Anybody interested in reading yet another completely off-base diatribe against homeschooling?
Yeah, I thought not, but here’s the link, if you feel the need to be completely misunderstood and unappreciated today. If not, the boiled-down version is that homeschoolers aren’t interacting with the community in a “missional” way. As soon as you can wipe the tears of laughter from your eyes well enough to read it, my rebuttal follows. (OK, I wrote my post two weeks before seeing this, but there ya go. I pre-rebutted it.)
1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.
The words “homeschool” and “hospitality” really don’t seem to have anything to do with one another on the surface. People who don’t homeschool can surely take a meal to a friend or invite someone over for coffee and a chat, right? Besides, aren’t homeschoolers supposed to be locked up in the house all day playing the violin and learning how to spell “queue” in lieu of learning to stand in one?
Contra the stereotype of the sickly-complected, shut-in, socially phobic homeschooled child, my children have been given a unique opportunity to be involved more directly in ministering to their communities because of my decision to educate them “at home”. (Actually, one of my kids is a little bit pale and sickly, to be perfectly honest. But it has nothing to with homeschooling.)
We’ve found that part of the beauty of not being locked up in a school building all day is having the flexibility to drop whatever is on the schedule and respond to sudden needs of our extended family and friends. Life doesn’t just happen on nights and weekends, after all, and when someone falls ill or needs a babysitter, somebody needs to be around to help out. The trouble with that, in our modern world, is that most of the people who are able-bodied enough to help are already punching a clock.
Just as we’ve decided as a culture that “education” is limited to the three R’s, and that children should specialize in that, we think caring for the sick and elderly is a specialty–something that should be done by CNAs and meals-on-wheels so we can free up friends and family members for the workforce.
I’ve made it pretty clear elsewhere that I think making a home is just as necessary a “contribution to society” as that paying job that feminists are so eager to have us take. Every time you take a mother from the home, you have to pay someone (several someones, actually) to take her place. The same goes for kids. If you take them from the home and the neighborhood and make it their “job” to sit behind desks all day, you remove one of the community’s most vital resources. We’ve turned a valuable asset, the idealism and energy of youth, into a liability.
Caregiving and community-building are a big part of my vision for our family, even though we’re actually pretty shy people. Well, I used to be shy, anyway. The opportunities we’re finding to minister to others—whether it’s a hot meal for a bachelor who is sick and doesn’t know how to cook, or a young mother who needs some help with the kids for a day or two—have improved my disposition immensely.
When children are involved in homemaking and hospitality, they learn that loving one’s neighbor is not a government function or an organized charity’s charter, but their own duty to perform—unpaid, and perhaps unappreciated–but necessary all the same.
I don’t think it’s impossible to teach children these things without homeschooling them, but there are only so many hours in a day to use for such things, and those hours are normally taken up with school, homework, and other self-serving pursuits. If we can give a few hours in the afternoon to a friend in need instead of doing yet another round of math drills (which we can always do at bedtime) I consider that to be time well spent.
The answer to the fracturing of the community is not more pasted-together “community” in the form of volunteer organizations, school functions, and big charities (though I acknowledge their usefulness in the gaps), but in finding more time for each other as friends and neighbors.
Something has to change, if we want our culture to become a healthy one (if such a thing is even possible in this fallen world), and I think that something might very well be education as we know it. It has shown itself to be a failure in many respects, but the institutionalization of the community is, I think, one of its worst products.
As homeschooling families, we are in a position to help correct many modern dysfunctions by using our freedom to build relationships with those around us.
Is hospitality a priority in your home? Do you consider ministering to others, both inside and outside the home, to be an important part of your child’s upbringing?