Being home-schooled, I thought I would value learning all my life. It’s true, I do. But I also know that sometimes school can force you to face ideas and problems you may not wish to face.
I’m in my fifth year of doctorate studies. I’m working on my dissertation. My dissertation is about parental involvement beliefs and children’s learning. In particular, I developed a survey for home-school parents to take. However, I always receive mixed reactions from home-school parents when I ask them to take a survey for me. Some happily fill out the survey (one parent, to whom I will always be thankful, even sent me a thank-you card). Most of the other parents pretend I don’t exist.
When current home-schoolers are asked about their home-schooling experiences, they generally go on the defensive. Which makes sense in today’s society: whatever is not the norm is always questioned.
It’s my belief that home-schoolers need to get away from the defensive. If I were to bring away only one thing from my developmental psychology degree, it is this: ALL children are unique. We try to measure them in groups, but those groups reinforce the idea that ALL children fall on a continuum – a lot of children fall in or near the middle, some do not. Some children need public schools and some do not. And if I were to bring only one thing away from my home-school experience, it is this: home-schooling was right for me. I did go to public school for a while, and I did fine there. But I love and value the academic freedom that home-schooling gave me.
Home-schoolers need to stop being defensive. For their education, their family, it is their choice and the right thing to do. It may not be the right choice for all families, (in fact, it would be a rather dreadful place if all parents were forced to home-school, wouldn’t it?) but it is the right choice for some families. And the law, and therefore our society, supports ones right to home-school. People question it because it is different. I believe it is only by explaining home-schooling to society, in a non-defensive manner, that all people will better understand this educational choice.
I research home-schooling because I was home-schooled, and because I believe that by researching it in a relatively un-biased manner it will make it more understandable to society. I recently read a response to a research paper by a few home-school parents who made this claim: “Why should we participate in research? We shouldn’t have to validate what we do to people who will just twist our words around.” Any researcher worth their salt are not going to make up data that says that all home-school students are better than the average public school student, nor are they going to make stupid statements about “bringing home-schooling parents back into the public school system”. I strongly believe that home-schooling and the products of this educational choice have a lot to offer. After all, I was home-schooled, and I still feel like I have a lot to offer to today’s society.