I never thought of myself as a radical. I was always a good girl, well behaved and obeying of my parents. I never went through “teenage rebellion.” I didn’t drink or do drugs, even in the international, hedonistic modeling milieu. I remember being on an assignment in the Seychelles for a French magazine when the hair dresser came to me and whispered, “Don’t drink the punch.” To my quizzical look he replied, grinning, “We spiked it with ecstasy. We’re trying to get the stylist high. I’m only telling you because I can tell you don’t do drugs.”
“Wow,” I thought to myself. “Is it that obvious I’m a goody-two-shoes?” It was.
Being such a non-rebel, when I began my home school journey, I was completely innocent. We were traveling, as a family, with the kids still enrolled in a (very understanding) public school. I simply tired of trying to teach my kids their public school’s assigned “make-up work” as I assumed the role of “substitute teacher” for them.
Then I discovered the JOYS of home schooling. As I researched how to educate my children, I learned precisely how our education system fails them, and how to combat that. I don’t have all the answers – especially not for our schools, but I will say that when parents do their daily drop-off, they don’t just waive their kids goodbye, but often their responsibilities. And the schools can’t take it all on – they’ve admitted as much by sending home homework.
We now have Common Core, which will ostensibly provide a better curriculum, improved learning conditions, and more standardized learning materials. CC has been debunked by many, unfortunately, and is really just a way to level the field of achievement. Providing sameness for all schools nationwide, CC establishes and systematizes a contempt for distinction, a hatred for exceptionalism, and a reverence for mediocrity. Why else would it push off eighth grade algebra until ninth grade, or substitute English literature with technical manuals as required reading?
What Common Core conspicuously fails to address is the disconnect that happens between drop off and school limitations, the crack where many children stumble and fall. Our schools are not lacking in their materials, but in their methodology, and responsible parents who discover this are left with few choices but home schooling.
There is exactly one authentically radical social movement of any real significance in the United States, and it is not Occupy, the Tea Party, or the Ron Paul faction. It is homeschoolers, who, by the simple act of instructing their children at home, pose an intellectual, moral, and political challenge to the government-monopoly schools, which are one of our most fundamental institutions and one of our most dysfunctional. Like all radical movements, homeschoolers drive the establishment bats.
Like the author of the above article postulates, home schooling families generally are counter-culture and anti-establishment. But there is one strong distinction from other radical groups – we don’t call out for revising the system. We don’t seek to impose our views on others. We demand only our freedom. While we may encourage and advocate for home schooling, we recognize that we are fringe, which will not change overnight. The only danger we pose to the establishment is our success – the success of our strategies over the system’s.
This isn’t what we asked for. The establishment moved away from us. And Common Core is just the most recent (and blatant) step. We seek to elevate our children, while the establishment seems to want to bring them all (down) to the same level. We admire uniqueness and the schools want homogeneity.
Schools and bureaucrats see homogeneity as easy, as if education could be like a fast-food franchise. Parents might view homogeneity as safety. Blend in, don’t attract attention, don’t stick your neck out. How confusing this must be for the children! We teach fairness and equality of outcome while incongruously worshipping those who excel. Our culture lauds individuals who stand out – all our TV, movie and reality ‘stars’ are testament of that; our politicians, our business leaders. But Common Core and our current system of education honors ‘average’ instead of exceptional, and refuses to encourage the skills and qualities of leadership. More importantly, our schools can’t compete on the international stage, and we are doing absolutely nothing to correct that, as a nation. But individually, some people do recognize this and they are bringing their kids home to educate them properly.
Passion, righteousness, and a dangerous, pervasive ideology (in opposition), creates radicals. I know. I am one, now.