As I was filtering through my Facebook feed, I noticed a posting from my good friend, Dr. Brian Ray, of the National Home Education Research Institute (NEHRI). I often share his posts because they always reflect the reality of homeschooling, good and not so good. I have always known Dr. Ray to present homeschooling in a truthful and unbiased light, even though he has home schooled his own children and believes in parent led education as a viable form of schooling. I find it amazing that our society can be so brainwashed into such narrow thought.
The article, in SFGate, features a formerly homeschooled student from Kansas who is now attending Penn State. It was titled, Homeschooling Presents Opportunities, Challenges. And while the reporter provides a balance of positive and negatives, the urge to negatively stigmatize the social aspects, “socialization,” of the homeschooling alternative is not lost in the undertones.
The now 26-year-old Neil Meyer is a homosexual who grew up in a Christian home (his father is a pastor) and lived under strict parental oversight who encouraged academic discipline. Meyer goes on to explain that his upbringing made him uncomfortable in later years because he, obviously, didn’t fit the structural institutional school mold, as is true of many who home school.
Why do so many people question and ridicule the homeschooling culture? Most homeschoolers do not live in the go-along-to-get-along world. That just isn’t their mindset. A home education is not intended to teach children to assimilate into a “one of a face in the crowd” culture. Its emphasis is on learning and reaching individual excellence. They don’t obsess over grade levels, learning to follow the crowd, and to perform on standardized tests, which is an idea most in today’s culture cannot comprehend. Homeschooling is a culture that swims upstream against the conformist current that government schools have perpetuated into society. It promotes independent thought and the magnificence of questioning things and thoughts in the environment around them, which instills a mindset of a love of learning that lasts a lifetime. And it is producing a very well educated sector of society.
It must be noted also, that homeschooling is not easy. It’s not rocket science, but it does take a lot of work. And, parents who choose this route do so with great consideration. It takes great sacrifice to devote the time, and often the forfeiture of additional income, to stay home and raise children in opposition to what most consider the main stream.
The article does go on to outline Meyer’s high achievement, and academic success at Penn State, while it fails to draw a thread to his success, and love for learning, to the foundation his strict, homeschooling foundation may have given him.
While most of the country does not understand the culture of parent led education, that quandary may be changing. Homeschooling is growing across the country by nearly 7 to 15% yearly, and their academic success is trouncing their publicly educated counterparts. The numbers don’t lie and they may just reflect the discontent that many parent’s across the country are having with an under performing public education system.
And so we come to the number one issue that home educating naysayers like to hang their hats on. What about the “S” word? What about socialization? The SFGate article refers to various aspects of how home schooled children are inept at mixing socially in society, or at how they struggle when they enter the real world of college.
Sarah May Clarkson of Juanita College has this to say about the homeschoolers who enter their institution.
“A lot of those students are socially awkward. They have anxiety and emotional issues. College is a huge emotional challenge,” she said. “Public school, despite its flaws, prepares students for the world. There’s not that same imperative when a child is sitting at home.”
So, let’s examine what it is public or other institutional school offers that a home education does not. Do students need to have an exposure to their peers engaging in sex in the stairwells, bullying, or drugs before they can effectively handle themselves in a college setting? I sat on a school board for 3 years. I know these issues are beyond crisis levels in schools across the country. We now live in a culture that has become jaded to these behaviors, perhaps because we have handed over parenting responsibilities to our schools and they are more concerned with political correctness than algorithms and sentence syntax. And I would challenge anyone who labels homeschoolers as awkward and ill prepared to handle the emotional issues of college to survey college freshmen coming from institutional schools, and provide evidence that they do not suffer, at all, from the same issues?
In a world that has become accustomed to relying on bureaucracy and big government, perhaps the most stringent resistance to homeschooling comes from a government that is trying to mandate a Common Core standard in all public schools. Common Core is antithesis to homeschooling. It creates a one-size-fits-all education that quashes individual excellence and independent thought.
Congressman Ron Paul gets it right in this MSNBC interview: “Some people will go out of their way for their children.”
Perhaps that idea has left the wider culture. While the left has become adept as using children as human shields, in seeking endless education funding, or an end to the 2nd amendment, seldom do you see them, or anyone, really going the extra mile to do right by the upcoming generation in advocating for their future. Who is concerned about the enormous debt they will be faced with? No one in D.C.–or in my neighborhood–as far as I can tell.
Government and the United States needs a generation of leaders who can think outside the box and break free of the main stream ideas that have led us to the destruction of the greatest government and culture that has ever inhabited the earth. Herding our youth into big box schools has drummed the independence out of us. The home school culture understands how to live in this different world and promote independence and individuality. Many might tell you they strive to rise above the mainstream mediocrity. They don’t want to be like everyone else. It isn’t the perfect solution to education, it isn’t the only solution to education, but it can, and does, serve a good portion of the next and following generations who just may be the ones who break out of the box we have been herded into by those who do not want a successful and free nation.