Over on Snavley Freebirds is an interesting essay written by a young man who has always been unschooled until he decided to try a year of public school as a freshman, Education from the Free Eye. It presents an interesting perspective of schooling and education from the experience of someone who has stood on both sides of it. The entire essay is worth reading, but a statement made in the introduction by one of his parents particularly caught my attention:
I regret that he felt that I talked about public school as a “bad thing” because I really didn’t mean to portray it as “bad”. I often countered (or defended) my stance to unschool and often mentioned some of the negatives about public school and he took that as my thinking it was ALL bad.
My daughter frequently asks questions about school, why we homeschool and why other people do not. The second question is for me the easiest; the other two are too easy to misrepresent to a child who has no point of reference other than what her parents tell her. Interestingly, however, if you ask my daugther what she likes about homeschooling, her answer will focus on what is wrong with public schools, a system she has never set foot in. Her criticisms are true, in a caricatured sense, but without experience to draw from they come across as rather comical to me. I know that she doesn’t really know what she is talking about, and regret that out of all our conversations, these few points against the public school system seem to have stuck in her mind.
When my husband and I talk about the homogenizing affect of schooling, most people would recognize in that criticism a tendency and a challenge of going through the school system, not an absolute rule that the system turns out only automatons of the state. And while I have heard that term as well, I think it is used and understood largely as hyperbole, although I know there are those who do mean it in a more literal sense. My daughter, on the other hand, does not have the benefit of experience or study and she hangs on my words.
I am like a translator between two worlds: her homeschooling world, and the somewhat mysterious school world which seems so normal to everyone but her. I don’t want her to grow up with the same sort of stereotyped view of the school system which so many in our society seem to possess of homeschooling. I also don’t want her to go off and explain her limited view with “My mom said…”
It has made me a little more conscious of how I talk about school around my daughter. But it also makes me curious. How do you answer these questions? And have you noticed your children coming away with a somewhat distorted view of what school is based on your discussions regarding education?
Hat tip: Just Enough and Nothing More