Homeschooling Hinders Assimilation?

While browsing the internet the other day, I ran across this letter to the editor in the Tennessean that really ruffled my feathers:

“Home schooling in America has doubled in the past decade. What’s wrong with this picture? Students attending public schools, by necessity, associate with others who are different from themselves. This enables children to learn to think for themselves and to become tolerant of those who are different, preparing them for the “real world” once they become adults. Rather than being concerned with their children receiving a broad education, many home-school parents apparently are more concerned that they grow up with their own beliefs and prejudices. Home schooling makes these children’s assimilation into society much more difficult.”

When I read this type of article I am always amazed at the narrow-mindedness of some homeschool critics.  Perhaps he should instead look at why so many parents are deciding to homeschool their children. This man states that “students attending public schools, by necessity, associate with others who are different than themselves.”  I have a difficult time finding evidence to back up this statement as I am sure he would too if he cared to look for any.

From my perspective as a former public school teacher, I would say that the students in a public school setting are actually more alike than different. This is especially obvious at the high school level. Enter any high school in the country and you are likely to find some or all of the following:

  • A group of teens—all in different stages of puberty but all going through the same basic changes—struggling to understand life and surrounded by others who are also struggling and have no answers.
  • A group that generally eats and drinks the same type of food and beverages on most days, whether they are healthy choices or not.
  • A group of kids who speak the same language complete with profanity and the current slang.
  • A group that is learning the same things at the same time in order to meet some man-made standard that the school has been programmed to teach.

The author of the letter states that homeschooled students have difficulty associating with people who are different and they can’t assimilate. First of all, in regards to the short list above, the opportunity to encounter diversity is much greater outside the school walls in the “real” world than within them. And secondly, if assimilation is the goal, I don’t think that the teen sub-culture is the place I particularly want my kids to become assimilated.

Webster’s definition of assimilate is “to make similar,: to alter by assimilation: to absorb into the culture or mores of the population or group.”

Even more revealing is the definition of “assimilation. ” Webster says “the process of receiving new facts or of responding to new situations in conformity with what is already available to the consciousness.”  That sounds like brainwashing techniques to me. It’s that word “conformity” that really bothers me.  The author states that the association and assimilation he believes is lacking in homeschoolers is something that teaches students to think for themselves.  I think he needs to read his dictionary.