If you have been homeschooling for awhile, I’m sure you have heard the argument that children need a classroom setting to learn to get along with people quite different from themselves. Accepting people for who they are is a concept that many adults feel must be learned and practiced in a traditional classroom setting.
I disagree. As a homeschooler, I expect that you would expect me to disagree. Buy why? I teach my children to see and treat others with love and kindness. I teach my children about people who are different and when they are exposed to different people in their life, they get to practice showing love and kindness to those people. In other words, teaching tolerance is important to me. By tolerance, I mean that every person on this planet deserves to be treated kindly no matter what they believe or who they are. I might not agree with everything or everyone out there, but I can seek to understand their perspective and show them love and kindness whether I agree with them or not.
It would be more difficult for my children to be tolerant of others if they were exposed to the rampant bullying culture that is found in today’s schools. Despite the anti-bullying campaigns, bullying is not going away. The stopabully.ca website reported on a study that was done with Canadian teens a couple years ago. In that study:
- 64% of the students had been bullied
- 72% saw bullying at least once in a while
- 64% considered bullying a normal part of school
- over 60% said bullies were popular and respected among peers
In case you think things are a bit different south of the border, consider the National Education Association’s findings:
- 60% of the students witness bullying at least once per day
- Bullying affects 1/3 children between grade 6-10
- 83% of girls and 79% of boys reported being harassed
If you consider the idea that I value my child to learn tolerance, why would I put my child in a situation where he is constantly exposed to intolerance as something that is normal? Too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too loud, too quiet, too smart, too (you name it) are all reasons for teasing and bullying in a typical school environment. If you are different in some way, you are a target. I want my children to learn to appreciate others and treat other humans with kindness and love whether they are different or not. A schoolroom culture works against that.
Homeschooling allows your child’s primary exposure to be to the family unit. Parents can model tolerance in their everyday life and in their instruction. They can model kindness and love for others. They can teach their children about people different from themselves and provide a way for the child to practice those skills in everyday life.
A local school typically is restricted to children of a close geographical area. Most students also share a similar socioeconomic status as well. You may have different personalities and different cultural backgrounds, but in general the kids have grown up in the same part of the world and have been exposed to many of the same things as the other students.
On another note, the tolerance that is typically taught in schools helps a child learn to get along with different people he might meet in his neighborhood school instead of the planet. It doesn’t really address the greater picture. If I want my child to learn to get along with others on this planet, I need to have a wider focus than just learning how to appreciate people we might meet when we are walking down the street.
Do we teach our children in schools to learn to understand and appreciate the culture of places like Iran or Afghanistan? Do we teach our children in schools about the different religions so we can understand the beliefs of so many around this world? Do we teach our children in schools about history from a lens of an outsider? The answer is outstandingly no.
If I want my children to learn to understand those different from themselves, my choice is easy. I will continue to homeschool.