First posted May 2007; edited slightly. This was the first year that our oldest Squirreling was doing some of her schoolwork at public high school.
Once again something like the "Mars and Venus" syndrome strikes at the blog world, in the guise of a plea for less divisiveness between die-on-that-hill-homeschoolers and those who feel there are equally acceptable educational alternatives.
We could go on in this vein for a long time, you know. "Much-Read Blogger" continues to swat at some of the "divisive" flies that are buzzing around him, his fans pull out their swatters to help, and the rest of us either duck for cover or come swatting back the best we can. Is the issue of divisiveness really the point of these "I know I'll be sorry I posted this" posts? To be frank I think they sound more like politely-disguised attacks on positions with which "Blogger" doesn't personally agree, so it shouldn't be surprising that a bit of fur has to fly over them.
The fact that you exist in whatever way you do is bound to make somebody out there uncomfortable or annoyed, no matter how laid back you are about it. If you've read my snowman condo story,* you'll know we have considered this ourselves. Among homeschoolers, our three girls are considered an average-to-small-sized family; in the mainstream world, just three (who would certainly not only build snowmen but throw snowballs at each other as well, making a fair amount of noise while doing so) are enough to make some kinds of neighbours cringe. Our kids don't burn things down, but they do make noise. We don't have a pet alligator or grow pot on the porch; but Mr. Fixit does do whatever car repairs he can in the driveway, and sometimes I do have several cars here at a time for a meeting. Some people don't like that, you know? Some people had a problem with the big yellow phone van that Mr. Fixit used to drive and park in the driveway, but that's what kept us fed.
If I happen to mention that we had three wonderful homebirths, some people will say that's fine or tell me that their brother's cousin just had a homebirth as well. Other people, though, will assume that I a) feel superior about that, b) think that everybody else should have homebirths, and/or c) must be slightly demented to have thought of doing that in the first place. Some people are just on a different track to start with. There are some people that I'd think were crazy if they said they wanted to give birth at home. But you see, it's not what I say about it that becomes the issue for a lot of people; it's just that we did whatever it was in the first place, so it's assumed that we must hold some kind of militant position on it. We also vaccinate our kids, buy whole wheat pasta but also an occasional bag of marshmallow cookies, and teach them Lutheran catechism even though we now go to an Anabaptist church.
But I digress.
Why did we start homeschooling? It wasn't out of a religious conviction that everyone should homeschool. It was what was right for our family and our child (just one at the time) We had quite a few reasons, large and small, including the fact that the school system here seemed more interested in finding ways to cut back on "optional" things (like special education) than they were in doing what was best for the kids. That is not the same as saying that schools themselves, any schools, must be inherently bad. If I held that position, then I would be at odds with Charlotte Mason, who provided for the needs of both schools and homeschoolers.
If there was a Charlotte Mason school around the corner, would I send them instead of teaching them here? I can't answer that one. I can only answer for things as they are here, now, for our family. In that sense I do agree with "Much-Read Blogger" because I think he's trying to say that each of us should look to our own convictions and listen for God's calling in making decisions about education. I only hope that he's just as serious when he says that he would afford us equal respect for our choices.
*Earlier that year, we were looking at condo townhouses, and someone warned us that the neighbours in those units were very fussy about noise and children and cars with hoods open and other normal parts of life. Apparently there had been a family there with several children, and in the winter they built a snowman on the "common area" between the units. Someone complained to the property manager, and Frosty disappeared. We decided that it did not sound like a good fit for us.