Parents know they are responsible for educating their children. But the question of how often leads to debates…
Well, maybe “debates” isn’t the best word. Debates go back-and-forth, with structure and substance. What often happens with the topic of education is a homeschool mom writes a testimony about how happy she is with her decision to education her kids at home, and unless she includes a number of disclaimers, then a public-school mother shows up to get defensive about it.
But I digress.
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is NOT about how all families should keep their kids home all day.
Actually, it’s about how stable families already do a version of “homeschool,” to a certain extent (even if their kids go to public school during the day).
And, building on that, we need to have an “It-Starts-At-Home” attitude about other institutions as well.
Thirty or forty years ago, the homeschool movement was in its infancy. Pretty much the only families drawn to the idea were hippies and hyper-conservative religious fanatics with 170 kids.
As time has marched on, however, this has changed. Enrollment of students in a home-based school has grown steadily since 1999, even as enrollment in private schools has fallen.
Homeschoolers now make up approximately 3.4% of school-aged children, which is 1,770,000 students from all sorts of backgrounds, being taught by their relatives or close friends for a whole host of different reasons.
I asked a poll-question on Facebook about why my friends have chosen to homeschool, and I got many of the standard answers:
-Freedom to go at the child’s pace (whether slower or faster than public classrooms)
-Special needs, such as a social disorder or learning disability
-Freedom to travel
-Ability to pursue a sport or other special-interest
-Closer family ties
Again, I am not saying anyone who sends a child to public school worships the Devil. Many homeschool families work closely with public schools, including choosing full-time public education for one or two of their kids, while keeping the others home full-time.
I’m only reporting what those who are homeschooling have said about the benefits.
These families tend to be self-starters with a love of independence. They tend to have a perspective that “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself,” and they’re offended by the idea that Big Government can handle individual issues.
In fact, go ahead and try suggesting to a homeschooler that a teaching degree is necessary to be an effective educator. Just try. 🙂
Most completely reject the idea that educating can only be done by a degree-carrying “professional.”
Homeschool parents see themselves as the experts on their own kids. Period. Full stop.
That’s why I plan to lean on the homeschool community, as I start criticizing other institutions that need to remember “it starts at home.”
Namely the Institutionalized Church and Institutionalized Social Work and Institutionalized Counseling all need to be re-examined for their effectiveness, the same way homeschoolers have examined the Institutionalized School, and found it lacking.
Personally, I’m tired of being told that “professionals” are those who have spent thousands of dollars obtaining a degree in Divinity or Social Work or Psychology/Counseling.
I’m tired of the assumption that THOSE near-strangers are the “experts” about things happening in my own family.
If I try to unpack all of my thoughts on this subject in a single blog post, it will get way, way, too long. But if you want to read a few things I’ve already written in a similar vein, here are some links:
-My criticism of “Professional Ministries” (click these blue words to read it). I argue that ALL OF US have been called to teach and help the poor and counsel. Which means deferring to the “professionals” becomes an excuse.
-Problems with racism in the public education system.
-Problems with lowering standards in public education systems.
-And a list of things Christians expect their pastor to do for all of us, instead of asking whether we’re supposed to handle it ourselves…
I want to hear your feedback in the comments! I’m especially interested in the perspective of you self-starting, tradition-bucking homeschoolers!
What goes through your mind when I say things like “Homechurch” or “Home-Counseling?” Would the phrase “It Starts At Home” apply to those industries, too?
I am sure I will write about this again…