Last night, I read Josie Bloss’s Faking Faith and couldn’t put it down! Here is a review of the book that’s pretty accurate. I didn’t run in these circles, but I’m about a degree of separation away. Bloss’s choice of topic surprised me, as the subculture she described is not one that everyone is aware of. If you have a free evening, check it out!

I wanted to write a little about homeschooling honestly and realistically, after observing many of the pitfalls. Now that a large group of people I know have graduated, it’s been interesting to see where they have ended up and how certain factors have contributed to their success (or lack of). I’ll try not to be to specific, but to be honest, I have quite a few specifics reeling around in my mind. This is about as restrained as I could be.

Some of the bright homeschooled students receive publicity, and many think that homeschooling provides an overall better education. While it certainly can, it often doesn’t. It’s easy enough for you to look up the homeschool geniuses, but let me tell you a few of the secrets, as a former homeschooler.

Math and writing are the two subjects that get left out the most, just like in the public sector. I’ve known homeschool graduates who can’t put together a five paragraph essay or do basic algebra. Let’s just say that the community colleges in my area get their fair share of homeschoolers in remedial math and writing classes.

What’s in that comic strip is just as much true, if not more, for parents!

People who aren’t organized aren’t as successful at homeschooling. When you homeschool, you not only have to be able to teach the content (or use a teacher’s manual successfully), but you have to be the secretary, the school counselor**, the scheduler…the WORKS. Disorganized homeschool parents create disorganized, frustrated, poorly prepared kids. There just isn’t a lot of accountability with homeschooling in certain states, (which is what many people want).

Homeschooling doesn’t have a lot of diversity. While your school district might not be diverse, homeschooling is even less so. According the the HSLDA, 82% of homeschoolers are protestant, and 12% are Catholic. I’m not even going to start on race. Exposure to other cultures, religions, and ideas can happen, but it takes great effort on the parents’ part. So many homeschoolers roll their eyes at “socialization”. While homeschoolers do get socialized, their circles are often more limited (which is what some parents want) and they are exposed to more unusual people groups. In spite of my mom’s efforts, I grew up thinking that a lot of things were normal that actually weren’t normal, because everyone around me did them. It took a degree at a state university and a crazy post-college job experience to whack that out of me!

Because homeschooling is a countercultural movement, it attracts those who like to buck the system…just for the heck of it. There are big religious and political nuts in homeschooling. Many of the stereotypes you’ve seen ARE true, contrary to the efforts of many to dissuade the public. There are also nice religious people, and I know many of them….but the others are there, too!

All this being said, most of my closest friends are former homeschoolers, and they are all pretty normal. 🙂 It’s not fair to elevate a particular system above another, and I think that homeschooling can get both an overly negative and overly positive rap.

It can’t guarantee academic success, and it can’t protect or shelter, even if kids are cooped up on a farm. Human nature is human nature, as we all saw in The Village. It’s not inherently better or safer than any other form of schooling, and I’ve seen a lot of homeschool parents fall prey to that type of thinking

**I wanted to highlight this, because it’s a big problem. Preparing for college depends solely on the parent’s initiative, which often doesn’t start till late junior or senior year. There’s a lot of preparation and research that has to be done, and let me tell you, it doesn’t happen all the time. I’ve seen brilliant kids, even ones with great first-time SAT scores, held back because of a failure on the parents’ part to navigate the college prep experience. I could tell you stuff that would make you sick to your stomach for days.

Also, I’m well aware that this happens in both public and private schools. Just want to make sure we’re all equals here. 😉

For your enjoyment…