The American Prospect has a most excellent article up today, The Homeschool Apostates, by Kathryn Joyce, exploring the growing visibility of young adults who are organizing and pushing back against their parents’ decision to use home education as a tool for familial control:
Even conservative Patrick Henry felt like a bright new reality. While much about the college confirmed the worldview Lauren grew up in, small freedoms like going out for an unplanned coffee came as a revelation. She describes it as “a sudden sense of being able to say yes to things, when your entire life is no.”
Family ties began to fray after she met John, a fellow student who’d had a more positive homeschooling experience growing up; he took her swing dancing and taught her how to order at Starbucks, and they fell in love. Her parents tried to break the couple up—at one point even asking the college to expel Lauren or take away her scholarship for disobeying them. Their efforts backfired; soon after her graduation, Lauren married John and entered law school.
As someone who grew up within the early unschooling wave of the modern home education movement, and thrived within it, I often find myself frustrated by most media coverage of homeschooling — it is too often simplistic, judgmental, one part awe (such well-behaved children!) one part hysteria (equating home education, per se, with child abuse). In contrast, Joyce does an excellent job of covering a specific type of homeschooling, as well as teasing out the highly gendered nature of Christian homeschooling culture. She also foregrounds the thoughtful, passionate voices of home-educated young people who look back on their childhoods and the Christian subculture they were immersed in with a critical eye.
While I don’t agree with everything these ex-homeschoolers have to say, I think their voices are crucial ones for us to listen to — particularly those of us who have benefited from the low level of state oversight that enabled our families to do our own thing while these controlling parents to did theirs. I don’t always agree with the remedies these ex-homeschoolers propose, but I do believe their experiences must be taken seriously. We can’t in good faith build a culture of learner-led education on the backs of young people who have been denied a very basic level of self-determination and autonomy.
Anyway. Go read the whole thing.