The thoughts in this post may possibly go against the grain of some people's mindsets. I don't usually write controversial posts on my blog because I'm far too worried about people's opinions about my opinions.... but it's been on my mind so I decided to write it anyway. :-) Here goes, and no offense intended towards anybody.
Have you ever been in a conversation with other homeschoolers or homeschool graduates, and all of the sudden start hearing all sorts of statistics flying (and as you know, 76.5% of all statistics are made up on the spot ;-) ), about how much smarter homeschoolers are than public schoolers (to use the homeschool term :-P ), about homeschoolers going on to far more successful careers, knowing more practical skills, getting better scores on their ACTs, and actually having a better social life than public schoolers (because all homeschoolers know public schoolers don't know how to socialize with adults, right?)? (And then, almost inevitably, someone makes a comment about having graduated at sixteen!)
To answer the very long-winded question... Yes, I have been in conversations like that.
Let me make something clear before I move on. I love homeschooling. I by no means regret being homeschooled, and there is a very high possibility of me homeschooling my own kids one day. Homeschooling is very often a safer environment than public school, and there is more freedom to focus on the particular aspect of study the child is most interested in or needs most help in. You may not get snow days, but you do get to take off school and go on vacation any time of the year. Homeschooling also provides an opportunity for the parents to be there for their kids more and mentor their children to know Christ (though that is not always the case). Homeschooling is great. This article is not to prove that homeschooling is bad. I am not against homeschooling. And I'm glad my parents homeschooled me. :-)
Okay. Got that cleared up.
The thing I am against is the really disgusting spirit of pride often carried about by people in the homeschooling movement-- parents and children alike. The scenario I presented above is very similar to a conversation I was listening in on recently, which triggered the train of thought that led to this article being written. But before I start pointing fingers and talking about how disgusting other people's pride is, I need to remember... I have been there myself, and it's very easy to be there even now, if not about homeschooling, then about other matters.
Growing up homeschooled, I had a very homeschooled mindset. Anyone who was not homeschooled was known as a "public-schooler" (as was referenced in the opening paragraph). Homeschooling, in my mind, was always and only the best choice for anybody and everybody, parents who sent their kids to a public (or even private) school were bad parents who didn't care about their children's spiritual needs, and homeschooled children were inevitably smarter and more successful than other children. When people would bring up the argument of "How can your kids have socialization if they don't go to school?" I would wave it off as an inapplicable argument, even though for several years the only friend my age that I spent time with on a regular basis was a fictional character in a book (Millie Keith, to be specific :-) ).
As I've grown older and seen more beyond the realm in which I grew up, I've begun to see that many of my pre-suppositions about how much better homeschoolers were than other children were incorrect or warped. I am not saying that homeschool graduates aren't successful, but I am saying public school graduates can be successful too. I am not saying that homeschoolers don't know how to socialize, but I am saying that public schooled know how to socialize too! And I am saying that just because someone graduates at sixteen doesn't mean they are smarter than someone who graduates at eighteen.
We as homeschoolers create this idea in our mind that we are so much better than anybody else, that because we are homeschooled, we are somehow holier, smarter, and closer to God. But I am going to be radical (for a homeschooler ;-) ) and suggest that God couldn't care less whether we were homeschooled or not.
In Philippians 3, Paul looked back over the list of qualifications about himself that seemed like they ought to give him pretty good status before God. "If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh," he wrote, "I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless...." ("Graduated at 16, from a family of ten, a conservative Republican of Republicans; as to religion, a Protestant and anti-Satan's-Claus; as to theology, Reformed; as to fashion, dresses only; as to relationships, I never dated and I didn't kiss before I was married; a stay-at-home daughter and an ideal homeschooler...")*
Impressive list! It's easy to look at a list of qualifications and think those things made a person more holy, more nearly Christlike. However, Paul continues, "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."
A person can be the most upright person in the world, keeping to all the standards, an ideal homeschooler, but if that person has missed what it is to know Christ, to lay aside any faith in his own accomplishments and rest completely and solely in the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, he has gained absolutely nothing.
Don't take me wrong. Standards are a good thing. Homeschooling is often a great choice for families. If you graduate before 18 and become the town mayor by 20, good for you. But these things don't make a person closer to God or better than anybody else. In fact, most people aren't really impressed by what ultra-conversative homeschoolers consider accomplishments. (Most people don't really seem to think of going through 99 months of pregancy as a wonderful accomplishment to be praised... in fact, that's kind of an awkward piece of trivia to flaunt around people :-P ).
My point is that people get so caught up in statistics and trivia and standards that (seemingly) prove how much better they are than others (though it is rarely worded that way), that they lose sight of the only thing that really, truly matters... knowing God. And when I say "people", I include myself, because, as I said, pride in my own standards is no stranger to me either, though I wish it were. (I need to be careful not to make my own Philippians 3 list about being non-denominational and a reader of the ESV....) PRIDE IS DISGUSTING and the whole statistics/comparisons thing makes me want to gag. *gaaagggg*
Really, folks. For how great homeschooling is, it does not make you any better of a person in God's sight, and it does not make you a better Christian than the Christian mom who picks her kids up from the bus stop every afternoon. Are we willing to count all those "accomplishments" as loss? Because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ? "Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law [works], but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know Him..."
Knowing Him. That's what matters. Not what school you went to.
We need to get back to the basics of life:
A heart that is pure and a love that is blind,
A faith that is fervently grounded in Christ,
The hope that endures for all times--
These are the basics; we need to get back to the basics of life.
*revised list of "qualifications" is not particular to me... it was more of a compilation of various points considered ideal among ultra-conservative homeschooling groups