by Amy Tjaden
Homeschool.com News Editor
I have always thought the homeschool debate was public school vs. homeschooling. Recently, I’ve come to realize that there is a debate raging among homeschoolers themselves as to which method is better.
I guess I’ve been living with my head in the sand because up until this last week I had no idea that homeschoolers could be so judgmental of other homeschoolers. My experience has always been that homeschoolers stick together. We may homeschool for different reasons and with different methods but we’re still all homeschoolers. We’re all working to provide our children the best education we can.
I recently read an article that floored me. In her article Some may call it unschooling, I call it educational neglect, homeschooling parent, Sherene Silverberg, slammed unschoolers. She did not just attack the method of homeschooling. She attacked unschoolers themselves. She grouped them together, threw them all into a big box and slapped it with a label stating they are all lazy, undisciplined, and out of control. This woman went on to proclaim that all the unschoolers she has met also have an “unkept” look about them.
To say this article angered me would be an understatement. I was going to respond to it point by point but decided not to waste my time. What it comes down to is that this woman has expressed a very bigoted opinion. I’m disappointed that these views came from a fellow homeschooler. I’m disappointed that a fellow homeschooler has resorted to stereotypes and sweeping judgments to make her case.
As I expressed annoyance over this article to a friend, she pointed out that there are local groups in our area who will deny membership to homeschoolers that use charter schools because they’ve decided it isn’t “real” homeschooling.
It turns out that homeschoolers can be quite harsh against other homeschoolers for no other reason than they use a different math curriculum. As I said, I guess I’ve been living under a rock because I would think that homeschoolers would support each other despite any differences.
We’ve had to work so hard to break down stereotypes and generalizations that go along with being homeschooled. We’ve worked so hard to break down the socialization myth. Knowing what that is like, why would we turn around, stereotype, and generalize each other.
Instead of criticizing a parent who unschools or uses a charter school or employs the classical method, maybe we should ask that parent questions and learn more about what they do. Maybe we should try to get a real glimpse into their day and see what actually takes place. If you don’t understand something, isn’t it better to learn more about it rather than attack those who believe in it or implement it?
There was a time I used a very strict, public school like method to homeschool. I learned that my children responded better when I backed off. We are not strictly unschoolers but we lean more that way. However, we are constantly changing, trying out different methods and curriculum. I talk to other parents about their methods. Some I implement, some I don’t. I’m not so pompous as to assume I have the answer and that my method of homeschooling is the correct method. I’m always learning.
Everyone does what works best within their own family. Without being in their household and actually viewing what their school day is like, how can any of us make judgments? Who is so high and mighty that they can sit above the rest of us and declare which method of homeschooling is best? Apparently, Sherene Silverberg thinks she is.
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