As you may or may not know, my last article about homeschooling went viral. I've never had over 60,000 likes before, nor so many comments. It was very overwhelming to keep up with all the comments. So, I stopped.
But a few comments stuck with me and I'd like to address them all in one spot.
I HATE TEACHERS. There could be nothing further from the truth. I adore teachers. When my son started Kindergarten and I saw his teacher in action, I was astounded. I think teachers' starting salary should be $100,000 and go up another hundred thousand every year. WHAT I HATE is the systematic clipping of teachers' creative wings. Given the sad state of teachers' ACTUAL starting salary, not many go into it for the money. No, most teachers have PASSION about educating children. With the current state of education, particularly the implementation of the Common Core, not many teachers actually get to use that formidable passion. I am constantly seeing letters like this (My Profession No Longer Exists) circulate the Internet. I don't think they're isolated incidents.
I HATE PUBLIC SCHOOL. I do not hate public school. I have grown to realize that my own personal feeling is that THE WAY IT EXISTS NOW, it's an antiquated system THE WAY IT IS NOW. I don't think it needs simple reform. I think it needs to be torn down and rebuilt. When you look at the history of compulsory education, you can see it was designed to produce compliant, efficient factory workers; which was EXACTLY what we needed during the Industrial Revolution. It served its purpose well. Now, however, with technology and all it's brought, we don't need compliant factory workers. We need innovators, creative thinkers, and lots of passion for creating. The current model just doesn't work anymore.
I also think some issues are just inherent in the current school system. It's the nature of the beast. A lot of low-level bullying, an insane amount of competition...these are just 2 things that happen when you have 20-24 people young people in a room with only 1 or 2 adults. That many people, ANY PEOPLE, never mind kids just figuring out their own identity and place in the world, that many people in one space will have to sort themselves. Who's on top? Who's on the bottom? And WHY. I think natural crowd control comes into play. How does one supervise that many people? By instituting strict methods; public shaming, humiliation, keeping someone on top, keeping someone on the bottom. These are common methods employed in a school setting. I DON'T BLAME THE TEACHERS. I DON'T EVEN BLAME THE SCHOOL OR THE ADMIN. This is, again, the nature of the beast. It almost has to happen.
I THINK I'M BETTER THAN YOU FOR HOMESCHOOLING. I don't think I'm better than anyone for any educational choices. I AM completely overjoyed in my choice. Not because I did something so great but because THIS WAS THE HARDEST DECISION I'VE EVER HAD TO MAKE. And when you have such a big, such a huge decision and you see it work out better than any expectation, you tend to be overflowing in your joy. When I say "my kid is great", I am not automatically saying, "your kid is not." I also LOVE to talk about our positive homeschool experience because I think a lot of parents are leaning towards homeschooling and it's THE HARDEST DECISION THEY'LL EVER MAKE.
I PUT DOWN PUBLIC SCHOOL TO MAKE MY POINTS ABOUT HOMESCHOOLING. I don't often like to directly compare homeschooling to public schooling. It's apples and oranges and I have a deep respect for those around me that choose public school. Every parent does what they think is best and what works for their families. However, in dispelling some common misconceptions about homeschooling, I find that yes, I do have to compare them. If your direct argument to me is that my child needs to be in school so as not to be sheltered, I not only have to argue how homeschooling doesn't shelter him but also, how school does. It's basic debating technique. I not only prove my point but disprove yours. That doesn't mean I hate schools or think that every situation is like mine. I know not every school is like my son's old school. And I certainly know that not all homeschooling looks like mine.
I HAVE A FINANCIAL CUSHION THAT ALLOWS ME TO HOMESCHOOL. Ugh. This one flat out pisses me off. I'm a single mom. I took a skill I have (potty training kids) and I busted a nut to make it my living. I wrote a book in the wee hours of the night. I have built a business from absolute scratch that allows me the flexibility and finances to homeschool my son. I MADE THIS HAPPEN. I don't think I'm great. I wasn't lucky. I made choices to make this happen. You can, too. Most 2 parent households that I know of, make sacrifices across the board to be able to homeschool.
KIDS NEED TO GO TO SCHOOL TO LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH BULLIES. Can we just stop with this argument as another 12 year old commits suicide due to relentless bullying? Young children, whose emotional systems are still being developed, don't LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH BULLIES. They learn to feel shame, to hide, to try to get over it. Maybe they learn to fight back with fists and/or words. They learn to work around bullies so they don't get taunted. They learn how to morph into something they're not. Very few children LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH BULLIES. They internalize the crap and may not even share it with you the parent. There's no role modeling on effectively dealing with bullies in a school setting. Yes, bullies exist in real life. Again, my child is out in real life and gets to see me deal with such bullies. But the bullying that happens in school isn't near real life bullying. I've never had anyone take my phone, while in line at the bank, and play keep away with their friends. This argument is dumb. Stop making it.
YOU KNOW, SOME PEOPLE DON'T HAVE A CHOICE. This is BS. Plain and simple. We always have a choice. It may be a choice between 2 crappy things but there is always a choice. I write and talk about homeschooling because I want people to know it's a viable choice they may be very scared to make. If you happen to (or CHOSE to) live in an awesome school district...good for you! I'm happy your child is in a wonderful school setting. Really, I am. If you happened to win a lottery to a great charter school...again, good for you! Really, I'm happy for you (though to be fair...you got lucky). MY personal choice is to live right by my parents. They help me with Pascal and I am helping them age. This puts me in a good school district but I was still unhappy. His school was a "good" one. Top 3 in our city. It still wasn't right for him.
THAT ONE HOMESCHOOL FAMILY THAT'S WRECKING IT FOR THE REST OF US. Yes. We all know of that one homeschool family that totally screwed it up. It seems every person has at least one in their lives. Maybe they were weird or horribly behaved or not that smart. Who knows. For every one of those families I can give you 10 kids who fell through the public school system cracks. My son went to an inner-small-city school. The behavior of some children was deplorable. But it's kind of expected in school. There are "good" kids and "bad" kids. In school, there are plenty of weirdos and socially awkward kids. Again, it's expected. But somehow this kind of thing is not allowed in homeschooling. The homeschooling itself gets blamed. That's basic parenting and/or the nature of the child; not homeschooling.
OUR SCHOOL IS WONDERFUL. Of course, there are some amazing schools out there. I know that. I'm thrilled you found one or again, made the choices necessary to be there. For a large portion of the country, this is not true. Much of what I write about is the AVERAGE, COMMON experience of public schools across the US.
My entire goal in writing about our homeschooling is not to put anyone down. Or to make anyone angry. Daily, I run into folks who ask me how I do it. I KNOW THIS IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST DECISION A PARENT CAN MAKE. My goal is to start shifting the conversation from "what about socialization" to a deeper conversation about educating this next generation. My goal is to try and dispel common misconceptions or even myths about homeschooling.
And some of my goal is to render some common arguments as invalid.