When I was a home schooled student, thirty years ago, no one really argued about what it “meant” to be a home educator: You either were, or you weren’t.
This is no longer the case, of course. Now, arguments flourish about whether you’re “really” a home educator if you make use of your local public school, or take online classes, or put together some sort of hybrid program to meet your child’s particular needs. (This came up recently when I chatted with Andrew Kern on Forma, in case you’re interested.
The fact that this debate even exists is, in itself, a sign of stability: A movement has to reach a critical mass and have a pretty long history before its members can devote energy to sniping at each other rather than defending the movement itself. But this particular sniping is pointless.
I was reminded again of this when I came across this useful survey of the present state of home schooling from Education Week. I particularly appreciated this:
With the advent of online-course taking and growing school choice options, the boundaries between home schooling and traditional public schooling are becoming more diffuse.
There are full-time virtual or online charter schools where students learn at home from teachers over their computers and parents act more as educational guides, flexible setups where students attend a traditional school part time and home school part time, and education savings account programs, in which some states allow families to use the per-pupil funding allocated to their children on approved home-schooling expenses.
And hurrah for them, I say. Each family’s situation is different. Each student is different: that’s one of the principles that is (or should be) at the core of the decision to home school. Attempts to claim some sort of imaginary high ground by defining “pure” home education as superior to a “hybrid” form do nothing good for either parents or children.
Have a look at the links above: There are so many wonderful ways now to tailor an education to your child. Embrace them. If you have to classify yourself, try out this old Home School Online set of categories. Eventually, if you stick with it, you’ll get to this one:
The Just Plain Homeschooler: Most families who stick with homeschooling metamorphose into this type eventually. Homeschooling has become an accepted and normal part of their life. They rarely think about their reasons for homeschooling anymore. They’re comfortable with the lifestyle, they no longer feel they need to defend their decision, and homeschooling doesn’t occupy their thought process twenty-four hours a day.
at which point you’ll have so many interesting things going on in your life that you won’t feel the need to create artificial hierarchies of worth and slot other parent-educators into them.