Homeschool Reflections

It was interesting to read a rather inflammatory article on public education and the unmitigated benefits of home schooling by Matt Walsh, whose writings I have run across more and more in recent weeks. 

As the father of a homeschooling family (where my wife does 99.9% of the hard work of actual teaching.  I show up and goof off with them from time to time), it is easy for me to talk about the benefits of homeschooling.  I see those benefits every time I interact with my children or hear other people talking about my children.  My children aren’t perfect by a long shot, but I credit my wife’s efforts in homeschooling with shaping our kids into people I like to be around.   
For which she is rewarded with continual bouts of self-doubt and worry that she’s not doing enough, or doing it right.  There are plenty of potential and actual costs to homeschooling, but this is one that is seldom talked about and seems pretty widespread.  When you decide to blaze a trail, there’s always the worry that you’re about to plunge out of the jungle and over a cliff. 
I appreciate Matt’s honesty about his concerns with public education.  Indeed, this is such a ubiquitous institution now that many people can’t conceive of alternatives.  But let’s also remember that part of the reason we can’t conceive of alternatives is that we are daily convinced (taught?   brainwashed?  indoctrinated?) that we not only shouldn’t, we can’t look at other options seriously.  To the point, who can afford to stay home and teach their children?  Both spouses need to be out earning a living.  It is their American right and duty.  It is the duty of a woman in order to demonstrate that she is every bit as equal to (or superior to) a man.  It is absolutely necessary in order to maintain the ever-increasing standards of living which are our American birthright.  We must stimulate The Economy.  We must consume.  
Disclaimer:  there are MANY people for whom it is necessary that both spouses work in order to make ends meet.  I respect those people immensely for the variety of sacrifices they make in order to ensure their family has what it needs.  

Disclaimer:  just because you have credit card debt doesn’t automatically mean that you fall into the aforementioned disclaimer category.  Sometimes, we make choices about our lives that necessitate courses of action that, if we had made different choices, would not be necessitated.   
I personally find Matt’s worries about public education warranted.  Others don’t.  But the objector in this case really isn’t addressing Matt’s main issue.  Matt’s main issue is that public schools are state run institutions and therefore will continually (both consciously and unconsciously) be tools of the state for inculcating values and ideals.  I attended public school for the majority of my schooling life and I can attest to this.  View the major battles over public schooling, curriculum, anti-bullying campaigns, pro-sexual-diversity-campaigns, and you’ll notice that this process of indoctrination has in no way abated.  
Yes, it’s true that there are many dedicated, hard-working and inspirational teachers in public education – I have benefited greatly from some of them.  That in no way eliminates the concerns that Matt expresses.  Great teachers also must abide by school, district, state, and Federal guidelines, standards, and mandates.  In addition to doing what they love in teaching kids, they also must do what they are told in terms of what they teach and even how they teach it.  Failure to do so will pretty much ensure that they will not remain a public school teacher much longer, particularly in this age of hyper-communication.  The system does not reward or retain people who buck the system.  That is the nature of a system.  If you happen to find a great school with great teachers, praise God!  But that fact is not, in itself, a vindication of the public school system.
No, not everyone can (or should) homeschool.  But a lot more people could (and should) than you might think.  Yes, homeschooling can be bungled.  But if we assume that these same bungles don’t already happen in public schooling, we’re not being very objective.  And in a nation where most of us have been through public schools, perhaps this lack of objectivity shouldn’t be surprising.  
We homeschool because we question many of the fundamental assumptions about what it means to raise a child and educate them and prepare them for their future.  Those questions are not going to be answered in public schools.  There is no time to engage in that sort of discussion there, and it is not the purpose of the system to facilitate inquiries as to the validity of the system.  We don’t wish to simply complain and worry, we want to proactively do something that might one day change the system, or demonstrate that whatever the blessings it provides, it isn’t absolutely essential.  
We have been blessed with the opportunity and ability to homeschool and believe we shouldn’t easily set aside those blessings.  We hope to do so without being judgmental about those who can’t or don’t (including ourselves if we one day decide that’s the better option).  But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t good reasons for why we do what we do, even if those good reasons are hard to listen to.  

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