There has never been more interest in homeschooling than there is at this moment. Between the “new normal” politicians are trying to introduce into public schools because of an illness that has no statistically significant impact on children and riots causing people who live in urban and large suburban areas to live in fear, a home-centered life is starting to look really good to many people.
I have had endless private requests for more information on homeschooling. Members of my family and circle of friends have recently decided to take that great leap of faith into home education.
This should be the golden age of school choice, right?
Sadly, this political moment also intersects with a dangerous fad in homeschooling, which is unschooling. Unschoolers have stepped into the education vacuum in force.
“You hate public schools? So do I! Let me show you about my amazing lifestyle where I blog about being a homeschooler or homesteading with darling staged photographs and explain how I let my YOUNG CHILD decide what they want to study. I don’t educate my child; I facilitate. I thought math was icky when I was in school. Who even NEEDS to learn algebra anyway? I don’t remember any of that stuff. I let my princess play piano for hours and we take four nature walks a day. Now that’s an education! I’m so gentle in my parenting. A good mother, unlike all those bad mothers who oppress their child with diagramming sentences. Who even does that?”
The thing is, I’m not even caricaturing them here. That’s really how unschoolers talk.
These folks have zero concept how insane they sound to normal people. And by normal, I mean people who want to propel their kid into the real world at 18 with serious skills that will keep them from living in their basement. People who think getting an education is kind of important, not just as some artsy spiritual endeavor, but as a practical matter.
Please, let this be a call to arms to the aggressive homeschoolers. The classical educators. The Charlotte Mason crowd. The STEM crowd. Flaunt your stuff. Share the badass curricula you have created that would make the director of a $60,000-a-year private school genuflect before your vastly superior pedagogy.
Don’t let radical unschoolers speak for our entire community. Please show the world that the majority of homeschoolers are about bona fide academic excellence and not manufactured snapshots for Instagram. Show them we are about high-quality educational content and not social media content. We didn’t make these babies for clicks and likes and empires of self-help books. Stop letting these folks and their avalanche of media take over how the outside world perceives home education.
We have a lot of people who are going to experiment with homeschooling now. As in all things, initial conditions and first impressions matter. Please, do not let their first impression be that we are not for real when it comes to providing a quality, comprehensive education for our kids.
We are also at a place where, because of the extensive attention being devoted to homeschooling in this political moment, we may be (are) setting the stage for an increased regulatory presence. The absolute worst thing that could happen now is for homeschooling to be associated with letting a child do whatever they want. You want to see mandatory curriculum and standardized tests? Let unschoolers hijack our movement and watch it happen.