By Idzie Desmarais, I’m Unchooled. Yes, I can Wtite.
I follow multiple grown homeschoolers on Twitter. Most of them are unschoolers who, like myself, had positive experiences growing up without school. But a couple of the people I follow had a very different background, coming from the world of Evangelical Christian (or otherwise ultra religious) homeschooling, and finding such a background to be neglectful at best, abusive at worst. I think it’s important to listen to a variety of experiences when it comes to grown homeschoolers, and for homeschooling parents to get a good idea of what not to do as much as what they should do. And I think I would do a great disservice to those who did not have good homeschooling experiences by deciding to ignore them or pretend they don’t exist, just because they come from a very harmful branch of homeschooling.
However, I also find myself frustrated at times when people who survived awful situations present abusive religious homeschooling as the default. Homeschoolers are like this, homeschooling is like that. We’re always going to view things through the lens of our own experiences, and I don’t think it’s the job of people who had bad experiences to avoid stereotyping something that was, in their lives, bad. But the picture they’re painting looks nothing like what I lived. Their background is so wildly different that it really brings home how “homeschooling” as an umbrella term is largely useless when it comes to describing the details of our different educational experiences. In my life…
I didn’t miss out on pop-culture, or fashion, or anything else like that when I was growing up. I listened to top-forty type stations as a child, and I can still sing along to more Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears than I would like to admit. I watched Shrek about a hundred times (and can sing along to the entire soundtrack, too). My first solo-concert as a teen was Linkin Park. And though we got our gaming consoles when they were older instead of right when they were released, me and my sister spent plenty of time in our teens playing Mario Kart and Mario Party with friends, on first the Nintendo 64 then Gamecube. I wore clothes that were at least roughly in style. I waited in line for the midnight release of the latest Harry Potter book. In short? I was pretty plugged into pop culture as both a child and teenager!
One of the (many) reasons it makes me uncomfortable when parents entirely cut off or severely limit “screen” access is because of how valuable it is for interacting with and discovering shared culture, shared media, shared interests and communities. I’ve seen many people who grew up with bad homeschooling backgrounds talk about feeling like strangers in their own culture, having never been allowed to have access to the wide range of media available to most people. That stuff is important, and has been something that’s allowed me to bond with people from a wide variety of childhood backgrounds.