Friday, July 20, 2007

Are Home Educators "Self-Absorbed" or Self-Sacrificing?

The May/June issue of Stanford magazine had a first-person column written by home educator and former public schoolteacher Jason Weaver '93. It's a fluff piece, but it elicited a nasty letter to the editor from one Ms. Marilynn Rose. The alumni directory identifies Ms. Rose as a staff member in the Stanford Management Science & Engineering department.

Ms. Rose's letter reads (emphasis mine):

"Jason Weaver’s essay is about him, his wife and their journey in homeschooling. In no way is this decision about their daughter, her needs or her future. Being an aunt of five homeschooled children, I can verify that the self-absorption (and hubris) of the parents is clearly the common denominator among the homeschooled."

Excuse me? The Stanford magazine piece was primarily about Mr. Weaver because that's the point of that particular column! Each issue, there's a first-person account by an alumnus or alumna about some aspect of his/her life after graduation. Mr. Weaver is no more self-absorbed than any other of the column's authors. Probably less so than most because he's not boasting about his career like this issue's guest columnist, who talks about being a writer on the sitcom Frasier, or March's guest columnist, who talked about being a CNN medical correspondent.

Anyways, Ms. Rose obviously has a beef with her sibling/sibling-in-law that probably has very little (if anything) to do with homeschooling per se. If I had to hazard a guess based on her education & occupation, I suspect that Ms. Rose is a "second-wave" feminist who bashes women making different life choices than her. If Ms. Rose's sister/sister-in-law has 5 children, she most likely hold traditionalist religious beliefs, which Ms. Rose likely considers to be "misogynistic" and "backward". So the true objection is probably not about academics but cultural values.

It is infinitely easier to outsource the education of one's children to the government than to take responsibility for it oneself. Parents must sacrifice a lot in order to homeschool- foregone wages of the primary teacher; the money spent on curricular materials and activities; and the time & effort required to do planning, teaching, and documenting. If the parents did not care deeply about the children's education and their future, they would not bother to homeschool. They'd just dump the kids in the local government school like so many other parents do.

I'm certainly not trying to insinuate that *ALL* public school parents are neglectful when it comes to their children's education. Let me make it clear that there are plenty of caring and concerned parents out there! The point I'm trying to make is that the parents who DON'T care are not going to be willing to make the sacrifices needed to homeschool. They will take the path of least effort for them, which is public school enrollment.

Self-absorbed, lazy, and neglectful parents don't homeschool. Only those who actually feel that their children's future is worth the present sacrifices are going to be willing to do so.


Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Excellent post- and how rude of Ms Ross to publicly air her disgruntled opinion of her family.

Barbara Frank said...

I think you're right in guessing Auntie has some family issues.

That said, sometimes those who think with the crowd view those who think for themselves as self-absorbed.

Judy Aron said...

You go girl...

Auntie sounds like a real twit to me.

Dana said...

Even if she is right and her family members are completely self-absorbed, that single experience hardly justifies the claim that she can "verify" that this is the "common denominator among the homeschooled." How arrogant to think you know everything about a group of people based on one experience.

At least when I bash on public schools, I do so based on 12 years as a student of the system, five years studying to become a part of the system and two years as a teacher in the system.