On The Third Day, The Lord Created the Remington Bolt-Action Rifle So Man Could Defend Hisself Against the Dinosaurs.

This is a work of the imagination intended to reflect a common stereotype. Any resemblance to homeschoolers, living or dead, is strictly coincidental.

This is a work of the imagination intended to reflect a common stereotype. Any resemblance to homeschoolers, living or dead, is strictly coincidental.

In case I didn’t tell you before: I homeschool our kids.

It’s a choice that raises a lot of eyebrows, especially among the many Europeans we encounter in the former colonial capital where we live.

“Do you do that for…religious reasons?” a German woman asked me. There was caution in her voice, as if she feared she was inquiring about some kind of bizarre and possibly gruesome secret rite. Another woman told me she doubted that I’d make any friends if I didn’t enroll my children in school. Others ask me—every time they see me—if I am going to keep doing that.

We don’t teach our kids at home because we are afraid they’ll learn something at school that conflicts with our religious views or our values, as was perhaps the primary motivation behind the pioneer wave of Christian home educators. (This might well remain a leading reason why many parents today homeschool their children.) I support state oversight of homeschooled students and fear the Home School Legal Defense Association’s influence, which often comes dangerously close to defending child abuse in the name of “parent’s rights.” At the same time, I’m irritated by the widespread prejudice against homeschooling that is perpetuated by misleading news reports, such as this piece by Michelle Goldberg. She claims that homeschooling “is almost entirely unregulated in much of the country” and opens by telling the story of a girl who died at the hands of her abusive parents. They were homeschoolers, of course.

Homeschooling has fallen out of favor among the demographic I most closely fit: young, “missional”-minded Christians. Last year, progressive Christian blogger and author Tony Jones argued, in a piece unsubtly titled “Death to Homeschooling!”, that homeschooling probably is anti-Christian. Jones wrote: “[T]o withdraw my children from public education is to not play my (God-given) role as a missional member of society.” Recently, Jennifer Slate, writing for Christianity Today’s “This is Our City” project, explained that sending her kids to the “poorest public school in the city” has helped her engage with what she believes God is already doing “for the common good” in her area.

{Read my piece in its entirety at the Convergent blog.}

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About Rachel Marie Stone
  • Morgan Guyton

    Like this title better than the title at Convergent. Thanks for this. We’ve flirted with spending some years in overseas mission so we will probably be doing what you’re doing.

  • Tuija

    Yes, yes, yes. Such a good call not to judge other families’ educational decisions without knowing what they do and why they do it. Kids are unique. Families are unique. And the years are, truly, so short…

    BTW: homeschooling is illegal in Germany and many other countries in Europe, and it’s only allowed in exceptional circumstances, for example for a child who has a serious long-term illness. This may explain the German woman’s attitude. Even in countries where it is legal, it is not as big a phenomenon as in the USA, so people who have not encountered it before often just don’t know what to think. The first thing that comes to their mind, unfortunately, may be the stereotype you have in the cartoon…