Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Going it alone

According to popular belief, you cannot homeschool without a whole community to help you. You must join a local homeschool group, be part of online forums, join play groups, have tons of other homeschoolers as friends, etc. One of the first things listed on almost every single list of 'How to Homeschool' is 'find a group.'

I guess this makes some amount of sense. Humans are, theoretically, a social species. As a society we have been trained to not think for ourselves and to follow in the footsteps of others, instead of taking our own route. So, we seek out those who went before so we can learn from them & follow their path. We often feel safer & more sure of ourselves if we have someone to look to that has been where we are now or is currently taking the same journey. For those reasons, it kind of makes sense to find a group, online or in real life, to join.

I, however, am done with groups. I have spent some time with a local group, only to decide I didn't want to join (for several reasons). I have joined several online forums/groups only to leave them again. I've tried making friends with local homeschoolers, only to find that we had nothing in common except being homeschoolers. Basically, in over 8 years of homeschooling, I have not found a single group that I want to be part of.

I've stayed on forums & other online groups, sometimes for years, before finally getting tired of dealing with them & leaving. I have never found a place where I truly fit in. On Secular boards/forums, there is often a condescending attitude about all religions & a belief that Atheists are more intelligent than anyone who could believe that there is something out there greater than we are. On other boards, that are 'inclusive,' there is a feeling that they are only inclusive if you are some brand of Christian or can leave your lack of Christianity at the door. Some boards are mainly unschoolers & relaxed homeschoolers. These are often full of criticism for anyone who 'forces' structure on their kids, even if the kids require structure to be able to function. They also seem very condescending to anyone who 'forces' their kids to learn anything that is not the child's choice. There are boards that are mostly school-at-home types. These are often full of ridicule & criticism for anyone who doesn't plan every second of the day, uses informal methods, or does not use textbooks & workbooks for every subject starting no later than 1st grade. There are boards that have constant pissing contests over who has the smartest kid or who is the best homeschooler. Entire threads, usually ones that started with someone asking for help, end up devoted to people trying to one up each other, often exaggerating or outright lying in order to do so. There are boards where people do nothing but complain. There are boards full of people who have diagnosed their kids (as in no professional involved, just mom's usually uneducated opinion) with everything from Aspergers to OCD to ADHD to Autism to being Profoundly Gifted to SPD to Bipolar and more. Many of these people claim that they won't take the child in for a professional diagnosis because they don't want the child to be 'labeled.' I truly believe that most, if not all, just don't want to find out that their child is average.

Basically, I've stayed on these forums for ideas on curriculum or for curriculum reviews & opinions. However, I simply don't feel it is worth it to have to deal with all the crap that comes with it. I am respectful of religions & don't care to be in an environment that isn't. I am respectful of of the various methods of homeschooling & don't care to be in an environment that isn't. I am tired of seeing people treat parenting & education as if they are competitive events. I am tired of reading posts that are obviously exaggerated or full of lies. I am tired of people diagnosing their kids with conditions they don't even understand, and then telling everyone that their kid has those conditions. There is a huge difference between the opinion of someone who is totally or mostly uneducated about a condition & the opinion of a professional who has spent years studying Psychology. I am tired of the disrespectful attitudes, the derision, the condescension, and the bullshit that so many homeschool forums/groups are full of.

So, I've sworn off all homeschool groups, both online & in real life. I mainly only wanted opinions & reviews of curriculum/materials and to find out about new curriculum/materials. I think I'll do fine with that without having to actually be part of any group. Most reviews & opinions I was finding were from places other than homeschool groups/boards anyway. I have found some new & interesting materials from posts on online groups/boards & am grateful for that, but I just don't think it's worth it anymore.

Part of it is my general anti-social attitude. While mankind may be a social species, I am not social. I have never fit in & gave up trying long ago. I much prefer to be alone than to be around those I can't be myself around. I also prefer solitude to dealing with other people's drama. I am very hermit-like and have become more so as I've aged. I simply no longer have the patience for people who are so busy trying to gain people's admiration, acceptance, and envy that they cannot be true, honest, and authentic. While I have met a few people on homeschool boards who seem to be authentic and who I like, the ones that annoy me far outnumber them.

Therefore, I am done with all homeschool groups. I follow a few homeschool blogs, though I never comment, just read. I will continue to follow those. That will pretty much be it for my interaction with other homeschoolers, aside from my own blog. I've never really gotten much support from any group I was part of; I wasn't there for support. So, I have really always 'gone it alone' on our homeschool journey. From now on, though, I will be truly alone in the homeschool community. I'm fine with that. Actually, I welcome it.