When my friends ask about homeschooling I say, “All the data and research says that kids don’t need to be in school. I realized that it would be totally irresponsible and self-serving of me to not take my kids out of school.”
I say this and that’s probably why I have so few friends.
Pretty much all my friends came to Swarthmore for Passover. One was Lisa Nielsen. She’s the person I called every time I thought homeschooling wouldn’t work and I should send my kids back to school.
Lisa is one of the most effective advocates for self-directed learning in the world because she is so influential in the New York City public schools. She trains teachers. She decides if kids can use phones or publishing platforms like Verst. And she has created tons of resources for kids to opt out of school. It’s remarkable, actually, to have someone like Lisa so entrenched in public schools and also so open to new ideas that directly compete with the assumptions in her established career.
I was excited for her to tell everyone they should be homeschooling too. I’m tired of people not thinking I’m right.
When she arrived, she brought me a gift from her boss: toffee matzoh. Lisa said, “My boss loves your blog.”
Really? I couldn’t believe it. I was so happy I wanted to save some toffee bits to frame.
Lisa’s a handful to manage. For Lisa to get things done she has to not offend people and she has to stay out of the news. She needs to instigate change but not be seen as a trouble maker. Her boss is the person who provides guidance, advice, and cover for Lisa in order for her to do her best work.
Each person who instigates huge change has someone working right alongside them clearing paths. And each person who is leading change has early followers who make the leader a leader and not just a crazy person screaming in the streets.
When you are a parent choosing to homeschool, whether you like it or not, you’re a revolutionary. But revolutionaries come in many forms. You don’t have to rant in blog posts like I do. You don’t have to create political nightmares like Lisa does. But you need to know what your part is in the movement you’re part of.
Being able to answer that question for yourself goes a long way toward answering questions when your friends ask you about homeschooling.