This weekend is the Illinois Christian Home Educators (ICHE) conference in Naperville. This afternoon homeschooling father and speaker Voddie Baucham, of Vision Forum fame, will be delivering the following keynote address:
I am surprised at how many homeschool kids aren’t sure whether or not they are going to educate their own children at home. I’m more surprised that some are sure they won’t. Usually, further examination reveals a complete lack of any theological/philosophical reflection on the topic. Their parents simply did what was best for them at the moment; not what was best, period.
Hi! I’m one of those terrible horrible very bad no good homeschool graduates who has decided not to homeschool their own children!
I was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school, but my firstborn just finished public kindergarten last week. The horror! She has an awesome teacher and made two years of progress in reading in just one school year. She’s ahead in just about every other subject as well. Socially, she’s thriving. She’s a social butterfly and exudes confidence. Her teacher told me recently that she has such a high level of self-confidence that she isn’t peer dependent at all. But who am I to think I have a better grasp of what is best for my child than Voddie Baucham? The nerve!
I guess I as a parent am more interested in looking for the educational method that works best for my child and my family than I am in adhering rigidly and dogmatically to a single educational method regardless of whether it fits me or my child. And I guess, according to Baucham, that makes me a bad person—and a failure as a homeschool graduate. Why? Here’s why:
In this session, we will examine key theological and philosophical motivations for home education, and how to pass these on to our children. Do your children know why you homeschool? Do you? Do they have a ‘big picture’ perspective on the impact home education can have on our culture for the sake of the Kingdom? Do they understand what government education has done to the culture at large (or that it has been intentional)? Are they thinking about ways their marriage, educational and career choices will impact the education and discipleship of their children? We will also look at the way our approach to educating our children figures into the scenario, and the kinds of things we need to encourage our children to invest in now so they can invest in their children in the future.
Okay, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the vast vast majority of homeschool graduates from Christian homes who now have their children in public school got all this. I know I did! I fully believed that public schools were horrible and that homeschooling was absolutely essential. I fully intended to homeschool my children. I did not believe there was any other viable option.
The issue here is not a failure on the part of Baucham and others to teach homeschool kids like me the importance of homeschooling our own children. We got that, and then some. The issue here is that we grew up to disagree. The irony here is that we were told that public school kids were sardines who followed the crowds and that we were to be independent thinkers. But when we grew up to be just that—to form our own opinions about public schools and about homeschooling separate from those of our parents—we became a problem.
Apparently being an “independent thinker” and “charting your own path” means “thinking just like your parents” and “replicating their path.” Apparently as soon as I actually headed out to build my own life and make my own choices I became a problem. For all that we were told how mature we were, the moment we made our own decisions independent from our parents we were treated as children who didn’t know any better.
And that is perhaps the biggest irony of the Christian homeschooling movement. As children we were told we were mature independent thinkers, but the moment we actually became that we were treated as children. No, there is a greater irony even than that. We were told as children that we were not peer-dependent when in fact we were, and the moment we worked up the self confidence to break that dependency we were treated as though we had just become peer dependent.
The hardest thing about putting my daughter in public school was dealing with my mother’s response to this decision. There were tears. There was pain. It hurt. I reminded her that my grandparents had disagreed with her decision to homeschool, but that she did what she believed was best for her children anyway, and not out of spite or as an act of rejection. I told her I was doing the same thing. She told me it wasn’t the same, because Jesus. Fortunately, she seems to have accepted my decision and doesn’t push it, except to make a pointed hint now and then. (“We can’t come up that day, Sally has school.” “You could just take her out and homeschool her, you know.” “How about we come up the next day? Does that work for you too?”)
And so, when I read yesterday about Voddie’s keynote, I just felt frustrated. Again. Has Voddie thought about asking homeschooled students and homeschool graduates who don’t plan to homeschool why they don’t plan to homeschool? I sincerely doubt it, and do you know why? My mother never asked me why I had decided to send my daughter to public school. It’s like she couldn’t consider that maybe, just maybe, I had done my research and thought through this decision carefully. What mattered was that my decision was wrong, because it wasn’t hers. The same appears to be true for Voddie, for all of his talk of preparing a strong capable generation of young adults to reform this country morally and politically.
I spent my childhood being treated like an adult. It seems I’ll spend my adulthood being treated like a child. Welcome to the world of a homeschool alumna.