Friday, August 27, 2010

Isn't Homeschooling Worth Defending?

Since Arby started The Homeschool Apologist and invited me to join him, I have given much thought to exactly what it means to be an apologist. According to Webster's Dictionary, an apologist is one who speaks in defense of a faith, a cause, or an institution. Over the last number of years, I have repeatedly been drawn into the role of defender of my own personal choice to homeschool, as well as the "institution" of homeschooling in general. A few years ago, shortly after I began blogging, Arby, one of my first and most faithful readers, noticed that I often blogged in defense of homeschooling. He asked a question which resulted in the following post.

(Revised from "The Joyful Journey," Dec. 2, 2007)
"Defending home schooling is a theme in many of your blogs....I am curious as to why you have such a need to defend home schooling. My curiosity comes from the fact that I almost never have to defend our decision to teach our children at home. It is obvious from what you have shared on your blog that you are a very successful homeschooler. I guess I assume that with success comes...peace of mind? I would love to read more of your thoughts on this subject."
Truth be told, I do feel a strong need to defend homeschooling. As I have thought about this I have realized that there are several key reasons why I am increasingly drawn to stand up in defense of homeschooling. I'm troubled by a trend I've seen in the homeschool community. It seems that there are home educators out there who do not feel that they should have to defend homeschooling. They've adopted a position that insists they shouldn't have to answer to anyone. Consequently, they never feel led to give any explanation...ever. This concerns me.

As a 20-year homeschool veteran with a desire to help both new and veteran homeschoolers find success in their homeschool journeys, I am motivated to make the homeschooling path as smooth as possible for those who walk it. I have come to believe that an honest, "no holds barred" defense is a component that has been missing from the homeschooling discussion in this country. But I'm not just talking about engaging in "public discourse." That's being done, but it doesn't seem to be getting us any closer to mainstream acceptance. I'm beginning to believe that it has to be us--the soldiers on the front lines standing up for what we believe is right--not only for our own children, but for others as well.
"I guess I assume that with success comes...peace of mind?"
I guess I need to clarify that my desire to defend does not come from a lack of confidence concerning my own success as a homeschooler. I am thrilled with the results of our academic efforts. Our three adult daughters have validated my success as a homeschool parent with their own post-homeschool success stories. I suppose at this point I could just rest on my laurels and thumb my nose at anyone who either does not support my decision to homeschool or who questions the academic or social effectiveness of homeschooling in general. I do not feel a need to defend my personal homeschooling efforts. In that regard, success has become my best defense.

But, the homeschooling world is much bigger than my own little "classroom." Let's face it, homeschooling is not a new phenomenon. I have friends who began teaching their children at home way back in 1973! The incredible success of the homeschooling movement has been measured and proven. Questions about its effectiveness and validity should have long ago been put to rest. But ironically, I am asked the same questions today that I was asked as a brand new homeschooler nearly 20 years ago. For reasons that I will never understand, questions about socialization and about a homeschool parent's ability to provide her children with a quality education still abound.

These already-answered questions are still being asked by "the intrigued," "the curious," and "the critical." I am of the increasing belief that our answers need be bold in their presentation of the truth regarding the documented success of the homeschooling movement and the failings of the public school system. I am increasingly convinced that questions of socialization should be laid right back in the lap of the institutions that are doing the most damage to the morals, values, and academic standing of our children and our culture. As homeschoolers, we need to stop defending our practices and start demanding that our most vocal critics provide a defense of their own. They deflect attention by picking at the speck in our eye, while conveniently ignoring the plank that has become firmly lodged in their own. I am beginning to wonder if the lack of wholesale acceptance of the homeschooling movement is not due, at least in part, to the fact that we have allowed our voice to be drowned out by the incessant noise of the naysayers. Though their rhetoric is not based in truth, they are drowning us out. Their voice is heard and their voice is believed.

I think we need to start talking louder.


  1. MY son has special needs and multiple medical issues - one of them being an immune disorder similar to "Bubble Boy" syndrome. We usually don't even get to the socialization question because my pat answer to "Why don't we take advantage of Special Ed at school?" is "Because his Least Restrictive Environment is the one that won't kill him." :P

    'Nuff said.

  2. Blondie and I were recently interviewed for the local paper on homeschoolers who have entered public or private school. She interviewed Blondie even though we have returned to homeschooling - because she wasn't getting anyone else to participate.

    I'm hoping I was very clear in what I said - and Blondie, too. I'm sure though that there will be some really bad comments.

    I did say "I'm not homeschooling Blondie to protect her from life, I'm homeschooling to prepare her for life." The reporter wrote that down.

    I have a bad feeling though and hope I don't regret the interview.

  3. Amen! Homeschooling should be defended at all levels. In this day and age, our parental rights are often in question and we should strive to keep and maintain our family intact in the manner in which we choose.