January 10, 2010

I'm Homeschooled: True Life

Jan. 9, 2010
 Update 06/23/2010:  If you have any interest in reading a follow-up post on this, have at it.  Explanations and RevelationsIt probably won't make you any less pissed about my opinions, thoughThe 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'....


  1. I am so sick of everyone that thinks all homeschoolers 'made' their kids stay home! My kids LOVE being home. One of my boys did go to public school until 2nd grade. He was happy to come home. My youngest went to a private K and also loves being home. I agree that the choice of older kids yanked out of public school is a poor choice to portray true life homeschooling.

    BTW, I'm happy to have found your blog through BlogHer!

  2. Sorry that you feel this way...this is Alex from the show. The real Alex. Its great that you seem to feel as if you know everything about our lives because you saw an hour long show, but yeah the show is very real. What happened to my sister was a crime. We had to go back and forth to court for over a year. My mom dose teach me after she gets off work, the school i go through has a 1-800 number which i can call where i can talk to a teacher for help... and it was an 11th grade marketing class fyi... and after going to school i realized i like being home school, and now i am a home-schooled grad!

  3. Alex-

    I am sorry if anything I said was hurtful or taken out of context. I was shooting from the hip here. I absolutely do not think I know everything about your life from a 1-hour TV show. My statement about your sister was simply information for reference and certainly NOT a judgment of any kind. Matter of fact, my kids' safety is one of the many reasons I chose to homeschool them. I suppose it is easy for me to judge and sound self-righteous since I have homeschooled my kids from the very beginning and so have planned my life around that, as opposed to having to take them out of school suddenly yet still having to work outside the home to provide for them. In that sense, I can totally empathize with your family's situation. It is difficult to argue "the truth," however, when the show seemed to be produced with the intention of exaggerating the negative for entertainment purposes. From my side of the television, it certainly seemed as though all the parents were angry and all the kids were miserable, and that's the issue I had with the show. I know from 8 years of experience in the homeschooling community that that is a stereotype that just doesn't play out in real life and it is frustrating when I see that stereotype being perpetuated. So, to make a long ramble and bit less long, I guess what I have the most trouble with is the way the show was produced rather than the actual families whom, as you correctly pointed out, I really know very little about. Congratulations on graduating, Alex. Whether it's at home or in a classroom, that's a huge achievement and you and your family should be proud!

  4. Found your blog after recently seeing the show. Interesting commentary. I generally find homeschooling families to have higher standards than that of public schools.

    Did anyone else notice Alex, "the grad"'s spelling and grammatical errors, poor punctuation and his general poor grasp on the English language?

  5. I came across this while trying to find the full episode online and I just want to say that as someone who went to public school for my entire education, that public school isn't really as bad as it seems. One of the things I've noticed about home schooling families is that they think that public schools are horrible places that expose their kids to horrible things. I don't think they mean to come off that way, but a lot of times they do. I respect your choice to homeschool and kind of wish I'd had a chance to try it. That said, public schools aren't perfect and I was nearly injured a few times,but I was never offered drugs or seriously hurt by anyone.

  6. Well I kind of happened onto this way after the fact but of course I had to give my pennies worth...

    I was homeschooled; from 5th grade to graduation. I fucking hated it. My parents yanked me out of school because dad thought it was the 'spiritually' correct thing to do. I could go on & on about it...but it's pointless now as it's in the way far past.

    I do wanna say...kudos to you. For doing it and loving it. In all honesty, I think it's fantastic that it's working for you and wish that I could have experienced it in a somewhat different light then I did. I think it's great that you don't bend to common thought/idea & you just do your thing.

    I admire your strength. Thanks for proving that there are those that still think for themselves & succeed in doing their own thing; it's encouraging like you wouldn't believe.

  7. You're so freaking judgmental after watching a TV show what could you possibly have to teach your children.


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