Homeschool Roast

Here’s the thing.  Lately I’ve come across several articles and/or blog posts bashing homeschooling.  Not for the usual reasons, and not by the usual people.  No, these articles have been written by former homeschooled kids, some of them college grads, who had such miserable experiences with homeschooling that they are dead set on discouraging any- and everyone from attempting it.

My heart aches for these kids.  It bleeds tears.  I can’t help but think of Big’s Beautiful Girlfriend.  She was homeschooled, and I met her long before Big did, because she was a regular patron at my library.  She was one of my faves.  She would come in on Saturday and, as long as I wasn’t too busy,  we would talk about the whole world.  She was so bright, so capable of probing the depths of any conversation.  I loved her before she ever promised herself to my oldest son.

When she did meet and fall in love with Big, I had already moved from the library to the school and was contemplating homeschooling.  She was one of the examples I thought of when I wanted to remind myself what could come of homeschooling my kids.  But.

But.  Our talks at the library didn’t open a window into her life the way getting to know her as Big’s girlfriend did.  When they first started dating, they had to do it in secret.  Not from me, but from her parents, who would not have approved of how seldom Big went to church.  Big is an intelligent, responsible, hard-working, college-attending young man.  He doesn’t drink or smoke.  He might curse a little more than necessary (I don’t really know), but never around me or anyone else he might offend.  He keeps her on a reasonable pedestal and loves her with all he is.  There is little to disapprove in my son.  Except he isn’t particularly religious.  So she wouldn’t have been allowed to date him.

She also was discouraged from attending college, getting her own place, or having a life in general that didn’t revolve around homemaking, baby-making, being a submissive wife.  Her education was geared more towards those things and she taught herself everything else by being a voracious reader.  She used to be scared of math until I encouraged her to get her GED and she passed.  When she told her parents, at almost 20 years old, that she wanted her own life, they gave her 24 hours to get out.  She came here.  She and Big had been seeing each other for more than a year by then, and I was not about to let her live on the street.  She had a bit of savings but no car.  But that girl… She wasn’t on our couch a week and she had found and rented an apartment and gotten a job.  We loaned her a car.  She made it.  She got her GED because she wants to go to college and her parents didn’t supply her with a diploma.  She is a manager at her job now, making great money and planning greater things.

Still.  She had a pretty terrible homeschool experience.  Quite similar to some of these articles I’ve been reading.  But Beautiful Girlfriend, she didn’t turn against homeschooling in general.  She is even seriously considering homeschooling her own kids when she has them (and I hope they’re my grandbabies, but I hope she goes to college first because she wants to and she deserves to live the life that She wants).

So when I see these kids whose experiences must have been infinitely worse, even abusive, I don’t know what to say to them.  My initial reaction whenever someone bashes homeschooling is to defend it.  I know homeschooling isn’t done (at least not these days) by arrogant, prejudiced people who don’t–to paraphrase a couple of articles–want their kids around gays or blacks or whites or Latinos or atheists.  I know that All of the homeschoolers I know personally homeschool because they want their children to have Real Educations and Opportunities that have sort of petered out of the public school system in the last couple decades.  Whether they teach religion in their schools or not, they are not trying to indoctrinate their kids with hate and fear.  All of them, whether educated or not, are intelligent, creative and Involved in their children’s educations.

But these kids, they don’t want to hear that.  Anything I say to them is going to touch a place of hurt so deep they can no longer reason.  Especially if all I have is a small space in the comment section and they can’t see my face or hear my voice and know I am coming from a place of compassion.  So I am at a loss.  Even as their assumptions (which is what they are, based on their own experiences) anger me, my anger is smote by regret for their experiences and a true desire to just hug them, to just let them know they are valid people.  And to tell them that they must be strong indeed to come away from their environment with a voice and a strong enough will to write about it publicly.  And maybe ask them to hang out in the blogosphere with me and my community of homeschooling mamas and dads who are part of the New movement of homeschooling, who are truly doing this because our children are more important to us than our own limbs, and who are (hopefully) getting it right.  Put some light on homeschooling.  See it for what it has become.  And leave behind all those old ideas about social awkwardness, prejudice, and closet abuse.

Ugh.  How are we ever going to convince people we’re not doing those things when we have (apparently) a generation of 20-somethings out there writing about those very things happening to them?

