The More Interesting But Less Provocative Way

The blogger Tony Jones (“Theoblogy”) as had a series of posts on why homeschooling is terrible and awful and bad for society and you’re a bad Christian who doesn’t really love Jesus or your neighbor if you do it. My friend Helen Lee (author of The Missional Mom) wrote an excellent response at Scot McKnight’s blog, Jesus Creed.

I don’t really have any desire to enter into this particular debate. (If you want to get some idea of part of why we homeschool, read anything by John Holt or John Taylor Gatto.) I bring it up only because as I read Tony’s posts, which seemed to base the critique of homeschooling on a skewed, small sample of isolationist-minded homeschoolers, it occurred to me that disagreement and ‘controversy’ often happens because it is more fun (and pageview-garnering) simply to poke at what other people do without asking the really interesting questions.

For example, there are people who intentionally give birth, at home, with no professional in attendance. And people often screech about these “unassisted homebirthers” as being crazy, reckless, dangerous folks. But isn’t it more interesting (and useful) to ask “what is happening in the hospital (and in the culture) that people feel that birthing at home, alone, is preferable to birthing in a hospital? What’s the history here?”

Judgment and declaration drive up pageviews and Facebook shares and retweets. It’s fun to be all righteously indignant and judge-y, and I know this because not infrequently almost every day I read the news and get all worked up and think of devastating critiques, some of which leak out into my online bile duct Twitter account. 

But I suspect that it is asking, not declaring, that opens the way to fruitful conversation.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “The More Interesting But Less Provocative Way

  1. “asking not declaring” – great way to put it, Rachel. Declarations seem to shut down dialog, inviting merely counter-declarations which soon can escalate into completely unconstructive shouting matches. Some of the best interchanges I’ve witnessed, though, have been when one side has started with declaration and the other – instead of rising to the bait and issuing a counter-declaration – asked the appropriate question which led the first person to stop and think and then engage in true discussion.

    I want to do that more. I don’t do it often enough. More would be better.


    P.S. “Online Bile Duct” would be a great name for a blog. If only I’d read that phrase a week and a half ago, my blog might have taken a different turn!

  2. so good, Rachel. I dismiss those blogs altogether because I hate even virtual-relationships that are tense. Makes me nervous. But I get fired up, too, and instead of leaving emotional responses, I usually explore on my own. But just so this post gets lots of coverage – YOU CRAZY HOME-SCHOOLING MOTHER WHO IS WAY COOLER THAN ME!!! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU??!

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