Yesterday I had my first taste of the prejudice and strong opinions within the homeschooling community. I always hoped and imagined homeschoolers, no matter their philosophy or teaching styles, united as one working together to help their children get the best education that they as parents could offer. I imagined homeschooling parents to be friendly folks who would be excited to meet other homeschoolers and share the cool things that they were doing in the home. The internet is full of supportive folks on the homeschooling websites and forums and I thought (prayed) that was a good sampling of real life….I was wrong.
My utopian views of homeschoolers were shattered yesterday. I found out that a woman in my son’s art class was homeschooling her children and was super excited to talk about her experience. I shared that I have been considering homeschooling and she asked what my plan was. I made the mistake of telling her that my philosophies land somewhere between the classics and Unschoolers but that I have plenty of time to figure it all out. All she heard was “Unschooling” and she jumped up on her soapbox and let me HAVE IT! I heard all about how Unschoolers are lazy, use it as an excuse to do nothing and are not teaching their kids a thing. She had nothing positive to say and was so heated in her discussion with me (her tone was not very nice) that a bunch of other moms then started telling me that I was making a mistake by Unschooling my kids (they had not heard any of my prior conversation and assumed that I was Unschooling). I had 4 moms (who know nothing about Unschooling or ME) jumping down my throat about how kids need instruction and I am fooling myself if I think otherwise. Finally one mom who had been quiet stood up for me and said to the group…”She is an educator, I am sure she knows she has to teach her children”.
This unwarranted attack opened my eyes to the divide within the homeschooling community. The homeschooling community, just like the rest of society, is filled with opinionated people who are prejudice against anything that they don’t understand, threatens their way of thinking or goes against their philosophy or methods. I learned that the word “Unschooling” is toxic to most people and from here on out will use words like “Interest Led” or “Leadership Learning”. I also learned that I need to be guarded when it comes to sharing my hopes and dreams for my children’s education, even with other homeschoolers. Hopefully if we do choose to homeschool, we will find others out there who are kind, caring, open-minded, accepting and will welcome us for who we are.