Tuesday, May 09, 2006

why is homeschooling so hard to get?

First, a hearty thanks is due to those bloggers that find those other bloggers, the ones that have no horse in the homeschool race, yet choose to blog about it from a place of no knowledge of the subject.

I'll refer to the anti-homeschooling bloggers as AHB from here on.

According to AHB, we homeschool to indoctrinate our kids into our religion to the exclusion of everything. We hide inside our homes, never daring to go out of the house. We stay inside where we force our kids to do schoolwork and take SAT prep courses. We drill them in arcane words so that they will represent at the spelling bee. We are scared of liberal ideas and fear the schools will make our kids gay. Our kids are odd, or even weird, and can't speak in complete sentences. They are unable to interact in social settings to the detriment of society as a whole.

If however we unschool, we are beyond crazy. We are lazy and ask nothing of our kids. We allow them to wallow in their filth and eat candy all day. They only stop playing video games and watching television to scream at us to get them more candy. They are destined for a life of low paying jobs because that's all they'll get, because they will have no education and no ability to function in society to the detriment of our society as a whole.

And every time we get the call, we swarm to the AHB, read quickly through the post, only too ready to pounce on the comment section. I try not to comment to them for the most part, but I certainly don't begrudge others jumping into the fray. I might feel some pity for the hapless unsuspecting AHB if they weren't so uninformed in their righteous dignity.

Most homeschoolers' blogs you read will include at some point a "day in the life of a typical hs family" post somewhere on there blog. Very often those posts are full of life and activity. It's obvious to anyone with even a passing familiarity with homeschooling that we don't hurt for things to do. If anything, I suspect more homeschoolers could stand to slow down than not. I am not of that camp just yet. We do tend to hide away many days. I'm currently blaming it on the weather, the Smokey Mountain spring time.

But are my kids socially inept? backwards? unsocialized? I do worry about these things. I do want my boys able to handle meeting people, making friends, and all the lovely things that come from living in a society. And I don't feel one bit bad that I don't want them doing those things alone in a crowd at school.

The Boy is three. He does what he wants. He plays with other kids when he wants and can play alone with other kids about. Big Brother makes friends easily. I worry that they tend to accept people without judging, and in a gschool world, that isn't the norm, and my worry is when they do learn the nature of so many people, people who judge without knowing. It hasn't yet been a problem. We can go to any park or playground, and the boys will both play with the other kids. I'm not sure where they could have learned that since they never got "socialized."

I have yet to indoctrinate my kids too much. I have pointed out some basic things about equality and fairness. I try to model good behavior in how I interact and treat other people with whom we come in contact. I'm not the best model as a driver, but let's not go there. I'm sure they hear Momma and I discuss politics when we do. They hear the news and music we listen to without much outside influence telling them what's cool. They judge music by their own inner voice and like what they like.

At 7 and 3 years old, they are little boys. One more thing to love about homeschooling is that I know their ideas and beliefs about race and sexuality and class will not be taught to them by other children. I know that I won't hear them getting off the bus using rude or mean words to describe people and situations that they don't even understand. These, to me, are the areas in America where, as a people, we need to do the most work. Again, let's not get into that too much other than to say, that's my job to teach my kids, and I refuse to leave that to anyone else.

I could delve into studies and find real life hs anecdotes to prove our point that, as homeschoolers, we really do know what's best for our own kids much more often than not. I could get into the love of learning that our kids will carry throughout their days as much as that ability to continue learning will help carry them through their days. I could explain how many options are available to socialize while simultaneously giving the actual meaning of the word socialization. I could damn and curse the gschools, more likely coming from me, as pits of conservative confusion, full of discrimination and classism. I could do all sorts of things, which is why we homeschool actually, because we can basically do whatever we want without all the undue stress that goes with school.

