Crosspost: Homeschooling’s Unwilling Boosters?
HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kathryn Brightbill’s blog The Life and Opinions of Kathryn Elizabeth, Person. It was originally published on June 12, 2013.
Note from Kathryn: The following guest post is a follow-up to my posts, The One Thing You Should Never Ask a Homeschool Kid, and Well, That Was Certainly Not Something I Expected to be Controversial. The author wishes to remain anonymous.
Kathryn blogged [a few weeks ago] about homeschool children who are asked to defend homeschooling to strangers who want to know if they’re well educated and well-adjusted. What does it look and feel like when our parents and homeschooling community expect us to be apologists for homeschooling?
This kind of upbringing can lead to 2 results:
1. You grow haughty about your own superiority and stand at a distance from your peers
2. You don’t learn to be self-reflective, and you end up a crippled version of yourself because you don’t change the things you need to change to become a fully developed adult and.
I know this, because I’ve both seen it in others and lived it myself. As a homeschool student from K-12, I too was asked by many strangers and friends to defend my experience as a homeschooler. But the same expectation existed within my own community.
My homeschooling experience started in the early days of the homeschooling movement. I was often asked by my parents to describe the benefits of my homeschooling experience because they were proud of me, but also because homeschooling still required defense in a lot of circles. At my graduation, the unwritten expectation of my homeschool community was that I would speak about how my experience was superior to that of my peers.
This expectation exists for most homeschool graduations I’ve been to—parents expect their children to stand as apologists for their homeschool experience. I once attended a graduation where the two speakers talked about the superiority of their educational upbringing—they were confident, articulate, and very convincing. Except that I’ve known one of the two speakers since she’s a baby, and I can say quite confidently that she is poorly prepared for the world and hasn’t been given a foundation of independence or critical thinking about her experience or the experiences of other 18 year olds preparing to step into the world.
I went on to college, completed a master’s program, and am a successful young professional. However, it was only when I was able to objectively look at my homeschool experience and see the good and the bad of it that I was able to grow into a mature adult and shake off the fears of others that kept me from growing into the most complete version of myself.
The problem with those 2 results of being a homeschool apologist?
1. When you’re haughty about the superiority of your homeschool education, you hold all others at arm’s length and rich relationships are impossible.
2. When you continue to insist on the perfection of your own experiences, you are blind to your imperfections and you stay in a static state.
No person is perfect, but inflexibility and a closed view of those who aren’t like you are often a byproduct of becoming a haughty homeschool apologist. The opposite characteristics – flexibility and openness – are two characteristics that make good friends. If you can’t be open and flexible in your understanding of the experiences of others, you won’t be a good friend.
Any parent who homeschools their children should give them the freedom to live within their homeschool experience without having to be a homeschool booster. If you tell people that your children are intelligent and capable of having intelligent discussions, allow them to be a part of the dialogue about the educational choice you’ve made. Let the discussion be real, and let them tell you why the homeschooling is or isn’t working for them.
If your children really do love and buy into the homeschooling choice – then – they will be the best booster.