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    #11852 - 03/18/08 06:48 AM Defensive Homeschoolers?
    Kriston Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    Hi! I'm taking quotes out of context (fairly, I hope!), so please go over to the original thread if you want to read the whole posts. *** Link no longer working ***

    But these are the parts that I wanted to respond to in this new thread:

    Originally Posted By: acs
    The irony of this all suddenly struck me. In the country at large, homeschoolers are definitely the minority, often mocked or mistreated because of their decision. As a result, a little defensiveness makes sense, as does a certain evangelical-ness when you have found that homeschooling really works.


    Originally Posted By: PhysicistDave
    I suspect that I may also have a different conception than many people of what social experiences count as “positive”: I think that “socialization,” even with good peers, tends to boil down to learning to be like other people (which of course is one of the reasons why it is better to have “good” peers than “bad” peers). I think that is a bad thing. I want my kids to be honest, courteous, kind, etc., but I would rather they be a bit blind to all of those little social cues and pressures that cause most people to fall in line with the “group,” whether what the group is doing is good or not.
    ...
    I’m not sure that most homeschoolers are very defensive about homeschooling, except in the limited sense of wanting to protect their legal rights.
    ...
    And, in fact, when I have talked both with acquaintances and with random strangers about our homeschooling over the last four years, I’ve gotten an overwhelmingly positive response.


    Well, I have felt defensive about my choice to homeschool, and I have seen other homeschoolers acting as if they are defensive. I have had to explain to friends and relatives why I am doing something so out of the mainstream. I have read and enjoyed the "Bitter Homeschooler's Wishlist," which though an exaggeration for comic effect, is only funny because it has some truth to it. ( http://www.secular-homeschooling.com/001/bitter_homeschooler.html )

    The fact is, most of us secular homeschoolers do want to fit in. We do want to be liked by others and accepted. We want our kids to be liked and accepted. People are more than little brains; they're social creatures.

    To that end, we don't like being in the minority. We want to feel like what we're doing is okay. It's a big reason why HSers groups exist. I think acs is right: I think some measure of mild defensiveness is the norm among homeschoolers and is perfectly natural. You may not feel defensive, Dave, but I really think you're the exception, not the rule there.

    But one of those misconceptions that I'm trying to disabuse people of is the notion that homeschooling is inherently anti-social--it's just not! At the risk of being wrong, I'll say that I think Dave may be trying to distinguish between "socialization," which HSers tend to think of as the need to conform (and therefore tend to reject), and "being social," which homeschoolers tend to embrace just as all human beings do. Socialization is viewed as being lock-step with those around you; being social is having friends and having fun. (That's why you should never ask a HSer about "socialization" unless you want to see smoke come out of his/her ears!)

    You could choose to shun people as part of your homeschooling, I suppose. You could do as I joke about and really lock your kids in the basement and throw books down the stairs to them, but no one I know does anything close to this. We're far more out in the world than kids are in school, really. When else in life does one interact only with people who are all exactly the same age, regardless of interests or abilities? Never! IRL (as opposed to school), we gravitate toward people we enjoy, jobs that offer like-minded co-workers, and activites that interest us. School is the one and only time in life when virtually all that matters is one's age. I think that's weird. It's certainly counterproductive for many GT kids.

    But unlike Dave, I don't want my kids to be blind to social cues. Even peer pressure I want my kids to see and understand for what it is. I want my kids to be well-liked in groups and in one-on-one interactions because I know the value of those interactions. I do think HSing could be viewed by others as a potential stumbling block to those interactions, so especially with new people I feel a little, well, nervous, I guess. It's only natural.

    99% of the conversations I've had with non-HSers about HSing have been positive and supportive. Even people I thought sure would have something bad to say have been positively chirpy about our family's choice! smile But the 1% that wasn't positive was ugly and really blindsided me. I wasn't expecting the nastiness I got about it. It only takes one of those conversations to make a person feel defensive.

