I often read articles that use any style of the word ‘homeschooling’ to describe services offered by schools. Today’s article is from California, whose homeschooling history is either thoroughly even-handed via ‘cafeteria-schooling’ (pick whatever kind of schooling you like), or muddied. What you see depends on your point of view.
North Star Academy offers guiding light to home-schooled students, 13 September 2007, San Diego Union Tribune, San Diego, California
North Star Academy is a school in a one-story home painted in blue and white. There are three lunch tables in the front where students congregate to eat, giggle and discuss homework, movies and music. Inside, the walls are lined with photos of drama productions from previous years.
The campus, the home-schooling center of Vista Unified School District, has an emphasis on the arts. Its 60 students are among an estimated 2 million who are home-schooled in the United States.
When I look through the news alerts, I pause each time to think whether to blog these articles because of the gray area of ‘what is homeschooling.’ I must weigh each one; is it, or is it not ‘about homeschooling’ because this blog’s purpose is homeschooling, not cyber-schooling, not blended schooling, not ‘not more than 25-hours a week attendance’ at a school, (25 hrs. divided by 5 days = 5 hours per day), not a “home-schooling center” with a campus and a lunchroom. Just homeschooling.
The ‘what is homeschooling’ question has been a pebble in my shoe for some years as I, and others, have talked about the ‘is-ness’ of homeschooling. The long discussion may be an online phenomenon as I have heard it mostly takes place on email lists, discussion boards and blogs. In real life, everyone is too busy just getting on with … real life, or so I’ve heard.
In this discussion, one faction objects to any defining of how people school their children because no one can tell other people what they ‘are.’ I am reminded of the time a homeschooling friend went to enroll her son in high school and was told by a in-processing schoolocrat that she could not ‘be’ Hispanic for the purposes of whatever-it-was she had to fill out. She and her son are Obviously White, and their last name is an English surname. My friend’s mom is Venezuelan, and my friend blistered the schoolocrat with a tirade in Spanish. He let her ‘be’ Hispanic.
Another faction in the ‘what is homeschooling’ discussion objects to the muddying of the concept of homeschooling because a change in common meaning makes it hard to know what someone is talking about, especially if those someones are legislators. It also makes it hard to understand the sense of older laws. It may not matter what Jennifer calls herself on the playground, but it does matter what Jennifer’s governmental representatives think, and what judges unfamiliar with homeschooling think.
In most cases of general usage, the language shifts do not matter except maybe to people who have something invested in a word.
- At one end of the inflammatory scale, consider our ‘mission‘ in Iraq. What is it? How has it changed?
- At the other end of the inflammatory scale (I hope), could be the question, ‘Is RVing camping?‘
There are gray areas in probably more areas than I can think of.
Politically correct insistence that ‘homeschooling’ includes anything-goes ‘cafeteria-schooling’ may feel inclusively warm and fuzzy, but it sure doesn’t help the sense of the conversation. That one reminds me of the lady behind me on an airplane who told the stewardess she wanted the chicken plate because she was a vegetarian. I figure if it had a face, it’s meat, and if you’re enrolled in a school, it’s not homeschooling.
posted by Valerie — sorting through longer and longer lists of ‘homeschooling’ articles