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!