Ladies and gentlemen! Please welcome the newest guest blogger to “Adventures”! Going by the pen name of Ms. Ava Sendler! Leave her some feedback and make her feel appreciated!
A couple things you need to know about me before you read this article. It’s not my intent to make anyone mad, these are simply my views on a matter – you can have your own, that I will not begrudge you. I am a homeschooled kid – have been since kindergarten. I’m not someone who just throws out opinions for the sake of having them; these are questions that I’ve asked myself as I consider the futures of my children. Not all of these statements are true for everyone, but they’re what I’ve observed to be the tendency the homeschool community leans toward. Finally, I’m a very list-oriented sort of person, so here’s a list.
Final caveat: this isn’t meant to say that if you are planning on homeschooling your kids that you’re wrong – it’s my point of view, take it or leave it as you like.
1. Homeschooling instils dogma
Someone, somewhere is going to jump up and quote Proverbs 22:6 at me. To that person I say that there is a stark difference between dogma and training. Training (at least in my mind) is a set of guidelines that are given to the trainee, and can be used in a manner that is often abstract. Training tells you to draw a picture and color it in. Dogma gives you a bland coloring book and whacks you with a ruler if you don’t color in the lines.
Dogma, on the other hand is a set of unyielding principles, often archaic in origin, which are adhered to with astonishing strictness. Those instructed in dogma are often ill prepared to handle “real world” scenarios, as they aren’t capable to comprehend the possibility of the validity of another viewpoint.
Dogma ultimately destroys. It cripples relationships, due to a lack of willingness to understand. It stunts futures; if you have a very set dogma, you are less likely to pursue a path that you actually want to, you simply do what you’ve been told. Dogma is intensely difficult to overcome, and by the time it is (if it is) the damage done on a child’s life is already too high.
Let’s suppose that you were raised in a a community that was of a singular ethnicity. Imagine first seeing a person with a trait that was different from everyone else’s. You would stare until your eyes fell out. The only problem is that when something comes into our lives that’s different, we tend to stare. Then we tend to grab our pitchforks and torches and go on a good, old fashioned witch hunt.
If our kids are raised knowing that there are other opinions out there – some of which are right, some of which are wrong – they’ll be less likely to see opposing ideas as things to be fought, but rather as things to be accepted. Moreover, if they’re raised recognizing the existence of other ideas, they’ll be forced to establish solid ones of their own.
2. Homeschooling does not equal superiority
Homeschoolers like saying that they’re academically superior to pretty much everyone else. That leads a lot of them to look down on people who weren’t homeschooled, or anyone who got a lower ACT score than them.
Bully for you. You can pass a test. Now go do something that actually matters, like treating people decently – regardless of education, test scores, or whatever.
3. Homeschooling does not always equal relational closeness
So many families have told me over the years that they started homeschooling so they could grow closer as a family. Some are succeeding, and I say more power to them.
The problem, however, becomes when you think that relational and physical closeness are the same thing. I could tell you right now that I am close to my cat. In reality, I have my suspicions that she’s plotting my murder. We’re physically close, not relationally.
In a lot of homeschooling families, the dad works a job with long hours, comes home, and doesn’t say a word to the kids, aside from the scripted supper prayer. In my experience, my dad talked to me if I was in trouble or if I’d done something exceedingly awesome. Yet everyone assumes we’re close because I’m home pretty much always.
Relational closeness isn’t something that magically happens the first time you decide, “hey guys! you get to stay home for school!” Rather, it’s something that is worked for for a lifetime. Everyone builds it differently. Everyone needs it desperately.
4. Homeschooling decides that a bird in the hand is worth all of the ones in the bush
Another reason a lot of parents cite for homeschooling their children is the state of the public school systems, or perhaps because they are unable to pay for private school, or some combination thereof. I’m not saying this is an invalid concern. It’s a very real issue.
I do feel the need to say that not all teachers, administrators, and principals are perfect and should be entrusted with children. There are, however, a lot of people who are trying to teach the youth of today with a shocking amount of earnest energy, particularly when pay and conditions are considered.
So why don’t homeschoolers encourage their kids to go into teaching? Why don’t the capable homeschool parents start teaching in their public school system? Instead of being selfish with your capabilities to teach, why not benefit as many people as possible?
I know homeschool parents who actively protest the local school system. My suggestion is this: go do something. Talk to God and get motivated. The world isn’t changed by passive people, but by people who see a need and fill it.
5. Homeschooling teaches you to live life with a closed fist
I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a homeschool graduation ceremony. It’s a really emotional event. Most parents cry (except for the ones who have like, twelve kids, who can out-cheer the audience. I’m mostly kidding), because they’re having to send off their baby into the big mean world.
Granted, graduation is a big deal. You’re finally becoming an adult, stretching your wings as it were. It’s exciting.
Not so exciting when your parents weep over losing their baby. Most parents worry that their kids will run off to college and jump straight off the deep end (a legitimate concern, a lot of us do).
The question I have for these parents is this: are you not in the least bit confident of your raising of this child? If you are confident, then great. Watch your kid grow up. Root for them and be willing to gently assist if they crash and burn.
If you are sprouting grey hairs even reading this point, then I suspect that there was a great deal of dogma involved in this child’s rearing. Dogma won’t hold up under pressure. It simply can’t.
For children, it means that they cling onto their families with a tenacity that rivals most hunting dogs’. They don’t try to discover who they are outside of their parents’ definition. Many simply won’t. Others still just can’t.
Holding onto your child is possibly one of the most selfish things you can do. It impairs their growth, and it impairs yours. Parents are coming into a new phase of life too, and they need just as much space and stretching room as the kids do.
Don’t live your life with a death grip on things – no matter how precious. It’s excruciating when they’re ripped from your grasp – as they inevitably are.