I haven’t done much homeschool blogging lately. I’ve been more caught up in my recent health journey and have focused most of my writing energies there, but yesterday I stumbled on a blog post that troubled me. And if something troubles me, I’m likely to write about it.
So if you’re not a homeschooler, please bear with me for a little bit while I share some thoughts concerning a troubling trend in the homeschool community.
The blog post I read was about homeschooling. And pajamas.
I wasn’t so much bothered by the author’s insistence that wearing PJs during the homeschool day is bad, though I do disagree with her position. What did trouble me was that the article was published to begin with. If it had been written in a more tongue-in-cheek style, I could have dealt with it. But it wasn’t.
The author is making a judgment call.
“Staying in one’s PJs all day, while comfy, does not contribute to an atmosphere of striving for excellence. Like it or not, our clothing makes a difference not just to others, but to ourselves as well…
“Do we not want to inspire them to learn well, to grow strong, to pursue truth with enthusiasm and gusto? Can we really mobilize this army while they (and we) are still in our pajamas at dinnertime?
“Let us ride forth with purpose, raising up a generation that will strive for excellence, that will be equipped for good work . . . that will get dressed in the mornings.”
The author is making a clear link between striving for excellence and being dressed a certain way. And by saying there’s a right way to dress when homeschooling, she also saying there’s a wrong way. She’s imploring the homeschool community, en mass, to “please get dressed”, urging us to change the way we dress within the confines of our own homes. And why? Because she feels more energized and productive when she chooses, as she puts it, “to get dressed in clothes that make me feel good.”
But the issue is really not pajamas. This is about one homeschooler insisting that her way of doing things is the right way. And that all homeschoolers should do likewise.
The modern homeschool movement was begun by people who made a conscious decision to go against the grain. They were convicted by the belief that they had a responsibility to do what was right for their families, even though that meant bucking the cultural “norm”. Heck, what they were doing wasn’t even legal! But lately it seems there is a growing trend within the homeschool community toward the insistence on a right way to go about the business of educating our children. And if there’s a right way—and you aren’t doing it that way—you’re wrong. There are homeschool “experts” around every corner telling us how we should school our children…and even sometimes how we should live our lives.
They tell us what our school day should look like.
They tell us what curriculum we should and shouldn’t use.
They tell us that “cyber schooling” isn’t homeschooling at all.
They tell us that “school-in-a-box” curriculum will keep our children from loving learning.
They tell us that we shouldn’t give our children tests. Or grades. Especially grades.
And now they tell us that if we’re not wearing the proper attire we will negatively impact our children’s ability to make it in the real world. And that we will be a really bad testimony to the random person that might drop by our home and find us in—gasp—our pajamas.
All of this can make a homeschooler who is doing a great job with her kids feel completely inadequate. I’ve interacted with these dear women. And it breaks my heart.
Can’t we be content to peacefully coexist with all our individual preferences and differences without insisting that others do things our way? Can’t we support each others freedom to make the choices that seem right for us? Can’t we be a community that is characterized by grace rather than judgment?
And whatever we do, can we please stop squabbling over insignificant issues like pajamas? Seriously.