I am in Las Vegas giving a speech. And, of course, I brought my son. I think, when I was deciding to bring him, that I remembered hearing that Vegas was becoming kid friendly. Apparently, though, that was a decade ago. And it didn't go well, probably because people don't spend a lot of money gambling when they come to Vegas with kids.
Hotels are tearing down whole arenas devoted to kids. And the one kid place we could find, Circus Circus, looked more like a ghost town than an indoor amusement park. I told myself it didn't matter. He is learning a lot. For example: "Mom, all girls look good in their bathing suit."
He has come with me to enough speeches that we have sort of a routine. I set him up with my computer and tell him not to go anywhere and then he does something totally unexpected which I then ban for the next time. For example, he took money out of my purse and went down the street to Starbucks and ordered a hot chocolate and didn't have enough money and let the person behind him in line buy one for him and then he walked back. Before my speech was over.
During this speech, while he was furtively eating forbidden buffet foods and accidentally spilling Sprite all over my laptop keyboard, I was supposedly talking about bridging generational differences in the workplace.
But here's what happened: I could not shut up about homeschooling. When people started asking me about future trends in the workforce, I jumped all over self-directed learning. I told people that 40% of homeschoolers are urban, educated, and think the idea of school is BS. You can no longer dismiss homeschooling as for only religious fanatics. Now, I told my audience, homeschooling is going to revolutionize the workplace because we'll have a generation of kids who can teach themselves anything and they will make Generation Y look like slow learners, and if you don't get your kids out of the system that spoon-feeds them to merely test their ability to memorize, then your kids will not be able to compete with their homeschooled peers.
It's hard to say all that in a roomful of people who are, presumably, not pulling their kids out of school. After all, if they were pulling their kids out of school there would be other kids in the lobby with my kid, right?
One of the things that tears apart otherwise amicable adults is their parenting philosophy. This is so true of homeschooling. If a parent asks me why I'm doing it, I have no choice but to say it's because I don't believe kids need school. Which means, indirectly, that I think the parents are doing the wrong thing. I say this all the time and then watch the fallout, which is either hatred or defensiveness. (It's such a fine line, isn't it?)
After my speech, a few parents who homeschool came up to me and said how thrilled they were to hear me laying out for everyone why taking kids out of school clears a path of success for them in the workforce. But these parents would never dream of speaking up themselves in a venue of 200 people. Homeschoolers don't want to face public wrath, so homeschoolers stay under the radar.
That's bad for everyone. It means that the world underestimates how prevalent homesschooling is, but the world also has no chance to learn how sane the parents are. Because the sane parents, in this case, are the ones who are hiding.
We will all learn more by piping up when it's appropriate. Homeschoolers should risk the wrath of people around us in order to make it possible to connect more freely with the parents taking the same leap of faith. Since the people who do best in the workplace are people who build a network by connecting with other people on common ground, parents should model that behavior. Come out as a homeschooler, give others the confidence to do the same, and connect.