Does Homeschooling Need To Be Re-branded?

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Last week my Facebook feed was full of discussion about the “Big Debate” between Ken Hamm and Bill Nye.  They were discussing creationism vs. evolution.

I’m not going to go down that bunny trail today.  I’ll just share this and say, “Yes. What he said!”

What you may not know is that Bill Nye is the center of a different controversy after this online conversation happened between him and a fan:

 Fan: “The homeschool community is severely lacking in real science curricula. Will you give thought to creating a science curriculum for the ever-growing number of secular homeschoolers?”

Bill Nye: “Use your judgment. The rest of us out here want your kids to appreciate society and the importance of working together in school and in life. A person working alone will probably not build the future 797 airplane, for example. It takes people who can work with and around people. Carry on.”

(Source: HomeschoolDiaries.com – Click here for the full post)

So, what I’m reading here is that Bill Nye said, “It doesn’t really matter what textbooks you use. By choosing to homeschool you’ve already turned your child into a weird unsocialized freak who will never be able to work in a group or accomplish great scientific feats.”

As a homeschooler, all of my responses immediately started popping up inside my brain.  Doesn’t he know that ivy league colleges are now seeking out homeschoolers?  Doesn’t he realize how many successful people, from Beatrix Potter to Olympic gold-medalist Jamie Anderson, were homeschooled? Has he ever read ANY study done on the test scores of homeschooled children; which are invariably higher than those of their public-schooled peers?

As I began my mental freak-out, one of the voices in my head put the brakes on and said, “No! He doesn’t know.  Because homeschool is poorly branded.”

Ask any homeschooler, “What’s the first concern people express?”  It is almost always,  “How will your child ever learn to socialize?”

We all groan at that question because, living this lifestyle, you know that humans are social.  Our children learn to socialize in the same way children learned to socialize for the many millennia before public school was invented… by spending time being social with persons of all ages, in a variety of settings.

Toddler-saurus Rex, learning to be social.

Toddler-saurus Rex, learning to be social.

But it’s that term:  HOME-SCHOOL.

It creates an image of a mom, hair in a bun, wearing a long dress, standing in front of her children who are seated at tiny desks and instructing them on nothing at all outside of Bible stories and milking cows.  The children are forbidden, of course, to watch TV, use computers or speak to anyone who doesn’t live a lifestyle exactly like theirs.

The reality is more fluid.

Some of us wear long dresses. Some of us teach Bible. Some of us forbid TV and some of us have dairy cows.  On the other hand, some of us teach class in our PJs. Some of us have kids who learn on-line.  Some of us live in urban areas.  Some of us are atheists.

Homeschoolers are as varied a group as public-schoolers.

However, there is one thing that EVERY homeschool family I have ever encountered personally or on-line has in common:  None of us do it alone.

Kids who are “homeschooled” are being taught in co-ops and via virtual classrooms. They have tutors and take part in non-core classes at public school.  They’re in music lessons. They go to Sunday school. They join community sports leagues.  They attend youth engineering and Junior Achievement conferences.

Our children are taught that, not only is it a good thing to learn to work within a group, it is vital.  They see that their parents freely admit, “I can’t do this entirely on my own. We are better and more successful when we wisely seek out the assistance of others,” and they learn from that.

Are there a handful of families out there who drop completely off the grid and out of society?  I’m sure there are but, just like 99.9% of Christians would never agree with the actions of Westboro Baptist Church, so 99.9% of homeschoolers would never think that raising your kids in a cave is a great idea.

So I propose we start a movement to ditch the name.  It’s too confusing.  Maybe we could be… “Un-public schoolers?”  Or… “Non-traditional educators?”

What do you think? Is it time to re-brand “homeschooling?”  What would be a better, more accurate term?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

 

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About Elizabeth in MI

I'm a married mama with 2 beautiful step children, 2 from my own belly, and the best husband in the universe! I work part time at my church as a secretary and youth director and I truly enjoy 3 hour naps and reading fiction beneath my education level. Write me a note, any time at lazyhippiemama@hotmail.com. I'd love to hear from you.

9 responses »

  1. I love that you shed light on this topic which I agree–does need to be rebranded. I have worked with people in NYC who have told me they were homeschooled and they were as social as the next so the stigma that exists needs to fall away. I congratulate you for all the hard work and effort you put not only into educating your children but also teaching the public about your personal experiences with home schooling. You rock 🙂

  2. I tried to post but got an error message. Sorry if this is a duplicate. While I agree that most homeschoolers have social contacts, some homeschoolers end up very limited in the types of connections they are allowed to make. Reading stories from home school anonymous, No Longer Quivering, and from writers like Carolyn Jessop were eye openers For me. Reading the news from the Homeschooling Legal Defense Association was also eye opening. I thought it was just legal assistance for homeschoolers but then realized they are strongly promoting an a certians parents-rights agenda. There are plenty of strong voices in the homeschool movement that hold schoolers, science, and the bulk of society in contempt. I think the isolation Bill Nye was referring to is not a matter of not having friends and acquaintances, but of ideological separation. And I think that it doesn’t match the experience of all/most homeschoolers but that homeschoolers have not been good at speaking out against it.

  3. I think that fewer and fewer homeschoolers fit that “awkward, un-socialized” stereotype that seems to over run mainstream thought. I definitely think that homeschooling needs to be re-branded, although I don’t know what term should replace it.

  4. We have just started down the road of homeschooling because of the social issues in public school. Sorry, but sending a kid to an emotionally unhealthy place because society says it’s normal just doesn’t feel right. There is something to children having their youth, building their confidence, and being proud of themselves that outweighs what society thinks is right, well in my book. Do I “home school” my son? Yes and no. Does he learn things? Yes! Does he sit in a chair for 8 hours a day? No. We are not always home and I don’t have a black board….. hmmmmm I am not homeschooling…. I am raising a child.

  5. yes, yes and yes. You hit it, right on the nose. I do think homeschool needs to be rebranded. Not all of us fit the image that inevitably pops into folks like Bill Nye’s minds! Tim Tebow was homeschooled, so was Shaun White… most homeschool kids are not freaks! They are well adjusted talented kids 🙂

  6. It’s changing. There are unsocialized people everywhere. Sometimes, it’s just their personality, you know? It’s just the way they are no matter where they attend school. They are just weird kids.

    With that said, I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ (wouldn’t call myself a Christian though) and know homeschoolers and public schoolers who have their heads in the sand. It goes across the board.

    Someone read one of my blog posts and said I was in the minority in the homeschooling community. She said that because i want my kids to have high level science and math and go to college – and a good one. Why not, they are well prepared, colleges want them – and I want them to have choices in life.. maybe I am in the minority and maybe not. Whatever it is, everybody makes the choices that they think are best. Everbody need to stay out of everybody elses business.

    Thanks so much for this high level post and great discussion. Thanks, as always, for linking up with us at the #homeschoollinkup.

    Regarding Bill Nye, I have never really followed him one way or the other. I just encountered him last week when I was looking up experiments with disney themes. I didn’t even choose to do his experiments – so there. The worst thing to be is narrow minded.

  7. I do think the socially awkward homeschooler is not as common as it used to be. As you have stated, homeschooling has evolved greatly and there are many resources available that used to not be for homeschooling. Thanks for sharing with us at The HomeAcre Hop!

    Please join us again Thursday at:
    http://summers-acres.com

    ~Ann

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