In a recent post, I likened homeschooling to defying gravity. Leaving the accepted way of schooling behind is a tough thing to do, not just because of the social pressure to conform (if you don’t ever feel that, then congratulations, you’re a sociopath!), but because there is so much work involved—work that no one outside our own homes really even imagines, let alone appreciates—that in order to succeed, a homeschooling family has to have a firm conviction that they’re doing the best thing. Conviction is our jet fuel. If there isn’t enough of it, gravity will always win out.
In the aforementioned post, I was doing that thing convicted people often do to keep the peace: I told public school parents I wasn’t judging them, all the while making it clear that those judgments could be made, except that I’m just such a reasonable person that I’m happy to live and let live. (And I am, honest! I don’t care what you do! But I wouldn’t be homeschooling if I hadn’t come to some conclusions, aka judgments, about education and child-rearing. Anyway…)
However, there’s an unspoken fact that I left dangling to keep things on the light side: Every day, thousands of American families are defying gravity! Homeschooling is better than possible. It’s the best way to go for a growing number of families!
If there isn’t something impressive about that, then it’s because we’ve become too accustomed to it, the same way we’re so accustomed to the miracle of flight that we don’t notice the dozens of contrails crisscrossing the sky above our heads every day. Most of us may remain earthbound, but there are hundreds of people just in the little patch of sky above my own head, every day, and they are miraculously not crashing down on my house! It’s so common that I look up at the sky and shrug my shoulders at it. Eh. Some planes. Whatever.
Why is that? Well, it’s because flying has never been impossible. It only seemed impossible because, before the brothers Wright figured it out, no one had seen it done yet. Now that it’s done every day, I can just take it for granted and go on with my life. But it’s still pretty wonderful when you stop to think about it.
In our generation, homeschooling has been proven to be possible, thanks to the work of the homeschooling pioneers who had a vision of home-centered childrearing that had been abandoned by their culture. Now we are, daily, doing the thing that must have seemed impossible to most parents of the previous generation. Not only are we keeping our kids home and teaching them to succeed in a more natural and fulfilling way, we’re doing it in huge numbers!
In the state of North Carolina alone, more than 7,000 homeschools are added to the Department of Non-Public Education records every year. Some of those families will run out of fuel pretty quickly and land with a thud, but many of them—maybe even most of them—are firm enough in their convictions that they’ll continue to homeschool until they run out of children. That’s exciting to me, but it’s not surprising.
We’ve always known that flight is possible. Birds and insects have testified to the fact long before humans figured it out. In the same way, homeschooling has always been possible. In fact, it was the norm for most of history, and it was well-accepted practice until the early twentieth century, for every kind of family from farmers to the wealthy elite. There’s nothing really surprising about educating children in the same place they sleep. Our society just forgot how.
I am extremely grateful to the parents of the previous homeschooling generation for rekindling the flame of do-it-yourself education. Their vision has made it possible for the rest of us to defy gravity with very little real trouble at all.
Image courtesy of emdot on Flickr.