Thursday, February 03, 2005

Homers vs. Homeschoolers

Douglas Wilson a few years ago made a helpful distinction with regard to the culture and theory of home-schooling as expressed by Christian parents. The difference is that some are "home-schoolers." Others are "homers." And yet others are "schoolers."

Let's start with the "schoolers." Who are they? They are

Christian parents who have their kids in a traditional classroom.

Who are the home-schoolers?

These are people who have carefully considered all the options available to them in the education of their children, have prayerfully weighed them, and have decided to provide their children with an education at home. Homeschoolers rejoice when other Christian parents make the same choice, offering to provide help, and they rejoice when others make a different methodological choice and provide their children with a biblical education in a sound Christian school. They understand that all Christian parents who acknowledge and receive the parental responsibilities placed upon them by God are working in the same vineyard.
. . . homeschoolers are not defensive about what they are doing. They answer to God for how they bring up their children, and they know other parents will answer in the same way. They do not judge the servant of another; to his own master he stands or falls. Homeschoolers are thankful for the opportunities God has given them, and equally grateful for the challenges and problems. And when the challenges are pointed out, whether by someone who shares their method or not, that information is gladly received.

Wilson sets this group in stark contrast to what he calls "homers."

Homers have a completely different attitude toward the process of homeschooling. No longer an instrument or means of educating their children, homeschooling has become, in their hands, a very modern manifestation of home as ideology. In this thinking, home is a defining principle to which everything else must conform. Even the church is brought into the service of the home. Father is no longer a father; he is a prophet, priest and king. Any home is capable of doing anything that is worth doing. A radical home-centeredness takes over, insisting that the home can not only replace the school, but also the church and the civil magistrate, not to mention Safeway and General Motors.
. . . homers are aggressive and imperialistic as they criticize other Christian parents who do not educate the same way they do, and they are prickly and defensive whenever anyone takes issue with them about anything. A conversation with homers does not remove confusions and misunderstanding, it creates them. And when a conversation has this effect, almost certainly an invisible ideology is governing the process and steering it into greater darkness. Not surprisingly, homers are frequently in the vanguard of church splits.
Without proof, homers assume the authority of Scripture to be behind all their convictions. This is the biblical way to educate children, and anyone who thinks differently is not really sold out to biblical living. Sold out biblical living means that this curriculum must be used (not that one), this kind of jumper must be worn to the homeschool fairs (not that kind), this kind of natural honey is best for the growth of the brain (not that kind), and so on, ad nauseam. Homers have not taken very long in giving homeschooling a bad name.