A couple of weeks ago our local news channel did a two-part bit on homeschooling. Overall I was quite disappointed; the editors made sure to reinforce every stereotype out there for homeschoolers while paying lip service to research that dispels these myths.
They also had a school principal (or head of the teacher’s union, can’t remember now) to give “the other side” (like it isn’t represented in every facet of daily life)…and one comment she said just made me want to tear my hair out. She noted that schools have diverse backgrounds of kids, from poor to wealthy, of all abilities and races, etc…she suggested that, in this way, school provides kids with a taste of what society is like. She implied that, because of this, schooled children are somehow “involved” with society.
Besides the obvious criticisms one can level at this claim, such as where in society one finds adults segregated by age, there is also the fact that school kids simply don’t have the time to truly involve themselves in the real world. Oh sure, they’ll take a field trip to an old folks’ home. But such involvements really seem artificial to me. Going on a field trip, with a group of 30 kids all your age and only a handful of adults, is nothing like being involved as an individual.
Then Miranda over at Nurtured By Love posted this story about her family’s involvement at the local community garden. She points out that all the kids attending were homeschoolers, and that this was the case for many community events they attended.
My kids haven’t yet reached a level of maturity where they can be taken to such places, but you can bet that when they can we’ll be getting involved with our community. Volunteering in park cleanups, invasive plant removal programs, food banks, etc are all open to us. I think Miranda was right that the school kids really don’t have the time. But I also think that school kids are removed and isolated from the real world, and so perhaps can’t feel their place within it as homeschooled kids do. It’s hard to participate in something when you don’t feel any ownership of it.
It just seems strange to me that we consider school kids part of society, and yet we remove them from it for most of their lives. Add in homework and busy commuting parents and it’s no wonder that few of us have a true sense of community involvement. As a homeschooling family, we look forward to building a connection to our community as part of our daily life experiences.