Oh, Really?

Shortly after my oldest daughter completed her second semester in college, a friend (I’ll call him Tom) who happens to be a retired public school teacher and administrator, asked me a simple question.  After almost 17 years as a homeschooler, this single conversation became a major turning point for me.


Since the very beginning of my homeschool journey, I have had dozens, maybe hundreds, of conversations with people about homeschooling, and more specifically, about my decision to homeschool my children.  Occasionally, though not often enough, I have felt free to express my views with complete honesty.  Often, in fact, all too often, I have felt compelled to "tone down" my comments so as not to offend the listener. 


Well, on this particular day, all that changed.  Tom asked, "So how was Darcy’s first year in college?"  I answered innocently, failing to recognize the underlying question.  He continued, "Darcy’s been homeschooled since kindergarten, right?  How well did she do keeping up with her classmates?"  The question being asked "between the lines" was heard loud and clear!  "Was your daughter, educated at home by her mother, really able to keep up with students who have been taught by well-trained, highly-specialized teachers?" 


So I proceeded to explain to Tom just how well Darcy was doing in school.  "Thanks for asking, Tom.  Darcy’s doing great.  She was invited to join the Honors program at Northern, and during her first year managed to achieve a 4.0 grade point average, despite having a schedule crammed with Honors classes.  In fact, she recently explained her thoughts on WHY she has done so well.  ‘Mom, I don’t think I’m smarter than the rest of the kids in my classes, I just think that I’ve been taught how to study and to learn so much more effectively than the other kids.  They just don’t seem to know how to learn.’ " 


Mr. Smith replied with a bit of an attitude, "You do know that you’re talking to a public school educator, right?"   Oh, really?? 


In that single moment, I decided never to worry about offending again.  All of a sudden it dawned on me that in our compulsory education driven society, it was absolutely fine for Tom to ask me questions that might offend me!  But he made it perfectly clear that it was NOT fine to voice opinions which offend the politically correct institution of public education.  Over the years I have been asked SO MANY questions that have offended me, and for the first time in nearly 17 years, I decided that it was time to tell the truth…no matter who it offended.


"Yes, I know you’re an educator, Tom…that doesn’t change the truth.  You asked a question and I answered it…truthfully.  Darcy was incredibly well-prepared for her college academic experience by her homeschool education. In fact, her experience seems to suggest that she was much better prepared than her "traditionally" schooled peers."


So, homeschoolers, despite evidence that shows overwhelmingly that home educated students do better than their publically-schooled peers in almost every measurable area, we are still the ones who have to be careful not to offend.  We are NOT free to question the cultural norm or offend those who so fiercely defend it.  Oh, really??  Well I for one say…no more!


18 responses

  1. Grat post! You're so right. Too often we tone down what we are saying so as not to offend, even when the questioner has evry intention of offending us. Answer openly and honestly!

    No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. by Eleanor Roosevelt.


  2. I was taking a Spanish course at a local university a couple of years ago and we had to tell a little bit about ourselves (in Spanish, of course) and I mentioned that I homeschooled my children. After class I was approached by a young man who stated that he had been homeschooled from second grade on. In the course of our conversation I asked him whether he planned to homeschool his own children if and when he had any. After a short pause he said that while in high school he had thought that he would not, but after being in college a couple of semesters, he didn't think he could send his children to school after all because his middle school sister had received at least as good an education as most of the kids he had observed in college and she still had five years of homeschool to go!

  3. I'm feeling a touch of conviction after reading this. And it was well needed. My oldest started K this summer and I find myself cowering to the questions. He wasn't technically old enough to start K in PS this year (he missed the indisputable cut off by… 18 days!). That's what got us thinking of HSing in the first place.

    I often find myself answering the "why" questions with things like "well, we didn't want him to be a year behind." Because this is a perfectly rational reason to homeschool, I don't get flack for it. They will normally then ask at what point I plan to transfer him into PS. I usually mutter a "I don't know" and change the subject.

    I know full well this is the absolute best thing I could be doing for my child, and yet I am reluctant to "get into it" with people. What is wrong with me????

    So thank you for your post. I needed it.

  4. I'm a homeschool dad, a university instructor, and a former public-school teacher. My wife is also a former public-school teacher.

    I can often pick out the homeschooled kids in my freshman class without asking.

    I love education. I really tried (like most teachers do) to make it work for my students. The vast majority of teachers are passionate and dedicated.The fact is, the system is pretty messed up anyway. Regardless of the best efforts of teachers and administrators, our educational system is far from perfect, and parents have a right and obligation to seek better alternatives if they can.

    The reality is, some families and some kids can do way better at home. Public school can work for some kids, but it is simply not ideal for all.

    We don't homeschool because we hate or mistrust teachers. We homeschool because it's our obligation to give our kids the best education we can.

    Some of my teacher friends think it's ok (if wierd) because we are after all 'trained professionals.'

    The teacher's licenses are not why we are qualified to teach our children. There were no secret tricks in 'teacher school.' We are qualified because its ultimately our obligation to see to our children's education (nobody else's) and if we feel we can do it ourselves, we should do so.

    40% of the students who graduated in our urban school district last year still did not pass the 9th grade minimum standards test (yet they graduated.)

    Why should I be concerned about not meeting those standards?

