Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Biggest Problem with Homeschooling: Rhetoric

I’ve worked in education in one way or another almost my entire adult life, including years in “the trenches” trying to do something opportunity-changing in some of the deep trenches. I don’t mind homeschooling in principle, and I have no problem with the concept of people pulling their children out of public schools and teaching them on their own. I have friends who do that and are masterful at it. I also have friends who should be locked up for what they have done to their children in the name of protecting them from the world. I have observed that homeschooling runs the same gamut as public education when it comes to the quality of the education itself, so I can't criticize it at the personal, individual levelIt is a personal choice, and I am grateful for that opportunity in this country.
My biggest problem with homeschooling is the rhetoric I have heard and read. 

Too much of the homeschooling rhetoric writes off those who are in the public education system and casts the issue in adversarial and derisive tones. This is going to sound a little harsh, perhaps, but I have a hard time with someone who abandons someone else and then turns around and castigates those whom they abandon. Public school teachers and students alike lose MUCH when adults who care and children who care leave (especially when those people who leave are the very ones who could serve as examples and role models for those who have no choice but to stay), and they lose even more when those adults and children who leave turn around and criticize and condemn them verbally.  Much of the rhetoric I have heard and read over the years have been based in fear and criticism; too little has even attempted to reflect compassion and understanding, much less love.  

Again, I defend passionately the right to homeschool, but it’s easy to forget that the choice to do so is founded on a degree of luxury – of being “relatively rich” (meaning having something others don’t have, including simply opportunities and choices), and my heart hurts when those who can afford to homsechool (and I don’t mean that in strictly economic terms) criticize those who can’t and, in a very real way, dust their feet of the relatively poor in this regard.

No matter what decision one makes in this regard, I would prefer more compassion for the little ones who have no choice – and a little more ministry among them.

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