Friday, September 17, 2010

"Oh, Really?"—How I Became An Apologist

Shortly after my oldest daughter completed her second semester in college, a friend who happens to be a retired public school teacher and administrator, asked me a simple question. I'd been homeschooling for 17 years by this time, but this single conversation was a major turning point for me.

Over the years since I first began my homeschool journey, I have had dozens of conversations with people about homeschooling, and more specifically, about my decision to homeschool my children. Occasionally, though not often enough, I have felt free to express my views with complete honesty. Often—in fact, all too often—I have felt compelled to "tone down" my comments so as not to offend the listener.

Well, on this particular day, all that changed. Tom asked, "So how was Darcy's first year in college?"  I answered quickly, failing to recognize the underlying question. "She did GREAT!"  He continued, "Darcy's been homeschooled since kindergarten, right? How well did she do keeping up with her classmates?" Now the question being asked "between the lines" was being heard loud and clear!
"Was your daughter, educated at home by her mother, really able to keep up with students who have been taught by well-trained, highly-specialized teachers?"
That was all it took.  My defenses were up and I was ready to fire.  I proceeded to explain to Tom just how well Darcy was doing in school.
"Thanks for asking, Tom. Darcy's doing great. She was invited to join the Honors program at Northern, and during her first year managed to achieve a 4.0 grade point average, despite having a schedule crammed with Honors classes. In fact, she recently explained her thoughts on WHY she has done so much better that most of her honors program peers. 'Mom, I don't think I'm smarter than the rest of the kids in my classes, I just think that I've been taught how to study and to learn so much more effectively than they have. They just don't seem to know how to learn.' "
Tom replied with an inkling of an attitude,  
"You do know that you're talking to a public school educator, right?"
Oh, Really?

In that single moment, I decided never to worry about offending again. All of a sudden it dawned on me that in our compulsory education driven society, it was absolutely fine for Tom to ask me questions that might offend me! But he made it perfectly clear that it was NOT fine to voice opinions which offend the politically correct institution of public education. Over the years I have been asked SO MANY questions that have offended me, and for the first time in nearly 17 years, I decided that it was time to tell the matter who it offended.
"Yes, I know you're an educator, Tom, but that doesn't change the truth. You asked a question and I answered it—truthfully. Darcy was incredibly well-prepared for her college academic experience by her homeschool education. In fact, her experience seems to suggest that she was much better prepared than many of her "traditionally" schooled peers."
So, homeschoolers, despite evidence that shows overwhelmingly that home educated students do better than their publically-schooled peers in almost every measurable area, it would seem that we are the only ones who have to be careful not to offend. Evidently we are NOT free to question the cultural norm or offend those who so fiercely defend it.

Oh, really??


  1. Hehe. Only a public school educator would think that academics would be the area in which homeschooled kids might suffer.

    I heard that a school somewhere in the US recently banned the word "gay" from the Kookaburra song. It's a sad day for society when we have become so repressed we can't even speak our own language for fear of offending someone. How pathetic.

  2. You know, I'd never considered before just how often I've had to hold my tongue after someone has offended me. And why? Because I don't want to offend *them* with the truth. How silly of me! Maybe I'll become an apologist now, rather than a doormat! Thanks for your post!

  3. I love this post! I am a recovering public school educator, turned homeschool mom! Blog on!

  4. Wow - this is awesome!!!! I love your boldness! THank you!

  5. great post, I'm so there- I feel like I have to be very circumspect in my speech so I don't offend other parents who have chosen to do different, it's as if what we do offends and threatens, even if my words don't. It's hard to know when to be bold, and when to love by saying less.

  6. I had the same experience as your daughter. My mom homeschooled me through 8th grade. I then transitioned to a small private high school for grades 9-12 (and graduated at the top of my class). From there, I went on to a public university (and graduated summa cum laude in TWO years). Two years after that, I graduated with my M.A. (cumulative GPA: 4.0).

    I don't say this to brag. On the contrary, I say this to applaud my mother. Homeschooling prepared me to excel academically and I am so grateful for my parents' decision to give me a solid educational, moral, social, and emotional foundation in the early years of my life. ;)

  7. Linda, you struck a nerve with this entry. Well done! The simple answer to public school teachers when they ask if we think we can teach our children better than they can is, "Yes."