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  • Hannah

Homeschool is Cool

I’m sure you’ve seen it – the recent Harvard Magazine article entitled “The Risks of Homeschooling,” written by Erin O’Donnell. If you haven’t read it, please do so. I want you to form your own opinion about the matter. Recently, it’s been floating around social media circles and sparking tension among people across the country. When I read it, I saw the same critical apprehension that marked most of my childhood and school-aged years. It’s a written representation of the same “concerns” expressed to my parents by family members who couldn’t grasp their point of view. It’s the same argumentative doubt that caused my mother to hoard all my years of completed curriculum as preparation for the anticipated case she’d have to make proving her educational integrity as my instructor. And honestly, it’s the same low-class drivel directed to subvert the aims of homeschoolers across America.

I really want you to read O’Donnell’s article. True critical thinking and decision-making involves humility, something many people try to avoid. At least for me, my ego likes to get in the way – especially when I’m trying to establish an informed opinion on a subject. It’s easy to stick to the news outlets and media pundits who reflect my leanings, and sometimes it’s even easier to adopt their ideas as my own. But that’s lazy. God didn’t give me a brain to just download someone else’s thought patterns into mine. So, it’s up to me to exercise my freedom as a thinker and expose myself to a challenging point of view that forces me to validate my opinion. I encourage you to do the same!

Now that you’ve read it, I want to introduce you to my take on the subject. O’Donnell’s article appears to be a thorough summary of a paper written by Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard law professor. If you have the time to scroll through the 80 pages, I recommend that you take a look that one, too. It’s a tough read, to be honest. Frankly, the article resembles a piece of lofty, educated propaganda. Ms. Bartholet goes into extreme detail insinuating that a number of parents choose homeschooling as a cover for undetected child abuse, child indoctrination, and political and governmental subversion.

Yep. That’s the whole picture of the story, according to an elitist professor who believes parents cannot be trusted to raise their own children in a safe environment. And who also wants the idea of homeschooling eliminated with few exceptions.

So, I want to take this moment to represent the side that was never given a defending chance. As a previously homeschooled child, I was deeply insulted by her assumptions and the vast generalizations she attributed to the homeschooling community. I feel even worse for my parents! To be accused of enacting religious authoritarianism and being a proponent of white supremacy, female subservience, and anti-science indoctrination is purely asinine.

I think Ms. Bartholet may have an issue with the foundational faith of many homeschool families. It’s well-known that a majority of homeschoolers identify as Christians. It’s one of the reasons why parents choose homeschooling. When dissenting information and ideas are expressed in the public arena of education, it’s often met with harsh criticism and condescending remarks. Until recent presidential action, prayers were not allowed in many public schools. Students were admonished for reading the Bible. In general, any expression of the Christian faith is not often tolerated in public schools. Is it too contrary an idea to raise a family in an ideologically safe environment?

According to Ms. Bartholet, who believes that Christianity is a mask covering up “extreme religious ideologues,” the answer is yes. She has a problem with parents who don’t agree with the radical feminist and LGBTQ+ movement and its infiltration into children’s curriculum. She has a problem with parents who don’t agree with the increasingly leftist material teachers use to educate their students. She has a problem with parents who want to expose their children to creationism in addition to the evolutionary principles on which public educators solely focus. Her whole basis of argument is entrenched in the belief that the principles she’s espousing are facts, truths, and reality. I don’t agree.

My biggest frustration with her paper revolves around her use of examples as “proof” that homeschool parents are alt-right racists with power complexes indulging in horrific child exploitation for religious gain. She picks the most extreme situations to use as a paintbrush for her final masterpiece, painting the whole population under those assumptions. For example, she uses the story of Tara Westover, a woman who endured abuse and mistreatment while she was being “educated” at home. It’s a powerful story – she overcame the obstacle of her childhood, highlighting the power of perseverance and personal growth. Ms. Bartholet also chooses to use the example of a boy whose parents pulled him out of school to create a racist website as part of his homeschool curriculum. And what about the references to sources that discuss radical oppressive movements? Her paper is full of them. Her points are only validated by extremism, without giving credence to the legitimate positions held by others.

I’m just here to let everyone know that I was homeschooled, but I was never abused. I was never treated wrongly by my parents. I’m a Christian, by my own choice. I have friends - childhood friends, high school friends, college friends. (And they’re not all homeschooled, by the way.) I have my own car. I have a job. I live on my own. I can pay my bills. I’m not a racist. I’m not a subservient being. I can socialize with anyone. I can set a goal and achieve it. I’m an independent person, and I think being homeschooled played a significant part in that area of my development. For that, I’m thankful. And for the record, I know so many other kids who were homeschooled and grew into well-adjusted adults, positively contributing to society. We’re not the exception.

Yes, there is always a chance that child abuse can occur in any situation. Unfortunately, kids can be abused by anyone, even public school teachers or faculty. Abuse is not at all to be taken lightly. But is that a reason to thereby write off all access to public education? No, of course not. It’s not appropriate to assume the exception is the rule. Especially when it comes to parents and their children. It’s despicable to believe that, given the chance, parents would rather hurt their children than nurture them. But I think that’s the driving force behind elitists’ and their desire for compulsory public education – parents can’t be trusted to prepare their kids for adulthood. It’s the perfect situation to introduce governmental control.

I would call that anti-American.

I could write a book about this, but I’ll stop here. I hope this little bit of insight gives you more clarity on the subject. I was so impressed to say something because there was such a lack of defending representation. Homeschool is a powerful tool that can change generations for the better. After all, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Booker T. Washington, Agatha Christie, and C.S. Lewis were home-educated. Some may argue that it even prepared them for the influential lives they lived as adults. I’ll just leave you with this: Public education is not the gold standard.



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