I recently entered into a discussion in the comment section of a blog I like to read. One particular comment made me very nervous because the commenter was giving her opinion of homeschoolers. She admitted that most homeschoolers she has come across are very dedicated and the children are bright and well adjusted. Then, she gave her opinion of a family who she doesn't believe should be educating their own children in their own home. Here is what was said about the family:
...one family whom I believe should NOT be homeschooling. The oldest is now in college, but she had to start at community college...
The kids themselves have told me what their schooling consists of, which is little more than working their way through workbooks. A love of learning has not been cultivated as they've told me they hate school.
Why does this make me nervous? It makes me nervous and I'm afraid it is a dangerous way to think because each parent should be free to set the standards for what is expected in their own home with their own children.
For example, my husband and I think that our children should have fresh fruits and vegetables available daily, memorize scriptures, and be shielded from "news" about the likes of Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton. I can pretty much guarantee, though, that there are parents on our block who do not hold these same standards. Do I peer into their windows or quiz their children about their parents' nutritional standards? No. Why? Because it is none of my business.
We have standards that we believe are best for our family. Like homeschooling, mom staying at home, birthing babies in a hospital, allowing God to control our family size, and others, but we do not expect to be so bold as to tell others what the standards should be for their families.
We have friends who have ten children and friends who have none, friends who birth babies at home and friends who schedule c-sections, friends with moms at work and friends with moms at home, friends who homeschool and friends who public school.
Parents have the right and the freedom to set the standards for their families, whether or not anyone else thinks they have made the best decision. Obviously, my husband and I have strong feelings about the choices we make, else we wouldn't knock ourselves out going against the flow on so many issues.
We also feel very strongly that it is a dangerous proposition to think that some other person or governing body has the right to set the standards for our family. At one time or another, we have been told that we should:
- stop having children
- make sure our children have their own rooms
- allow 3 years spacing between children
- make sure our children play sports
- buy a car for each child when they turn 16
- pay for college for each child
and a myriad of other "shoulds" that someone has decided would be best for our children.
If someone would like to have those standards for their family, then I wish them all the best. I do not, however, believe that I should alter my standards to meet theirs.
Whenever we enter into the business of setting standards for others, someone will always be sacrificing their convictions, bending their standards to meet the standards that someone else has set.
I am all for children receiving the best education possible, and I am not talking about cases of neglect or abuse here. I am talking about the freedom to choose to focus on what each individual family decides is best. If I want my 5 year old to memorize entire Psalms, know the books of the Bible, and be able to sing hymns from memory before she can write her numbers 1 - 30, that is my prerogative.
I am sure you all have read about the German homeschool parents who were arrested because the government does not allow homeschooling in that country or the forced abortions that take place in China because the government there has decided that too many children are burdensome. Is this really the direction we want to go? I fear that when we want to set standards for others in matters of opinion we are treading dangerously near that type of intervention.