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Homeschooling Myth #4

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Myth #4: Homeschooling is only practiced by “earth mommas” and fundamentalist Christians.

By Linda Dobson

Family giving dog a bath.

Their children's learning experience is based on family values and grounded in the love and respect that blossom when the family heads the priority list.

Editor’s Note: Now that the dust has settled from last week’s media coverage, seemed this is a very pertinent “myth buster” to share! Reminds me of the saying, “The more things change…”

Seems like we always pick the extreme portrayals when we want to represent something we don’t fully understand, some­thing foreign to our way of thinking, particularly when it comes to different cultures. Stereotypes seem to fill our need for an image to compensate for our lack of understanding.

Homeschooling is an education experience occurring within the 90’s American culture, yet the practice can create so much change in a family’s outlook and lifestyle, it might well be said it is a cul­ture within a culture.

Many homeschoolers today are Christian fundamentalists. The percentage, just like the actual number of total home educators, is anybody’s guess, reflecting only the perspective of the guesser in any case.

The image of earth mommas rises, perhaps, from the practition­ers who carry the idealism of the 60’s into their adult lives, shun­ning society’s makers for a world in which self-sufficiency, self-­determination, and the study of Self reign supreme. Family cen­tered education becomes a natural extension of a lifestyle where children learn through growing food, storing harvests, tending animals, building shelters for family and livestock, and gathering fuel for winter. Successful accomplishment of any one of these activities requires the acquisition of skills that reach across a typi­cal school curriculum and stretch far beyond it into a knowledge of planning, schedules, attention to detail, and organization, all backed by obvious value and meaning in the context of the chil­dren’s lives.

Family centered education in some cases will be used for ends with which you mayor may not agree. The freedom inherent in home education, just like any freedom afforded man, is always subject to individual choice. You can choose to make a career out of showing others the error of their ways, or you can choose to embrace your own freedom and let it carry you and yours to per­sonally chosen heights.

And that’s the point in exploding this myth: Homeschooling is practiced by families that defy categorization or stereotype. You don’t have to be an earth momma or a fundamentalist Christian. You can be what you truly are!

Today home schooling parents include doctors, carpenters, lawyers, plumbers, writers, account executives, trash collectors, hotel managers, actresses, salespeople, and (interestingly) many school teachers.

People you may already know something about grew up as homeschoolers in one form or another: Thomas Edison, William F. Buckley, Jr., Agatha Christie, Andrew and Jamie Wyeth, Alexander Graham Bell, John Burroughs, Albert Schweitzer, Winston Churchill, the Wright Brothers, Leonardo da Vinci, Douglas MacArthur, and Presidents John Q. Adams, Harrison, Lincoln, Madison, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Washington, and Wilson. I doubt all these folks had earth mommas or Christian fundamentalists as parents.

As your knowledge of family centered education expands through reading and meeting homeschoolers, you’ll find that these mythical images are mostly conveniences for the media, merely representative of an emerging culture far too diverse to be shoved into any currently existing category.

Whether homeschooling families are to the political left or right; practicing Buddhism, Christianity or no organized religion at all; are rich, poor, or on welfare; living in Manhattan or Alaska; resid­ing in a mobile home park, a split-level, or a teepee, they share one distinguishing characteristic – their children’s learning experience is based on family values and grounded in the love and respect that blossom when the family heads the priority list.

From The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self (Home Education Press, 1995)

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