    It's especially hard for us because we are NOT HSing as a philosophical choice, but because we didn't see any way for our school to teach our child. So when people hear that we're HSing, I have three equally lousy choices: 1) let them assume we're religious HSers, when we're not (!), 2) tell them that we're HSing because school wasn't working for DS6, which leads them to think that he's a behavioral problem, when he isn't, or 3) tell them that he's "really bright." In every case, they're likely to be turned off to us. So defensive, yup, I'll cop to it!

    I guess this is a long way of saying that while I agree with a lot of what you wrote, Dave, I don't think you speak for everyone in HSing. I think acs's observations about defensiveness were right on target. I think there are two things that spur HSers to be evangelical: being so sure you're right that you have to tell others (I think this one is the minority), or because we like the choice we've made, but we feel defensive about it. That's the more common cause, I think.

    Human beings don't argue when we know we're right. Then we shrug, say "You're wrong," and let it go. We argue when we feel insecure. I think many of us who HS feel a little insecure. And why shouldn't we? We're choosing to do something outside the norm. It's still the right choice for our families, but a fair percentage of us are still a wee bit nervous about choosing to be so different. That's normal, and it's okay. But it does tend to make people feel a bit defensive...and therefore evangelical.

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    #11858 - 03/18/08 07:22 AM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: Kriston]
    OHGrandma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/05/08
    Posts: 830
    I think when we read posts about what educational choices others have made for their children, we must always remember those are the choices they have made for their children. We can always learn from those posts, even if what we learn is to confirm our choices may be 100% opposite, but for the reasons that are right for us.

    I love reading all the different stories, and how everyone makes education work for their families. Right now I see my GS8 as following the same path as acs's child, with a bit of Grinity's method thrown in with afterschooling. Who knows, later things may change and require a different approach. If we didn't have the wide variety of approaches presented on this forum we may not be aware of all that is available.

    It's good to openly address the defensiveness that we all feel at times. It reminds everyone that we are open to all input about educational choices and opportunities. Another thing to keep in mind, the thing we have in common on this board is being passionate about getting the best education for our children. When something works well for our child, of course we sound passionate about it. Nothing wrong with that, don't we love to see the same passion in our children? Just keep in mind, "one size does NOT fit all!"

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    #11860 - 03/18/08 08:52 AM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: OHGrandma]
    Lori H. Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/26/07
    Posts: 982
    I often feel that I am being judged by teachers and other homeschoolers and even family members, so yes, I am a little defensive.

    On a recent vacation, I could feel my geology professor sister-in-law watching us but she only commented on my 2E dyspraxic son's inability to use a knife properly. Her children have gone to the best schools and they will only go to the best colleges. Since our state does not require an appropriate education for 2E children, we have no choice but to do the best we can within our budget. I have only a two year degree in accounting but I am determined to give my son a better education than the more experienced and better educated teachers who ignored the areas in which he was gifted but only cared that he learn to color in the lines.

    My common sense tells me that letting my son read and discuss the "thought-provoking" books with high level vocabulary that he loves instead of the books his 4th grade age mates are reading in school will build his comprehension and feed his need for learning better than what the public school offers. Common sense tells me that my son needs to type most of his work in addition to practicing handwriting. Common sense tells me that he needs occupational therapy for his disability, not the "gift of time" that they recommend for kids with motor delays. Common sense tells me that children learn better without having to worry about the bullies. Common sense tells me that a teacher's education degree is worthless if the teacher doesn't use common sense in educating children with varying abilities and learning differences.

    We feel like we are very much a minority. There is very little support for twice exceptional children like my son, so we have to do it alone and try not to worry about what other people think.

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    #11861 - 03/18/08 09:44 AM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: Kriston]
    kimck Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/20/07
    Posts: 1134
    I hear you Kriston and we're not homeschooling yet. I'm already well aware that my in-laws are going to be VERY uncomfortable with the idea of homeschooling at least initially. They don't even really "get" that DS7 is years beyond age mates and reading at a higher level than his cousins 4-5 years older. I did have my sister in law pull me aside one day and basically say "What are you going to do with this kid?". She sees DS once or twice a year and totally picked up on him immediately.

