This is a guest post from Lisis Blackston. She is a
Trying to talk to most people about homeschooling is a bit like trying to talk to creationists about evolution, or the Big Bang. They are so fiercely opposed to the notion, and have so much invested in their current world view, that it’s nearly impossible to make any headway toward changing their minds.
But it’s still a conversation worth having. From time to time, a mind will be just open enough to consider new possibilities.
I’m *hugely* in favor of having homeschooling as an option to “opt out” of public education, particularly for those of us who live in areas where the public schools may do more harm than good.
Many of the reasons people seem to be opposed to homeschooling are the very reasons WHY I homeschool my son. For instance:
1. Religious indoctrination
We live in the Bible Belt. Nearly every person who lives in this area is a Christian who attends church regularly. Most of the teachers and students at the public schools are openly, and unabashedly Christian… which is fine, except that our family isn’t. The amount of peer pressure my son would have to endure (to attend church, to be “saved”, etc.) is absurd. One of the main reasons I homeschool my son is to AVOID religious indoctrination.
Why don’t we just move to a more enlightened city? Well, we did for a while. But my husband’s aging parents live here and it’s important to be close to them.
2. Parental bias
It is true that if my son attended public school he would be exposed to ideas different from my own. Of course, where we live that means mostly the glorification of God, and sports (the other religion in the South). My kid is by no means sheltered. He reads whatever he wants, online and offline. He has access to a whole world of information and viewpoints. I don’t prevent him from knowing about any of them, including the local customs and beliefs.
But he is subject to my personal bias… that of self-determinism. I adamantly believe it is his duty to find his passions, skills, abilities and interests, and to forge a fulfilling life from those. He is well aware that he will only be paid for his passions if they happen to be of value to others (and should, therefore, choose which to hone as a career, and which to keep as a hobby).
It is a bias, but I don’t think it will hurt him much in the long run.
Once again, the sort of socialization that is available to him at the local school is a bit… limiting. I’d much rather have my son seek out his peers (of any age) among those who share his interests and values, or at the very least, random people all over the world who are different and interesting for whatever reason. If all of his friends are his age, and they all worship sports and church, I feel the experience is a bit homogenous and not at all representative of the world at large.
Having said that, he has always been friends with the public school kids in our neighborhood… but those aren’t the ONLY people he socializes with. These days, much like his mother, he’s finding the most interesting people online! It should also be noted that for many segments of the U.S., the socialization available in public schools is downright dangerous. I would definitely avoid that at all costs.
I know my kid better than anyone. I know his skills, his abilities, his passions, and his goals. And I know that there’s no one-size-fits-all system that works for every kid.
I don’t presume to know each curriculum subject better than the local teachers, but I DO know I can find the best sources for each subject for my kid. Using the internet and libraries and friends and mentors, I’m certain I can pull together resources that are at LEAST on par with the local school he would otherwise attend.
Perhaps this is arrogance, or maybe it’s just common sense paired with a bit of resourcefulness. Either way, I’m not worried about MY lack of expertise. Experts are widely available these days… often for free.
5. Abuse happens
Yes… yes, it does. It happens to homeschooled kids, and it happens to public schooled kids. I don’t know how much abuse (bullying, inappropriate teachers, etc.) he would have to endure at our local school, but I do know he doesn’t endure ANY abuse in our home.
That isn’t the case for all homeschoolers, but abuse happens in ALL methods of education, even in fancy private schools.
I’m not saying homeschool is the best answer for everyone. But I do know it is a perfectly legitimate, often successful option that in many cases rivals what would be available in local public schools.
Homeschooling is different, and revolutionary, and uncomfortable for many people to consider. It’s not a better way, or a worse way. It’s just another way, better for some, worse for others.