Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why We Hate Homeschoolers

Here's the latest article to be making the round of the homeschool boards: SONNY SCOTT:Home-schoolers threaten our cultural comfort from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. While I don't usually see this amount of Bible quoting in a newspaper article, otherwise I think Mr. Scott makes an interesting point.

He writes: "Why do we hate (or at least distrust) these people so much?

Methinks American middle-class people are uncomfortable around the home schooled for the same reason the alcoholic is uneasy around the teetotaler.

Their very existence represents a rejection of our values, and an indictment of our lifestyles. Those families are willing to render unto Caesar the things that Caesar’s be, but they draw the line at their children. Those of us who have put our trust in the secular state (and effectively surrendered our children to it) recognize this act of defiance as a rejection of our values, and we reject them in return. "

This is absolutely true. The biggest supporters and the most defensive reactions to our decision to pull our kids out of public school came from public school teachers. The defensive ones (and the ones in the minority) were the one who had their own kids in public school. That was one of the reasons I began to rethink our school--I found out most of the teachers with school-aged kids did not send them to public school. (Things that makes you go, "HMMMMM".)

But Scott's article touches on another point that I happened to be musing about today. "Young families must make the decision: Will junior go to day care and day school, or will mom stay home and raise him? The rationalizations begin. "A family just can't make it on one income." (Our parents did.) "It just costs so much to raise a child nowadays." (Yeah, if you buy brand-name clothing, pre-prepared food, join every club and activity, and spend half the cost of a house on the daughter’s wedding, it does.) And so, the decision is made. We give up the bulk of our waking hours with our children, as well as the formation of their minds, philosophies, and attitudes, to strangers. We compensate by getting a boat to take them to the river, a van to carry them to Little League, a 2,800-square-foot house, an ATV, a zero-turn Cub Cadet, and a fund to finance a brand-name college education. And most significantly, we claim “our right” to pursue a career for our own "self-fulfillment."

Many people (including my mother) thinks I have the "luxury" to stay home because DH is a physician. And that's true. I can't tell you how grateful I am that I don't have to worry (anymore) about where my next meal is coming from and whether the child support check will come in time to pay the mortgage. I've been poor and it sucks.

But we also have made conscious decisions throughout our married life to live below our means. At the end of medical school, DH was torn between being a dermatologist and being a surgeon. As a surgeon, he would have had job satisfaction and more money. And, mostly likely, a divorce, like most surgeons have. Even the minor uptick in the number of hours he worked this spring has caused a major increase in marital tension. (Luckily it's temporary.)

When we moved to our small city ten years ago, I gave up the idea of fixing up a grand Victorian house because the chaos and continuing expense would have given me satisfaction and a beautiful home and, most likely, a divorce. DH doesn't do well with chaos, although luckily for me, he's grown more tolerant over the years. I'm also in the process of choosing not to pursue every opportunity offered to me as a gifted advocate right now because I've made a commitment to DH and to the boys to be here to school them until they're ready to leave, not until *I'm* bored with it and ready to move on. That's one of the reasons this blog has become so erratic.

Yes, I have to keep repeating to myself, "They're only 13/14/17 once. There's time later for globe-trotting travel on behalf of gifted children everywhere." The idea appeals. But there will still be gifted kids in need of an advocate in five years. I hope. ;-)

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