The thing is, Beautiful Girlfriend’s parents haven’t spoken to her since she left their house.  It wrecks me.  Because if they could see the love and happiness inherent in her relationship with Big, if they could see what an amazing woman she is today, and how well she has done for herself, and all she has learned… I think they would be proud.  I know I am.  And I know she misses them every second of every day and would welcome them back into her life in a fraction of a heartbeat.

Maybe all these kids need is a mentor in their lives to let them know they are loved.  Just like any kid.  Because, by God,

Love wins,

KT

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. storiesofourboys
    May 20, 2015 @ 05:25:22

    Excellent post, KT. I haven’t read any of these posts that you mention, but after struggling to homeschool 4 rowdy boys this year I have often wondered how people do it successfully. I know you have had a much happier experience that I have had my first year. I just keep hope, hope, hoping that next year will be a little better. And about Big’s girlfriend: I cannot imagine not speaking to your own children. I wonder that her parents could do this as Christians. How could they do this? Gracious. Thank you for sharing all of this!

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  2. Trackback: Love Wins | Lit Mama Homeschool
  3. Sarah
    May 18, 2015 @ 18:24:42

    Wow! I’ve been hearing a bit of regret from some adults who grew up homeschooled. I can’t imagine the pain of my parents pushing me away like that, especially in the name of God. That’s not the God I know and love and it makes me sad when people use any means (racism, religion, etc.) to treat others poorly. I’m sure that was a painful post to write, but thank you for sharing. I would’ve hated to stumble upon those kids/adults bashing homeschool and question myself for wanting to homeschool. I love the last line you wrote: “Because, by God, love wins.” So true.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • KT Brison
      May 18, 2015 @ 19:15:23

      Thanks, Sarah. The whole idea that these kinds of things happen brings up such a well of emotion to me it becomes hard to articulate. I can’t imagine treating my kids like the kids in the articles, or cutting them off the way Beautiful Girlfriend’s parents have just cut her off. I’m appalled that there are parents in the world capable of that.

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  4. Masqued
    May 15, 2015 @ 20:40:42

    Reblogged this on How Many Masks? and commented:

    This post touched me, just because of my own history.

    Homeschooling can work – I certainly enjoyed most of my experiences growing up. But my siblings suffered, due to a parent’s major health difficulties. They did not have the same opportunities that I did, nor the same experiences. I went to a head start college program at seventeen, and yet my siblings are trying to become the technology addicted young men who never move out of the parental basement.

    That said, some of my good friends have Master’s degrees and are very successful. Others are a heck of a lot more normal than they have any right to be, based on the way they grew up. Those of us who didn’t have struggles tend to keep quiet. I don’t care who knows I was homeschooled, but those who are best educated and from our backgrounds tend to keep their origins quiet.

    What I do know, is that homeschooling is a commitment. It’s an endurance race. If fits some kids better than others (I was a self-learner, my mother would assign me work and I would just do it with very little explanation necessary – outside of math). But it’s easy to founder when life hits. We utilized many, many resources – co-ops, sports, other activities, especially as I entered high school. But I think parents do themselves and their kids a disservice if they don’t examine themselves on a year to year basis, and make sure it is still something they can accomplish.

    I appreciate that I have a close relationship with my family, and homeschooling allowed us to pull together through some really difficult times. But we still had our struggles. If I were in a position to have kids, I would homeschool through some of elementary school, and then see how it was going. You will find extremes of all kinds in the public school system, too. There are parents who just don’t know how to be parents.

    I love the concept of charter schools, some of which I find have a happy medium between homeschooling (increased parental involvement) and a more public accountability. Resources. Etc.

    All these rambles to say – yes, there are problems. Control and abuse may perhaps be easier to hide in a homeschooling situation, but then I think those things would still exist for those families in a public school setting. That isn’t everyone’s reality. I think those of us who emerge relatively unscathed tend not to sound it off much, and we tend to be normal enough that no one guesses our schooling origins.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

    • KT Brison
      May 15, 2015 @ 20:55:39

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for this thoughtful comment. I agree that it is a good idea to take stock every year and make sure one is still doing the right thing by one’s children. If I have never made that point on this blog before, I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to make it now. It is supremely important. Making sure our kids are getting what they need is the most important job we parents have. And thank you for the reblog. 🙂

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  5. Amie Elna
    May 15, 2015 @ 13:57:33

    Heartbreaking 😦 a very well written article- thanks for writing it and sharing 🙂

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