When I wrote this
Education is organized and communal experience with a purpose. I explored more than I was supposed to as a traditional public school student. I was encouraged to by my parents. I was encouraged to work at school and in my community but to think for myself and to consider what was going on around me. This is the goal. Homeschooling/Unschooling doesn’t improve the chances that this will happen for any given student. In fact, it purposefully removes students from public discourse, which I believe is the result of ignorance about how the public sphere works. Something about competition here that I would want to flesh out if I were writing at length. Homeschoolers and public schoolers and private schoolers are competing in the public sphere for a kind of legitimacy that lacks an attention to curricula and pedagogy yet attends to capitalist cultural pursuits.
it was in the context of my larger claim that public school admits that we produce a social space and consider that social construction with curricula that constructs a rhetorical space, and that we should do this in public in classrooms. I didn’t write public school was ideal, I wrote that it attempts to address an ideal. Homeschooling very much insists that this public can be better cultivated away from school and outside of classrooms. I disagree. I do believe that having a place to go and to go with others where your presence is paramount to the process is significant and important. In other words, school is important. THE school. THE place. Not A PLACE we can think of as A SCHOOL. It’s clear that’s what I was getting at. Here’s the proof:
I believe a curriculum is an important part of our education. It accepts that to educate we produce a kind of social space and it insists that we have to cultivate a rhetorical space to consider any social space. Moreover, it insists we do this with others and together. It insists that social difference leads to consensus. Homeschooling/Unschooling is about relieving the conflict that social differences cultivates within classrooms. It lets parents (importantly, not students) off the hook. Home-schooled students remain absent members of a community. I mean to recall being present or being absent here. Public school is a call to be present in many ways to something homeschooling rejects as oppressive and unnecessary, namely public discourse. Nowadays, home-schooled students decry their absence via social networks, where they often share their book knowledge and betray their inexperience.
Homeschooling as unschooling is absolutely about being an absent member of a traditional classroom community. Moreover it insists that there’s such a thing as a natural setting for students. Sure, the absence can be for many reasons: for health reasons, mobility, location, politics. It is, nevertheless, an absent presence. Very much just as you argued in your retort. I do think homeschooling rejects the call to public discourse in public communities. It’s one of many ways to privatize education.
You see how my pun about homeschoolers on social networks is operating within my argument? It’s with a purpose. We all are, nevertheless, part of a community that is concerned with, should be concerned with, public discourse and education. Public school teachers and students and administrators, yes even administrators, value the place we meet as the thing without which class can’t be attended nor attended to. Being there is important and even homeschooling attends to it. I’m saying bracketing what we all agree about, we can see the differences. And I see those differences as overwhelmingly political in popular discourse about education.
I am not denying homeschooled students are part of a discourse community. And you want to see the proof. It’s in the third part, the conclusion, the synthesis, if you will, so Hegelian, where I write:
Schooling. Homeschooling, unschooling and public schooling propose to do the same thing. What, then, is different? I think there’s a dangerous element to unschooling that Newt Gingrich illustrated during his comic campaign to become the next Republican candidate for POTUS. Gingrich insisted that poor, black kids earn their keep at schools so that they could learn to understand the value of labor and money. Super offensive, right? Well, that sort of thinking about what students should do while learning is the backbone of unschooling. Rather than mediated classroom experiences about life and learning, unschooling proposes it can access natural life settings. Gingrich insisted that kids learn in their natural environments and by doing things. It’s a problem for me. Unschooling in a very significant way pretends that behavior can be unregulated but regulated.
I like the notion of a couple of years of homeschooling because I would want my child to have access to specific things as a young learner that I know a public school cannot provide. However, the notion that I can provide a more natural setting for learning than in a classroom is fantastic horseshit and purely political. John Holt famously claimed that unschooling was about allowing children the freedom to learn in the world as much as their parents could bear. Right? Anyone who’s read about this movement knows the statement. Don’t you see the problem with this? It permits what homeschooling always permits: a cultivation of parental comfort we can observe through their children’s studies.Public school embraces this problem, and for all its faults, it insists citizens recognize citizenship. And all my “anarchist” friends are kidding themselves when they talk about smashing the state. We have come to our radical-ized notions about social life and the conditions for our existence within a highly structured social sphere that will not vanish with the traditional state. We will always have a state and that state will have a public.
I was just arguing with a Christian friend on facebook about this. I told her, be religious. I don’t care. But church is for church. Your labor is for the people. I believe that much motivation behind homeschooling/unschooling is to find a way to deny this fact about labor and society.
For lack of a better tool to distinguish between a trend in homeschooling, I use homeschooling/unschooling. If you don’t believe that much homeschooling is about parents’ discomfort with spaces of learning outside The Home, which is not a place but an idea, you’re being dense. I am aware that many kids are home-schooled for what amounts to little more than a parents’ political statement. I’m also aware of all the wonderful reasons for home-schooling. I don’t feel I need to address those reasons because in my post, I admit to wanting to home-school, and I admit that I could have benefited from it.
Your experience with education is not representative of education in general. I’m a teacher with years of teaching experience, and like it or not, I’ve taught dozens and dozens of home-schooled students in college and university and do have some experience thinking about the problems they bring with them to a classroom. And boy do they bring some baggage. But all students bring baggage, and I wasn’t singling out students. I was talking about parents and teachers. I was addressing public discourse and how public school admits something about it that home-schooling denies.
PS: I really dislike the way you personalize everything. You do it so often that I knew you’d respond and I knew what you’d say. That’s not a good thing, right? Anyway, I know your heart is in the right place and more likely than not we are almost on the same page. I tend not to worry about stepping on people’s toes and so I apologies if I hurt your feelings.