I read a blog post this evening wherein the writer – a homeschooling Mom who seems to want to be as sarcastic and funny as Dooce but who, in this case at least, just came off as mean – said she hates blog posts where parents talk about how great things worked out for their grown kids who were homeschooled; or blog posts from grown homeschoolers talking about how great they and their lives are because they were homeschooled. She would prefer we be a little less self-congratulatory and little more critical of our own process. She thinks that a 25 year old cannot talk about having a great life because they aren’t yet fully grown, and how since technology has changed so much over the past few decades, we can’t fully assess how well children who are being homeschooled now will function in the world once grown.
So, bearing in mind that what I am about to say is somewhat critical of the blogger mentioned above, (irony?) here are the problems with harshly criticizing other homeschool bloggers:
1. You don’t live in their world, and you haven’t walked in their shoes. Oftentimes people focus on the positive in their posts in order to remind themselves that the positive exists, more than they do to brag about how great they are.
2. Homeschoolers/unschoolers/life learners get enough criticism from the world at large to have to endure petty complaints from fellow bloggers.
3. Parents are always bragging about the amazing schools their kids attend, or how college gave their child a real boost in their career path, and they probably write blogs about it. Why not pick on them?
4. Parents of homeschoolers are in constant battle with their own ‘school brain’. I imagine this never stops completely, and so to counteract it they focus, perhaps too much, on the upside. I don’t think any of them are unaware of the downside, do you?
5. Sometimes our days aren’t great. Would constantly griping and complaining about every little thing that went wrong or every single obstacle we face be better than focusing on the good? I don’t think so. (Although I do gripe periodically in blog posts, as my long time readers can attest.)
Finally, in response to this blogger’s idea that we need “…to start letting other parents know where they suck. It’s time to let the kids know they need to shut up about how great they are because it’s not homeschool anymore. Nothing improves without free and open criticism,” I have this to say: When you have raised your kids to adult-hood and see them functioning in the world on their own, perhaps more capably than others of their age who were schooled, are you not allowed some pride about the path you chose? And are not grown homeschoolers allowed to say to others, “this has worked well for me. It can work well for you, too”?
I am somewhat baffled that a homeschooling mother would lash out at those in her own community who dare to express pride or joy in their children. If she believes by telling parents they suck and kids to shut up that she will improve homeschooling, she is mistaken. Free and open criticism can only improve a thing if that criticism is constructive and happens during the exchange of ideas and information between parties. Telling someone to shut up does not qualify.
I am all for criticizing the system and the ‘experts’ who keep telling people their kids need more and more teaching starting almost from the day they are born. I am all for questioning the status quo and for throwing wrenches into the well-oiled machine that is the educational system in our country. If someone writes an op-ed piece about how we need to ‘raise standards’ by keeping kids in school all year, you can criticize that opinion with my full support.
But take it easy on your fellow homeschoolers. Have a little compassion. You may be in need of it yourself someday.