This should not come as a surprise to anyone, but there is quite the stigma attached to homeschooling. Many individuals perceive homeschoolers as socially inept, incapable of interacting with their peers, having a degree of egotism, and not as well-rounded as those who attend “regular” school. Then there is the perception of the parents who force their children down this path. They’re seen as these crazy, fundamentalist Christians who are terrified of the big bad wolf known as the public school system. And so they sequester their babies, lest those terrible heathens negatively influence poor, innocent, and naive Johnny.
I recently viewed a documentary where all these stereotypes fit into one family. I watched in horror as this freckled-faced little boy was being told the terrors of evolution from his mother (my apologies to those whose faith is founded on the concept of creationism, I just simply believe that Christianity and one’s salvation cannot be shattered by the literal or figurative interpretation of the creation narrative). Then the younger brother enters the room, beginning his “science lesson” of the day and he states that he felt Galileo made the right decision giving up science for Christ (I am tired of hearing all the cases against science from Christians, they can and do co-exist because all truth is God’s truth. And on another note: since when is teaching the unimportance of science a science lesson?). The scene concludes with the mother claiming that the godly and righteous path for education is homeschooling.
Just to clarify, there is no righteous path in education. The only righteous choice is your decision to be an active parent in whatever path your child embarks on.
As I concluded watching this scene, I was filled with so many emotions. Contrary to what you may think, I did not feel fear or hatred towards homeschooling, nor did I feel disgust towards the family. What I did feel was that there is an incredible disservice being done to those who homeschool. We watch documentaries such as this and assume all homeschoolers are the same.
Yes, people like those depicted in the documentary do exist within homeschooling, but as I have learned, it tends to be those with the most extreme views who are the loudest in our society. These types of individuals always find their way to our television screens. Why you might ask? Because they create ratings, they generate traffic, and unfortunately our American populace has deemed the extremist entertaining.
But since when did we start whole-heartedly believing everything we see on TV? Aren’t we supposed to come to a place where we recognize that not everything is as it appears to be? Yet, so many of us take the horror stories we hear from others, or the incredibly biased interviews and documentaries we see on our television screens and determine that this is a true representation of homeschooling. And if by some miraculous act we encounter a “normal” homeschooler, we then deem them to be the rare exception.
But what if I were to tell you that these extremists are actually the rarity? Would you believe me?
I ask that you cast your preconceived notions aside and join me these next couple of weeks as I showcase the real faces, the real stories, and the real reasons behind homeschooling. As the French poet, Victor Hugo, once said, “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” Within the realms of homeschooling, the school door may look more like what you walk through after a long day’s work, but it can also be a door being opened to education, opportunities, and possibilities.