JJ to Unity-N-Diversity on Where Home Education is Heading

4 01 2008

My too-long comment for this thread:

I agree with sunniemom, that true individuality needs to prevail over organizational interests in the homeschooling community. I even agree with Mary Nix (who I imagine would rather I wouldn’t!), when she says some of us just can’t move on — I still hear stuck voices who can’t or won’t change and move on to new ideas, beyond old hierarchy and institutional models as constitutionally unfit for homeschooling. Never mind HSLDA and Christian controls, not even free, secular discussions among individuals at NHEN or HEM-AHA can or should present homeschooling to the public as any kind of hegemony.

But organized homeschool hegemony is the truth of this lingering division that some still nurse to justify their own supposedly individual advocacy “to protect homeschooling” — see Power of Story Worthy to Lead Education”:

Home education is becoming a recognized institution. We’ve long debated how best to protect and preserve home education’s freedoms, its public image, its representation and leadership, who can speak for home education and with what words. Some of us are presently discussing how home education’s leadership can transition from veterans to the next generation, but we haven’t agreed on what home education leadership IS yet.

It’s complicated! So [university president] Bollinger says to start with the foundation, honor fundamental principles.

“You can’t represent an institution without being consistent with its fundamental character,” he said. “If you try to oversimplify, ultimately it will catch up with you.”

I wrote the following about honoring home education’s fundamental character nearly three years ago:

. . .Another way of describing true freedom would be if no homeschooling family anywhere had to resist meddling do-gooders coming in uninvited to “help” them, whether down the block, in the local CPS office, the Statehouse, or especially across the Continent. . . How much honor and respect for local and self-determination can a national crusade really maintain, no matter how good its intentions? The only real hope I’ve seen is the NHEN model, not the HSLDA or NHELD or WSfH models.

See also “Dwarfing Pluto and Shrinking Ourselves: A Joyfully Unclear Meditation” and a thread at Daryl’s that was 100+ comments and made more sense as debate before those who were out-argued deleted their own comments, but it still bears some meaningful footprints —
“Damn Traitors!”

No conspiring in competition with other organizations, to control homeschooling with One Ring to Rule Them All — much less to cull upstart individuals from the herd to shut them up by stampeding them over a cliff, hanging them out to dry, maybe just stoning them to death. Mob justice against [gasp!] heretics — you know, those individuals who for whatever quirks seem, um, too strongly individual and therefore are resented, cast as dangerous to the established “voices” and their clearly defined pecking order and ritual ways and then scapegoated, whether the target du jour is Cheryl Lindsey-Seelhoff or JJ Ross, Ed.D. (that was the insider dig higher up in the thread, about “alphabet soup on both ends”, get it?)

Irrational fear of me as some Delphi Technique voodoo b/witch will be next, if the wacko contingent is still singing from the same old hymnal.

Ultimately “we’ as diverse Thinking Individuals who happen to home-educate can put our real, whole, unique selves out there every chance we get. That’s the best way to effectively counter ALL groupthink attempts to pronounce rules and definitions over all of us, through any lobby or law, any general homeschooling support organization, any viral editorial or corporate stance. Let a thousand homeschool stories bloom (including commercial and volunteer hybrids for the experimental scientists among us, even sowing wildflower seeds of anarchy along the public highways if you’re so inclined!) with each of us expressing our own ideas and living our own values.

It is wearying but worth it imo.

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13 responses

4 01 2008
NanceConfer

Maybe “Unity” will read this and see the arguments for what they are — ancient unbridgeable (see my note about your hopeful Unity ’08 post, JJ) differences. Maybe she won’t. I don’t really know if she is still posting at her blog. “Anonymous” had the floor last I read there.

For newcomers to the lovely world of hsing politics, at least they can now go read at the various outlets for information — NHEN.org, HEM, HSLDA — and try to make sense of it.

And you thought all you had to deal with was understanding and complying with your state’s hsing laws! Ha!

Well, actually, that is all you have to do. The rest of this is usually nothing more than a huge waste of time and you’d think we’d all know better by now. . .

Suggestion to new hsers: forget all of this talk of “hsing community unity” and all the infighting and just enjoy your kids. Volunteer on a local level when it helps you and yours and is still fun. When the bickering starts, leave. Stay informed but never frightened by reading a wide variety of hsing websites/blogs. But never let that reading distract too much from play time!

Off to shop for tomorrow’s picnic at the lovely state park down the highway — it is finally cool enough to do something outside comfortably and DD and I are determined to get out there and frolic. Well, walk anyway. 🙂

Nance

4 01 2008
sunniemom

Aw shucks, JJ- You agreed with me! Or I agreed with you….er… oh- who cares! 😀

And I love your closing paragraph. What difference does it make how the HSing ‘movement’ got started? Who cares if the first highly visible HSers were Fundies or hippies? HSing is *today* (and that would be the present reality for those of you in Rio Linda) an amazing opportunity for any family who wishes to take the plunge- and let me say the water is fine.

Nance- good advice. That is exactly what I did. I visited support groups and joined HSLDA for a year, and basically got comfortable holding onto the side of the pool until I felt comfortable just jumping in on my own. But I couldn’t help but notice a power struggle, folks recognizing a new game in town and looking to corner the market and create a following. So I got outta there pronto.

But there is so much more available than when I started 13 years ago. No one need fall into any political/philosophical/methodological rut not of their voluntary choosing.

