Social Privilege and Homeschooling

I was homeschooled growing up and would honestly consider my own education a success. Still, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that there are a lot of problems that persist in the community. There are feelings of superiority instilled in children resulting in ego problems when they get older. Even parents who socialize their kids tend to do so in a secluded environment resulting in many homeschooled students growing up to feel socially stinted among people who don’t hold their religious or political beliefs.

However, while homeschooling has been a predominantly religiously motivated community, as of late, I’ve noticed a lot of secular parents approaching homeschooling from the perspective of recognizing that public schools don’t work for many neurodivergent students. There are concerns about how teachers treat students who have ADHD or how the culture of constant schoolwork and grades contributes to those students with anxiety disorders. It makes sense that in a world that organizes its institutions for the lowest common denominator students that parents would be more interested in pursuing educational alternatives.

It’s for these reasons that I still consider homeschooling to be a legitimate option for parents looking to take better care of their children. However, there still exists a concern for those students whose parents are incapable of turning to homeschooling as an option. The ability to homeschool your kids is a position of privilege, and doing it well takes even more resources. Most households in America require that both parents work just to make ends meet. For many families, having one parent quit their job to teach their own children full-time is simply not an option.

This ends up meaning that neurodivergent children from lower-class families have no chance of getting the same level of attention towards their needs in public school as many parents who are able, simply pull their ADHD or OCD kids out to avoid having to struggle against the school’s curriculum.

Very often those from the older generation tend to get annoyed at the modern world’s constant obsession with topics of privilege. In their view, this is simply an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for one’s own life. However, privilege and responsibility are two sides of the same coin. Recognizing one’s own privilege is an important part of taking responsibility in light of those less fortunate than you. I’m quite aware of my own privilege considering I had a parent that could not only stay home full-time to educate me and my siblings, but also instilled in me a love of learning that I carry with me today. Many poorer families never had this opportunity and are thus handicapped in the prospect of climbing the social ladder towards betterment.

On the flip-side, I also recognize that there are those infinitely more fortunate and privileged than I am. Children who grew up well-off enough that they never had to give up artistic dreams for an occupation where they could make money. I’m certainly occasionally jealous of these people, but I also recognize how fortunate I am to even be where I am now. Taking responsibility for your own privilege means you take advantage of the opportunities afforded to you while also working towards a world that attempts to grant these same opportunities to those less-fortunate.

Education in America has been treated as a right for so long, it’s easy to forget how much of a privilege it’s been for much of history. The ability to read and write opens up a world of possibilities for learning, but in the modern world where 79% of people nationwide are literate, these capabilities seem less like privilege and more like basic skills everyone takes for granted.

Homeschooling can be a wonderful way for parents to instill the love of learning into their students, and with the rise of conservatives on school boards, I suspect we’ll also see a rise in the number of secular families turning to it as an option. Still, one must recognize that by taking advantage of the ability afforded to you, you are essentially leaving those lower down on the socio-economic hierarchy behind to fend for themselves. We need responsible parents in communities and on school boards advocating for better educational standards and more empathetic processes towards students with differing learning styles and capabilities. This will never happen if all those parents have pulled their students out of these schools.

To misquote Spider-man, “with great privilege, comes great responsibility.”

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