  5. its not so hard to think that you are completely capable of teaching your daughter just as well if not better than public schools…
    you know your daughter and what works for her individually. shes getting complete attention from her tutor(which in this case is you, her mother) which you just dont get in schools no matter how good the teacher is………
    so if thats better for the student in the long run isnt that whats most important…
    and since shes in collage doing great with honors then thats should tell you right there that there should never be a second guess in your mind!! 🙂

  6. I am a University educated school teacher who is currently homeschooling my youngest daughter because our district has decided that despite her having one of the top scores on the Kindergarten assessment test and already reading at a mid-first-grade level and doing addition and subtraction, she was not ready for school because her fifth birthday was ten days after their magical date for birthday cutoffs. My wife and I have also homeschooled our other three children and have set up a state recognized, diploma-granting school in order to help some friends who wanted their children to have a homeschooled education but didn't feel comfortable teaching their children a secondary curiculum. I have also had the experience of being ostracized and pushed toward the door at one of our local high schools because I did not teach the right way and spoke too often and too loudly about the failures and faults of our public schools and the institution we call the American public school system.

    I have been working diligently over the last ten years to instigate some reforms that actually benefit our children instead of pleasing the beauracrats in the statehouse and administration buildings. We continue to make noise, but we will have no true reform in our educational practices in the public schools until we can get every educator and more importantly, every administrator to understand what our children need to become learners instead of merely another student struggling to get through another year's worth of boring, impractical, impersonal curriculum that has no evident application in thier own lives.

    So as a homeschooler and a professional teacher, I say keep on speaking up!

    Mike (the Grammardude) Branam

  7. Offend away! I'm a homeschooling mom, and I really don't care who I offend. I never have. I'm glad you told that guy straight out what the reality was. That's excellent.

    My daughter graduated with honors — a perfect 4.0 from the University of Texas from the same school that Walter Kronkite went to — the School of Radio, Film and Broadcast.

    She began college at age 15. All my kids have begun college early and are doing well. They were all homeschooled.

    Homeschooling rocks. It's THE best way to get an education.

    If someone is offended by it, let them be offended.

    Sometimes reality bites you in the ass. Instead of being offended by it, move your **** ass!

    DJ the Offender!

  8. I have a first cousin, once removed, who is a retired state director of the NEA in Arizona. I saw him for the first time in twenty years at his mother’s funeral. He seemed generally pleased to see me and meet the Boss. The subject of our home schooling the General came up in conversation. That was when we heard the sonic boom and saw the vacant spot where my cousin was once standing. He couldn’t have extricated himself any quicker from our conversation. It was literally, “Excuse me,” and he walked away. He hasn’t spoken to me since. Oh well. Some one had a problem and it wasn’t me!

  9. I work for a really amazing school – online in deepest Wales tho we have homeschooled kids in Australia, Zimbambe, Singapore and all over Europe, as well as the UK. Our kids are mostly homeschooled and of secondary age but for 2 hours a day, we give them specialist teaching in main areas of science, maths, English, humanities and a foreign language – log on to http://www.interhigh.co.uk/ to see what it is like!

  10. I was home schooled all the way through High school. My first semester in college, I was really worried that I wasn't going to be as good as the other students.
    I guess I had bought into some of the public school's hype. So I worked really hard that whole semester, mainly because I was sure that I was going to fail. I ended up getting a 3.9 GPA It was then that I realized that I really didn't have to worry about failing just because I might not know as much about a particular subject as a public school educated student. Even if I started behind them(and most of the time I was ahead) in terms of knowledge. Because I had learned to learn, I could get consistently better grades than most of the students in the classes I took.
    So for the rest of my college career, I kind of slacked off. I maintained a 3.5 without anywhere near as much work as most of my fellow students. And I had a great time.

  11. I tend to make up lame excuses so as not to offend, then I get mad at myself later… Even when I tell people "my son is too far ahead to put him in school now, I do it apologetically. …good job!

  12. This is exactly where I stand. I understand feeling like we must make excuses or give reasons to defend our choice to the naysayers, and I am with you there… enough is enough. Maybe when homeschooling was new and things weren't known as they are today, it was something we were unsure of, but I have 8 children now and my oldest just turned 18. We are not an anomaly. Homeschooling works and is the best choice for my children.
    In another vein, I have found that being a homeschooler is hard enough, but being a christian homeschooler casts even more condemnation our way, from public school families as well as non-christian homeschoolers.

    blessings and thank you for your bold words. I know they are of great encouragement to those with Littles who have felt the pressure of a public system for too long and are unsure of their decision to homeschool!

  13. wow! i think that's great. i'm glad to hear your daughter is doing so well. i let those questions eat me up sometimes and i wonder if i really am doing a better job of preparing my children than their public school educated peers.


  14. I have two under 3 that I plan on homeschooling…and already I have gotten comments (negative or disbelieving ones.) I guess I am guilty of prevaricating since I have been saying we'll do preschool at home (!!! The questions start when the kids are really young now!) because we can't afford preschool otherwise. Actually, unless something really spectacular comes along (I doubt it), I hope to homeschool until they graduate from high school, although I'm going to take it year by year until it's obvious one way or the other. I guess I need to find the courage to say just that…


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