After the latest ridiculous editorial piece of garbage I read, I really started thinking about why some people get so hot under the collar about homeschooling. I mean, I'm not taking their kids out of school! So what do they care, anyway? I wondered if there was really some valuable underlying concern that I should be addressing. So I started a debate on a message board I'm on. Boy, did I learn a lot!
After being insulted for my inability to properly spell asinine (hey, I never claimed to be good at Spelling!) we began getting into the real nitty gritty fears people have about homeschooling.
Of course there was the socialization issue. Apperantly most people think that homeschoolers are vampiric in nature. We keep our children shut up inside all day, with the blinds drawn and the doors locked to keep out other influences. We only let them out at night to study nocturnal creatures in an effort to maintain their Science curriculum!
I kept trying to make it clear that my children meet all kinds of people in daily life. But we do all kinds of things. We go all kinds of places. We are simply not limited by the constraints of the classroom.
Then came the educational issue: Can parents without a degree in education really be capable of teaching?
Well, I think if one looks at the statistics, the answer is yes. In my own expereince I've found that I have certain qualifications that specifically allow me to teach my own kids. I've known these children since before they were born. I don't see them through rose-coloured glasses. I know where both their strengths and weaknesses are. I have a distinctly adventagous position to teachmy children, as I am intimately aquainted with their personal styles, and have a vested interest in their outcome.
After that came an issue that doesn't always present itself: Homeschooling is detrimental to public schooling.
Well, I suppose it is a loss to the schools when active parents are no longer there to be active. But my son wasn't doing well in public schools. I was working with him at home and doing everything I was supposed to. Was I supposed to let him continue in an environment which wasn't meeting his needs? The answer from one debater was, yes! Students build a body, and to remove one damages the body. Well, I'm sorry, but I'm not willing to sacrifice my child beneath the wheels of the greater good! My anwer from the debater? That I was only looking out for number one. Well, um, exactly who am I supposed to be looking after? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for contributing to the good of society, but I'm pretty sure I am...by raising good kids, who will in turn become good adults. That I am accomplishing by acting in the best interests of my child. Ultimately if every parent did what was best for their kids (which doesn't necessarily mean homeschooling) the world would be a MUCH better place.
One debator told me that homeschooling would contribute to anarchy.
Ya, okay, whatever. Go check out NHERI. They've done a study on adults who were homeschooled. Compared to the general population, they are MORE involved in their community, MORE involved in their faith, with (I believe), NO ONE on welfare, and NO ONE unemployed. Yup, that's us: Anarchists.
Then came the real issue. Many of us are Christian. Apperantly the issue, especially for those who are not religious, is the idea that we are shutting our children away to brainwash/coerce/indoctrinate them into our faith.
Well, this may be stating the obvious, but how insulting is that? They actually used words like brainwash, coerce, and indoctrinate. People actually said it's WRONG for parents to teach children their faith. We should teach them all faiths and let them choose. Of course to do that would be to not follow my own faith, which tells me it is specifically my job to raise them and teach them our religion.
Now, let's be clear. OF COURSE I think my faith is correct. If I thought some other faith was more correct, I wouldn't be the faith I am. I'd go and join that relgion! And, I would imagine that people of other faiths generally think theirs is most correct, or else they'd join mine. That doesn't mean that one can't see the beauty in another faith, or appreciate aspects of it. Still, the freedom to raise own's children in the heritage and the faith of the family is a basic American liberty! I wondered if I was a Native American teaching my children the old Religion of the tribe, if they would say I was brainwashing them. Somehow I doubt it. It strikes me as being a distincly Christian bias. I don't control my children's beliefs. One day they will choose their own path. No one can mandate the faith of another. But there would be no way for me to cut our faith out of what I teach my children. It affects everything from what we eat (on Friday, etc.) to how we dress, to how often we pray. And I think it's intellectually dishonest for the atheists in the debate to insist that they would have no influence on their children's choice. Of course the children will know that they are not religious. One cannot remove their worldview from how they live their life!
Ultimately if the biggest fear the anti-homeschoolers have is that I'll be raising devout Catholics, I think I'll brave their wrath.
I'm proud of our homeschooling. I'm proud of Reagan's achievements. I truly enjoy watching him learn. Yes, he is sheltered. But who doesn't try to shelter their children in some way? I know they all have to go out into the world someday, but I hope that by then they will be grounded in their faith, and have enough confidence that they can stand up to whatever comes along. For now, they go out into the world with a litte extra protection. Their parents. We don't keep them from everything, we simply help them to understand what they see and learn. Since simple exposure to other thoughts, ideas, people, etc. is not enough. Exposure is not the same as understanding.
There are amazing life experiences to be had. And while certainly many can occur between the walls of a school, many do not. I like being with my children. And I love homeschooling.
I guess the anti-homeschoolers will just have to suffer. I think we'll be doing this for a long time.
They could be right about us being vampiric though. I'll never tell.