    I'm also really anxious about getting grouped in with the far left conservative Christian home schoolers because we could not be further from that! We actually knew a couple of these kids from my son's music school and it seemed like these poor kids rarely, if ever got to talk to people from outside a tiny circle. They would practically jump on my lap while their mother attended lessons with another child. If the public schools want to fill my kid's heads with a liberal agenda - I'm all for it! wink Just be prepared for 10,000 questions. Part of the appeal of homeschooling to me is the secular HS groups ARE diverse!

    I also feel defensive for bailing on public school! I really do think our school IS a good school for many kids, but it doesn't work at all for our kid. And neither DH or I are very strong at political type advocacy. We'd be much better at homeschooling than we would be at advocating full time.

    Anyway - thanks for the post!

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    #11864 - 03/18/08 10:20 AM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: kimck]
    Kriston Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    My pleasure. smile

    And I identify with every single thing you just wrote, kimck! (Except that the uncomfortable relatives are my own parents, not my in-laws. At least not to my knowledge.)

    If I may make a suggestion: expect the in-laws to hate the idea and to constantly criticize you. Make your peace with that and be able to accept their criticism with a peaceful, non-defensive smile and some variation on the following statement: "I hear what you're saying. I respect your opinion and I love you. But we are DS's parents and we have to do what we think is best for him. I hope you can respect us enough to accept that." You can't change your in-laws (or anyone else who hates the HSing idea); all you can do is change the way you respond to their criticism. FWIW...

    As for being lumped in with people you're not like...I feel pretty fortunate that there's a large secular HSing community where we live, so the assumption is generally not that we're ultra-religious, ultra-right-wing, afraid of the world, or any of the other things that people assume without even thinking in other parts of the country. I've read enough blogs and posts on forums by other secular HSers to know that we're pretty doggone lucky to be where we are. It's a lot harder to HS in some other places than it is where I am. I just wish I had a better way to answer the inevitable (even if unspoken) question, "Why are you HSing?"

    And I completely agree with you about feeling guilty/defensive about leaving the public schools. That more than anything is where I have felt attacked and judged--as you rightly note, Lori. I've actually been told (by someone who should know better!) that we owe it to the public schools to keep DS6 there. Um, no! Sorry! I find that notion to be patently ridiculous. I can't sacrifice my son to the good of the schools. My primary (and secondary and tertiary...) responsibility is to my child. The school will just have to get by without him.

    But I still mourn the education I had envisioned for him. I know the one he's getting is a good one, but it's not the one I thought he'd get. I'm reminded of the great article that Grinity linked to that talked about planning a trip to Italy, only to be told at the last minute that you were going somewhere equally nice, but somewhere that was not Italy. It throws you for a loop. Ultimately you have to accept that you're just not going to Italy, but it can be hard to let go of the dream. I think that makes me feel defensive, too.

    And finally, I think I feel defensive just by nature of having an HG+ child. In a culture that values conformity, that frowns on giftedness, that denies the possibility that a child is capable of doing "that," whatever "that" happens to be (reading early, doing algebra early, etc.)...I think I feel defensive about not being able to say "I'm HSing because my child is profoundly gifted and the school can't handle him" in a voice louder than a furtive whisper.

    That's the part I think Dave has hit right on the nose. But frankly, it's the part I feel most defensive about.
    _________________________
    Kriston

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    #11870 - 03/18/08 10:53 AM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: Kriston]
    kimck Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/20/07
    Posts: 1134
    Oh, the HG+ child business is really painful. It's like the invisible elephant in the room. I think I spend most of my days yet in denial. Sure I come to the GT board, but really, my kid is on the cusp of this GT thing, right? Of course, that is the REAL reason homeschooling has even come up as an option for us. But it's incredibly hard to verbalize that, and sometimes even admit to myself. We're kind of embracing it as a lifestyle choice we'd like to try too and see how it feels. We are also lucky to live in a urban/liberal area with plenty of secular/GT homeschoolers. I'm amazed what's popping out of the woodwork now that we're looking.

    This morning I read independently with about half the children in DS's first grade class. I'm always surprised that first graders REALLY do read at first grade level. It's quite good for my denial.

