A friend sent me a link to a really fun set of photos — it's Barbie and Ken's wedding day. But the professional photographer, Beatrice de Guigne who did the photoshoot did it exactly how a real wedding would unfold in photos.
What's great is that de Guigne successfully makes fun of the absurd pretend perfection of weddings and the cliched way we document it.
Where is that ironic commentary for homeschooling? Now that I've been homeschooling for a grand total of two months, I think I've read enough homeschooling blogs to be a critic of homeschooling blogs. So much of the homeschooling community presents the equivalent of perfect wedding photos without any of the irony.
Here are three kinds of homeschool blog posts that epitomize the lack of critical, public self-examination in the homeschooing community.
1. Kids who were homeschooled talking about how great they are because of it. These blog posts sound defensive rather than informative, and anyway, I do not believe the rest of the world should care. These kids have lived ten minutes of adult life and no one knows how they will fare. No one is talking about getting an 800 on the SAT when you're 25. Your life has moved on. Talk about what you can do now.
The homeschool movement will be truly successful when people do not have to define themselves by it.
2. Non-risk-takers advocating risk for others.
Lots of people who tell parents to homeschool have not actually done it themselves. So it seems a little disingenous to me. The two types of people that advocate homeschooling who bug me are 1) homeschoolers who have never had kids themselves and 2) school reformers who don't have kids. The problem is that homeschooling is a huge risk because it's not just jumping into the unknown yourself, but it's taking your kids.
So there is something odd, and off-balance to me about people who are not accepting large risk telling others to do so. I think the decision to homeschool is largely a risk-analysis decision. In business, there is incredibly useful discussion around risk analysis when making a life decision – from people who have been there. Homeschooling discussion without that aspect looks one-sided and shallow to me.
3. Parents talking about how great things worked out and using their grown kids as evidence. There is no measuring stick for good parenting. So the parents are just groping, and anyway, who knows if their kids are secretly dealing drugs on the weekends?
If the kid is 25 now, there is no way anyone can know how their kid turned out—the kid is still emerging from childhood into adulthood. And if the kid is 30 now, then they were probably living without Internet for most of the homeschooling years. Which means life was totally different.
You know that study from Payscale about how people don't get raises after the age 40? The reason is people do not learn more in their field after 10 years,because their field keeps changing. Because the world keeps changing. So the information that is more than 10 years old is not relevant. This is true in all professions except surgery and law. So it's definitely true in homeschooling.
The problem, really, is that the homeschool movement is isolationist. They don't court naysayers because the will to homeschool is so fragile in a school-focused society. But it's time to start letting other parents know where they suck. It's time to let the kids know they need to shut up about how great they are because it's not homeschool anymore. Nothing improves without free and open criticism.