All these swimming analogies, and I am afraid of water…… :p

4 01 2008
JJ

Oh c’mon. I’d pay money to see you frolic . . .
😉

4 01 2008
JJ

Speaking of which, I joined a hospital-owned health club here. I’m not quite cleared to start exercising yet but Sunday I get some kind of cool-sounding body composition test that involves drinking lots of water for 48 hours beforehand, and low level electrodes on my feet . . .

4 01 2008
NanceConfer

Don’t they call that shock therapy??

Have fun. I’ll stick with the park. I hope. 🙂

Nance

4 01 2008
JJ

At sunniemom’s blog, we were playing with the thought that there might be a small number of principles so broad and true that virtually all homeschool parents would see truth within them, for their own lives:

Hmmm, maybe start with free will, free inquiry, loving your neighbor and the golden rule, something cautionary about reaping what you sow, and we’d be well on the way!

. . . just a thought experiment, kinda like the one Pam Sorooshian did for “independent homeschooling” a few years back, remember?

4 01 2008
alasandra

I would settle for everyone just tolerating one another.

5 01 2008
JJ

Alasandra, did you ever read “Large Dogs Welcome” which was MisEducation’s final words on this subject?

I think you would love it (it has cats in it, too!)
In fact, since it’s an allegory ,and it has cats, does that make them allegorical cats, like T.S. Eliot on Broadway?
🙂

5 01 2008
JJ

I found this in the NHEN “Affiliated Independence” piece, Nance. 🙂

Just like home education, NHEN is a new kind of “place,” existing in the life of the mind as a safe meeting spot to foster the life of the mind.

NHEN belongs to each individual without any money or obligation exchanged for its purchase.

It belongs completely to its own community, with no need for borders or ethnocentrism, or definitions of who belongs and who cannot.

It even belongs to those who haven’t yet joined and who never will join.

Just like home education, NHEN encourages each individual to learn, grow, believe and contribute as he or she sees fit. In truth, NHEN models my highest aspirations for education period.

6 01 2008
Laura

It has been said that politics is the art of the possible. I believe homeschooling is the art of the everyday. It ranges from the sublime to the mundane, from incredible moments that we never could have imagined, to the simple, inevitable joys and sadnesses of living. It is how we spend our days, how we live together, what we achieve, the goals we seek, and how we learn from the experiences we’d love to have do-overs on.

It is inevitable that we will not all go about homeschooling the same way, and that we won’t have the same ideas about how to protect our right to homeschool. I think that’s a positive thing. We need diversity, and we need a wealth of ideas and strategies. Some of us will be politically active. Others may gag over politics and choose instead to give advice or comfort. Still others might be the organizers of support groups or co-ops. Some might reach out through youth groups or churches, some by writing books, blogs, newsletters, websites, or magazines, and some might make their legacy by making a positive difference for one single, lucky child. There are as many ways for homeschoolers to keep homeschooling alive and well as there are ways and reasons to homeschool.

But you know, it’s not easy to sit by when someone else takes an approach you think is particularly unproductive, or maybe one you even think is counterproductive. It happens. We’ve all been there. I’ve come to the conclusion that it won’t ruin us unless we get stuck there and stop doing what it is that we know we’re good at. Not every strategy will turn out to be effective. Not every one will win friends. But intention is worth a lot, and I’m trying my best to accept the good intentions (for homeschooling, not necessarily for me) for what they are, to honor them, and move on.

I could give up talking to reporters because I know there are people out there who’d rather remain anonymous. I could decide the media would never listen to me anyway because they’ve been fed so many myths for so long. I could curl up and get cozy here just taking care of my family. And you know what? That would be fine. Life would go on, and chances are I would still make a difference in the lives of a few other families along the way. It’s enough. Really. And I’m sure I will be in that place someday.

For right now, I love making change. You know that moment of epiphany when your child first grasps a concept or masters a skill, when they make one of those huge leaps forward? It’s inspiring in a way that is pretty much unmatched by anything else. Well, for me, the moment when a reporter “gets it” – when they really, truly connect – is priceless. It’s not so personal as what happens with my own children, of course, but it is almost as thrilling. (I’m keeping a record of all those reporters that come back to me later for homeschooling advice for their own families, by the way, and there are dozens so far.) So I keep on. And I know we could have a hundred stories out there like the one about the college student for Obama, but only if more people like me decide it’s worth doing.

There IS change. There will continue to be change. It doesn’t depend on people thinking like we do, or agreeing to work together, or joining a particular organization. Just do what you do best. Do it with your heart and soul and mind engaged. Try to be generous and patient enough to let others do it their way, even when it grates on you. Remember that this homeschooling life IS the art of the everyday, after all.

And if you need inspiration to keep going, read stories about why people decide to homeschool in the first place. Here’s a recent article from my city paper’s blog with responses from my local homeschooling group. Real people taking back their everyday lives and moving forward, making change.

6 01 2008
COD

Mind your own business and keep your hands to yourself is about all we need in the way of common philosophy.

6 01 2008
JJ

Wait, that’s not exactly how the lyric goes:
Don’t hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself!

8 01 2008
JJ

From “God Bless America: School Fight Song for Our Times”, new today:

Murzin said a state song and state anthem can coexist. He said it would be like having the “Star Spangled Banner” for a national anthem and “God Bless America” as a favorite song at public gatherings — one doesn’t have to replace the other.

Murzin said he heard from many Panhandle constituents who don’t like any of the three songs nominated to replace “Swannee River,” as well as many voters who want to keep it. . .

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