Is publicity good for unschooling?

This is a debate currently taking place amid the NYC homeschooling community.  Should we make ourselves available to news outlets and reporters doing stories about homeschooling?

Many people seem to feel that the media cannot be trusted at all; that they will slant every story to the negative, or that increased exposure will mean increased scrutiny from the powers that be resulting in less freedom for us.

And of course there are stories that take a negative slant toward homeschooling and people who believe that home educators should be more heavily regulated than we already are.

But my personal experience with the media has been, for the most part, a positive one.  The reporters I’ve met (at least those with whom I’ve wound up working) are truly interested in what we do, and have shown our lives and choices in an accurate and  positive light.

My take on this is that although it is best to learn about homeschooling through personal contact with a homeschooling family or community, it just isn’t possible for everyone.  Many people know so little about their options in this regard that they wouldn’t even think to look for it.

You don’t know what you don’t know, as my Mom likes to say.

So how can I reach out to the people who are unaware of homeschooling and unschooling as a viable option?   The only way to do it is through some sort of publicity.  Even my networking on Twitter and Facebook is a kind of publicity, though much more limited in scope than an interview for a major news outlet.

Homeschooling is on the increase.  Markedly so here in the city  if the turnout at our annual NBTS picnic was any indication. (I’ve seen reports of a 10% increase this year alone, though I can’t verify that.)   My guess is that part of the reason for this dramatic increase is dissatisfaction with public schooling combined with increased knowledge and awareness of homeschooling.   Not from the Rick Santorums of the world, but from people like Laurie Spigel, Dayna Martin, Grace Llewellyn, Wendy Priesnitz, Sandra Dodd, Blake Boles and many others who are not afraid to put themselves out there and be transparent about what it is we are doing.

Publicity has its’ pitfalls.   Being misquoted is a drag.  Being misinterpreted even worse.  But the upside in possibilities for families to take control of their child’s lives and learning far outweigh the risks, in my humble opinion.  We can choose who we talk to and try to proof any interview copy before it goes to print, but we should definitely keep talking.    If enough families choose this path, it will eventually reach that magic “tipping point” and upend a system desperately in need of upending.

So if you ask me, it’s all good.


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