Homeschooling

Homeschooling

Matthew Buckley

It seems neither Fr Brendan Dillon (August AD2000) nor Michael Smith (October AD2000) really understands homeschooling.

Fr Dillon comments that home-schooled children miss out on "important social interaction." Come again? As someone who has experienced most forms of education in my lifetime, be it a Catholic school, a public school, homeschool, distance education and finally university and employment as an engineer, I know this statement has little truth to it.

One friend of mine who was dux of his own Catholic high school recently told me he loved interacting with homeschoolers because there was much more variety in personality development.

Homeschooled children have a very good capacity to interact with people of all age groups. Given that bulk schooling on any significant scale is not much more than 130 years old, I'm sure the human race can get on just fine without the cramping peer group stratification and conformist atmosphere that is part and parcel of a school.

The point that particularly warrants reply, however, more so than the old "socialisation" red herring, is that both express "surprise" and indeed utter incomprehension, that someone could possibly give an answer of "no" to a question asking whether they would send their child to a school even if it teaches the faith in an orthodox manner.

The answer is that not all families homeschool simply because the local school is bad. To think so is to have a shallow grasp of the matter. Certainly this is the starting point for many but it need not be the end point. Both Fr Dillon and Mr Smith seem to think homeschooling can only be done for negative reasons which denies it any right in principle as a stand alone form of education.

For our family it started that way too but gradually one can also realise that it is a good path in itself that is best for one's family, regardless of contingent external circumstances. Alternatively one may judge that homeschooling is not best for one's family.

On that note I would like to say I have never heard any fellow home-schooling family express the judgement that non-homeschooling families are negligent of their children's welfare, something Mr Smith thinks he sees lying underneath.

MATTHEW BUCKLEY
Brisbane, Qld

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