Friday, April 21, 2006

Seven unhelpful things non-homeschoolers should stop saying

1. But what about socialization?

2. I just think it’s wrong.

3. I could never homeschool. I couldn’t stand to be around my kids that much.

4. I could never homeschool. My children are social and need to have friends.

5. What makes you think you can teach them all they need to know?

6. What makes you think you can teach as well as a trained teacher?

7. Why do you want to rob your children of a normal childhood?

Seven unhelpful things homeschoolers should stop saying

1. I don’t know why anybody would want to put their children in an institution.

2. Public schools are eeeeevil because of anti-Christian bias…

3. … political correctness. …

4. … the mainstreaming of homosexuality …

5. … student violence …

6. … teacher sexual abuse Ritalin prescriptions sex ed classes dumbed-down curriculum lack of discipline age segregation forced attendance zero tolerance policies junk food machines social promotion cliques bullying lockdowns standardized testing random drug searches mainstreaming no prayers in the classroom ability tracking government monopoly evolution creationism socialist propaganda right-wing indoctrination.

7. You know, the whole public school system is really based on the eighteenth-century Prussian educational system. Yep, really.


Blogger sophia said...

If some of these thought are true objections one way or the other, why should people stop saying it? I don't think you are saying there is no validity to the objections, are you? Or are you saying that homeschoolers and nonhomeschoolers should stop judging each other. I think the dialogue is good if it is done in a respectful way.

You've done a good job of capturing just about all of the objections from both sides (except the missing out of school extracurricular activities/sports that nonhomeschoolers bring up) . Reading the different objections makes me WANT to talk about it in order to increase understanding.

6:06 AM  
Blogger MrsDarwin said...

You're my type of homeschooler, Sharon. I particularly hate #3 -- "I couldn't be around my kids that much." This statement is not an argument against homeschooling; it is a symptom of a deeper moral problem in how one views parenting (or of a sheer frivolousness). I find it rather alarming when a parent makes that kind of comment as his child is standing right there listening.

I actually heard the "eighteenth-century Prussian educational system" objection the other week. It sounded absolutely bizarre. I think it comes from a specific book on education, but I don't remember the title.

BTW, have you had your curriculum show-and-tell yet?

2:18 PM  
Blogger The Opinionated Homeschooler said...


While some of these statements may reflect some level of truth, at least in certain cases, and some reasonable concerns, I believe that they're used too much as blanket, unqualified statements, and in any event are profoundly unhelpful in discussions.

For instance, I often hear public schooled children or their parents bewildered by descriptions of the horrors of public schools which just don't reflect the reality of their own lives. Hs'ers can be just as guilty as anyone of making blanket assumptions about the lives of other families. If we get sick of hearing people assume that our kids are isolated and asocial, you can bet other people are sick of hearing that they must not care about their kids if they put them in public school.

In short, I think public school violence (for instance) is just as real a concern as lack of academic accountability for homeschoolers; it's something worth discussing rationally, but not much help when used as ammunition.

Mrs. Darwin and Sophia,

You're both invited to my annual curriculum share/show & tell, this Saturday at 2 (Austin slacker time). Mrs. D., if you'll send your e-mail address to chezdever at earthlink dot net, I'll send you directions. Sophia, I'm just about to post to the HFH list.

7:04 PM  
Blogger sophia said...

Yes, I very much agree with you on the disconnect between homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers when cliches are used against each other. One time, I told some homeschooling friends of mine about some good friends of mine who are opposed to homeschooling. My h's friends instantly started listing all kinds of silly reasons they thought someone would be opposed to homeschooling. Maybe they had heard some of the reasons they mentioned, but my n-h-s friends had different reasons which I thought were more noble. While I don't agree with their reasons, I understand them. It just reminded me of so many other issues where each side kind of demonizes each other, assuming the worst, and therefore, good communication can not take place.
P.S. Please excuse grammar mistakes I make here. When I go back later and read some things I write in this forum, I cringe. However, at the moment of the post, I usually don't want to take the time to proofread. Shame! Shame!

8:57 PM  
Blogger MrsDarwin said...

