What I’m Learning While Deschooling…
I’m learning a lot actually. It may seem obvious, but one point especially is really being reinforced for me over and over again during deschooling and while reading of late about the furor over unschooling and other current topics. Homeschooling is defined best as: the manner in which your family chooses to approach your child’s learning and education while remaining at home rather than entering a public school system as a full time student. That’s it. That is homeschooling. Any other ‘label’ you wish to attach to yourself is nothing more than a way to identify the manner of your approach.
Unschooler, traditional schooling, Christian schooling, Secular schooling, relaxed, eclectic, Project-Based, Unit Studies, on-line virtual school, and on and on. That label is a by-product of making the choice to homeschool. That label really shouldn’t matter to anyone but you and your family – with the one caveat being that we use those labels to find ‘like-minded’ homeschoolers with whom to socially engage. Even then though, the label shouldn’t matter all that much, except in the case of those families for whom homeschooling is a device utilized to keep the rest of the world (‘world’ being those that don’t practice their same understanding of their faith, ideologies or lifestyle) out of their lives – because I don’t think there’s ever going to be a way to get them to understand, their labels mean too much to them. IMO.
Homeschoolers should be able to gather together, despite any other labels they, or others, place on themselves, united in the knowledge that everyone present chose an approach to their child’s learning that removed them (or kept them) from attending brick-n-mortar schools away from the families every day and put them at home with their families.
As the homeschooling movement continues to grow, and clearly it will, NOW is the time for us to embrace this single, unifying attribute. NOW is the time to teach ourselves, and therefore our children, to let go of labels and the subsequent judgment that comes from labeling and focus on what unifies us. Each homeschooling family, regardless of their reasons for choosing to homeschool and regardless of the manner of their approach, made a choice contrary to the ‘popular’ and widely ‘accepted’ choice for how, when, where, and even why their children will learn.
As the National and even Global spotlight begins to shine more and more on homeschooling, we owe it to ourselves, the homeschool community as a whole, and more importantly to our children to demonstrate that we can be as united community as humanly possible. We have the opportunity to show our children how to build a better, safer, freer, fairer tomorrow for everyone by being the change we want to see in the world and we can start with each other. Black, white, gay, straight, conservative, liberal, Christian, Pagan, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, organic, processed,…………..short hair or long…………we should be able to support one another and accept one another and our choices for the manner in which we approach homeschooling.
We do that by understanding and supporting the fact that our various choice for why we homeschool, how we homeschool, and what our driving beliefs and/or ideologies are do NOT negate other families choices. When interacting with a fellow homeschooler who is so very different than you in the manner of approach for homeschooling or beliefs, it isn’t really that hard to, instead of feeling threatened or defensive about your choices, say “Interesting. I don’t believe that is right for my family, but I support your right to make the decisions that are best for your family. We are all homeschoolers after all.”
A unifying homeschool mantra might help. It seems to have helped other communities. I’ll propose this one:
“There are more than 1,001 ways in which a family can be a family and homeschool and they’re all right.”