Are Homeschoolers Selfish?

Anti-homeschooling perspective #5,439: Homeschoolers are selfish for not letting their kids go to school.

My thoughts on this: I think in some ways, our whole lives are one long series of selfish decisions. Everyone’s. We make decisions based on what? What’s best for us and our families. From where we live to what we eat to the jobs we take to who we pick as our friends.

School is no different. The vast majority of parents send their kids to public school because, that’s just how it is. And, lucky for them, it provides babysitting so they can work. It’s the choice that makes the most sense for whatever reason. But no matter how we educate our kids, it’s a “selfish” choice.

Nobody sends their kids to public school because it’s good for society or because they want their children to be martyrs. (Oh please say I’m right about this.) People send their kids to public school for selfish reasons. People send their kids to private school for selfish reasons. People do the same for homeschooling. And what is that selfish reason – it’s because it’s the best choice for that family. They don’t take into account what’s best for everyone else’s kids – only what’s best for them.

In that way, homeschooling, heck any kind of schooling, is selfish. And that, is a good thing. Because it means that the family is making the best decision for them and their needs. That’s what the kids deserve. That’s how we allow people to be successful in their lives, by making choices that best fit their needs.

I have a feeling though, since I’ve argued this point with others many times before, that the “homeschoolers are selfish” perspective is trying to convey the idea that homeschooling parents are making the decision to homeschool without considering their children’s needs. Well, I suppose there are probably some parents out there who do this, but would argue that very few do. That even though we may not agree with *why* they think homeschooling is best for their children, they do have their children’s best interests at heart, and make the decision to homeschool (by sacrificing a lot of their own lives, I must add), in order to provide what they think is the absolute best way to provide a good life and future prospects for their kids.

Homeschooling is not for everyone, but for the people who choose homeschooling, it’s a great choice. For the people who don’t choose it, it is obviously, from their perspective, not the best choice. And that’s that.

Just as I, as a homeschooler, am better off understanding that each family has their own reasons to decide to send their kids to public school (and are probably better off for it in a lot of ways), people who are/were public schooled should also do better by seeing how homeschooling can be a good choice for the families who choose it.

I’m sure my kids would do well in school. They are adaptable kids (that’s part of what we’re teaching them BTW). But here’s the thing – there’s nothing that PS can give us that we don’t already have. And if that’s the case, what is the point of sending them to school where we’d have to add a lot of stress to our lives, and live our lives according to the public school world? It doesn’t make sense. It would be like moving to a new city because people say it’s the best place to live, even though we’re perfectly happy where we are now.

I know there’s lots of good in PS. But, we’re really happy where we are now. Why fix what’s not broke? There’s a lot of good things in NY, but we live in Cali. Does that mean we’ve made a selfish decision not to live in NY? Our kids will never know what it’s like to live there.

In the end, I don’t really care if the whole damn world thinks I’m being selfish. That’s an opinion. Not fact. It’s a cultural perspective, not based on evidence. I know the truth. The truth is that our decisions are based on many things that most people don’t really want to know. Or talk about. And rightly so – it doesn’t apply to their lives.

So, I take comments like that with a grain of salt.

I just wish, that it was really true what they say about public school kids – that they are more tolerant because of their “exposure to different kinds of people”. But the truth is, that school doesn’t make people more tolerant. If it did, then all the people who went to public school, and all the kids there now, would try to understand homeschooling and alternative ideas of education. Instead, people hang on to the idea that it’s public school or bust. (And I have to admit that there are homeschooled kids/families who are in opposite camp as well.) Only their experience and perspective is the right way. If public school was so crucial to teaching people to accept others who are different, then this blog entry wouldn’t have been written.

I think that the best thing right now is to have choice. And to look at all possible educational choices as potentially valid. And the goal isn’t to try and say one choice is better than the other, but to help individuals find the best fit for them. If that’s being selfish, then so be it. It’s the more effective way. Regardless of whether people like it or not.

16 Responses to “Are Homeschoolers Selfish?”

  1. Laura in CA :) Says:

    Selfish?! That’s funny!!

    Okay, maybe I’m selfish in wanting to learn with my kiddos and enjoy their company. But when I hear parents saying they can’t wait for vacation to be over so their kids can go back to school, that sounds selfish, too.

    And, heck, if tolerance was taught in schools, it should be evident by now in our society at large. Interestingly, our society seems increasingly less tolerant of different people rather than more.

  2. Anna Says:

    One of the reasons that many of the public educators think that we are selfish is that we are denying them bright kids. I know my mom will argue that somehow I owe Education (capital E intentional) my kids. On some level, I think she believes that I will deny some teacher the joy of having bright kids in the class.


  3. Cindy Says:

    You mentioned that maybe one reason they think we’re selfish is that it’s not in the best interest of our children. As you mentioned, I don’t believe that in our case, but the same could still be said of public school. How many children did we meet through my children who wanted their parents to homeschool them, and the parents said no way? A LOT! So, are those who send their children to public school putting the interests of their children first? How about all the children who are labeled, or struggling, or miserable? Is it in their best interest to stay in school?

