There are those days when homeschooling feels incredibly more difficult than sending my child to public school. Often, well-meaning neighbors, friends, and even family question our reasons for homeschooling. “Isn’t he missing out?” they ask. My reply comes across with a tone of slight defiance, “Missing out on what? School food, bullying, fifteen hours a week on the bus or a standardized education system developed to ignore creativity and individuality?” He’s not missing much.
It’s true, he might be missing daily interaction with peers, but let’s be honest. Not all of that interaction is positive. “But wait,” you’re thinking “the world isn’t perfect, and our children need to learn how to get along with others!” Yes, I agree. But I also think that learning to get along with others can be facilitated at the grocery store, the playground, church, vacation bible school and most of all in the home.
It would, indeed, be easier to send him off at 6:20 am when the bus swings around and picks him up and then drops him in the late afternoon around 4:20 pm. That’s a long day for a young child. What is that teaching them? How much actual instruction time is my child gleaning from this day?
Eight years ago it never crossed my mind that I might be teaching my child math, language, science, art and real-life skills from my dining room table. It seemed perfectly normal that I should send my child to school. Everyone else is doing it, right?
Consider this quote:
The most erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.― H.L. Mencken
Wait, what is this? Is this saying that public education exists only to make “drones” out of our children? I’m not sure. I know it might be difficult, but I encourage each of us to respectfully question all we have been taught.
It might seem counterproductive to question long-held beliefs – as it might seem rebellious or defiant – but if we approach this questioning with authentic curiosity and genuine care we might create thinkers in our children as opposed to followers. Of course, some might argue that not all are leaders: that is true. But I do strongly believe it is our duty to install in to our children the ability to make decisions on their own eventually and in order to do that they must be able to weigh the pros and cons.
Homeschooling gives us the freedom to research different curricula, styles and levels of academic study. It also gives us the enormous responsibility of instilling so much more than academics in our children.
Where are you at in your homeschooling journey?