Dana Goldstein believes that when children learn outside of school, it violates progressive values. You can read her article about it on your own, if you wish. I have no desire to print quotes from it here.
Let me just say that the thing that offends me most about what Ms. Goldstein’s writes is her belief that a true liberal would send their kid to public school. Any other choice, in her opinion, is anathema to a progressive belief system. She believes that homeschoolers and unschoolers are not serving the greater good. She believes that only the well-to-do can homeschool. She also believes that the only way to improve public education is to “flood” the schools with our liberal children and then battle the powers that be in the Dept. of Ed to provide the best learning environment possible.
First of all, none of the families I know whose children learn at home would be considered wealthy, or even upper middle class. I know single parent unschooling households, and homeschooling families where both parents work. Ms. Goldstein clearly has no idea at all about how learning outside of a school actually happens; perhaps she’s been watching too many newscasts about the Santorums.
As for flooding the system and then fighting it from within? That’s what education reformers have been attempting to do for the last 40-50 years, to no avail. It’s what John Holt started out believing he should do, until he came to the conclusion that systemic change could only happen one family at a time, through homeschooling. The Dept. of Education is the largest jobs project in the country. Because of that, no amount of liberal chanting, protesting or petition signing is going to change things in any significant way. I guess I should be flattered that Ms. Goldstein thinks we unschooling liberals are so powerful.
Greater good? Here is what I think will serve the greater good in the long run; an ever-increasing number of families choosing to allow their children to be self-directed in their learning. Why? Because those children will grow up. Many will become entrepreneurs. Some will rise to great heights as thinkers and inventors. It is my firm belief that the lasting solutions of the future – whether technological, environmental or social – will come from the minds of those who are self-directed, self-educated. Maybe they will even devise a better educational system.
There is nothing about eschewing life learning on the grounds that it’s not progressive that contributes to the greater good. In fact, though I do consider myself a liberal, I bristle at the idea that I must follow a particular, rigid agenda in order to maintain my “status” as a progressive. Life learning is for anyone. I support all families, whether progressive, conservative or anywhere in between, who choose this path for their children. Does that mean I’m not really a liberal? Well then, so be it.
Maybe if people like Dana Goldstein would stop defining everything in terms of progressive or conservative and then drawing lines in the sand based on those definitions, we might make some serious progress. The reason homeschooling/unschooling is growing so fast is that it works for everyone, no matter their politics.
If you ask me, there’s no greater good than that.