Why School? The Powerful Question We Should Be Asking

By Purva Brown of The Classical Unschooler

“You guys ready to go back to school?” the cashier at Dollar Tree asked my children yesterday. It was a lovely summer Friday afternoon. We were buying some “back to school” supplies to use in our home.

“No,” they said in unison.

The cashier chuckled as if she understood.

“Because we’re homeschooled!” my daughter piped up, quite proud of herself.  As the oldest, the onus of this announcement falls on her, or so she sees it.

Why School the Powerful Question We Should be Asking

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The S Word

Almost every time my children and I enter a grocery store or another business on a weekday morning, we get the usual question. “No school today?” And each time, we say the same thing. “We’re homeschooled.”

We say it for lack of a longer, better explanation. We say it for lack of responding by asking a better question.

The question I’d like to ask in reply is, “What do you think they would be learning within four walls with peers their exact same age that they are not learning right here, right now? Why do you see that as so necessary that you choose to interrogate my children?”

Look, I know that the silly question is just an opening sometimes, small talk, if you will, and maybe I’m reading too much into it. But how offended would you be if the cashier at McDonald’s asked you at 5 p.m. “What, not cooking dinner tonight?”

See what I mean?

In so many ways subtle and overt, school is seen as The Place for children. “Stay in school!” they’re constantly admonished. As if any place else is at worst, a dangerous one, and at best, a waste of childhood. Because learning to be seated at a desk for long lengths of time and listening to the one authority figure in the room or forming a group opinion on things that matter is such a normal part of childhood, right?

I hope my sarcasm is coming through loud and clear.

Why School

Busting the Norm

School is the norm. I get it. And as a classical unschooler that is into busting norms anyway – I mean, really, who combines those two opposites? I would love if this one would shrivel up and fall over dead.

Why do we think school is so important? Important enough to disrupt everyday life, important enough to dictate to parents what they should or should not feed their children? Important enough to tell families how often they should take vacations and when?

Just try not leaving time for homework in the evenings, or pulling your child out of school to take them to a museum. Try packing a slice of chocolate cake for your child’s school lunch. Oh, and just think if we could take a vacation in the fall instead of summer.

When did we hand over so much of the responsibility and freedom in raising our own children and training them for their future to strangers?

Why do we think they know better?

When did we buy this story?

Join me in my Homeschool Mindset Facebook Group.

Question the System

I know that as a homeschooler, it is my children who come under the microscope the most. And, to be perfectly honest, I like that they have this burden. They didn’t choose it, but it is something they have learned to love. We have learned to shoulder this responsibility. We see it as a necessary counterpart to our freedom.

Classical unschooling will teach them to be different. It will teach them to question norms, sift through them and decide which ones to keep.

It will make them rethink why the world accepts this way of living their lives when it could be so much better.

Yes, I like it this way.


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About Purva Brown

Purva Brown is a writer and homeschooling mom to three. She writes on a variety of topics across many genres and lives with her husband in Sacramento, California. Her most recent book is The Classical Unschooler. She blogs at PurvaBrown.com.

2 thoughts on “Why School? The Powerful Question We Should Be Asking

  1. Hi Purva,

    I LOVE this!!!! It’s so true that everywhere you go, people feel that it’s either their right or their duty to ask why your kids aren’t at school. My daughter does love answering though! Lately, we’ve had a different remark (because it’s the school holidays here), this one goes “How are you surviving the holidays mum?” or “I’ll bet you can’t wait until September?” or something along those lines!!!! Honestly, it’s like everyone hates there children and can’t wait to send them back to their boxes!!

  2. This is such a great article.
    My grandson, whom I home-school, loves to tell people that he is in a real school, learning about the real world. Instead of reading about things in a book, we go there. Instead of hearing about how something works, we try it out. We love it.
    J Watson
    Watsondeals.us

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