I never meant for homeschooling to be a political decision. I never even thought about education reform when my kids were young. I had an autistic son with forty hours a week of state-funded therapy and I had a newborn with a facial disorder that would require three surgeries. I had no time for education reform.
Also, the silver lining of having special needs kids is that you have no patience for the minor complaints of overly blessed parents: “My kids won’t eat broccoli!” “My daughter is so shy!” “My son won’t sit still!” These were worries that seemed absurd to me given the issues I was dealing with.
But then, when my parenting life calmed down, I realized that school was a waste of time and I did a little bit of research—it probably took me only a month—to see that education reform is heavily biased towards self-directed learning. Which means homeschooling, not classroom schooling.
So I took my kids out of school. I was not being political so much as following the research. The data was so clear that school is a babysitting service and kids do things like tests and curricula to keep them orderly rather than stimulated. I took my kids out of school because I thought I’d feel guilty trying to justify why I didn’t take them out when the research was so obviously in favor of taking them out.
I thought about how I ask my mom over and over again, “Why did you marry dad if you didn’t love him?”
And she says to me, “It was different then. Women got married as a way to have a house and be taken care of. No one thought it was that bad.”
But I know that’s not true. She was college educated in 1965. She didn’t have to marry someone to save her. She was just scared, so she made a terrible decision and then told herself that she had to do it that way.
That’s what I imagined I would do with my kids. They would say, “Why did you put us in school? Why didn’t you want to have us at home?”
And I’d say, “The time was different. Everyone was putting their kids in school then. People didn’t think it was that bad.”
And my kids wouldn’t trust me. They’d know I knew school was no place for learning.
So I took my kids out of school.
But then it got political.
People ask what my kids do all day. My kids say they play a lot of video games.
People ask, “How much?”
My kids say, “All day.”
I used to say, flat out, that my kids manage their own screentime. I said it to relatives, friends, the pediatrician. And the reprobation I’d get really impacted my kids. The people implied, in front of my kids, that it was destroying my kids. And my kids could infer what they meant, and my kids started getting worried.
So other peoples’ reactions to our family choices force me to be political. They force me to tell people that the social construct of school is useless and they should not be worrying about my kids and their development. I tell them psychologists have proven that video games are good for kids, and maybe they should let their own kids play more.
When people lash out at me by implying that my kids are being ruined, I don’t feel the need to get them to agree with me, or get them to feel bad about their own choices. But I do feel the need to rescue my kids from the negative, ignorant, and judgmental responses people give to unlimited screen time.
In history, the true revolutionaries are not the people who want to make the world a better place. That is such a privileged, non-risk-taking point of view. The revolutionaries are the ones who had to go against the status quo to survive. They did not see any choice except to challenge ruling social and political assumptions of the day.
I never set out to be a revolutionary, but every time a stranger brings up screentime with my kids, the beat of my revolutionary drum gets a little bit louder.