For many reasons, homeschooling, at least in my country, is coming into its own. Because of the pandemic, the uncertainty of public schools, and possible disagreement with what is being taught, people are educating their children at home in record numbers.

But is it a good idea? Let me tell you a story.

From first to seventh grade, I was educated in a public school environment. I was what they called a gifted student (well, obviously! Modest, too!). I excelled academically, being on the honor roll almost every quarter, and did not excel socially. I was bullied, not good with sports, and was basically the nerd buttmonkey everyone loved to hate.

In seventh grade, I was pulled out of school and was educated at home. From then on, until college, I did not set foot in a public school except for church events. And it was a horrible experience.

My parents knew they didn’t want me in public school, but that’s all they knew. They were very poorly equipped to educate me. I already knew more than both of the academically, and essentially I just pretty much studied whatever interested me. Somehow I managed to pull through, but it wasn’t because I was educated well. I was responsible for my own education, and I only partially succeeded in educating myself. My sibling was not so lucky.

Still, I’m not going to condemn homeschooling out of hand. For the right student, and the right parents, it can absolutely be the right choice. For the wrong student, or the wrong parent, it can cause damage that can be difficult, if not impossible, to unwind later on in life.

The question is, how do you act in the best interests of the child when it’s possible that neither party- the school or the parent- has the best interest of the child at heart?

Honestly, I don’t know how to answer this question. But it upsets me that no one is asking it.

It is unfortunate, but sometimes a parent does not have the best interest of their child at heart, and it is in the best interest of the child and society to curtail as much as possible the influence of the parent. But that is not always the case. Who decides? The same people who have a vested financial interest in making sure that ad many seats at the school as possible are filled? That’s the very textbook definition of “conflict of interest”. But the same is also true in the other direction – should the parent, who should have a vested interest in the success of their child but could just as easily have a narcissistic demand to control their child, be allowed solely to make that decision? Well, obviously! But, obviously not, too.

There’s really no good answer. I don’t have a good way to answer the question I put in the title. Is it a horrible idea? Yes. And no. It depends. But my caution, based upon my experience on both sides of the problem, is simply this. Do not assume one size fits all, and do not assume blindly that a parent knows what’s best for a child. But absolutely do not assume that the schools have any interest in what is in the child’s best interest. And then throw up your hands and walk away, because no one likes someone who think about those kinds of problems carefully.

But here is my advice: if you are considering home schooling your child, don’t just assume that it is the right decision simply because you’re the parent. Think about it carefully. Think about whether you’re suited to be a teacher. Think about whether your child is better served with you as their teacher. Think about your motivations for wanting to home school you child. And only then are you qualified to make the right decision for everyone involved. Which may well he homeschooling. But maybe not.

Don’t put your child through what I went though. Selfish and narcissistic parents are the worst.

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