Saturday, September 09, 2006

Homeschool Snobbery

Because of the recent discussions on my blog talking about distinctions in the term homeschooling, readers may come away with the mistaken notion that I am the "homeschool gestapo" checking the credentials of every homeschooler; only inviting those that meet my certain criteria into some elite club known as homeschooling. I suppose given that most people only know the small portion about me that focuses on homeschooling here at my blog, that is an easy but flawed conclusion to make.

There are really two issues at work when talking about distinctions in homeschooling, the legal and the personal. The legal component is necessary because the state is involved in education and a distinction in terminology for regulatory reasons is required to keep homeschoolers from losing their freedom to direct their children's education. If the state did not have compulsory attendance laws (as it should be) then the legal distinction would not be a factor.

On a personal level, I make no distinction about HOW people homeschool. A parent who uses a virtual charter school at home is just as welcome in my circle of friends as those that use my exact same curriculum or a public school parent for that matter. I don't base my friendships on the educational choices people make. In fact, I rarely even ask others what curriculum they use. There is no secret club where only "real" homeschoolers are invited to attend. However, I do understand that sometimes personal distinctions are helpful. The blogosphere is full of "blog rings" based on how people homeschoool. That is a helpful tool to connect with others. I don't feel bad or personally rejected because I am not a part of the "ring".

That said, Carla Rolfe brought up a very valid point based on a similar statement I made on another blog,

Hopefully (and it would seem that is the case based on Spunky's comments), she has never experienced what it's like to be unceremoniously dumped outside the camp of Club Homeschool. Fact is, while it's not suppose to be a "club" (and to me it's not), to many it is exactly that, and if you don't fit into the standard mold of HS'er in the eyes of said club members, you will never fit in.
Not so. I have experienced the hurtful comments from those who use certain curricula or reject me because I do or don't do things a certain way. I've even had one mother upset with me because my first birth was a c-section. I wonder what she would think now that I've had 5! Personal rejection is an unfortunate aspect that I'm sure every homeschooler has experienced to some degree.

And if I am to be completely honest, there were probably times in all my years of homeschooling that I hurt a few people by my attitudes or actions. It wasn't deliberate (as I assume it wasn't for those that hurt me) but I'm sure it must have happened. You can't talk to as many people as I have about this subject without offending someone at some point.

As I mature in homeschooling I am learning that it isn't about what curriculum you use, how well your children behave on a field trip, or how one births a baby that makes anyone a successful mother or a member of some elite homeschool club. We all make good and bad decisions and all children have good and bad days.

I will always fight to make sure that the legal distinction remains clear, but I hope that on a personal level I will never reject someone based on how they homeschool or parent their children.

I hurts when it happens to me, and I don't want to know that I've hurt someone else.

If you have been hurt by others, the best advice I can give is to dust the dirt off your feet and move on. We can't make people like us or accept us. It is hurtful and it's wrong when people do it. But we can't control others. The worst thing that we can do though, is let their behavior control us. I've learned that the hard way. But honestly, there are thousands of people in the world who I can find to share my time and friendship with. The few that have out right rejected me for decisions I've made are not worth the energy spent fretting over.

I look for friends that will accept me for who I am, not who they wish for me to be. But at the same time, those same friends will also gently point out areas of weakness in my life and encourage me to become a better mother and homeschooler. I need both.

A friend loveth at all times. Proverbs 17:17

For more reading, Libbie directed me to an excellent article Are You A Homeschool Snob by Kathy Burchett you may also find my post Stop Judging Me! worth a read.

Upate: I wrote a follow-up post, Homeschool Snobbery (Part 2) here.

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