The Bitter Homeschooler’s Wish List

I don’t usually re-post articles in full, but this is one just too good.  And timely, too.  I was primed to post some snark about an uninformed swat at homeschooling I saw on TV recently, but this puts it better than I could have.
From Secular Homeschooling Magazine, via


The Bitter Homeschooler’ s Wish List
by Deborah Markus

1 Please stop asking us if it’s legal. If it is – and it is – it’s insulting
to imply that we’re criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

2 Learn what the words “socialize” and “socialization” mean, and use the one
you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing
means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having
acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If
you’re talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside
now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can
safely assume that we’ve got a decent grasp of both concepts.

3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir
practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H
club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to

4 Don’t assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the
same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.

5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on
the news or on a “reality” show, the above goes double.

6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know,
know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling.
You’re probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running
up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every
ghastly birth story you’ve ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.

7 We don’t look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they’re
in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil
fields to see if we’re doing what you consider an adequate job of

8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.

9 Stop assuming that if we’re religious, we must be homeschooling for
religious reasons.

10 We didn’t go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of
options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to
annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the
specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being
homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational

11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my
credentials. I didn’t have to complete a course in catering to successfully
cook dinner for my family; I don’t need a degree in teaching to educate my
children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of
chew-it-up-and- spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left
me with so little information in my memory banks that I can’t teach the
basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there’s a
reason I’m so reluctant to send my child to school.

12 If my kid’s only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can
possibly teach him what he’d learn in school, please understand that you’re
calling me an idiot. Don’t act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.

13 Stop assuming that because the word “home” is right there in
“homeschool, ” we never leave the house. We’re the ones who go to the
amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the
off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays
when it’s crowded and icky.

14 Stop assuming that because the word “school” is right there in
homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day,
just like your kid does. Even if we’re into the “school” side of education –
and many of us prefer a more organic approach – we can burn through a lot of
material a lot more efficiently, because we don’t have to gear our lessons
to the lowest common denominator.

15 Stop asking, “But what about the Prom?” Even if the idea that my kid
might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry
was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don’t get
to go to the Prom. For all you know, I’m one of them. I might still be
bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.

16 Don’t ask my kid if she wouldn’t rather go to school unless you don’t
mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn’t rather stay home and get some sleep
now and then.

17 Stop saying, “Oh, I could never homeschool!” Even if you think it’s some
kind of compliment, it sounds more like you’re horrified. One of these days,
I won’t bother disagreeing with you any more.

18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you’re
allowed to ask how we’ll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can’t,
thank you for the reassurance that we couldn’t possibly do a worse job than
your teachers did, and might even do a better one.

19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child’s teacher as well as
her parent. I don’t see much difference between bossing my kid around
academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.

20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet,
boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because
he’s homeschooled. It’s not fair that all the kids who go to school can be
as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of
anything but childhood.

21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she’s

22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my

23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my

24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won’t get
because they don’t go to school, unless you want me to start asking about
all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.

25 Here’s a thought: If you can’t say something nice about homeschooling,
shut up!

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  1. Seriously…

    … have you experienced most of these?

    How rude and ignorant…

    I can say that I had rarely encountered homeschooling growing up because Evanston had some good public schools. The only home-schooled person I knew was a math Genius taking calculus as a freshman in high school (when I was a junior) along with another freshman who had grown up mostly in Russia and was just seriously far ahead in math… Andrew was exceptionally bright and knew tons and tons of stuff.. but he was kind of socially inept.. (which had more to do with his overprotective mother than with homeschooling, I believe..)

    Thus.. I may have initially had some stilted views on home-schooling.. but these displayed more of my ignorance and lack of experiences and, in any case, I always kept such views to myself..

    anyway.. I have since seen a far greater sample of home-schooling and would have to say that I think it can be quite good in many many circumstances.. (and is probably better in the many many places where public schools suck ass..)

    In any case.. good luck to you and Stacy.. I have no doubts that your kids have gotten a great education.. (which is almost always the case for kids whose parents actually give a damn about their education.. no matter where they are taught…)

    1. Re: Seriously…

      I’ve certainly encountered some of these, though not all.

      Honestly, though, my biggest source of irritation at homeschooling ignorance lately has been TV. On otherwise smart, funny shows (like the Colbert Report, or Gilmore Girls) I’ve seen jokes cracked based on the idea that homeschoolers are stereotypically dumb or ignorant. Which baffles me, because nearly all of the people I’ve talked to in real life about homeschooling have, if anything, had (like you) a positive, if hazy, impression of the academic performance of homeschoolers. Even the people who knew next to nothing about the subject had known a homeschooled “whiz kid”, or had read an article about homeschooled kids entering college early, or something like that. So I don’t know where the showbiz idea of homeschoolers comes from.

      1. well… as for showbiz types..

        .. it is quite unfortunate that they stereotype homeschoolers in this way.. but its not surprising if you think about it..

        ..I mean.. if you think about hollywood writers and producer types..

        Are these the types of people who usually want to spend lots of time staying at home interacting with their children when they could pay someone else to do it??

        yes.. this is probably a stereotype of my own.. but considering that I have a cousin working in the biz out there(she actually worked as a prod. assistant on the simpsons) and from her stories about the people out there.. I think it’s probably a somewhat justified prejudice…

  2. If my kid’s only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he’d learn in school, please understand that you’re calling me an idiot.

    Well, possibly because *they* are unable to teach someone what he’d learn in first grade.

  3. hey! I was just going to post this to my journal! πŸ™‚

    I sent it on to a group of unschoolers I know and they were all cracking up over it. πŸ™‚

  4. My brother was a homeschooler on a reality show, LMBO.

    Number 18 is so true, along wth all the other assumptions about what kids “need” to know. Why would people take their kids out of public school to teach them the same stuff?

  5. …and Scalzi really should’ve known better than to passively mock homeschoolers the way he did.

  6. Wow… Highly amusing.

    I’m sorry that I got stuck with a Catholic curriculum. I’m also sorry that I got so lazily sidetracked by exploring things I actually wanted to learn, as opposed to French-Canadian Catholic girls who faint and say 1000 hail mary’s a day, “creation science,” a history text that was basically one long denial of the crusades and spanish inquisiton, and other bullcrap. Instead, I was reading books on introductory quantum physics, astronomy, programming, philosophy, and anthropology, all of which those idiots who wrote those texts wouldn’t know if it bit them on the arse.

    That said, reading this is reminding me of how much I hated public school even more, and of the fact that new studies show that something like 70% of high school graduates would not be able to pass a GED test. This is making me wonder if I should homeschool if I ever have kids, at least for grades 1-4, just to ensure they have basic *literacy* skills, and properly develop an early sense of *logic.*

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