I realize such headgear has fallen out of style in our self-esteem-obsessed culture, but maybe I should belatedly don a dunce cap.
You see, one of my first columns (nearly 25 years ago) was a snarky dismissal of the nascent homeschooling movement.
I know at least two nice families who are homeschooling this year, so I wish to offer my apologies.
Granted, I, my wife, our son, our parents and our siblings were all products of the traditional public school system. (I didn’t use the term “product” until my doctor discovered that the moles on my back were, in fact, a “Best if Used By” emblem branded onto me at graduation. Why do I suddenly have Pink Floyd stuck in my head?)
But I now recognize homeschooling as a legitimate choice for many mainstream families.
Skeptics will accuse homeschool parents of harboring some phobia or “ism,” but many moms and dads really do worry about gang violence, drugs, overcrowding, plummeting test scores and other issues (including endless “instead of doing math, raid your parents’ clothes closet and mock their generation’s looming irrelevance” days).
Some people make fun of homeschool parents with strong religious beliefs, but is a teacher who questions the age of the earth any worse than a teacher who is constantly inquiring, “What’s the age of CONSENT? Asking for a friend”?
Some old-timers have been riled up ever since school prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance were cast aside, but it’s not just religion and civic pride that have been devalued. Even “moment of silence” now denotes the awkward seconds after the teacher asks, “Can anyone name the first three letters of the ABCs?”
I don’t mind paying property tax to support public schools and I have known many fine public school teachers over the years; but I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say many educators have gone off the deep end lately. I mean, does elementary school geography class really have to dwell on the racist origins of continental drift???
Agenda-driven lesson plans can go disturbingly off-track. Sex education is a ticklish enough subject without a detour like “Condoms on bananas can wait until next semester. I have two dozen documentaries about the inhumane living conditions of storks!”
No, I don’t want to see a return to the proper, aloof spinster schoolmarms of a century ago; but teachers should consider being the adult in the room and sharing their passionate causes sparingly. (“The curriculum has been dominated by too many dead white males. I’m going to conjure up some of those dead white males so we can drop F-bombs on them.”)
Critics of homeschooling worry about stunted social skills. But homeschoolers aren’t hermits; they interact with friends, neighbors and other homeschoolers. And social skills should be more substantial than “Oh, no! I need my BFF! I can’t remember if that TikTok influencer said Tide Pods are best eaten chilled or nuked!”
Parents, take pride in whatever arrangement works for your unique family.
It might mean entrusting your youngsters to professionals who will point them to the revolutionary pathway or the drudge-job pipeline.
Or it might mean making sacrifices to spend those precious years with your offspring and instill them with the message, “Be a good citizen, follow your bliss and please let me know if my back moles spell out ‘Kick Me’!”
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”