Home-schooling looks like it’s trending

There was a time not too long ago, when pop culture and the entertainment media enjoyed mocking home-schooling. Home-schoolers were awkward and out of the mainstream, over-protective parents and children who would never socially mature, Hollywood told us time and time again.

While that perception, driven by Hollywood’s politics in general, might not yet be going away, the reality of home-schooling has changed. It might just be trending as a practice, and there might be good reasons for this.

If you took the time to read Andrea Johnson’s feature on regional home-schoolers in Sunday’s Minot Daily News, you could probably not help but notice the mix of people engaging in home-schooling, and the way it has evolved more into community schooling than “home-schooling” in a traditional sense. Parents and other participants are working together, crafting educational environments and experiences far more similar to those of our predecessors than to the public schools of today.

There are ample reasons to opt for home-schooling if one has it as an option: safety, control of curricula, familiarity with everyone involved, options or students to learn at their own pace and explore interests. More and more, home-schooling seems to be working as a collective, taking the venom out of the “social development” arguments of critics.

Home-schooling might or might not produce better educated individuals in the long term. Yet it seems likely it will produce “individuals,” since for a time, they were educated in a less cookie-cutter environment.

While Minot enjoys very good schools, other parts of the country don’t. And everywhere, the strong hand of government plays too big a role in the classroom. Perhaps that would be fine if our schools were the best in the world. By virtually no measurable is that the case. Defending mediocre (at best) practices at the expense of studying other options is illogical.

It is, naturally, politics that has driven much of the criticism of home-schoolers. Home-schooling is a threat to the educational bureaucracy; thus it is anathema to that bureaucracy and those dependent on it.

Home-schoolers aren’t the “other” today. They are parents who want the best for their children and are willing to put considerable effort into their child’s education. Maybe it will turn into the wave of the future. Maybe it’s a short-lived trend. But it’s an experiment well worth the effort and a useful study.