I’ve actually been giving a lot of thought lately to the way we, as people, tend to have entire concepts represented by simple words … concepts that may or not accurately reflect what someone else means by the very same terminology. Not sure if I’m making sense or not. Let me give an example.
I met someone recently who, when she heard me use the term “homeschooling,” made it quite clear she thought something along these lines: “Oh, you mean you’re narrow-minded Fundamentalist Christian Conservative Republicans locked away in your home with no contact with the outside world.”
Sadly, that was so clearly the narrow box she’d put me and my family into … just by knowing that we were people of faith who have been “homeschooling” since our children were born. Honestly, that description of what a stereotypical homeschooler would be like doesn’t even vaguely describe my family or our beliefs or our politics or our everyday life. Or most people I know, for that matter.
Let me say right here that we NEVER homeschooled for religious or political reasons. Or to shelter our children from reality, or from people different from us. Or to isolate them from “The World.”
If anything, we homeschooled them to open the world to them … to enable them to learn outside the four walls of a classroom … to experience real life everyday of their lives (not just on weekends), and to make friends with people of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs.
But more than anything, we homeschool because in high school I was involved with an alternative educational experience that opened my eyes to what learning and education could be when it was happening outside of the walls of traditional schooling methods and ideas.
I had a vision planted firmly in my mind back then of what I wanted for my own children (if I ever had any) educationally in the future. It became clear that what I envisioned didn’t exist in the schools or the traditional systems, so we opted out and carved our own path. It was different from the public schoolers we knew (and always remained friends with) … and it was different from the majority of homeschoolers we knew, too (and also remained friends with).
I’ve decided that I think of us as “Conscientious Objectors” to traditional education — whether that traditional education occurs in a school setting or in a home. 😉
Anyway, all that to say, we need to be careful about what we allow ourselves to assume about other folks just based on our own preconceived ideas about words or labels, and the connotations we personally associate with those terms. We could be really off base. I wonder how often I do the same thing? Better make sure I don’t have the same plank in my own eye.
“Hey! Careful with that plank! You could poke someone’s eye out with that thing!” 😉
End of rant … for today. I’m sure there’s more brewing where that came from. 😀