Why I Avoid the Homeschool Movement

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We homeschoolers are an odd bunch, aren't we? We've bucked the trend, set out on our own, and ended up in a beautiful meadow overlooking a shimmering valley ringed by snow dusted mountains. We love it here. In fact, when we meet others wandering the trails of education, we'll gladly share our experiences and talk about these mountaintop experiences. We want others to join us.

The View (not as picturesque a picture as the above ...sorry)

We're thrilled when we discover someone who has also homeschools. Sonlighters share a special bond, reliving stories and discussions and places we've all encountered through our shared homeschool curriculum.

[Just this morning, an eager young man told me excitedly about the books he had recently read in Core B, such as Nate the Great. I agreed; those are wonderful stories!]

I love the homeschool community. Like the awesome dog meme reminds us: You're awesome. I'm thrilled to be part of this crowd.

But I find I dislike the homeschool movement. I mentioned this years ago. Back then I linked to the now defunct blog of Dana Hanley, but thanks to the internet archive you can still read her inspiring post here. Recent events have pushed me even further.

I'd rather avoid the homeschool "movement" altogether.

When I talk about this movement, I'm referring to the ideologies and teachings of certain people who claim to speak for homeschoolers. One of the major complaints I heard from Christians about the Bill Nye and Ken Ham Debate: Ham doesn't represent all of us. Men like Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard both outwardly promoted moral models (and homeschooling) which ultimately put them in positions where they could abuse such power. Then there's the continued controversy over To Train Up a Child. More and more these things swirl around. And the movement suffers.

So does the community.

And it's the community I care about. The movement -- such that it is -- is an extremely fallible system run by imperfect people like you and me. And when people like us get power, things crumble fast.

One of the many things I appreciate about Sonlight is the push to educate, not indoctrinate. We're not here to try to get you to join this or that side. We want to help you and your children learn. We want to help you thrive as you homeschool. We want to be part of your community. And if others have jumped on the literature-based approach to education, it's because it works not because we tried to start a movement.

Put another way: People move in the right direction when you let them walk. Trying to carry them somewhere will not get either of you to the right place.

Looking back on the men of recent history who have promoted and shamed the homeschool community, I'm reminded of 1 Corinthians 1:10 and following. Let's not talk about who we follow; let us walk humbly before the Lord where He has called us. That's not to say that God won't use even imperfect people to help encourage and train and lead you where He wants you to go. But please don't join any particular movement except for the moving of the Holy Spirit <smile>.

My parents are really neat people. But they're also imperfect. Like me. Like you. I'm glad they've never tried to create a system for living.

I was very much encouraged by Amber's post on redemption and grace. May we be part of the community that quickly repents. May the grace of God spill out of our lives and into those around us. May we, as a broken community bound together by Christ's blood, walk in unity... not in step with this or that movement, but spurring one another on to do good stuff.

Sorry, I'm afraid I'm rambling a bit too much. What do you think? Are you glad to be part of a community? Is there a movement you want to be a part of? What's the view like from your homeschool?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

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  1. Thank you for sharing, Luke, and I didn't think you were rambling at all. As a family who began homeschooling in the 80's, I completely agree with all that you've said. We were so young back then and hungry for all we could learn that it was easy to get caught up in all the voices of the early homeschool movement. Unfortunately, it's also easy to see now how many of those really weren't talking about education at all.

    I see the homeschool movement of today in a much better place. I love the individuality and learning possibilities that I see in families beginning this journey. The resources available (including Sonlight) allows parents to really custom fit education for each child.

    Although our family is working through some of the non-educational side effects of homeschooling from those years, I will continue to believe that homeschooling is an excellent option for those who can commit to it. As my children have one-by-one become adults, went on in further education, and are now engaged in work that they enjoy, I know that it was the best option for our family.

    Oh, and I do love your view. Having visited Colorado twice last year, I'd move there in an instant if I could!


  2. Thank you, Tammy! Yes, homeschooling is an excellent option. It's the negative non-educational side effects that bother me and got me thinking about this post. I appreciate you sharing a bit of your story.


  3. Jennifer

    I agree with you. I had the oportunity to visit a homeschool convention a couple years ago and while I enjoyed the resources gathered there, the people I met, and the encouragement they were giving, I still felt put off or out of place as I didn't fully agree with the over arching view of that particular group.
    I am still new to homeschooling and one thing I love is the diversity of people, not just one source, who encourage each other through the process.
    One of the reasons I enjoy using Sonlight is doesn't cater to one narrow view that excludes other thoughts.

  4. Thanks, Jennifer! I'm glad you've found the homeschool community to be a joy. May we continue to build each other up.


  5. Shanna

    That's what I couldn't put my finger on! We homeschool out of necessity--on the mission field, no Christian school, theory-based local public schools that fill kids with facts but don't teach them how to think logically, and desire to teach our kids godly character and biblical discernment along with the facts. But I have never felt a part of the homeschool movement--and I love the eye-opening, "there's-a-world-out-there" philosophy I find in Sonlight. It fits our family just right, though I wouldn't push it on anyone else who prefers the more rigid, textbook-style approach. We've been away from Sonlight for a time (illness sent us home for a year and put the kids in Christian school for a while), but we are all excited about going back to Sonlight tomorrow!

  6. Thanks for sharing your story, Shanna. ...and may you have another awesome year of Sonlight starting today! <smile> I'm also very glad that your family is back to health. May God bless you richly -- and others through you -- in this next leg of your journey.


  7. Pingback: Homeschooling Will Fail You If... | Sonlight Homeschooling Blog