In an online discussion Professor Reich said, “But I do claim that homeschoolers who are motivated to shield their children from engagement with competing values or ways of life may be disabled as citizens.4” Fear not, sir. American Life seeps into homeschooling families even if they live on another continent, in a little village where the English speakers are few and far between, and the television spricht nur Deutsch. Trust me. There’s no way to keep it out. Ask the French.
But seriously, Professor Reich feels the State needs to ensure that homeschooling-family life is overseen by . . . by whom? Who are these people who would have ensured that I taught my children a more acceptable autonomy so that they would not be disabled as citizens? The same ones who have given us the Corporate Dining Experience? Government bureaucrats who toe the party line? The Experts who gave us New Math in the late-1960s? Experts who gave the overseas military schools MathLand?5
Who is it among the mass-molded people employed throughout our nation who will give a better example of Autonomy than homeschooling parents who did it Their Way? Who among them can better demonstrate Autonomy?
Dr. Reich worries about children affected by their parents’ opinions but homeschooling families affect only their children. Period. And how many could that be at most? Eight? Nine? And how many are usual? I had three.
Contrast this with entire classrooms affected by individuals. Contrast this with entire schools where conformity runs riot. A recent unsolicited example given to me by a former first-grade teacher is of the current high school ‘uniform’ for girls where a friend of hers teaches: low-riding jeans, thong underpants showing along the hips and a birth-control patch centered between the ‘sides’ of the thong.
Although there are homeschooling support groups that are homogeneous in some beliefs, the application of their philosophy is individual. To my mind homeschooling is the bastion of autonomy. There is no mass-think among homeschoolersbecause we all homeschool differently. So why, to answer another of Professor Reich’s questions, would we not put our children into an Excellent Public School? Because we don’t want the mass-schooling experience. We homeschool because we value autonomy.
The world has changed since the experiences within a family, tribe or clan were the chief influence on a child’s development. Cities arose, industrialization grew, social responsibility for citizens developed, medical and psychological research exploded. There is no easy way to return to the age of family groups whose experience of mass-cultural influence was so rarefied that local styles of speech, dress and thought developed. Of course we would not want to regain the social problems of the past that have since diminished.
- I do not want to go back to the days of all-but-forced child labor.
- I do not want to go back to white-only and black-only facilities.
- I do not want to go back to pink-collar jobs for women.
But I also don’t want the Big Brother bogeyman coming between me and my children. The past wasn’t all good, but it wasn’t all bad either. We need to find the balance between society and individuals and work to maintain the balance. Society won’t do it for us, we must do it for ourselves.
Notes in “Socialization” chapter:
4. NHEN-Legislative email list discussion (joining the list is necessary in order to read the message)
5. Mathematically Correct Newsline, “Trouble in MathLand” Oct. 30, 1996, 2nd msg. concerns DoD http://www.mathematicallycorrect.com/ml1.htm
Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon
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