Homeschooling and Libraries

Things I'm thinking about and learning while working with homeschoolers and writing Helping Homeschoolers in the Library for ALA Editions.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

“When You Are in a Subculture of a Subculture, You Often Get Painted as the Freak Family”

Here’s an article on unschooling from The New York Times.

It’s a weird piece to come out of the Times, more like filler than actual news. Personally, I’ve never met an unschooled child who didn’t strike me as bright, curious, and interesting, and I hate to see such a superficial article from a major news outlet that throws questions at the philosophy without exploring them in depth. This strikes me as just the sort of thing that makes people who feel negatively about ANY type of homeschooling feel justified in their negative view, which is a shame.

What I think librarians can take from this article is the feeling of misunderstanding evident in the mother talking about being thought of as “the freak family.” It goes a long way toward explaining why we run across homeschoolers who can be reluctant to talk to us, sensitive, and sometimes even defensive. It isn’t easy to have your way of life constantly – and often casually – called into question. Thankfully, as more and more people homeschool, this is getting to be less and less of a problem, but prejudices and misconceptions about homeschooling are still very much alive.

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