Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Homeschool Snobbery (Part Two)

There is another aspect of homeschooling that is easy to misunderstand, the real and perceived judgement that non-homeschooling parents feel by homeschoolers.

I remember having a conversation with my neighbor shortly after we moved into our current home. It was nearing September and the first question many of my new neighbors wondered was what grade my children were in. We exchanged ages and I told them we were planning on homeschooling that year. My oldest was 5 at the time. Not much more was said. After a few months I was talking with my neighbor about her son's school. She shared some of her triumphs and struggles adjusting to the new routine. I listened but said very little. Toward the end of the conversation she said, "Well I don't know why I told you about this, I know how you feel about the public schools."

Surprised by her last remark I said, "I don't recall having a conversation with you about the public schools, so what do you believe I think about them?"

She stammered and said, "Well, you homeschool don't you? You must think the schools are pretty awful otherwise you wouldn't homeschool."

"Well," I responded. "Using that logic, should I to assume you don't like homeschooling because you have your children in public school?"

The moral of the story is that it is always better to ask questions rather than make erroneous assumptions. Especially with those that make different choices than we do.

I thought back to that conversation when I read Elaine's comment today under my Homeschool Snobbery post. She wrote,
As a public school mom who has considered homeschooling over the past few months, let me say in all candor that the blogging homeschool community has completely turned me against the idea. Never have I encountered such doctrinaire, uncharitable and sanctimonious opinions! Certainly not in our public school community, which as far as I can tell is made up of a lot of smart, caring mothers who help each other out more than they judge each other. By the way, lest you think the worst of me, too, for sending my kids to public school, let me add that I also consider myself a HOMESCHOOLING mom because I do not take lightly my God-given responsibility to be my children's first and lifelong teacher!!! We do a lot of or even MOST of the things you homeschoolers do--read the Bible, pray together, discuss literature and current events. But I am not raising them with a view that all government is bad or that all public schools are the same. The way I read the Bible, it is our responsibility as Christians to care for our neighbors, including those less well-off and to make the world BETTER if we can. Anyhow, thanks for helping me make up my mind.
Thanks for your comments Elaine. I appreciate the time you took to write them. If there are specific examples on my blog where I have been uncharitable towards you or other public school parents I would ask that you show me. I'm not perfect. If you could show me specific examples to help me improve as a blogger and homeschool mother I would be most grateful.

Sporadically reading different blogs for a short time, I can definitely see how you could reach your conclusions. Often my posts, as well as others, are full of passion and conviction for homeschooling and parenting in general. It's easy to feel "judged" where no judgment is intended. That is a natural reaction anytime we are uncertain of our own convictions but encounter the strong convictions of another. I've felt it myself in many areas. And like my neighbor it is easy to make erroneous assumptions instead of asking questions to find out more about what we believe.

You and I actually have a lot in common. We read the Bible, pray, and neither of us think all government is bad. We're both raising children to do the same. Further, we both believe that it is our responsibility as Christians to care for our neighbors, including those less well-off and to make the world BETTER if we can. We just differ in HOW we implement the last part of our belief. I don't believe the best way for that to happen is by forced benevolence through taxation and compulsory education. Forced benevolence is never charitable. It is we, not the state, who are told to love and serve our neighbor. I accept that others don't see things my way. But as a Christian we are called to study the Scriptures and no where in the Scripture do I see our Lord giving Christian parents the liberty to put their children under the counsel of the ungodly in order to grow in wisdom or help our neighbor's children. Even the early life of Jesus demonstrates that fact. (See the posts, How Then Shall We Educate and How Should Christian Parents Educate Their Children.) I welcome your thoughts on what I've written.

Elaine, I encourage you not to base the difficult decision of how to educate your children on the opinons of homeschool bloggers, but the Truths of God's Word. If you can confidently stand before God knowing that you have searched the Scriptures for His instructions in this matter and are walking in obedience to them, it doesn't matter what I or anyone else think about you, real or perceived.

Lastly, speaking about parents who don't homeschool, I can assure you that there are plenty of opinionated Christian public school parents who think what I'm doing is near child abuse. Perhaps you have not encountered them in your community, but they are out there -- in my government, in my neighborhood, and here on my blog. And if I were less confident in what I believed, they'd probably ruffle my feathers a bit too.

However, it is my hope and earnest prayer that I live my life faithfully for Him, not the approval of anyone else.

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