Homeschooling – My Brother’s Keeper?

Homeschooling: Bridging The Divide

Many homeschooling families believe they impact very positively upon their communities. They appreciate the community and its resources because that is the environment in which their children interact, grow and learn. In response the wider community begins to appreciate and is invigorated by the fresh vitality they bring. There is engagement across the ‘age divide’ that stands in stark contrast to the more divisive regimentation by age that constitutes the experience of more formally educated children. A powerful argument in favor of homeschooling is that children learn to value their community and therefore are more likely to become active and responsible citizens.

Homeschooling: Suspicious Minds

“We can’t go on together with suspicious minds.”

Elvis was right; suspicion is no basis for a relationship.

But why would homeschooling parents want any kind of relationship with the mainstream education systems they have rejected?

And who can argue with their objections?

Education systems appear self-obsessed with delivering over prescribed content that inevitably over-burdens children and teachers alike, not to mention parents who must dread the nightly ritual of frustration and stress that is homework. And that is not the least of it. They must stand and watch as their children are subjected to frequent standardized testing that will determine in which institutional stream of the academic river they will swim or flounder.

Can you blame them for turning their backs and washing their hands?

Homeschooling: The Center Of The World

I do not confer praise or blame: I accept. I am the measure of all things. I am the center of the world.

Unlike Pilate, W.Somerset Maugham realised in some way he was a part of all things and all things a part of him. Barbara Prashnig believes the education system worldwide is in crisis. She is not a lone voice. In 1862 Ruskin declared, ‘Let us reform our schools, and we shall find little reform needed in our prisons.’ Given a recent survey of American prisons his words have a prophetic ring.

“Seventy-five percent of all imprisoned males in America have poor school records and low I.Q.s, Ramey pointed out. Tracing their backgrounds turns up a familiar pattern: They begin as children from dis-advantaged families starting school academically behind. They don’t know how to read or do basic math, because they are in poor systems they get little help. Their growing frustration often turns into truancy, school failure, aggression and violence…”

So writes Ronald Kotulak commenting on the observations of Craig Ramey of the University of Alabama in his book ‘Inside the Brain’.

Would homeschooling have made the difference too many of those young men? I feel sure it probably would. I am equally convinced for the vast majority of them it was not a viable option. The sobering truth is, whatever the shortcomings, for some children school is a relative haven of calm, order and security from the ravages of a hostile world.

Homeschooling: My Brothers Keeper?

The thing that I find most disturbing is the way I have become almost inured to the images of hollow-eyed children too weak to bat away the flies staring back at us with depressing regularity from the T.V. screen. Jesus said there will always be poor among us but I do not believe he meant we should shrug our shoulders and pass on by.

So, what can we do? The enormity of suffering can overwhelm us.

One lady I know has begun a work among street children in Uganda.

The charity is called An Open Door. I feel humbled by what Diane has achieved, it is something many of us could support but would not be able to commit to. What has this to do with homeschooling? Am I suggesting homeschooling families should adopt neglected children from deprived communities? Absolutely not, but whenever homeschooling families refuse to engage with the public school system they effectively turn their back on the children it serves. ‘Think not forever of yourselves, O Chiefs, nor of your own generation. Think of continuing generations of our families; think of our grandchildren and of those as yet unborn, whose faces are coming from beneath the ground.’ The words of Peacemaker, founder of the Iroquois Confederacy echo down the years.

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