It is a spectacularly poor piece of writing. A Mr. Brent Applegath of Vernon sent a letter to the editor of the bclocalnews.com to express his views concerning the benefits of a public school education over homeschooling. No new ground was covered in the arguments against homeschooling. The author believes that classroom teachers have special training, are passionate about providing only the best opportunities for their students, and provide opportunities that homeschoolers cannot provide. “Obvious pluses such as learning with friends, sharing in discussions where many varied opinions are offered, diversity of subject matter, resources, technology and working to make a school a community are aspects of public education that are not as readily available to homeschooled children.” I’ve seen this line of reasoning before. The thing that bothers me about his letter, and kept me revisiting it over the course of the weekend, is the author’s complete lack of desire to share his interests with his children.
“As a parent, I think the instruction of my children is better left to others who are qualified. I have found this when providing opportunities for music lessons, skiing and snow boarding instruction and driver training. These activities are all things which I am proficient at yet lack the proper qualifications to deliver the instruction. In short, I am not passionate about teaching my children old how to play guitar, drive or ski. The amount of whining and arguing is not worth the effort.” (Emphasis mine)
I wonder how many homeschooling critics share Mr. Applegath’s lack of passion concerning their children’s education, whether the subject is music, ski lessons, and snowboarding or math, history, and science. He appears to be saying that since his children can be difficult, they’re not worth the effort. It’s simply easier to let someone else do the hard work. It is easier to send a child to school and let someone else influence them than it is to wage a war for the child’s heart, mind, and soul. The cover story for that position is, “I am not qualified to teach my children.”
Several years ago, I came across an explanation for anti-homeschooling criticism that appears uncannily accurate in light of Mr. Applegath’s statement. Author Sonny Scott, writing in a Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal article titled, “Home-schoolers Threaten Our Cultural Comfort,” offered an excellent reason why homeschooling is disliked.
Why do we hate (or at least distrust) these people so much? Their very existence represents a rejection of our values, and an indictment of our lifestyles. Those families are willing to render unto Caesar the things that Caesar’s be, but they draw the line at their children. Those of us who have put our trust in the secular state (and effectively surrendered our children to it) recognize this act of defiance as a rejection of our values, and we reject them in return.
I am not sitting in judgment of Mr. Applegath. I am not going to waste a moment’s time wondering about whether or not he loves his children. That would be silly. I am completely incapable of relating to Mr. Applegath’s statements about participating in his children’s education. His lack of passion for teaching his children is as foreign to me as is Mandarin Chinese. Passion. That's a powerful word. If I am anything, I am passionate about my children and their education. What concerns me is that if the expressed sentiments about child rearing are as common as are the weak arguments for preferring a public school classroom over a homeschool, what does that say about the world in which we live? What does that say about the society in which we are raising our children?