With the demise of public education in this country–which includes under-funding by the government, overcrowded classrooms, ineffectual administrators, and private entities like testing companies having their filthy hands all over your children and their data–it is inevitable that the homeschool movement has grown exponentially over the last couple of years. Instead of trying to improve public education and how our politicians treat our schools, our teachers and our children, many have chosen to pull their children from school all together and educate them at home. Even with a less-than-perfect public education system, I believe it is still infinitely better than homeschooling your child.
This is not an anti-homeschooling blog. There are some instances when I believe homeschooling is appropriate, such as a child with really bad anxiety, a bully situation, an injury or remote living. Even in these situations, there is a right way to homeschool. This includes following professionally designed and state mandated curriculum. It includes professional oversight, with trained and state certified educators coming to your home to make sure your child is learning everything they would in a traditional school setting. And it includes opportunities for group learning with peers, in a format such as a homeschool collective.
And it’s not just fundamentalist Christians homeschooling their children either. Many people in the atheist, skeptic and non-believer communities are homeschooling their kids as well. I find this trend to be very troubling. As skeptics, we tend to be the first ones to condemn a non-vaxxing parent for using snake oil to treat their sick child instead of taking them to a doctor. We criticize parents who think a google search can replace a medical degree. We loathe parents that take medical care into their own hands and think they can replace the professional education and training of doctors, nurses and medical staff. Why don’t some of my fellow skeptics feel the same way about education and teaching?
Some of the excuses I’ve heard from my fellow skeptics for homeschooling their kids are just as ridiculous, if not more ridiculous, than reasons given by religious fundamentalists. The following are some reasons I’ve heard in favor of homeschooling followed by my personal commentary on why they are complete bullshit.
1) “I think I can do a better job than anybody when it comes to educating my children.”
No you can’t. Get over yourself. Teaching is NOT “so easy a caveman can do it.”
I don’t care if you are Neil Degrasse Tyson. Nothing takes the place of a licensed, professional, experienced, teacher in a public or private classroom who is surrounded by other professional educators, counselors and school support staff. I used to teach high school and I WOULD NEVER homeschool my kids. EVER. Do you think I am extensively trained in early childhood neurological development? How to teach reading to a child? Methods in teaching fractions? I can teach my child about the rise of dictatorial governments throughout Europe following World War I, but I think he would want to learn how to read and play in the sandbox first. If you think you can do at better job educating your child than hundreds of rigorously trained and vetted professionals, you are a self-important narcissist with a grandiose sense-of-self.
2) “I don’t like the curriculum being dictated by a school board. I want to make my own curriculum.”
Okay. That’s nice. You think as a teacher I liked everything in my social studies curriculum? Of course not. But most teachers know how to play with the curriculum and make it enjoyable for students to learn. Curriculum and standards are there for a reason; they ensure your children learn what they need to know to not only graduate, but to become well-rounded adults. Also, professionally trained educators are constantly designing and modifying curriculum to reflect the latest standards, methods and innovations in education. Curriculum is NOT designed by an army of Illuminati robots despite what you read in your FB parenting group.
If you’re wondering why we now have a generation of young adults who think vaccines cause autism and the holocaust never happened, blame the parents who think they know how to write curriculum simply because they shot a child out of their nutsack and/or vagina. Don’t like the curriculum? Supplement your child’s education with further materials and learning experiences. Have a meaningful conversation with them. Visit a museum. Give them experiences that will enrich their lives and grow their empathy, compassion and curiosity. Limiting the amount of people who they learn from, including peers, will only limit the amount of knowledge they acquire.
3) “I want to teach my children what I want them to learn, not what teachers and the government wants my kids to learn.”
A person gains culture and knowledge through interaction with others. I had teachers of all different personalities, political affiliations, backgrounds and cultures. I had mean teachers. I had nice teachers. I had sane teachers. I had crazy teachers. I had extremely intelligent teachers and a handful of clueless ones too. I learned from them all. I learned a variety of views and experiences.
I’m a non-believer. I’d like my son to be a non-believer as well. However, if he learns some religion and wants to be a bible thumping Christian, then I’m cool with that too. As long as he treats others with respect, kindness and compassion. Many homeschooling parents are afraid their little snowflakes will learn something evil or different at school from teachers or other children–views that might question a parent’s authority, beliefs, and fears. What if I told you not everyone has to think as you do, not even your child. They are not an extension of you. They are individuals with their own thoughts and agency. If you only want your child to know what you WANT them to know–to only know your views and your experiences–you are a self-important narcissist with a grandiose sense-of-self.
4) “I don’t want the school to call Children’s Services on me.”
This is a reason why some homeschooling/unschooling parents don’t want to send their kids to evil government schools. Teachers, counselors and other school staff are mandated reporters and are trained to identify signs of abuse and neglect, such as changes in behavior or physical appearance. Mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse can not be detected by school staff when a child does not attend a school. Homeschooling is a way abusers can get away with their crimes. It also prevents a child from escaping from an abusive situation, even if it’s just for six hours a day. And if you’re looking for a common thread here to connect to my other points, narcissistic personality disorder is a common feature of abusive parents.
5) “The schools are bad in our area.”
This is racist/classist code language for “I don’t want my little Caligula sharing a classroom with a poor and/or brown child.” What is interesting about this argument is that I see it put forth mostly by so-called progressives and leftists. If you’re so progressive, you should have no issues with your children learning from children who are different from them.
6) “My kid is not challenged at public school because he/she is too smart.”
Most parents who proclaim their kids are too smart and therefore bored at public school are completely full of shit. They are suffering from special snowflake syndrome; they think their special DNA and special homeschooling is producing the next child prodigy. These are the types of parents that take all the credit for their child’s hard work and achievements, since they were the only ones smart enough to recognize their child was a special snowflake whom is too good to share a classroom with the rest of the plebes.
Teachers do something now called differentiated instruction. We recognize that every child has specific strengths and weaknesses, and we individually tailor instruction just for your special snowflake! There are special programs for gifted and talented children. Your kid being a genius or a prodigy is still no excuse for you to solely educate them. Wouldn’t they become a better genius or prodigy if they learned from others besides yourself? Isolating them from the ideas of others because you think your child is better than everyone else is definitely not going to make them better than everyone else. But let’s admit, homeschooling is not about them. It’s about you and your ego.
7) “Public education is in shambles. If the schools were better, I’d send my kids and I can’t afford private school “
If you gave a damn about public education, you’ would still send your kids to school while fighting to change policies like other parents and professionals do. So let’s get to what this is really about: you. Homeschooling proves to the rest of your friends and family (and blog subscribers) what a super mom or dad you are by taking on a huge responsibility, while being smarter (and smuggier) than the average momma bear.
“Look at me–Look at me. Look how awesome I am homeschooling my special snowflake. I’m so much better than you! Nanny Nanny poo poo!