For many in our community, the term ‘home schooling’ is akin to some dirty word. Parents who home school are seen as ‘different’, weird even, and so are their children. Why is this? Home schoolers do not run with the pack, with the majority of us who send our children to educational institutions, and therefore they break a cardinal rule. With something as primal, and emotive, as the raising of children there is community backlash toward those who do not conform to the norm.
Some parents, read mothers especially, when confronted with a home schooling parent, react negatively due to an onset of guilt – do I care about my children as much as a home schooling parent, who is willing to devote themselves to actually educating their own children? Am I truly a good enough parent? Questions like these can plague some parents in this situation.
Some educational professionals immediately suspect that home schooling parents belong to an extreme religious cult of some kind and wish to indoctrinate their children into creationism and flat Earthism. Home schoolers must be backward inbred families who traditionally belong in out of the way and hard to reach places. Prejudices, like these, continue to exist today.
Other parents assume that any parent considering home schooling their own children cannot be in their right mind. Don’t they have a job and a mortgage? What kind of people are these? These questions are uppermost in their thoughts as they check them for an absence of foot wear and deodorant. Hippy parents doused heavily in patchouli are often prime suspects in these instances.
The ethos behind these attacks on home schoolers is, quite simply, that if people are reared and educated differently then they will behave differently as adults. For in truth most schools are pretty much the same. There are academically better schools than others but they all operate according to a similar structure. Kids are forced to attend and punished for non-attendance. Children are locked in to class rooms and supervised by teachers. School children are taught lessons in basic subjects, like maths, reading, spelling and some sciences and social studies. They are then examined on their knowledge and competence in these areas.
Discipline is very important in our primary and secondary educational institutions, in fact, many teachers would say that the largest part of their day is taken up with disciplining the kids under their care. Schools are really large day care centres, places where parents, drop off, or send their children safe in the knowledge that their kids are in a known supervised location for some six hours or so. Some teachers compare their schools to minimum security prisons and their own roles to that of prison guards.
Home schooled children are not imprisoned into a facility, as kids who attend public and private schools are. Home schooling parents talk about the higher levels of self-discipline and motivation in their children, as a result of their non-institutionalised education. But it is perceived as a risk to trust the educational process to anything outside of the established status quo when schooling our children.
Some people talk about ‘values’ being inculcated into the next generation by educational professionals. This is especially true of those who send their children to religious based private schools, in the hope that Christian, or Islamic, or whatever, principles will be embedded within their children. There are of course Christian home schooling communities and organisations. Morals are
not the exclusive domain, of those who believe in a god, despite this well voiced and popular misapprehension within our societies.
Home schooling is for the majority of people, a great unknown, and like many great unknowns is widely condemned just the same. Ignorance has never stopped anyone from holding an opinion.