Yeah, yesterday was a hoax.
I was going to start this post off with “Don’t yell at me!” Then I realized that I’m 42 years old and just played a very public April Fool’s Joke. So go ahead and yell at me.
But when you’re done, please go and yell at PZ Myers, too. Not just because his irrational insistence that homeschooling is wrong wrong wrong carries on, on, on against all evidence. But because this prejudice of his is dividing up the homeschooling community.
The people who follow and post on Myers’ site can only do so comfortably by saying to themselves and Myers, “Yes, I’m a homeschooler — but I’m not that kind of homeschooler. Sure, there are people who homeschool for bad reasons — but I’m not one of them!”
And hey! Look! A nice fissure in the homeschooling community. As if we don’t have a hard enough time already.
Every time we separate ourselves out as the “good” homeschoolers, we’re giving strength to the opposition. And no, I’m not saying there aren’t shite homeschoolers out there. There are shite schools, teachers, parents, and neighborhoods, too. Raise your hand if you agree with a blanket condemnation of all those groups.
The point is that by being careful to distinguish ourselves from those “bad” homeschoolers, we’re tacitly agreeing with the idea that there’s some homeschooling that really shouldn’t be allowed — but we’re not doing that kind, so can we please just sit here quietly in the corner with the real people if we promise not to make any trouble?
Kelly Green is a blogger at Kelly Green and Gold (http://kellygreenandgold.wordpress.com) and the author of A Matter of Conscience: Education as a Fundamental Freedom. I reviewed her book in the most recent issue of Secular Homeschooling, and said book is still bristling with Post-It notes because her writing is just that good and I want to be sure I can find my favorite quotes quickly. Here’s one of them:
“We [homeschoolers] aren’t weirdoes, or hippies, or religious fundamentalists, in any more significant proportions than is the population at large. Some of us are conscientious objectors to forced education who are permitting our children to learn in freedom. Pretty much all of us are simply people who believe that our children’s educational needs will be better met outside school.”
Myers as a scientific thinker, leftist, and feminist is a supporter of free speech, free thought, and choice.
Except when people decide to use their freedom in ways that make him uncomfortable.
Does Myers accept that “You’re free to do whatever I want” premise from those who are politically opposed to him?
Or is he perhaps buying into the argument from authority, provided that he’s the authority? “Look at all these people who say I’m smart! How can you disagree with my opinion?”
Again: that’s an acceptable premise? If it isn’t okay for everyone, it isn’t okay for anyone.
Robin West is a law professor who published the article “The Harms of Homeschooling” in the Summer/Fall 2009 issue of the University of Maryland’s Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly. Maybe you read it. Maybe you’ve even stopped vomiting. In Kelly Green’s essay “Home Education: The Image,” she says:
“May I point out here that seems to me that West is implying, when she urges the monitoring of home educators on the basis of their purported bias toward ‘fundamentalist’ Christianity and right-wing politics, that she is comfortable restricting the civil liberties of people with whom she disagrees politically and religiously? Does no one else find that a strange position for a law professor to take?”
Along those lines: does no one else find Myers’ insistence that homeschooling ought to be illegal a strange position for an alleged skeptic and freethinker?
Don’t tell me. Tell him.