Jan. 9, 2010
Explanations and Revelations. It probably won't make you any less pissed about my opinions, though. The show still sucks.
When Chris flipped the channel and saw this, I was so excited. Wow, I'll actually get to peer inside the workings of some real-life homeschooling families! That didn't last very long. This program has to be the most negative portrayal of homeschoolers I have ever seen. The first indication that something wasn't quite right were the incessant nagging, yapping mothers. In my experience, parents who have been doing the homeschooling thing for a while have evolved way beyond needing to holler and nag about school work. The second indication that pretty much confirmed which road this documentary was traveling was the stereotypical scary Christian family. It was fairly clear at this point that this was in no way going to be a fair, balanced, or informative portrayal of contemporary homeschooling families. After getting over my initial disappointment, I realized I should take a cue from my own kids and watch this for exactly what it was- entertainment. My son's comment, "But Mom, seriously, No one wants to see normal. How entertaining is that?" So true, little babe. So true. So, we begin with the nagging, yapping mothers; the poor 16-year-old girl (who was dumb as a box of rocks) who was constantly hounded by her yapping, nagging mother with her lawyer father cracking jokes about her low SAT scores; the christian family terrified of evolution science; and the mother who took her son out of school after her older daughter was assaulted. This particular mother worked full-time outside the home and his siblings were all grown, so he was home alone all day. Really? Yes. Did I mention yapping, nagging mothers? This lady would call him from work in the morning yelling through the cell phone about his school work. The poor boy desperately wanted to go back to public school. After finally convincing his mother to allow him to give it a try, he finds himself in a 10th grade marketing class where his school work consists of basic 1-digit multiplication. One of the sons in the scary Christian family wanted to go back to public school so that he could play football. The dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks girl wanted to go back to public school to get away from her yapping, nagging mother. At this point, it's pretty clear to any viewer with no experience or knowledge of homeschooling that we are all holding our poor, uneducated children captive, away from society, away from friends, away from the world.
Here's the deal. The concept of homeschooling has been around for hundreds of years. Every year that passes, it becomes more and more mainstream. There are children who were homeschooled who are now choosing to homeschool their children. We have homeschooled children making blockbuster movies (Eragon). We have homeschooled children serving their country, in politics, in Ivy League colleges, in community colleges, choosing to be stay-at-home mothers, working as lawyers, doctors, auto mechanics, entrepreneurs, engineers, actors and actresses, office managers, and otherwise completely normal and productive members of society. Doesn't sound too different from public schooled children, does it?
Homeschooling families have a hard enough time finding their place in the world and trying to validate their choice to society. We certainly don't need this biased, stereotypical garbage thrown into the mix.
You would think they would have tossed at least one successful, well-balanced, non-dysfunctional homeschooling family in there. They had a whole hour to do it! But no. There must be drama. There must be Britney Spears-esque 16-year-old girls saying "like" after every word. There must be the scary religious cult/family teaching their children that God carved out the Grand Canyon and not the Colorado River. There must be the yapping, nagging mothers.
Some would ask, "Well, isn't this real life for these particular families?" Yeah. Of course it is. But it's certainly NOT a balanced cross-section of homeschooling families in America. How realistic would it be to have a reality show about military families where every wife cheats during deployments, every soldier comes home psychotic, every child harbors deep-seated resentment at being denied a normal relationship with their deployed parent, and every family is on food stamps?
I have to say, on the one hand it made me feel very good about my family, our successes, our choice, and my children in general. It made me feel good about those things in the same way it makes me feel superior when I watch Jerry Springer. Unfortunately, this show - with all its conceptual potential- turned out to be just as big of a freakshow.
I would also like to add that there is a WORLD of difference between a homeschooled kid and a kid who was taken out of school in the 9th or 10th grade and is finishing high school at home. A WORLD of difference. Matter of fact, I would even go so far as to say that putting the "taken out of school" kids like this in a TV show about homeschooled kids is just downright misleading. They've been in school their entire life...until...what...a year ago? Sorry, no dice. If you really want to make a TV show portraying real homeschooled kids and their families, please try to find real homeschooled kids next time. I'm just sayin'....