Diversity, Differences, and Homeschooling

Dear Reader,

So, it has been months since I posted I really have no creative excuses. Life got busy and I got out of the habit. But I am going to try to get back into it. So without further ado . . .

There has been a lot of talk in the cyber world lately about homeschoolers leaving the public school system. Specifically, there was an article by  a self-pronounced liberal lambasting other liberals for homeschooling and thereby abandoning the public schools which it is assumed that they, as liberals should support. And there have been a lot of rebuttals. I am not a liberal, and I am not going to attempt to give a complete set of arguments for homeschooling. But I do have a few thoughts.

The first thing that came to me is that those these arguments came from a liberal, they are not much different from the arguments made by some Christians that we homeschooling Christians are also abandoning those we should be reaching out to by leaving the schools.  And while I do believe that Christians should not isolate themselves and do need to interact with and witness to non-Christians, I am not at all sure that sending one’s kids to public school is the way to fulfill this mandate.

But the other big idea that occurred to me has to do with diversity. Part of the liberal argument was that they liberals) should favor diversity and that public schools encourage this by bringing all sorts of different people together. And to a certain extent this is true, at least in some schools. And certainly one hears about schools promoting diversity. Black History month ahs been with us for a while. A town in our state has gotten in trouble with parents for reading kindergarteners books about families with two mommies or two daddies. There is a lot coming from the curriculum makers that seems to encourage this idea of “diversity.”

But my own experience with public school (and i doubt much has changed) is that it practically speaking does just the opposite. It encourages conformance. The patterns of socialization in your stereotypical American high school encourage kids to seek out those like them–to become clique-y. These cliques need not be based on race or socio-economic status, but they still tend to discourage difference.

Diversity seems to be about saying “if you are black and I am white, that is okay” (or pick any other two categories to substitute here). And the idea itself is fine as far as it goes. But it deals with big groups and not with individuals. Difference is about what makes the person in front of you unique. From what I have seen of homeschooling parents and their kids, they don’t mind being different. They aren’t afraid to be mocked if they have different styles of dress or interests. They are comfortable in their own skin. And they are better able to accept others’ differences.

When I look at homeschool kids, I do not see kids who can define “diversity.” Maybe they don’t even know many people very different from themselves demographically. But they deal with a range of people of different ages and they are able to appreciate what makes those people unique.





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