Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Homeschooling (Part 1)

So today, I would like to take on a cultural “conflict” that definitely has several roots in the “above the norm” theory. Again, this may take several posts, (I am in “school,” after all.)


(Children nationwide who are reading this from their comfortable seats at home whilst eating a bowl of cereal and/or Cheetos all the while studying Latin are rejoicing!)

I have always been homeschooled, from pre-school (and before) until this year, being my senior year.

I have never actually been on a school bus, I don’t understand the concept of a hall pass, I don’t empathize with people who think cafeteria food is gross because I’ve never really had enough of it, I don’t know what homeroom is, and I don’t think anybody knows why they call it “homecoming.” (Where else have you been that suddenly you need to celebrate coming home?)

I have done an entire day’s worth of homework at both of my grandparents’ houses (here’s some homeschooling for ya’: if it’s one mouse and several mice, why isn’t it one house and several hice?), at several of my cousins’ houses, other people’s houses, in every car we’ve ever owned, in several cars that weren’t ours, quite frequently at Newport Larosa’s and my dad’s restaurant, the Madison Diner (like us on Facebook!), the St. Gertrude’s Parish Center, St. Cecilia’s cafeteria, the Norwood Nature Preserve, many other nature centers, every museum and zoo and garden there is to see in Cincinnati, on the sidewalk of Vine St. downtown, on the sidewalk of Race St. downtown, and in the waiting room of the Office of the Archbishop of Cincinnati. (Note: several of these places ended becoming their own classes.)

But that’s not really what we’re here to talk about, is it? Several people who read this will be thinking about the “homeschool problem” (like we’re the new Irish.) They will be thinking about all the reasons they’ve heard as to why homeschooling is not an appropriate method of schooling. They will be thinking about how there have been many efforts to better regulate, control, or even completely illegalize homeschooling.

Being homeschooled for 18 years (and I mean since birth), I have heard all of the arguments. I have heard the list of pros and cons. And I am happy to be able to report them to you now.

One of the first and most common arguments you will hear (and the one we will explore in this post) is the “anti-social” argument. Ah, yes. We are an awkward bunch, we homeschooled, deprived of society. ‘Tis tragic, really. Children are not exposed to the mass public media, and therefore have their media controlled by their parents. How dare a parent control and censor the media of their own child? When did that become their responsibility? What injustice to be forbidden to listen to such treasures as Lady Gaga, Ludacris, and Pink. What objectively good music, yet we shall never have the chance to enjoy all four chords and four stanzas of lyrics that are repeated over and over and over again. And what a crime that our eight year old children don’t know what a man looks like when decapitated or disemboweled! What a waste of the art of film, once used for measly purposes such as conveying a story or a theme of life, now elevated to the status of being able to display acts of sex and violence that are rarely ever seen in reality! Furthermore, how terrible that we know nothing of the average lives the majority of teenagers lead. In the midst of all the sex and drugs and violence and hatred and gluttony and lust and envy and pride, we take no part in it.

And here I end the sarcasm. I will call you out, all of you, unabashedly and unashamed. Every single adult or person who looks down on us and sees the world of teenagers around them and wonders, “What’s wrong with these children?” Hey. I got news for ya’. Look back up. It’s you.

See, adults are like that. They have minds of their own, poor creatures, and so they make their own judgments. This is easily my favorite gift of being an American. Freedom of reason. But is it really reason if you aren’t using your…well…reason? How can you say one minute, “Teens these days are terrible! I don’t understand what’s happened to them!” and say the next minute, “But all teenagers should be involved in this society because it’s dangerous if they don’t.” What’s more dangerous? A teenage boy who doesn’t feel at home in a selfish, pleasure-seeking, me-me-me society, or a teenage boy who does? How can you say, “Teenagers need to stop having sex and getting pregnant and then falling into depression and poverty,” and then the next minute say, “But all children should go to a public school where people say, ‘Don’t have sex,’ but at the same time, ‘Here’s a contraceptive, go have fun.’” You cannot say these things without practically defining what it means to be a hypocrite. (On that note, what’s the deal with contraceptives in public schools? That’s like saying, “Kids, don’t light a fire, but just in case you are going to anyway, here’s a fire extinguisher so you can be ‘safe.’” Got some more news for you. When my brothers, my friends, and myself were in our little pyro stage, none of us had a clue how to work a fire extinguisher or the dangers of fire in general. But more on that in a later post.)

Now, I’m not saying that public schools are “evil” places full of sin and vice. To be totally honest, I wouldn’t know. However, I have many friends who went to public schools all their lives, and to be completely honest, they have testified to its immorality more than me even. I actually try to stick up for “public school kids” among homeschoolers, saying that not all of them are bad people. But when actual children from a public school system testify to this themselves…condemn themselves…well, you’re not going to get a much better source than that.

And I’m not saying that we’re better than public schools. I’m not writing this to convince people that homeschooling is better. That’s the individual’s choice and preference, and I have known several individuals who have fared extremely well from a public school system from an objective standpoint, academically, psychologically, and ethically. The individual has the right to do what they believe is best for themselves. That’s their exercise of their own right to freedom, genuine American freedom. I’m writing about that that same American freedom and trying to convince people to keep homeschooling legal. You can’t say that Americans have freedom of education but all the while fight to illegalize home education in the same sentence. It’s a lie.

And I’m not saying that homeschoolers are perfect; ‘cause we’re not. Myself included and especially. But at least we’re trying. At least we’re not giving in to society. And that, at least from my perspective and the perspective of many other homeschooled students and parents, is in no way a bad thing. I understand the concern that most people have about homeschoolers being, "anti-social." It means, "They don't like to hang out with other people/they're a bunch of awkward, four-eyed geeks."

But more on that later.

(To be continued...)

(As if "But more on that later." didn't kind of already imply that.)

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