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    #11873 - 03/18/08 11:10 AM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: kimck]
    acs Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/05/07
    Posts: 797
    Originally Posted By: kimck


    I also feel defensive for bailing on public school! I really do think our school IS a good school for many kids, but it doesn't work at all for our kid. And neither DH or I are very strong at political type advocacy. We'd be much better at homeschooling than we would be at advocating full time.



    I think for me when I am guilty of being critical of homeschoolers (which I confess I am in my own community--not you guys) it is often because they parrot all the cliched lines about how bad public schools are for kids without ever giviing them a chance. Whereas, I think that public schools are amazing. Free education for everyone--wow!! We shouldn't take that for granted; it's part of what makes America great and lots of countries do not have it. Maybe it needs some minor or major tweeking, but it is still such a fabulous thing that I want to support it in any way I can. For us that has meant many hours of volunteering at the school; it also means that DS's presence there is bringing in funding and that by being a good role model for others he is part of the larger community. So that's where I get critical, when i think that people are pulling kids out without considering that there are larger social issues at stake. And some days when I see lots of HS parents at the library and nobody volunteering at my son's school, I do get grumpy about it!

    But, Kimck, that is NOT you!!!! You are trying it. You do understand what the school is going through. You do care about the other kids at your local school. And, I would suspect that the others on the board have the same approach to kimck. And even if your child isn't in PS this year, I know you are still supportive of PS in general.

    Does it work to say, "Well, we tried PS adn there were some things that were really great about it. There were some great teachers etc etc. But in the end, it just wasn't a good fit for us. Maybe when DS is a bit older, we'd like to try it again." Just a thought....



    Edited by acs (03/18/08 11:11 AM)

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    #11874 - 03/18/08 11:27 AM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: acs]
    Cathy A Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/26/07
    Posts: 1783
    Loc: West coast, USA
    Quote:
    I just wish I had a better way to answer the inevitable (even if unspoken) question, "Why are you HSing?"


    I think of HS as a customized education. Maybe when people ask you why you're homeschooling you could say that you want to give your child a customized education that allows him to pursue his passions and gives him extra support in areas where he needs it. No need to feel defensive about that!

    Also, I think that people can be supportive of the idea of free, public education without feeling like they need to participate in it. Yes, it should be there as an option for all and a failsafe for those who need it. But don't feel like you have to tolerate a bad fit if you have other options--like HS. I don't see how remaining in a bad PS situation could possibly benefit or support the public school system. It would be a drain on that system. It doesn't seem hypocritical at all to support PS in principle even though you don't send your child to PS.

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    #11876 - 03/18/08 11:45 AM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: Cathy A]
    acs Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/05/07
    Posts: 797
    Originally Posted By: Cathy A
    It doesn't seem hypocritical at all to support PS in principle even though you don't send your child to PS.


    Cathy, I do agree with you when we are talking about a few kids being taken out for specific reasons.

    Warning: What is coming is a total rant, based on my personal experience in my town and has nothing to do with you all!

    I do see a real problem in our district. My very personal issue in my district is that everyone who can (middle class families) seems to be pulling their kids out of PS to put them in charter schools (which have clearly, in our district, been set up to only work for white middle class kids), private school (white middle class) or homeschool (white Christian conservatives). These are the parents who would be on the PTA or volunteering in the classroom if they were in PS. Meanwhile the public school no longer looks like our district in general. Poor single parent families, people just scraping by, and non-English speakers are typical in PS, but not seen at all in the private, charter and homeschool. Basically, it's segregation and I don't think it's fair. This is putting a huge financial strain in the district and hurting the quality of the public school system.

    And this is my problem: most of the parents pulled their kids out, not because they were having problems, but because they were afraid that they might have problems or they didn't want their kids associating with the "people who live in trailers" (and yes I have heard people say this). I am not mad at any of you, but I am mad at my local friends, because I have seen our PS go down hill because the white middle class are proactively removing their children.

    Thanks for listening!


    Edited by acs (03/18/08 11:48 AM)

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    #11878 - 03/18/08 11:50 AM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: acs]
    Cathy A Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/26/07
    Posts: 1783
    Loc: West coast, USA
    Aren't charter schools public? Can't anyone sign up?

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