Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Homeschooling cat claws?

Whlie discussing a few homeschooling type isues with my mom the other day, she made a great observation: sometimes the homeschooling community can get a little...well, catty. You'd think, she said, that a community of people who agree that public school isn't the best option for their kids, would be a little more unified.

I get what she's saying. A friend of mine recently made the jump to homeschooling one of her children because of his complete boredom with school coupled with hyperactivity. She chose to do cyber school for him. However, she's having a hard time finding support from any homeschoolers because apparently she's not seen as a "real homeschooler". Another example is the undercurrent of cat claws (or whatever you want to call it) between those who "unschool" and those who use packaged curriculum.

My comment to all of this: Ok, seriously. Are we in high school? (Public, that is.)

It was my impression that homeschooling was an agreement to do what worked for your family. People opt out of public school for about a thousand different reasons and homeschooling is a legal place to fall. While "bucking the system", we need to make sure we aren't jumping into another system where just as many separations exist.

While its important that the world at large is aware that not all homeschoolers choose homescholing for precisely the same reason or go about it the same way, it is good for them to know there's a purpose to what we are doing and that homeschoolers, on the whole, are not simply a group of rabble rousers who can't even get along on their own turf. Now, I'm not saying we should all agree. Nor am I suggesting we should school the same way. That would defeat the purpose in the freedom of homeschooling. I'm just saying I'm tired of attending homeschooling groups or conferences and feeling like people are trying to convert me to their way of schooling, rather than just putting information out there and letting me decide for myself.

What kind of a homeschooler am I? I don't know if there is a label for it, and if there was, I would hesitate to slap one on. School means something different for us everyday. I do know my family is happy and my kids are learning. If school-at-home or cyber school or unschooling or unit studies or what ever works for your family...more power to you. Whatever works for your kids, you, your family...because that was the point, right?


Jennifer said...

Amen Sista!
Being a cyber schooler myself I haven't had any issues yet. Our group is great! However, on the Connections Academy website I've heard lots of disappointed parents who haven't been able to get into a group because they aren't "real" homeschoolers.
I think it's so funny because, while I'm not dogging them, some unschoolers, for example, don't pick up a single textbook, however they are "homeschoolers" and we, that crack the books bigtime every day arent'?? Isn't the whole term "unschooling" like an anti-school trademark? You'd think they wouldn't want to be called homeschoolers - maybe homeeducators or something like that, lol. Like I said, I'm not dogging them at all because everyone has their own way - I just don't like people saying we aren't "homeschoolers" because we are too schoolish, lol.
I think the big issue is that some homeschoolers think we are ruining everything that homeschoolers have worked so hard to get - freedom. They think that if cyber schools work well that the Gov. will make us all do it.
I wish more people had your attitude :o)

Sarah said...

I hear ya....
On the legal front though, cyber schools put out there by the public school system technically are mini charter schools inside individual people's homes. It's important legally, because groups like HSDL (Home School Defense League) can't legally defend those folks "homeschooling rights" against the district (like on issues of attendance) because technically, legally, they don't have them; they are using the public school system.
The psychology behind the cat claws is dumb though. My kids have friends in public schools, they have friends in charter schools and private schools and home schools. If those folks wanted to join our group I'd support that because even if they don't legally "homeschool" they are supporting homeschoolers by joining their groups and identifying with those folks. Like Jen is. I would consider her a homeschooler, but defining her as such is redundant because she's a friend first and foremost.
I think the "homeschool snobbery" thing is a relatively new event historically. We are a very classist society and so unfortunately definitions of what it means to homeschool crop up even when that definition is at best redundant and at worst exclusive to folks who just want to connect. That we are so lucky now, in the 80's ,life was not so rich that homeschoolers had the luxury of being snobbish with one another.
I'd challenge someone out there to define what unschooling truly is: even most "unschoolers" wouldn't define themselves as such because again, there is that guerilla commando attitude that a few radical unschoolers tout that truly doesn't do the rest of them any justice.
Just my $1.50. We are changing things up again here because frankly the textbook approach to things does get boring, but because we have the flexibility to broaden our horizons we will choose to do so until that wears me out. :-)
P.S., I wonder if this would qualify as a "frank discussion about homeschooling" that some folks in our homeschool group were complaining that we don't do......grin (scratch, scratch).