Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Respect and choices

We've had a few comments that express the sentiment that homeschoolers show disrespect towards public school families. Yeah.....they are kind of right. It is more a lack of admiration.

Do I think that there are some children that are better served at school? Yes.

Do I know families that have their children in public school that I respect? Yes, I do.

Do I think they take their responsibility as parents' seriously? Yes, I do.

Do I think they work hard? Yes, I do.

Do I admire their choice? This is where it gets tricky. I admire self sufficiency and autonomy. I just don't understand why parents work so hard, consent to so many personal and family restrictions, and enduring so much mistreatment when with similar effort they could have freedom and flexibility.

It is like volunteering to be a serf or a bond servant. Sure, the lord of the manner is supposed to protect and care for the serfs, but it is at his whim. The serfs have no power. The serfs serve the master's needs, not the other way around.

The school is not accountable to parents. Decisions about teachers, text books, testing, curriculum, and other programs, are made for reasons other than the well being of your children. It takes years to get changes through the school board, get rid of a bad teacher, or replace a poor curriculum.

Involved parents can make a difference, but it is very limited in scope because of teachers unions and government bureaucracy. The system is simply not designed to be responsive to parents. Schools disregard parental authority because the parents' dependency on the system makes them vulnerable to such misconduct.

With homeschooling, I'm the lady of the manor. Sure, I'm dependent upon my own skills and resources, but I think those are pretty good. I am a stay at home mom with a college degree and a good husband. With the Internet, I have access to countless resources at a click of a button. With homeschool support groups, I have experienced mentors to help along the way. With family and church, I have a wealth of competent adults who make a difference in the life of my children. I have homeschool friends, sports leagues, church activities and neighbors to meet the social needs of my children.

Is it overwhelming out on your own? Sometimes.

Is it hard? Not as hard as most people think.

Is it a financial sacrifice? Yes, but I value my children more than I value the things that money can buy. For example, we drive a van that is over 20 years old. Almost all our our furniture is second hand. My stove top was installed in 1958.

But homeschooling is worth it. Even if there were the perfect school next door, I would prefer the life I have now. I get to use my talents for something that really matters. We have more time as a family. We can adapt to the developmental needs of our children who are late readers. We can strengthen our children with good eating habits and life style choices. We have time to nurture each child's special talents. We are not vulnerable to political policies or educational fads. We travel freely during the school year. The list goes on and on.

Far too many competent parents see themselves as unable to meet the education needs of their children without "big brother" holding their hand. That is a tragedy. What they fear is more like the boogey man in the closet than a real threat. Teaching literacy and the skills to analyze information are really not that complicated.

Our purpose is to encourage other families to take their children home and to take their lives back from institutions that don't serve them and bureaucracies that exploit their children. We also hope to encourage struggling families to step up a level in their efforts towards their children's education and well being.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education


Spunky said...

The computer just ate my comment. UGH!. I agree with what you said. I think it's hard not to take things personally when we talk about education. I don't know many homeschoolers who disrespect other families whatever their choices. But often criticism of the public schools is seen as personal criticism.

Janine Cate said...

>The computer just ate my comment. UGH!

I just hate it when that happens.

Hanley Family said...

I think some are a little too sensitive. There are probably some who are rather vehement against public schools, but I personally have not seen that expressed as hatefully as I have seen the other side expressed (homeschool is treason? A form of child abuse? Only done to hide from society and shelter kids from reality?)

Of course, I don't view criticism of public schools the same as a ps'er might.

But even advocates of public education say that the system isn't working up to expectations. And when we point out those same difficulties, focusing on parental authority, it is perceived as an attack.

I think it has to do with the idea of the parent having responsibility. That each takes the consequences of his own actions...and that, on the whole, most homeschoolers believe that homeschooling is not just right for their families, but right. Whether they view it as God's plan or giving their children the opportunity to develop outside the "establishment" we tend to believe that home is where children belong...and that even where they are well served in the ps system, that their children would be better off in the home with committed parents educating them.

You get into the same problem if you make statements about divorce hurting children.

Janine Cate said...

It is more than just the kids who are better off. The entire family is better off. Parents become better parents because they have more time with their children. Siblings have better relationships because they spend more time together.

Sheri said...

But even advocates of public education say that the system isn't working up to expectations. And when we point out those same difficulties, focusing on parental authority, it is perceived as an attack.

I couldn't have said it better!

Anonymous said...

I think it's human nature to divide ourselves into Us v. Them camps--it's not just homeschool v. public school, but AP moms v. traditional parents, breast v. bottle, structured homeschoolers v. unschoolers, working v. SAH mom. And that's just within the homeschooling and parenting community (and I'm sure I missed some). Sometimes a caricature of the other side is comforting and helps us feel secure in our choices--no matter how false it is.

It's easy to find pros of homeschooling, just as it's easy for PS parents to find pro for sending their kids to school. The struggle, as you point out so eloquently, is finding the room for respect for other people's choices while continuing along our own path.

Fatcat said...

I hope my minivan lasts 20 years. It's going on 10.

I have a hard time with this one too. I have only been homeschooling 2 years, but I want to go out and convert everyone!

It's so freeing.

Anonymous said...

(Psssst...it's "manor.")

Janine Cate said...

Ahhhh! I hate it when I do that. Thanks for pointing it out. I went back and corrected my mistake.