Claims Against Homeschooling
By Ann Zeise
Diane sent the following:
This woman said to me, “Gangs and drugs are part of the real world. Protecting kids from that will not prepare them for life. Isolating them doesn’t help them learn how to cope. I want my kids, and all kids, to be exposed to every human life form — even the deviants — so they will know how to handle perilous people and situations. I worry that homeschooling parents are discriminating, elitist, and possibly even racist. Public schools provide immersion and exposure to every aspect of society, culture, and humanity. We cannot learn tolerance without such exposure. That’s why I support public education and not homeschooling.”
Do any of you have sources or references in writing that address this issue — that cut right to the heart of the matter?
I have a whole lot of written resources on this website, under the feature article, “Socialization: the “S” Word.” I know how hard it is to respond to this sort of attack in a social situation. Sometimes the best response is astonishment: “Oh, really?” “Is that so?” “I’m not aware of anyone like that.” This person is dead wrong: the more a child is brutilized the more likely he is to become a brutal person.
One of the BEST books I’ve read on this subject of so-called socialization by desensitization is “The Courage to Raise Good Men.” In it the author quotes studies that show that constant exposure of our boys to brutal activity does NOT make them stronger and more courageous, successful men. On the contrary, it is boys who have a close relationship with their mothers, who are treated with firm kindness by their fathers, and have a few close buddies to pal around with, who wind up being the leaders in our society, the good fathers, the active citizen, the homeowner, the well-off business man.
We do need to instruct our children on how to be “street wise,” but they don’t need to be exposed to gang members and people on drugs on a daily basis. Many childrenlearn about the dangers of fire by being warned by their parents; maybe they manage to grow up with never even burning themselves on a match, and wind up just fine knowing how to behave around fires. Would this person suggest a parent deliberately burn their child to teach them about fire safety? I doubt it! But sensible parents don’t even leave a child alone with matches in reach.
There are abusive and agressive people in our little world. The man at the video store has often said some off-the-wall insults to my son. He learned gradually not to take the bait from this man. Finally, a new video store has opened nearby, with very friendly and jovial clerks. We learned our “socialization” lesson: we’re taking our business elsewhere! That’s what “NORMAL” people do! Teach your kids to AVOID creeps! Public schools do NOT give children that option: if a child is forced to sit next to someone who torments him, his teacher is likely to say, “Get used to it! Figure out how to deal with it!” I say the kid probably HAS figured out how: to change seats, change classes, change schools, but unless he and his parents decide to homeschool, he will not be allowed to avoid his persecutor. THAT is not “real life.” In the adult world, if you wind up with an abusive, alcoholic for a boss or co-worker, you can complain to HR or change jobs. Homeschooled kids learn these strategies. Schooled children think submitting to bullying is normal and unescapable, or solved by bringing a gun to school and shooting everyone in sight. Who is better socialized?
As far as not having multicultural experiences and friends, that depends a lot on your neighborhood. Around Milpitas it would be hard NOT to have friends of all sorts of backgrounds. Currently my son has an hispanic friend over. This friend had spent the morning trapped in his English classroom for three hours while police practiced for a possible “Columbine scenerio” at Milpitas High. While this football player teen doesn’t want to admit he was scared, he said he had several asthma attacks as he sat in the total dark, totally bored.
Having a few really good friends of other races and religions I believe makes a child more tolerant of others in general. Being in over-crowded classrooms just makes everyone irritable. Ethnic stereotypes get formed based on any one kid’s personality and personal problems. As soon as this fake “multicultural classroom” lets out, everyone gravitates to their own friends anyways. Tolerance being taught in public schools? Oh really?
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Another book I’ve read is called “Protecting the Gift.” It is about trusting your gut reaction to certain people, and thereby learning to avoid trouble and violence before it can escalate. It’s about teaching your children how to do this as well. Schools spend so much time on desensitizing children that they learn to not take action based on their gut instincts, being told they are being over reactionary or worse. Yes, you and your kids need to be able to recognize the signs of “off” people and how they play their evil games. But you don’t need to throw your kid in with a bunch of them for 180 days a year to do this! It is my take on these school shootings that this is proof of this desensitizing: no one seemed to be able to tell that these kids were “off.” If they did, they didn’t know what they could do to get the youngster help, or at least out of their way, without seeming “rude” or “intolerant.” I’m hoping that by raising my son where weirdos are the exception rather than the rule, he’ll trust his instincts and be able to escape unsavory characters better than some fellow who thinks weirdness is OK. Meanwhile, we also include in our social circles people with a variety of eccentricities and who have overcome physical or mental problems. Our son knows that “weirdness” is in the heart of a person and not in their outward appearance.
In most normal work places, there are no gang members, and drug addicts don’t last long. You aren’t preparing your child for a life on the streets. You are preparing them for a normal adult business or professional life, where one only occassionally has brushes with abnormal people. Whether or not a person is prepared to handle weirdos is not a matter of WHERE they are schooled, it is a matter of HOW they are taught to honor their instincts. A homeschooled kid who has learned it is OK to say, “I’ve had enough!” to a particular activity, and allowed to gracefully change activities, will also someday be able to say, “I’ve had enough of YOU, and I’m getting out of this situation now!” No, you won’t be raising a quitter, you’ll be raising a fully integrated adult!
Now, as for the “elitist” charge. Where does that come from? This sort of charge only comes from people of low self esteem. It makes them very angry to run into a person who has taken charge of their life and decided to buck the system, THEIR system! The one they are revolving their life around. If it is good enough for them, it should be good enough for you, too. And the converse: if they are suffering, you should be gracious enough to suffer along with them.
Yes, there are the intolerant among us homeschoolers, just as you could find in any large assortment of people. We are intolerant of the “dumbing down” of our children in the school system.
Yes, we’re “discriminating,” when used in the sense of having “discriminating tastes.” Just as we are picky about the food that comes into our homes, we also discriminate who we allow in our social lives. Just like everyone else, we appreciate pleasant people, people who have similar interests or excitingly different ones, people who are bright and funny, or helpful and kind, people who like children, too.
Yes, we’re “elitist.” We think our kids are really something special and we love them and want to keep them near to us so they will grow into emotionally bright people. But we aren’t exclusionary elitists. Anyone can decide to homeschool and be welcomed. No, this doesn’t mean that we think you don’t love your kids if you send them to public school, but we’ll try to be here for you if you hit an insurmountable roadblock. Many of us are former teachers or PTA leaders who loved our child’s school until something happened, something made us realize our child could not thrive there.
Yes, some probably are “racist.” Though this term is sometimes overly used to describe white people who just like being white, and not saved for people of any race who are hateful of anyone not like them. Is it so wrong for anyone to want their children to be proud of their heritage? If wanting your child to have a good grounding in European (or African or Hispanic or Islamic or Jewish) history is racist, then yes, I know a lot of racist homeschoolers. If you mean being intolerant of others because of their skin color, than no, homeschoolers, because of their own minority status, are probably more tolerant than you’d find in a public school.
But all this is a bit too much to say at a party. So practice saying …
“Is that so?”
“I’m not aware of anyone like that.”