I have noticed lately that the best writers about the homeschooling movement don’t even know they are writing about homeschool.
Danah Boyd, for example, ostensibly writes about the social lives of teens, but really she is writing about how kids are socially trapped and infantilized in school. It’s just that Danah doesn’t address the next, logical step—people should take their kids out of school.
Clive Thompson also wrote a treatise on homeschooling without knowing it. His book title focuses on how we learn through technology. But the core of the book is neuroscience and he shows how technology changes our brain so we become more effective at both learning and synthesizing.
It’s a great argument for getting kids out of school. There is plentiful research to show kids do not need teachers to show them how to learn online. And Clive’s book is great analysis for why kids should be left alone to learn what they are interested in, rather than be lectured to offline and spoon-fed information by teachers.
Clive’s book is so clearly an argument to take your kids out of school that I found my interview with him deteriorating into me demanding to know why he wasn’t taking his own kids out of school. (That conversation went nowhere, of course, which is evidence that even though I went to school for 18 years, I did not get socialized in school.)
Which why Jen Senior’s phenomenally successful book, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, is also one that implicitly bolsters the homeschool movement. She tells parents the honest truth about why kids are so hard to raise—based on reams of data—and her bottom line is that kids don’t actually make us happy. They give us lots of other things, but day to day our happiness is not higher because we are taking care of kids.
This research is so influential that she recently gave a TED Talk about her book. But what really makes it resonate with parents is because it’s so difficult to understand how kids can fill us with love and boredom at the same time.
And this is, of course, the basic issue with homeschooling: Any parent that reads the school reform data knows their kids are better off learning independently at home. But the truth is that the very parents who are capable of seeing the realities of school reform data are also the parents who don’t want to spend their days hanging out with their kids. Smart parents worry about their own boredom. And so school becomes a national babysitting system.
Senior shows us how to gain a deeper understanding of what drives our seemingly dichotomous feelings of wanting to get away from our kids and wanting to provide everything we can for our kids. And I really believe that the more we can understand who we are as parents, the more likely we are to be brave enough to call a spade a spade and take our kids out of school.
Satya Khan is another author who addresses core issues of homeschooling. (That’s a photo of her up top with a husband and kids.) Satya’s book is the memoir, Meyer Lemons, and she publishes daily stores at Unfolded Note.
Satya writes gorgeously constructed half-page snippets of the life of a mom with two young kids. She is funny and observant and poetic. And she’s best when she writes about how to be a great mom and not lose yourself.
The issues non-homeschoolers always bring up are math and socialization and college. Those are all non-issues for homeschoolers. The real issue is how to not lose yourself as a person when you become a homeschooling parent.
I never ever intended to homeschool my kids. I only do it because the education research so clearly reveals that school is a waste of time and kids learn better on their own. I simply felt guilty putting my kids through forced curricula when even the top educators recommend letting kids learn on their own.
Which is why Satya’s book is the perfect homeschooling book for me.