is that Dr.Phil did not include individuals that have been homeschooled and are happy now, as adults. He only interviewed one 26 year old woman that was upset over the fact that she was homeschooled.I believe that stemmed out of the fact that her parents did not include her in activities as much as they should have, but then again what is too much? What if she would have gone to school and did not make cheerleading? Would she have been upset? The girl has big breasts, would she have gotten teased at school? You bet she would have. That I believe would have hurt her more than missing out on prom (sex night)or missing out on other stuff that she mentioned. I wish he would have interviewed my daughter whom wishes to homeschool her kids one day, whenever she has them. He needs to show successful, happy individuals that were homeschooled. The issue of socialization after middle school years that he kept mentioning does not make any sense. This age group is the time when you really want to screen who your child has as friends. It is not the quantity of friends one has but the quality. Homeschooling or unschooling has been a blessing in my family. My daughter has matured gracefully at home compared to my friends daughters that do go to public schools. There really is not enough space to inform how wonderful homeschooling is.

    Comment by Patricia Perez — November 24, 2006 @ 7:05 pm

  5. What is very disturbing to me is that there is a multitude of available evidence that homeschooled children most often experience superior education to those in public school. Of course, you wouldn’t hear about that on his show. The bias of Dr. Phil is evident.

    Comment by Hallie — December 4, 2006 @ 10:34 am

  6. I happen to see that fiasco with doc phil where he went into brit spears room to talk to her when she was in hospital for something. (uninvited?)
    However, he came out and spoke to the press about her. He then wanted to do an intervention on his show (with her)
    Her family did not give him permission to talk about their daughter. This should have been private. What happened to DR- PT confidentially?

    My opinion of the guy is in the toilet. He is supposed to be a professional, and that is far from professional behaviour.
    He is out for number one, and money is the reason he does the show.

    The press was also also negative ;it was being reported all over and people were appalled.
    I don’t think he is going to last long, this incident really angered a lot of people and we got to see just who doctor phil is. Although I hate to even use the title “doctor”.

    Homeschooling. I taught my twin boys at home and they are now out of college and doing very well.
    They were on the same baseball team, they rode bmx, took marshal arts, even scouts.

    It was not for religious reasons. I had two boys with very high IQ’s and they were hyperactive.
    One moment I was told how inteligent they were and the next I was told that they were disruptive
    ( good kids, but could not sit still or sit throughh tests)

    We put them on ritilan and that was a remarkable imporvment.
    But the dmamage was done. They hated school and had all kinds of tummy aches and headaches.
    Waking in the night with nightmares. Waking 3-4 times a night.
    I did not want them to hate school, they had so much potential.

    So, we took them out and home schooled them.
    They are geeat kids; have never been arrested, do not drink (socially I’m sure) they have never done drugs. ( that I know of)
    They are respectful and treat women with respect. AND, there have been no unwanted pregnancys- no children at all.
    I guess I’m saying they turned out well.

    One is engnaged and the other just dating.

    They are surely more respectable and honest than
    “Dr Phil” will ever be.

    Comment by Liz Ellis — January 16, 2008 @ 10:02 pm

  7. It’s television – shows like that get ratings!! Do what you know is best for your children and forget what anyone else thinks.

    Comment by Tonya — July 5, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

  8. […] Phil disses homeschoolers […]

    Pingback by The ‘Debate’ Continues | The Homeschool Scuttle — March 21, 2010 @ 7:31 am

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  12. This article is so dumb and over-exaggerated. I would never homeschool my kids for all the stereotypical reasons, but this episode of Dr. Phil in NO way demeans homeschoolers. The “radical unschoolers” were just that- radical unschoolers- they *in no way* were meant to represent homeschooling as a whole. Unschooling is a completely different entity and belief system than homeschooling. Anyone who would find the two synonymous is simply ignorant. This article comes across as a low-class, uneducated witch-hunt. Anyone who buys this mess should be embarrassed at themselves.

    Comment by Kat — October 17, 2014 @ 2:12 am

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