Friday, June 27, 2008

I've been thinking about that article

Had a great conversation with Debbie today about the article I posted a few days ago. Her perspective was one I hadn't seen before and it was eye-opening. That article wasn't so much about homeschooling as it was about values, and what we decide is important. About whether we decide to follow the politically correct party line and accept society's standards as our own, or if we choose to make the tough choices and risk offending people because it's what we know is right. Do both parents slave away 12 hours a day in pursuit of the almighty dollar and all it's trappings, at the expense of precious time together as a family? Or do we decide that our tent will suffice as our vacation home, our television is plenty big enough already (and turned on too much as it is) and we don't need a speed boat or more cars than we have drivers.

Sooo, my motivation for posting the article? See, unless you've been confronted by someone who's offended with the philosophy of homeschooling, you wouldn't really understand where I was coming from when I shared the article with you. I guess it's really my curiosity about what fuels such opposition to homeschooling. And the answers are probably as numerous as the people who hold the opinion. Some people out there are really angry, y'all. I mean rabidly, vehemently, fundamentally opposed to homeschooling. Why is that?

I've often wondered if it was because they're feeling like they're not 100% comfortable with their own choices and priorities, and are feeling insecure and defensive when presented with someone who made different choices. Could be.

It could also be that some don't get to make the choice. I know that when I was a single mom, I hated to see moms out and about with their kids during the day. That mom was probably married, she got to stay home with her kids and I hated her for it. I hated her for doing what I couldn't do. I wanted to be home with Ashley so badly but I just couldn't. I had to work! I had made certain choices and as a result was the only one capable of making money (Ashley couldn't reach the sink so I couldn't get her a job at Denny's as a dishwasher). That responsibility fell on me and wiped all other options off the slate.

So what's the source of all the anti-homeschooling animosity? Is it that they want to homeschool but can't for whatever reason? Is it that they don't want to homeschool and feel bad or guilty about that, feel like they have something to prove? Like we love our children more than you love yours because we want to homeschool? (That's not true, by the way.) Do they think we're feeling smart and smug and superior? Hardly. More than half of us would probably say that we know we've made the right decision but at the same time we feel woefully under qualified and humbled by the task. Or maybe it's that almighty left-wing attitude that it takes a village to raise a child and homeschoolers flaunt an independence and self-sufficiency that Society At Large finds distasteful.

I truly don't know where the animosity is coming from and I probably never will. Each person probably has their own set of reasons why what I'm doing is wrong. And when I think they may have a valid point, I really do sit down and think about it.

I'm sure I'd be able to think clearer if I had a big old speed boat to lounge on, though.


LeatherJacket said...

Okay, I think you've overlooked a reason; I do not oppose homeschooling. However, as was mentioned in the article, when you see them, they are "... a big family by today’s standards ... Freshly scrubbed boys with neatly trimmed hair and girls with braids, in clean but unfashionable clothes..." They're different from us. Many humans are threatened by differences. Especially when those differences are preconceived as being detrimental to the pluralistic, politically correct, culturally and religiously diverse, "tolerant" society we are all supposed to be aspiring to. What I mean is that quite often homeschoolers are perceived to be homeschooling due to religious beliefs, and it doesn't matter if those beliefs are fundamentalist Christian or fringe Mormonism or jihadist Islam; people fear the societal implications of any religious belief that doesn't allow for "diversity." The stereotype is often that the families with the stairstep kids, with the clean-cut boys in button down shirts and the daughters in the long, plain, unflattering dresses are the offspring of folks who would turn the clock on our culture back a couple hundred years and enforce religious law of one sort or another on all mankind. And certainly there are those who, in fact, are homeschooling in order to keep their children from being influenced by mainstream ideas that would conflict with the parents religious beliefs or deter from whatever "mission" the parents believe their faith has set them on. I'm not saying that this is right or wrong, and I'm not saying all homeschoolers feel this way, but I believe that one reason many people (mostly but not always of the left-wing, liberal, diversity conscious, we-are-all-one-with-the-universe persuasion) have such a strong aversion to home schooling is that it represents, to them, religious extremism, and despite all their talk of diversity and tolerance, they don't want to tolerate anyone else's deeply-held religious beliefs. All those kids in Texas were homeschooled and, unfortunately, all homeschoolers will be painted with that brush. The idea being that you fear allowing your kids into the world because you are afraid that your beliefs won't stand up to "the light" or that you have something - abuse, mostly - to hide so you keep your kids "out of the system."
Meh, just my two-cents' worth.

that one guy said...

I think one large reason homeschooling is so feared is that there's no control on what, or how, the children are being taught. Society can point to it, and say "Who knows *what* they're teaching their children - they could be saying anything!"

And yes, there are yearly progress tests and such, but we as a society have made school the very definition of childhood. It's how our children learn how society works, how they make friends, how they get exposed to different hobbies - and all of this is entirely apart from the actual material being taught in classrooms. Schools are an institution that we place our children in, and it shapes them so that they come out in such a way that they'll integrate nicely with society. From pre-school to the prom, children in school are being shaped and molded to be ready for the "real world."

With homeschooling, you don't get this. The homeschooled child gets to observe society on their own, and develops their own views on it. (Granted - these views will be largely influenced by his/her family, but still.) In fact, society has very little grasp on a homeschooled child - only so much as the parents allow. This, I believe, is why it is so feared.

And it's also why homeschooling is so vital, and so wonderful.

Sure, you can point to homeschooled kids who are socially inept, educationally stunted, and "out of touch" - but don't define the homeschooled children of this country by a few convenient examples. This is no more fair than it would be if I pointed to every school shooter, drug user, or pregnant teen and said that they were the result of the public school system. Neither system works all the time.

But when homeschooling works right, it produces kids who aren't just ready to dismiss the stupidity of society - they're ready to change it.

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