    Your whole article makes a valid point about, of course, we make decisions that are best for us! It would be silly to make a decision that is only mediocre because it’s what is expected. That makes no sense! We usually want the best available choice, whether for ourselves, and definitely for our children, so we choose accordingly.

    That means in the best of circumstances, we all made a conscious choice about the education of our children and feel it is best. I think many do. I think many also do what is expected. Maybe that’s where the improvement comes . . . not having more in public school or more in homeschool, but more mindful choosing!

    Great post, Tammy!

  4. andrea Says:

    Awesome blog, you have been linked!

  5. Jenn4him Says:

    Great job. I don’t have a lot to add. Just wanted to let you know I agree. I’ve often thought of my decision to home educate as selfish, but didn’t know others were talking about it.

  6. icanplainlysee Says:

    Selfish? No way.

    To be sure the amount of intense labor involved in home schooling is denied, the immense commitment involved is underappreciated and the sacrifices of homeschoolers themselves is rarely acknowledged.

    Personally, attacking homeschooling under the guise of “selfishness”, when the real point is lost funds to public schools and denial of vouchers for students, reflects a political attack, not one levied to aid children.

    Considering teacher unions work to maximize salary and benefits for themselves and sharp reductions in workload ( i.e., TEACHING KIDS), It’s a shame that many more homeschoolers aren’t available for their children.

  7. Lisa Cabello Says:

    Why I Homeschool!
    Being called “selfish for “not letting my children go to school” is weird! Weird because first of all I am not a selfish person and second of all I am not a person who is controlling my children and not giving them choices! My children were both homeschooled one is now 21 (she graduated with an Accrediared High School Diploma and a class ring to boot! She even had a graduation party complete with other people besides her parents and sibling!) and she is working, has a boyfriend, cell-phone ect. She is also taking more courses having finished two Business Courses and is in the middle of an Art Course and is beginning an Interior Decorating Course.
    My son is 12 and is still homeschooling! He is in the 6th grade. He swims, is learning how to play golf, bowls, rides his bike and is currently trying to earn his President ‘s Phys Ed Seal. In fact I was watching him practice his golf swings one day and everytime he hit the golf ball I would be yelling “Great Job WHOOOO!” He turned to me and said “Mom golf is a quiet game!” I got the hint! We also go camping and spent a weekend last May camping on the Rim of the Grand Canyon as it was something we studied during the year!
    Each and EVERY Year before school starts I have ALWAYS given my children the CHOICE of being homeschooled, public school, charter school or private school! Hands down they pick homeschooling!
    My son told me the other day that he didn’t want anymore extra activities because he had to get his school work done!! How’s that for success! This year for my son’s 6th grade graduation we are going to Lego Land California!
    We planted a garden in our backyard and are in the middle of painting the inside of our home. We are also planning our landscape for the outdoors! This is great lifeskills! My 12 year old also knows how to cook and he cooked me a full egg and bacon breakfast the other morning ALL by himself! The bacon was cooked to perfection!
    My husband works at home and I am a pre-school teacher. I was in my own classroom the other day when a girl( a 6th grader) from the school agers room came in and asked if she could do her homework with me as she had so much of it. She said the whole class was being punished for giving thier music teacher a hard time! So there they were loaded up with extra homework as a punishment for behaving badly! How sad! What’s the message there? That schoolwork and school is a form of punishment given out when they are bad! I wonder what that school would be like if the students could go golfing, bowling, camping at the Grand Canyon because they studied it in school, put on a wonderful dinner party like that of the 1800’s England (my son and I did this) Learned Newton’s Laws of Motion by dipping a nylon sock full of sand in paint, climbing a ladder with it and dropping it on paper and seeing it splat (how’s that for a science lesson?) or studying plants by growing an actual garden? In fact what would thier music class have been like that day if they made a music garden? I would stake my life on it that they would not have been punished with extra homework!
    I wonder how long it will take for society to realize that mass producing children in this factory of public education is not working!! I recommend everyone read Tom Brown’s School Day’s. Public Education has not changed much since the 1700’s!!! Boy is it ever time for a change!!! This is why I homeschool!

  8. Lisa Cabello Says:

    Spelling Correction made by LC their not thier. Sorry for the oversight in correcting my spelling!

  9. Jmp Says:

    I’m a mother of a three year old girl and more and more I’m hearing what “Public school” are “offering” such giving out condoms, birth control pills and teaching that abortion is ok, homsexuality and “marriage” between men/men or women/women is normal, bully and peer pressure etc. are the daily life of HS! No wonder children/teens are depressed and then lead to suicide. (I also agree that the home life is very important in stability, love and communication role in your child/teens development) I believe the public school is selfish for making it mandatory to teach my child about sex and if you get pregnant oh you can have an abortion (basically kill your baby!) Since when did the public school or the state has the right to “teach” my child such crap. I’m the parent and we want to teach our child the right way. The public school is to teach our children math, spelling, history, art, music etc but it seems like that not the case. I truly believes school are the most dangerous place when you think of guns in school and no respect for the teachers who are trying to teach students to learn! I’m looking into homeschool since my daughter will learn so much more than being worried about the other kids making fun of her etc. I agree with Lisa, thank you for sharing how homeschool is such a postive way to go! I know a few people who homeschool and these child enjoy learning in their home class room, field trips, involved in their church and community

