About the Politics of Childhood

The politics of childhood refers to the use of children and childhood in political rhetoric and argument; the politicization of issues surrounding children and childhood; and children’s own political involvement. I became interested in the politics of childhood in my studies of the homeschool movement and of the role concerns about children and childhood have played in the Christian Right from its inception to the present.

My name is Rachel Coleman and I am a Ph.D. candidate in United States history at Indiana University, Bloomington. I received my M.A. in history from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where I wrote my master’s thesis, “Ideologues, Pedagogues, Pragmatics: A Case Study of the Homeschool Community in Delaware County, Indiana.” I am currently working on my dissertation, which examines the role of children and childhood in the rise of the Christian Right, focusing primarily though not exclusively on the 1970s and 1980s.

My interests include the history of children, childhood, and the family, twentieth century United States history, and the history of conservatism, religion, and education. In addition to work on homeschooling, I’ve done work on the school prayer decisions and on the Christian school movement. Among others, I presented a paper on the history of homeschooling at the 2012 American Historical Association annual meeting and presented a paper on Christian schools in the summer of 2013 at the Society for the History of Childhood and Youth. 

While writing my M.A. thesis in 2010, I spoke with public school administrators who expressed concern that Indiana’s lax homeschooling laws were being abused. I did not realize it at the time, but this was the beginning of some more enduring interests. In 2011 I studied under homeschool researcher Robert Kunzman, and in early 2012 I was invited to be present at the founding of the International Center for Home Education Research. Not long after this, I made contact with another academic doing research on homeschooling, Heather Doney. Heather introduced me to a page on Pound Pup Legacy, which detailed abuse and neglect in adoptive homeschooling families. I had already been deeply moved by the deaths of Lydia Schatz and Hana Williams, both of whom were homeschooled, and was spurred to do more research on homeschooling and abuse. As a result of this research, much of it collaborative, Heather and I founded Homeschooling’s Invisible Children in the spring of 2013.

This blog has several purposes. I intend to use it for past and present work that is not headed toward publication, including things like book reviews and literature reviews, but also for research notes and for essays on a variety of research-related topics, including possibly some related to or directly speaking to current events.

Readers may contact me at racolema (at) indiana (dot) edu.