Thanks, Sharon! Will do.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Yahmdallah said...

Hmmm. I guess I don't see the rub. (Or, more to the point, I think it's overblown.)

However, Colorado has a huge population of homeschoolers.

I discovered recently through this map of the distribution of religions in America that Colorado has a huge diversity (the real kind not the "let's artificially massage the mix" kind) of the same:
And it's no secret a big portion of homeschoolers do it to (attempt to) preserve their religious views.

Plus, since so many people move here (I bet we come in fourth after NY, LA, and Florida), we get a cross-section of American subcultures. So much so that you can't tell either an ethic or a religious jokes without having someone from that group within earshot.

Therefore, I know a lot of homeschoolers, and Colorado is notorious for having a wild mix of crappy public schools and very good ones. (I come from the Dakotas/Minnesota part of the world where the publics schools are pretty good all around. Every time a kid moved up there from Colorado, they were always a year or more behind.)

Had we not found a school we liked last year, we (or more accurately my wife) would be homeschooling right now.

Short version is I see both sides, and I think it's a preference and not a mission. I'm just happy America has accepted homeschooling as an option.

7:58 AM  
Blogger The Opinionated Homeschooler said...


I'm being obtuse, but I'm not sure what the "it" is in your first paragraph. At any rate this was just one of those venting posts, and not a serious attempt to engage issues.

Every item on the first list is something I've had said to me, more than once, as the out-of-the-gate response when someone found out we homeschool. Every cringeworthy item on the second list is something I've heard many times, unprompted, from hs'ers who don't seem to realize that announcing these things make us sound like judgmental jerks who think anyone who schools their child is an abusive moron.

Think of them as Matt Groening's 'Forbidden Phrases' of the year.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Yahmdallah said...

No, I was the one being obtuse.

Y'know, some days the muse just ain't with ya. I did a terrible job of trying to convey my thoughts there. (I was so out of it yesterday, that when I stopped to get beer for a party this weekend, I drove away without it, right when all the construction workers were pulling into the liquor mart after a hard day ("free beer!"). Luckily, the person who checked me out saw my gaffe, and pulled it back inside until I realized my error and came back.)

Anywho, I just meant that I think (perhaps incorrectly) that homeschooling has gone from being controversial (as it once was, and to speak to one of your points: "We're going to let average parents teach their children??!? Heaven forefend!") to simply being just another choice, where most anyone who's looked into it realize it is a good and valid one anymore. There are a lot of good resources and support, etc.

And, I was trying to point out that Colorado might also be more accepting than other parts of the country, because we have such a weird/wild/cool mix of people and cultures, many of whom have reasons for supporting homeschooling. (In other words, my anecdotal sample group may be biased.)

So, to me, people who say "What makes you think you can teach as well as a trained teacher" are thinking of the oaf they've met (as I have) who claims to "homeschool" their children, but in fact doesn't teach them at all; and they're NOT thinking of the vast majority of homeschoolers who are doing a great job (99% percent of the homeschoolers I know).

Or to put it another way, they're doing the bell-curve cha-cha: Impugning the whole group based on the behavior of the worst at the far end of the bell-curve.

Maybe I've made even less sense that I did yesterday. For the record, I wasn't homeschooled. Does it show? ;)

By the way, usage question: is it
- Homeschooling
- Home-schooling
- Home Schooling

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Yahmdallah said...

Y'know, (I'm aware I'm pounding this to China) but I still haven't managed to make my point in the way that I'd like. Please feel free to nuke this and my other comments on this thread/post. In the future, I'll try and make sure I can say what I intend to before I publish. Most humble apologies.

9:17 AM  
Blogger The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

You're just saying that 'cause I hadn't gotten to replying to your post, and now you're all paranoid.

Everything you've said has been fine. Don't worry so much! Nobody is virtually frowning at you.

On the orthographic point, in the last ten years it's solidified as one word, "homeschooling," among hs'ers, but newspaper style books apparently require the two-word or hyphenated form (depending on whether it's being used as a noun/verb or as an adjective).

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Gem said...

Then of course there's the whole homeschooling/school-at-home/home education debate!

6:15 PM  

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