  10. Julianne Says:

    I am not currently a homeschool parent. I have a son entering 1st grade and a daughter entering 5th grade in the fall of 2007. I think my son would benefit greatly from home schooling. However, my daughter is strongly against it. School comes very easy to her and she gets good grades just by listening in class and doing her assignments. She does very little studying at home. She is also the type of child that always wants a friend around. I don’t think she would be happy with just her brother for playmate during the day.
    So my problem is, do I force her to be home schooled because I think it would be good for my son? Or do I leave her in public school and just home school one child? Does anyone else do that?

  11. George Says:

    I hate homeschooling, but I don’t think it’s selfish…just parents being too overprotective, that’s all. ;P

  12. sarah Says:

    I wish that I could homeschool, but I thought it would be too much with my husband and myself working. My son just entered Kindergarden this year. It has been fun for him, and he is doing very well, but I think that he could learn so much more if he were homeshcooled. I haven’t completely ruled out homeschooling, but for now were leaving it up to the schools. I have friends and family that are employed by the public school system and they all have encouraged me to home school if I can. That really doesn’t say much for the school system does it?

  13. amy Says:

    (answer to Julianne’s post)
    This is a tough “one way OR the other” decision, so you need to take your time with making the switch to full time homeschooling.

    The key is PREPARATION. In order to have fun, exciting learning experiences be prepared, do the work, and move the class along so as not to be boring. Try teaching a mock homeschool class. Do what is called a “unit study” on a particular subject area–say The French-Indian War.” Have them read about the war and act out a dramatization of the war. See how much fun they both have “learning” and retaining what they have learned. You can then have them draw an artistic picture of the war and/or do a short essay on the war.

    School is fun and this is what your daughter may fear that she will be losing if she is homeschooled. You are the parent. What do you want for your daughter–a homeschool education or a public education? You are ultimately responsible for her education or lack thereof.

    As far as socialization goes, find a friend for your daughter in the homeschool rhelm or take her friend(s) from public school on a few outings each month. Gear these social outings to your daughter’s interests and leave plenty of space for social talking about everything in the world. You could even opt to be the place where her friends hang out after school and do their homework. Public schools do have a ‘built in’ social structure but you will have to work a little bit harder for this in homeschooling. If you dedicate your time and energy for this social structure of your daughter’s, then all should be fine with your daughter being homeschooled.

  14. Jennifer Says:

    I am a mother of a 5 yr. old son who started kindergarten this year in public school. we have worked with him since he was two on school stuff.He went to 3 & 4 yr. olds christian pre-school. He now can read about 70 words he can spell 45 of them. He is doing adding and subtracting, & hour hands on the clock. He is bored in kindergarten, but loves his teacher and playing with the other kids. We are looking into homeschooling next year. He has asked “Mommy why can’t you be my teacher like you use too?” I don’t have the support of my own parents who tell me I am selfish for wanting to pull him out of public school; because he needs the interaction with the other kids. But I have always did family night and story time at our local library and play dates with other kids & outings at our church. After reading this blog and what others have wrote I feel more comfortable in our decision to home school.
    Thanks so much for such a great page.

  15. Barbara Says:

    Hello. I agree it is not selfish to homeschool it actually is quite the opposite. If those of you who are against it would just plan for 1 week and do everything the child needs; math, spelling, history, science, reading, art, social time, home ec; on top of your eveyday chores. You will find it takes a BIG sacrafice on the part of the parent. There are many days that are not long enough to get everything done. I think that those of you who are homeschooling especially those that have more than one student are very unselfish people with a true care for their children and the education of that child. Good for you! It is a very rewarding thing to see your child learn and to take the time out of your busy schedule to make sure that child or children are learning. In homeschool you can teach much more than PS offers. Each of my children have different interests and we can go more in depth in those areas. I make sure that they spend time with other children their age. Time to learn how to get along with others including younger children, all the way to older people and how to entreat them. I will have to say public school only worries about socializing them with kids their own age. Thanks for reading my thoughts.

  16. Krysti Says:

    I am a graduated homeschooler. I have been prejudiced against because people (i.e. my public school peers and public school supporters) have a perception of homeschoolers as long-haired, skirt-wearing, super-Christians. I am not one of those because wearing skirts and long hair in a barn is impractical. However, one of my best friends does wear skirts and long hair and is one of the sweetest, accepting people I know.

    People tend to think homeschoolers are socially inept. While it is true in some cases, the majority of homeschooling kids I hang out with are accepting, fun, and do not judge based on appearances.

    Homeschooling is not selfish. Parents sacrifice so much to school us children. I think some people need to walk in my mother’s shoes and see how truly “selfish” she is. I love homeschooling and felt it has prepared me for the world more than anything else has.

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