This is my reply to a post on a very interesting blog called School of Smock, called “10 Thoughts by an Educator about Homeschooling (and Why I’m Still Worried).” The author lists the reasons that homeschooling is growing and cites evidence that homeschooled children are well-educated and well-socialized, but she still worries: “What happens to other kids — the ones ‘left behind’ in struggling public schools — when the best kids and many involved parents leave for charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling?” And she ends with a request:
“Please let me know what else I should know to understand the homeschooling experience. What do educators and scholars not understand about why families choose homeschooling and about their experiences?”
Here is my reply:
My understanding is that the primary purpose of school is to educate children. A secondary purpose is to “socialize” them, and a third purpose is to give them someplace to go while their parents are at work.
But, as this article cites, children don’t have to attend school to learn the things that school teaches. They don’t have to attend school to find friends or meet people from different walks of life; they don’t have to attend school to contribute to their community or to become productive citizens or to prepare for college or a job. Finally, many parents have to make childcare arrangements while they work at night, on weekends, or during the summer, and parents can manage to do likewise during the traditional school year, too, if need be.
Therefore, there is no reason to send children to school.
For all the working parents, however — and for all the kids called “left behind” because they don’t have caring families or live in a healthy environment — I can see a need for a nationally funded daycare system. And as long as it didn’t look anything like school, I would consider enrolling my child in it! But not every day (unless my child wanted that). We have too much fun living and learning at home and together in the community. It’s a great life, partly because we can do without the alarm clocks and school lunches and bullies and lockers and bus routes and report cards, but mostly because we just plain enjoy ourselves. Which I suppose is the best reason I can think of to homeschool: it’s a great life, we live in an amazing world, and we mean to enjoy it.
Imagine if more children were raised to know that it’s a great life! Imagine if school looked more like camp than school — if it were a place where children were eager to go and learn things. Imagine if children had no more reason to fake sick so they could stay home, if they didn’t have to fear the bullies or the mean girls or count down the days (just three months to go, just two months to go, just one month to go) till they didn’t have to make themselves ill trying to brave the cafeteria (or phys ed or the school bus) anymore . . . till next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. Imagine if no families had any more nighttime homework battles, ever, because learning itself was so engaging. Imagine if more children grew up eager to wake up in the morning and get busy with their projects, if more children grew up loving life and wishing to help make it even better. What a lovely world we would have.