There is a meme I’ve seen going around on facebook and twitter that says “I homeschool because I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my child.” The meme is sad on so many levels. It is incredibly sad to think of people feeling so isolated and at odds with their “villages.” Whenever I see that post, I have this urge to assure people that not all homeschoolers feel that way. I homeschool but I am grateful to the village that is helping me raise my children.
I am grateful to the librarians who help us check in and out the huge stacks of books. I’m grateful for their patience when I’m late with a book and when I occasionally lose one.
I am grateful to the adults with and without kids who meet with us to play multi-age soccer games. I love the ritual we’ve gotten into of playing hot potato afterwards and sitting around in a circle joking. I love that my children can know their community involves all ages.
I’m grateful to the adults who have helped walk with my kids on protests and marches, and those willing to hang around the back of a protest march to make sure that we’re not the last ones.
I’m grateful to the swimming instructors who are teaching my children to swim, and the lifeguards at the beaches during the summer.
I’m grateful to the employees at our local science center who talk with my kids and show them all sorts of things.
I’m grateful to the strangers who bring their children to parks, where our kids end up playing together.
I’m grateful to the homeschoolers who arrange activities and who come to the activities that I arrange.
I’m grateful to the kids down the street who come and play with my kids sometimes after school.
I’m grateful for the existence of schools so that if something happened I was unable to continue homeschooling there would be others who could do the job of educating my children for me.
I’m grateful for my village. I am not homeschooling to hide way from others or because I judge the larger community as unworthy or dangerous. My goal in writing that post was to say that. Not all homeschoolers reject the larger community.
Yet as I write this, I think of how much it reflects my own privileges. I know that the village I have access to is shaped by my economic privilege. I’m grateful for the services the government provides us with: for healthcare, for libraries, parks and such. I’m grateful for the businesses both small and large from which we can get the resources we need, and the writers of the awesome curriculum we’ve been using. I’m grateful to my husband and his employers for the ability to afford the curriculum. I will do what I can to keep working to lobby for politicians to take economic inequality more seriously, and I’m grateful for all the others who are working to do the same thing.
In general when I see the meme “I homeschool because I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my child” people are talking about disliking the political or religious views of the village or about the meanness of other people. There are plenty of homeschoolers who do believe that mainstream society is “not Christian” enough for them. So I think, is my gratitude to the village because I can choose which parts of the village my kids are exposed to, or is it because my local village is a reasonable reflection of my own values? It isn’t perfect. There are many places where I disagree with mainstream culture, and I imagine if my kids were in school I would be discussing those disagreements with them (as I do anyway). I think of my first year economics professor at college who started the class by announcing that we should forget anything we learned in social studies at school. I would be like that, with my kids, probably.
But I believe in community. I believe very strongly in the need to make community, and to be part of community, and for that community to cross boundaries and involve those we disagree with as well as those we agree with. I believe in society, and in government, and I dislike the meme about homeschoolers rejecting the village. Rejecting school is not the same thing as rejecting the village overall, and not all homeschoolers reject all of school either.