Don’t be hatin’ on the homeschoolers, know what I’m sayin’?

August 18th, 2007

Thanks to our work on a Cybils award committee a while back, I’ve become online pals with Kris Bordessa. She lives with her family on the Big Island of Hawaii, which means she gets to post awesome, envy-inducing blog photos taken from her back porch and the like. On her blog she talks about this and that, including the books she’s writing, the freelancer’s life, and homeschooling, which is a subject dear to her heart.

In her new post “Silent Judgment”, Kris talks about the tacit criticism she sometimes receives from those who “disagree” with her family’s decision to homeschool their boys. I put “disagree” in quotes because, in truth, outsiders are in no position to form any sort of opinion on whether Kris & Co. are doing the right thing by their boys — especially when, as in this case, the outsiders did so without knowing a damn thing about Kris’s approach to educating her children, much less the results that this form of education has had on the boys themselves.

Kris knows better than to get too exercised about it all, because she’s, y’know, a grown-up — unlike her judgmental interlocutors. But I’m a little exercised about it, even though my family has chosen to send our kids to the (excellent, highly rewarding) neighborhood public school. So, just to vent a little, I thought I’d take just a moment to note a few individuals who did pretty well in life without the benefit of copious formal schooling:

The fact that many of these people lived before the advent of modern public schools (or outside their reach, in the cases of Maclean and Love) in no way undermines this observation. Clearly, the mass of youngsters in the days before widespread public education didn’t receive adequate education in the sense that we would define “adequate” now, but, just as clearly, some did. Especially given the prevalence of single-parent households and two-working-parent households, most youngsters today probably do need public schooling if they’re to receive “adequate” education. But by no means can public schooling — or private schooling, or any sort of formal schooling — be taken as the gold standard of adequacy in education. Such a generalization is simply untenable, and to believe this generalization is itself a mark of ignorance, full stop.

Here endeth this rant.  For now.

6 Responses to “Don’t be hatin’ on the homeschoolers, know what I’m sayin’?”

  1. Kris Says:

    Tim, thanks for ranting with me!

    If I may, I’d like to add a few more successfully homeschooled people to your list:

    Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon and Eldest
    Rosemary Sutcliff, author
    Andrew Wyeth, artist
    Alan Alda, actor
    Ansel Adams, photographer
    Beatrix Potter, author
    Bode Miller, Olympic skier

    The list goes on, but I thought it would be nice to add a few more contemporary homeschoolers.

  2. Tim Walker Says:

    Thanks for the great examples, Kris!

    What’s fascinating for me to think about is what this list will look like a generation from now, what with the current movement(s) toward broader homeschooling. Right now we’re just scratching the surface.

  3. SheilaRuth Says:

    Hi Tim and Kris,

    I’m a fellow 2006 Cybils committee person (fantasy/sci-fi) and also a homeschooling parent. I just wanted to thank you for your heartfelt rant and great examples.

  4. Tim Walker Says:

    Thanks, SheilaRuth!

  5. Jennifer Says:

    Tim –
    Glad to have found you! and to have seen this. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve not had to defend my decision to homeschool to many, as yet, but what a wonderful list to have on hand! There are certainly many assets to a exceptional public education (and the school your kids attend certainly qualifies), but there are some lovely benefits to bringing it in-house as well. Like having lots of time for baseball games and meeting other parents!
    Cheers – and happy new year!

  6. What I’ve Learned So Far » Blog Archive » Five favorite posts. Says:

    […] My choice: Don’t be hatin’ on the homeschoolers, know what I’m sayin’? Because it’s a full-on rant, and about a topic in which I have no particular personal stake. (Makes my fury all the more righteous!) […]

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