Learning against the grain

apple on a desk

There are few things in life that are more divisive than homeschooling. The mere thought of withdrawing children out of the public education system is challenging to say the least.

There are countless objections to homeschooling raised by nearly everyone, including strangers. Innocent people with good intentions expressing concerns over the well-being of a child are honorable.

Most concerns about homeschooling revolve around a few major complaints, like socializing. I’ve had these conversations with everyone, from friends to family. They’re always the same. Society doesn’t approve of homeschooling and there is an entire army of people delegated to oppress my efforts.

My wife avoids confrontation as much as I look forward to it. Oppressive opposition only strengthens my desire. I don’t know why; I just figure that I’m wired backward. I can’t help but double down and fight harder when I’m going against the grain.

When I was in high school, I had a teacher express his concern. He was worried that I wouldn’t graduate. I rarely came to his class and only did so to take his weekly test. After the first grading period, I had a 92% but missed four days of class per week.

Realizing that he was genuinely concerned with my attendance and ability to graduate high school, I looked him straight in the eye and told him I was concerned, too … I was concerned because I showed up once a week and had the highest grade in the class. I think you’re doing something wrong when I’m not here.

Maybe I’ve always had something against the education system, or maybe it’s something against me. Either way, the system itself rubs me the wrong way.

In 1870, 20% of people 14 years and older were illiterate. At the same time, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, there were 7 million children enrolled in elementary school and only 80,000 were in secondary schools. Additionally, only 9,000 college degrees were awarded in the same year. Today almost everyone is graduating high school and almost half of adults are finishing college degrees.

However, in 2005, Doug Lederman wrote “Graduated But Not Literate,” which found that 25% of college graduates were considered illiterate. In another study, Mary Willingham found that 60% of University of North Carolina basketball and football players were reading between fourth and eigth grade levels.

Homeschooling our children goes against the grain. It’s a position I’m comfortable with. Just as I’m comfortable taking a stance against the oppressive societal forces that demand my kids play sports and go to school to socialize.

What if knowledge and literacy were cherished like a championship trophy? What if we taught reading and writing like it was as indispensable to success as reading an offense on the field? What if society was provoking us to take kids to the library every day, instead of football practice? What if school districts prioritized busing children to school, instead of sporting events? What if the education system focused on education, instead of the system?

Well, I’m concerned too. I think they’re doing something wrong.


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!



We are glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment policy.

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.