The other day, I read an article on Esquire Philippines entitled, “This La Union Couple Is Raising Smarter Kids Through “Unschooling”“. It is an article geared toward glorifying a surfer couple who have decided to unschool/ homeschool their kids.
I’m all for parents taking a path that’s against the norm. When my friends tell me that they have decided to homeschool their kids, I am happy for them. Homeschooling isn’t easy, and I have utmost respect for parents who do it. It requires patience, hunger for constant learning, commitment, focus, and the luxury of time to teach your child lessons that are at par or even better than what is taught in traditional schools.
These are things that some parents don’t have. Many of us work full time to put food on the table. Many don’t have the privilege to “excuse themselves for beach time when the day is about to end”, because they are financially sustaining the family and keeping their home from being a total wreck singlehandedly, all at the same time.
Parents who are passionate about homeschooling insist I can always find time to teach, but I really can’t. I don’t have the patience either. Among other personal reasons, I send my kid to school because she can learn a lot of wonderful (and also shitty) realities there that she can’t learn here with us; because other more learned and skilled people can do a better job of teaching her stuff I can’t — and I am okay with that.
So when you read an article like this, where you find condescending lines like:
“This La Union couple is raising smarter kids through unschooling”
“The kids are homeschooled—or unschooled, to be exact: they don’t go to prison…I mean school.”
“Unschooling also points out that kids become more trained for the real world, and not in a coop with a rewarding system.”
“Their social skills are intelligible, and they aren’t being graded for it. They don’t get a star for sharing a cookie.
…you begin to question. Are you a terrible parent to have your kids “go to prison” for a quarter of a century? Did you not see that institutional schools make your kid less “smarter”, less “trained for the real world”, and “in a coop with a rewarding system” and nothing but?
Yes, how a child is schooled plays a crucial role in child development. But if we are saying the type of school wholly determines how smart, self-sufficient, unique, and well-adapted a kid will become, then we are forgetting another pivotal part of development: parental influence.
Before school, there is the foundation that parents lay. Even if society dictates otherwise, a child will learn to be street smart, confident, creative, and norm-defiant if parents allow those values to flourish at home. You can teach a child to think for herself, not just “obey, obey, obey” and to follow her heart early in life if you support her aspirations from day 1.
It’s ironic that a writer who looks down on traditional education because of its “one size fits all”/“factory model” approach would prescribe just one approach – homeschooling – as the best and superior way to educate all children. This could’ve been a beautiful piece because it had the most interesting family, but instead it became an article on homeschooling parents versus traditional school parents.
There isn’t a right or wrong way to educate kids. Every family is its own universe. There is no point in comparing two families whose values, beliefs, and dynamics differ from one another.
Let’s stop criticizing other parents for their life choices. Parenting is hard enough as it is.