So a day in the life of a typical homeschooler? Yeah, that's not so easy to pin down. It's not about hiding away for most of us. Right now, my day, if I get away from this computer and do it will consist of library, grocery store, soccer practice and roller derby practice. At soccer practice, The Boy will play with younger siblings of Big Brother's team mates. Big Brother's newest friend is a child of Momma's roller derby friends, though on an opposing team. Big Brother and newest friend will skate around and pretend to be superheroes. Tomorrow is supposed to be thunderstorms, so we'll probably hide at the house most of the day and watch tv and play video games. And if I don't get to the grocery store, we might have to eat candy.

Back to my original point, if there truly was one. The AHB are always going to get it wrong. No one who actually looks into homeschooling can come to the negative conclusions that these people have. Most of us hsers have said it plenty of times, but you can't judge two million kids based on that family that you don't actually know. And because people think other people are weird does not in fact make them weird. And I refuse to accept that weird has to be bad. I am most likely considered weird by the vast majority of people who know me. I am a conundrum, an enigma wrapped in a vest. And I will admit, that I'm managing to make it.


Audrey said...

Ever notice how a great proportion of AHB don't even have children? I agree with you that they'll never "get it."

I "get" hsing because every minute I get to spend with my kid fills my heart right up.

I don't "get" people who don't want every second they can have with their own kids. Maybe I'm lucky that I have such a great kid. Maybe they'd have great kids too if they just got to know them better.

*sigh* I'm getting teary-eyed again. Why can't people (like AHB) just let good people keep on keepin' on?

Andrea said...

I think one reason why they don't get it, is because in the back of their minds they are thinking that we are getting away with something.

Also? Us weirdos need a button or something. Maybe one that blinks.

Christine said...

"No one who actually looks into homeschooling can come to the negative conclusions that these people have."

That is so true. I think it's also because they are looking to find fault with hs'ing, so every negative they see they attribute it to hs'ing. (ie: my shy kids become "unsocialized". No matter that mom & dad are shy!)

Almost Lazarus said...

Dude, I'm so entering this in the Country Fair tomorrow. Clean up, you're getting guests.

Karen said...

Audrey, I think you are spot on. I think AHB can't "get" homeschooling because to do so would force them to come face to face with the fact that they don't really like their kids.

Homeschoolers ARE weird--we don't buy into the predominant cultural idea that kids are accessories who should be raised by "professionals."

MonicaR said...

How nice to find your blog. I very recently read an article about a homeschooled young man and there was a sentence there written by the reporter that said something like 'Johnny does school from sunup to sundown'. People don't get it and I've heard far too often about how a parent would NEVER be able to handle that much time with their kids. It's a shame - they're perfectly nice kids!

Scrappitydoodah said...

I was chuckling during the first two paragraphs, but it's so true! Enjoyed your post.

JoVE said...

I have no idea who AHB are and from your description don't care. But I recognize the whole thing about not getting it. And like some of your other commentors, I think part of the problem is control. What we do doesn't fit the model. We are making a lot of decisions that other people think they can't make or don't want to make or think we shouldn't make.

Also, I second Andrea's thought about needing a button.

Anonymous said...

To add a thought, I really feel that people don't examine most traditions, from holidays to institutions in their whole lives. I think the average person just thinks because a tradition is there it must be what is needed. No need to change it or else you are just a freak rocking the boat.

I think the decision to homeschool means that you have started to examine one aspect of a tradition that has a huge impact on our lives, schooling. Once we take on such a huge institution, it is almost mandatory to start examing all the other institutional aspects of our lives.Just for fun. Could I birth at home? Could my parents die at home with dignity in comfort rather than on a machine somewhere alone? Could I afford to work from home? Why do we have a gov't like this? Why is it standard to wear makeup, ties, high heels? TV? Twinkies? Gack!Some people start out questionaing this stuff, and some come to it through homeschooling. I think when folks who never question traditions see someone like this they just feel defensive. My 2 cents!
Kim from relaxedhomeskool.com