Dr. Laura recently weighed in on the side of homeschooling. It was a timely article. This last week dear friend Jen and I witnessed one of the most vicious attacks on homeschoolers over at The Old Schoolhouse. I won't even link to it. It was that bad. Several hecklers, who referred to themselves as teachers but refused to sign their names (one claimed because she feared homeschool militias - hello?) anonymously attacked the guest blogger's hair, wardrobe, punctuation, children, and general personhood. I quote one teacher:
"I reject your truth, your BS, and your hair."
Now there's a way to encourage fruitful discussion. Whooey.
Another claimed homeschool kids were clearly handicapped as evidenced by their obvious lack of fashion sense. It was those skirts, doncha know. Not that all homeschoolers wear them. Not that all homeschoolers are of one faith, one worldview, one curriculum, one cookie cutter. It was a convenient insult to hurl given the lack of serious data supporting academic and psychological damage from homeschooling. Apparently those are not the most critical factors in school choice. No, silly. Its about the hair. Let me tell you, girlfriends, I am in big trouble if so.
We have been in homeschool groups across the country over the past 17 years. We have happily been part of Catholic groups, Protestant groups, military base groups, and secular groups where a number of the families considered themselves pagans. There were few things that were consistently uniform among the groups but always these two: they loved learning and they never made personal attacks based upon outward appearances. Some families were very mainstream and some very eccentric - just like in public school. Some were math and science minded, some were artsy - just like in public school. Some preferred classical disciplines, some leaned toward the alternative - just like private and public magnet schools. There is an unwritten law among folks in these groups however that what is on the outside is not nearly as important as what is on the inside.
No matter what your beliefs about the hereafter may be, one thing is pretty universally accepted and that is that the 'outside' is not going with us when we leave here. So, while it is fun to hash out hairstyles and skirt cuts can you really fathom considering that a yardstick by which to evaluate your fellow man?
One thing we have always tried to drive home to the kids is that if a person is reduced to discussing bodily form and function they must have nothing more substantial to contribute to the conversation. Likewise when a person raises his voice or makes personal attacks he generally has nothing legitimate to add either. (thank you to the fine folks at Critical Thinking Press) In our home you may debate 'ideas' but you may never attack the person who holds them. It is both irrelevant and entirely unkind.
I admit there is some leftover teenager in me who does notice. However where one might interpret a dated hairdo as belonging to a woman who is clueless, I am much more inclined these days to interpret her as being far too involved with her vocation to be concerned about things as transient and superficial as fashion trends. They see women who don't make the cut. I see women who place a premium on selflessness, service, and character. Those high-minded habits used to be considered virtues. In some faiths they nominate you for sainthood for just such traits. In mainstream Western society however those very attributes single a girl out as 'subjugated' and 'brainwashed'.
I think the slam that really illustrates best how many define success was the comment:
"We will see who gets the $150,000 jobs!"
I guess we will. Income seems to determine whether a task is admirable or not. For instance, making a healthy dish for your children for free would be subjugation. Getting paid a small fortune to make a healthy dish on the Food Network - which feeds no actual human beings - is worthy of great praise.
I will probably knock myself inexorably into the 'hopeless case' camp when I tell you I really couldn't care less who makes what when its all said and done. It is rarely an accurate indication of personal satisfaction. Like the 'outside' the income doesn't go with either:
"All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall"
We will not be physically beautiful forever. Investments often fail. Your paycheck will not attend you by your deathbed nor care much when you are gone. Character goes on forever. Work on the inside. Avoid contention. It is the meek who are to inherit the earth, not the loud, the angry, nor the self-righteous. Therefore I don't engage in debate.
Make no mistake, my quibble here is not with teachers. I have dear friends in that noble profession and many in my extended family have devoted their lives to education. I have learned more than I can ever adequately express from excellent teachers who have shared their expertise. Many of them fill the sidebars. My discouragement is not aimed at any particular profession. This is not really about being a public schooler or a homeschooler. It is about being human and the dignity which that commands. Insults nearly identical to those mentioned here were levied at Michelle Dugger and her girls on a popular 'women's blog' so apparently meanspirited swipes are not limited to TOS. My sorrow is over that sentiment, the yardstick being used to measure innocent children's value. Their Father in heaven would surely not approve.