Why, yes! I am an arrogant jerk!

A while back, a soon-to-be homeschooler wrote about her decision to homeschool her children next year and the preparations she’s making. Her excitement and worries are familiar sounding for most homeschoolers. In fact, she’s ahead of the game of a lot of us (meaning me) when we started. So, yay! Another homeschooler! But what caught my eye was this comment:

“I am very curious as to why many want to homeschool. Is it arrogance? Are the schools that bad? Will it only be for gradeschool? I have heard stories about some schools in the area. A few years ago my little girl was in the East Lyme Schools and I thought it was wonderful. But when she moved to Florida it was private school for her.”

Is it arrogance? Meaning, “Are our schools and kids and teachers not good enough for you?”

Okay, this might sound rude. The answer (partly) is, well, yes. I am arrogant. Or rather, I want the best education I can provide for my kids. Homeschoolers choose homeschooling because they believe it’s best for their children. Likewise, the commenter chose private schools over Florida public schools. Is she arrogant? Aren’t Florida public schools good enough for her daughter?

There are some who say, perhaps more who think, that anyone who opts out of the public school system is arrogant. I think parents have every right to provide their children with the best education they can. That doesn’t seem like such a radical opinion if you’re only talking about private schools, but homeschooling is something different.

The notion that homeschoolers are arrogant is something more than just a different education choice. It’s different than choosing the best of the available options, it’s sweeping the options from the table and coming up with your own solution. Homeschoolers aren’t just choosing between a school districts, or public versus private schools. To choose home education is to reject the established educational system. Home education advocates reject the cultural norm entirely, and that just can’t be tolerated.

In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis describes the effect of choosing something outside the cultural norm. Granted, he’s speaking specifically of a family dynamic, but I think it applies.

Sometimes a curious double jealousy is felt, or rather two inconsistent jealousies which chase each other round in the sufferer’s mind. On the one hand “This” is “All nonsense, all bloody high-brow nonsense, all canting humbug.” But on the other, “Supposing–it can’t be, it mustn’t be, but just supposing–there were something in it?” Supposing there really were anything in literature, or in Christianity? How if the deserter has really entered a new world which the rest of us never suspected? But, if so, how unfair! Why him? Why was it never opened to us? “A chit of a girl–a whipper-snapper of a boy–being shown things that are hidden from their elder? And since that is clearly incredible and unendurable, jealousy returns to the hypothesis “All nonsense.”

Or, to paraphrase for homeschooling: “They can’t be getting a good (or superior) education, that’s just crazy talk. They aren’t credentialed! But what if they are? How unfair! We should be getting the same quality education.”

This doesn’t just happen with homeschoolers. Not by a long shot. Every vegetarian, person who’s dumped their television, or had a homebirth, etc., has experienced the same thing. In either whispers or shouts, they’ve been called crazy, arrogant weirdos. Non-conformist make people feel uncomfortable and judged and sometimes wrong. Which is absolutely unacceptable. The message seems to be that by rejecting certain educational (or dietary, entertainment or health) choices we condemn those people who accept them. Judgey, arrogant jerks!

Deep, cleansing breaths. Better? Okay, to those involved in anyway in institutionalized education, public or private:

Yes, homeschoolers (myself included) can come off a bit . . . Online purchasing gives the best service when purchased and gives you the comfort buy generic cialis and privacy. The main part purchase cheap viagra of the examination is to discover the explanation for onset of the ache and how it has affected other people around the world. Blood flow to the male organ is prepared by generic cialis canada mingling potent herbs and natural aphrodisiacs to cure sexual disorders and boost erection size naturally. The problems change the level of response and it can be treated by taking herbal viagra 25mg online sexual enhancement remedies. enthusiastic in the extolling of the virtues of home education. Yes, some people (hopefully not me) have an attitude of “we’re better than you because we homeschool.” But I don’t think that is the attitude of the good the majority of homeschoolers.

I think home education is far and away the best educational choice for my children. I think home education has many, many benefits over institutionalized schooling. I think that home education helps me grow as well as my children. I am glad we homeschool (most days.) I am proud we homeschool (most days.) And I enthusiastically recommend it. Most days.

But being enthusiastic about our personal education choice, wanting the support and friendship of like-minded families, even pointing out the benefits of homeschooling over and above institutionalized schooling isn’t a personal attack on you.

I think the “you’re arrogant” statement is based in the belief that education requires highly specialized, specially trained professionals. So if you think education requires this sort of uber-skill, then you would probably think someone who decides to homeschool must have some kind of hubris to think they can handle the job of professionals. Unless of course, that someone is a certified teacher. Those of us who are not vetted by the powers that be are arrogant to assume that we can do a job requiring special skills and training.

But homeschoolers reject the idea that learning requires superpowers. Trained teachers may be better at wrangling 30 some odd kids, but they are not better at guiding a child through the learning process. We don’t overestimate ourselves, we just don’t think learning is some alien skill that humans need to be taught by specialist. Humans are born learning. Heck, we are even learning in the womb–we learn to recognize our parent’s voices. Homeschooling takes something natural–learning–and keeps it in a natural environment–the family.

“No, no, teaching is hard! Test scores show. . ., studies determine. . . NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND!”

I will grant you that the current state of institutionalized education is disturbing and that it would be arrogant if a homeschooler said “I can do better than that!” in the institution. But homeschoolers are not saying they can beat the system at it’s own game. Homeschoolers say we aren’t going to play that game.

In reality, the hardest part of homeschooling isn’t making sure little Johnny can add 2 + 2 and spell prodigiously. Kids learn naturally. There are a myriad of curriculum choices, tips, advice from veteran home educators, etc. For me, the academic part of home education is not the hardest part.

I have found the hardest part of homeschooling is character development–mine as well as the kids. It’s making wise choices and helping the children develop into their own selves and not my idea of who should be. Compared to character development math and reading are easy. When they get excited about astronomy or Ancient Egypt or gymnastics or Spanish, all we have to do is provide a way for them to feed their own passion, and that’s not too hard. It’s the other stuff that’s hard. It’s hard to be self-motivated, much less encourage that trait in your child. It’s hard to learn delayed gratification in a microwave culture.

These are our challenges and they’re similar to the challenges of all parents, whatever their educational choices. Homeschoolers are no more arrogant than any other parent that believes they have the primary right and responsibility to raise their children. Choosing what we believe to be the best education method is part of that responsibility, not an exercise in arrogance.

ht: HE&OS

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