When I was growing up I was shoved into the local public school system without a second thought. I was left to the wolves as they would shove evolution down my throat before I could even see above the counter at McDonald's. The system would also tell me where babies came from and mention the fluids involved before I knew how to say "three" properly (I always said "free"). If I was caught mentioning Christ or praying over my food, I would be invited to attend after school detention wherein I had to write on a notebook piece of paper over and over again "I will not use the alleged names of deities in the sky in common discussion amongst my friends, nor in prayer to myself."
Okay, so I kind of exaggerated the above. Actually I exaggerated all of it. Public School was nothing stressful. The closest my Christianity clashed with public education was when my Mom didn't want me to read Wrinkle in Time because it contained witches as characters and talked about mysterious "New Age stuff." So the teacher let me read Adventures of Tom Sawyer instead (I won that one!). However, years later I found out Wrinkle in Time was in fact a Christian book by a Christian author.
So as I was guided into the maze and confusion of public school where identity is at a premium, because you don't feel like you have one. The days were long, life was hard. Most tragic was that other kids continually wet their pants and watched Power Rangers (which I hated). In my loss of self-identity in the public school system, I lashed out and told anyone who was willing to listen how in the great future, we won't need parents or teachers because everyone knows that robots are more useful and cheaper than live adults.
But, there was one aspect of schooling that always struck me in the raw. It was that when I went to church, I had a few friends who would tell me about their days of playing at parks, and going roller blading in the middle of the sunny day. Happy Meals were not the exception but the rule for lunch. "How... but how?" I would ask...
They would answer: "homeschool."
Homeschool was another word for "I only have to do work 3 hours a day" and then I get to do whatever I want when I want.
I cursed the gods. My whole desire in life at that time was to be a pirate. And here are these kids who have the time and freedom to build their own pirate ship out of legos that they could one day ride into the sea because they had a 13 hour play day every day.
But, there was a disadvantage of the home schooler as well... As they did their PACEs and watched their video lectures in their own little box of isolated life, I was facing the glorious imperfections of the world on a daily basis and enjoy learning its ways.
While I admired the leisure of the homeschooler, it was my homeschooling peers who would come to in order to uncover the latest "swear" I had learned in school, or hip lingo. While my church friends would watch McGee & Me, or Gerber, I was spending the night at my friend's house from school to watch Ace Ventura Pet Detective or Tommy Boy.
And thus our lives were at a stand still. The grass was greener on the other side for both of us. I wanted the free time to be a pirate, and my friends wanted to face life and world in the raw.
But the divide, as it played out over time got wider and weirder. Once puberty hit, the difference between the appearance of the public schooling Christian and the home schooled Christian was akin to the difference between Chimp and man. The home schoolers were dressing like their Dad because that was the only clothing style they had observed. I was dressing myself according to the cultural trends at the time en masse (I looking more like the ape).
Pilgram's Progress was read by the Homeschoolers. I was reading the vulgarities of Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye.
On Halloween they were having a Harvest Party. On Halloween I was wearing a Bill Clinton mask and bringing home pillow cases full of candy that will probably give me cancer when I become old.
But the personality of a home schooler was the most unique aspect...
As far as I can tell, the homeschooled child is the neatest and most organized genre of people I have ever met. And likewise, the chaos of public school brings no organization other than the embrace that there is no such thing as organization.
The Ethics of Homeschooling
The question is dear reader, which path is the correct way? Or as I would argue it, which is the better way to define holiness as a society?
Is holiness a complete separation and isolation from the world to which it disdains? And the only path into the world is for a quick grab and go back home happy meal?
Or is holiness a separation from the world and then a re-entry into the world descending into's depths trying to recover what it may in the process?
Obviously my answer is biased. I have seen the homeschooled run into trouble once they graduated and went to college where upon they were not prepared for the plight and chaos of academia and all it's vices. I have seen homeschoolers thrive in such an environment as well, being a living testament to the incarnation while not losing any of their core values.
On the other end, I went through the public school system and when I left for college, I had seen enough of the world to make me want a full buffet of it, and left church for a period. Likewise, I have seen some very confident individuals go to public school and arrive at college without a concern or temptation to fall because they had grown so strong in their convictions amidst the chaos.