Friday, November 13, 2009

Politically Correct Homeschoolers

From the very beginning, I want to give my personal disclaimer: I do not practice homeschooling as a religion. I believe there is One Way to Heaven--Jesus Christ, but I believe there are many ways to a child's education. However, as a critic of homeschooling myself for many years and more so now as the critiqued, I couldn't help by make some observations at a homeschool field trip yesterday.

A key politically-correct word in our culture today is diversity. It was also the most descriptive term of the 130+ parents and kids that met at a historical settlement in our area for Home School Day. Although the public school system has all kinds of programs in effect to encourage diversity, we homeschoolers may just be a step ahead. In my small group alone, we had white, black, Hispanic and Asian children. We had some "gifted" children, some "average" children and a few that were struggling academically. Some of the parents were older than my parents and some were younger than me. Although it wasn't an issue about which we cared or discussed, some of us looked to be poor and some looked to be rich. Some families were large and others were small.

Another politically-correct term heard a lot these days is tolerance. As a product of traditional schooling, flashbacks came to me as we all met for lunch. Yeah, some kids (and parents) had on trendy clothes, but our group leader wore a plaid flannel shirt that looked like it was straight from Little House in the Big Woods. In my school days, you had to bring Kool-Aid Jammers or Capri Suns in your lunch to be "cool". The new cool today--BPA-free stainless steel water bottles--was represented by a few people. One kid brought his drink in a hospital water bottle, complete with the bendy plastic straw (definitely NOT BPA-free). Among the many other varied drink containers, I saw a few Capri Suns. No Kool-Aid Jammers, though. Red dye is definitely not cool anymore! Perhaps the best part of tolerance was that some families bowed their heads and prayed for their food and no one complained. Conversely, the pray-ers didn't complain when most of the families in the room did not bow their heads.

A few of the classic terms to generalize homeschoolers also came to my mind. Weird? Maybe: if weird means one is not a cookie cutter image of everyone else. Unsocialized? If so, all 130 of us did a good job of faking it. Academically inferior? It didn't seem like it when children were asking intelligent questions and answering math problems beyond their level in the settlement's school house. Focus only on academics? I don't think so. One mom told me her two kids were involved, respectively, in hip hop and art. Another one told me her kids took theatre near my husband's work place. As we left, one mom was headed to gymnastics and I was headed to piano lessons. One dad bragged a bit about his first and second grader that run a 7-minute mile in track and cross-country. (Homeschoolers have to go by word of mouth, since we don't have bumper stickers listing our child's achievements.)

No, none of these generalizations seemed to stick as I observed, but I did notice one thing that all of them had in common: the one thing the whole group did badly. When the staff asked them to form a single file line, they all looked around in confusion. Maybe they realize more than we adults do--children were not meant to be herded like cattle. (Does the popular term free range come to mind?)

  • For comic relief on the misconceptions and realities of homeschool life, see A Homeschool Family.
  • Kids struggling with homeschooling? Check out these ideas.


  1. This was so fun to read and SO true!!! You are right - the generalizations towards homeschoolers are off and it's frustrating - when you are in it and know the truth!

    I've only just begun our road in homeschooling and I've already had a taste of judgements. One family member (on husband's side) asked "What qualifies you?" and one of my husband's coworkers said "you don't seem like the type." What "type" is she referring to? Then she further explained - I seemed too social! haha!

    Oh well - it's okay! The judgements will come and all that matters is that we stay in the center of God's will for our lives. We are taking it one year at a time and as soon as we sense God moving us toward a different school option - that is what we will do and I hope the homeschoolers won't judge us for making the opposite choice someday.

    I hope we can take from this that we should not judge others - because look how annoying it is when others judge us!!!

    Great post!

    Ps. Did you see I was on the Rachael Ray Show last week - oh my goodness - I am really under attack for my stance on marriage - talk about feeling judged - I've been called a slave to my husband, airhead, fool - you name it!!! The world just cannot understand!

  2. LoL. Thanks for the thoughts! I don't homeschool yet but fully intend to some day and I'm already noticing the feelings cast towards me of judgment and not doing what's best for my children-sheltering them. Awesome post exposing some of those generalizations as untrue!

  3. I just recently found your blog! This was a wonderful post and I really enjoyed reading it!

  4. oh wow, I love that term, "free range"!! We have 4 hens as pets and they are free range most of the day, I never did the leap to my kids...that would be a good name for a blog!

    I find our friends and homeschool groups pretty diverse, too.