Homeschooling is a completely valid option for a child’s education and should by no means be looked down upon as an incompetent and ineffective teaching pathway that produces brainwashed and socially stunted children. Homeschooling is a lot of work, but it reaps the benefits of flexibility and full transparency.
A short while ago, my Instagram feed was full of reels showing adorable traditional families homeschooling their children. The videos made me smile as I glimpsed the fullness of the bond between the mother and her children — idealised for the digital platform, of course, but wholesome nonetheless. Far less wholesome were many of the comments underneath these videos, which I will briefly respond to in the following.
As for me, I went to conventional institutional schools as a child — public and Catholic schools. However, many of my cousins were homeschooled, and the following comments couldn’t be less representative of them. Having just recently completed my Master of Teaching, I feel prompted to clear the air about some of these homeschooling stereotypes from the perspective of a graduate teacher. So, without further ado, this is a teacher’s defence of homeschooling.
First of all, let’s address this “brainwashing” idea. This seems to imply that schools would never brainwash their students — which is a ridiculous thing to believe. In recent times, we have seen woke narratives permeate into school cultures and even curriculums. We have seen religion pushed out of schools. We have seen STEM hailed and promoted as the most important of school subjects at the expense of the liberal arts.
There have been several instances in which students have been discouraged from criticising, questioning, or speaking out against selected narratives — and this is the hallmark of indoctrination. Schools certainly can indoctrinate children, which is why transparency with parents is vital.
Raising one’s own child with one’s own values is not comparable. Children need that stability and support, and parents have the authority to provide this. Schools do not have the authority to step in between a parent and their child. At the same time, however, indoctrination can certainly happen at home, too.
If indoctrination is just teaching a person to accept an idea uncritically, from a biased point of view, sheltered from other perspectives, then this can happen at home if education is narrow. (The age and maturity of the child are also important considerations.) Indoctrination is something that can happen at home just as much as at school. However, only one has the added disgrace of acting behind a parent’s back.
“Keep homeschooling your kids. I need janitors and cleaning ladies.”
“This is why US education standards are plummeting.”
“Increased homeschooling coincides with the rise in undereducated and misinformation, oddly enough.”
Next, there is the idea that homeschooling produces poorer academic outcomes. This assumption surely has to be born from a simple lack of understanding about how homeschooling works and what kinds of resources are used. As with normal schooling, homeschooling follows a set curriculum. Common content is covered, and students have to meet set achievement standards. It is unusual for parents to write their own curriculum.
Statistically, homeschooling is very often on par with, or above, public schooling in terms of academic performance. According to one study, the home-educated typically score 15 to 25 percentile points above public-school students on standardised academic achievement tests.