They’ll compare this practice to the methods of the rich who can afford to have the best in private schools and tutors for their children, trips, vacations, resources and general privilege.
Other people think that keeping kids out of school to educate them at home is doing a disservice to those who fought so that education could be universal; going against the school system is sacrilegious. What about all those unfortunate kids over in Afghanistan or Ethiopia who would give an arm or a leg to go to school? What do you say to that, when you turn up your nose at public schooling?
For example, here’s a response to my article on why I unschool:
To me this article smacks of elitism and onesidedness and is smug to boot. It assumes that all parents are able to guide their children's education. Well that's wrong. Many parents are not able to read well enough, or let alone teach. It takes an educated parent to be able understand education. I wonder what the Mexican janitor would think if he came across this article, if he could read it, (here I am, working my butt off to put my kids through school, so they could have a better life, better than mine, and what, I'm doing it wrong?) Single mums? Poor mums, in the inner cities? No trees, no grass, no snowflakes. School is where their kids go to get any kind of teaching, or positive attention. What about the 'educated', 'rich' mums. A doctor perhaps. Should she just dump all that schooling to unschool her kids? The 150 years argument makes no sense, because this is the world we live in now. The professions that exist now are pertinent to now, not to 150 years ago. And women can be fulfilled outside of the home, away from their kids.
What is the endpoint of any type of education? Overall? Overall, I think it is to make a living. Practical, prosaic, unpoetic, making a living. I am sure there are many creative and free-thinking people among the homeless who line the streets of any town. Does unschooling lead to better employment opportunities, more professional success? That's the question you unschoolers need to ask, I don't know, but I can tell you a snow-flake never filled an empty belly.
People who think like this are missing the point.
I ask those who call unschooling 'elitist,' would you call breastfeeding elitist because rather than drinking formula, the baby is receiving breast milk--natural and tailored to his growth and well being? Would you call that mother a snob? Hardly! It would be ludicrous to claim elitism is at the core of her intention. And so it is with unschooling that some parents see educating their kids as being natural and wholesome for their family.
Let's take energy. Should ‘developing countries’ go through their own industrial revolutions and burn coal rather than straight to renewable energy if they have the chance to do so, because that is the proper way to do it, since Western countries did? Of course not.
So if as parents we view unschooling as a healthier way to educate, and we can and want to do so with our children, why should this pose a threat to the education system? Why should we be beholden to this institution just because others fought so that all could have a so called universal education? Why is guiding your child's education without public school seen as elitist and wrong?
Innovation isn’t fair.
School: a level playing field?
Has anyone asked poor people what sort of education they would like?
Who has bothered to query the poor if the school system works for them?
In my opinion, knowledge is not power if the knowledge you have does not empower you. What is the use of knowing things that are useless to you?
Read Ivan Illich's classic Deschooling Society .
Ivan Illich said, “For most men, the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school.”
I take the position with Illich that public school can never provide universal education.
Back in 1970, Illich wrote in Deschooling Society
Institutionalized education and the institution of the school are producers of merchandise with a specific exchange value in a society where those who already possess a certain cultural capital derive the most benefit.Here’s what Ivan Illich had to say about the so called mythical ‘leveling field’ that schooling is supposed to provide:
Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for
them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby "schooled" to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is "schooled" to accept service in place of value.
Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of
community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat
race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavor are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question.......
It should be obvious that even with schools of equal quality a poor child can seldom catch up with a rich one. Even if they attend equal schools and begin at the same age, poor children lack most of the educational opportunities which are casually available to the middle-class child. These advantages range from conversation and books in the home to vacation travel and a different sense of oneself, and apply, for the child who enjoys them, both in and out of school. So the poorer student will generally fall behind so long as he depends on school for advancement or learning. The poor need funds to enable them to learn, not to get certified for the treatment of their alleged disproportionate deficiencies.What needs to change, what is already changing, is what as a society, we give value to. Education to further consumption or education to further contribution towards a decent society for all?