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My Parents Didn't Conform and Neither Should You

You are the ultimate arbiter in the upbringing of your children—choose them, not what’s easy. Don’t conform.

Author Mary Ramirez its in the back chair behind her three siblings. The author and siblings were homeschooled by her mother. Photo Credit: Mary Ramirez.

I happened to be chatting with a casual acquaintance a few weeks back, and the subject of home-schooling came up. She mentioned a coworker who has quite a few kids, and chose to home-school them all.

“Good grief!” I responded, only because she had also mentioned that this coworker had a large family, and I wondered how in the world they were able to handle it. I was in awe.

My acquaintance’s response was a little different. Rolling her eyes and sighing, she complained, “Uggggg. The WHOLE concept of home-schooling is just ... it’s just ridiculous.”

I smiled and listened as she went on—positively dying to let her in on a little secret:

I was home-schooled.

Author Mary Ramirez its in the back chair behind her three siblings. The author and siblings were homeschooled by her mother. Photo Credit: Mary Ramirez. Author Mary Ramirez its in the back chair behind her three siblings. The author and siblings were home-schooled by her mother. Photo Credit: Mary Ramirez.

Indeed, it probably would have been pretty funny had I told her I spent quite a bit of my younger life sitting in a refinished 19th century school desk in my family’s dining room.

Instead, we parted ways, and I got to thinking: “Why do so many people so strongly hate the idea of home-schooling?”

I had the privilege of attending Glenn Beck’s “We Will Not Conform” event this past Tuesday, and as the opening graphics to the show panned across the screen—one little letter “i” bouncing around in a sea of identical "u" letters—it hit me: it’s because home-schooling (like other so called “non-traditional” methods of education) isn’t conformity. It is the very antithesis of conformity. It challenges what everyone has been conditioned to think about how education is supposed to work.

In the eyes of many, (at least on the surface) home-schooling is immensely selfish on the part of the parents—it is the deprivation of a social life, and other non-academic activities one might experience in a traditional school setting. The children miss out on key life experiences that would otherwise go on to shape their lives.

Balderdash.

A home-school advocacy association believes things like the Common Core standards could lead to discrimination of students educated in this way. (Photo credit: Shutterstock) (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

I didn’t miss a thing. If anything, I had it better than so many of young counterparts, because I had the distinct privilege of being free to learn at a pace that was best for me, guided by two people who couldn’t possibly be more invested in my well-being.

Another common argument is that home-schooling shelters a child from learning to be “tolerant.”

The truth is, “tolerance” as our world presents it to us today is nothing more than being ordered what to think. (Consider the backlash of near-Biblical proportions against anyone who goes against the so-called grain.)

On the contrary, I didn’t have to I be told what to think. We were freed from the politically correct hysteria that clouds the experiences of so many children in public school.

We were free to study the triumphs and blemishes of our homeland, without having a hatred of country drilled into us at the same time.

We were free to study religion without having our own bashed at the expense of a more “tolerant” worldview.

We were free to be encouraged to compete, without having to hear that “everyone wins.”

By the time I got to high school (and I did end up attending a brick-and-mortar private school as our situation changed), I couldn’t care less whether or not the classmate sitting next to me was black, white, Latino, Asian . . . or anything else. Instead I was freed to focus on what I could learn, the fun I could have with new friends, and the opportunities that presented themselves as incredible teachers also shaped my life.

Graphics used for the "We Will Not Conform" event hosted July 22 by Glenn Beck. Graphics used for the "We Will Not Conform" event hosted July 22 by Glenn Beck.

I wouldn’t be surprised if my aforementioned acquaintance might take the news that I had a “hybrid” education—that is, I was home-schooled and attended private school—and chalk my “normalness” up to that. After all, whatever errors in my ways I learned during the 10 years I spent at home must have been fixed by the subsequent years I spent in a regular high school setting.

Anyone who has ever been knows that high school (even at a small private one!) arguably constitutes some of the most brutal years . . . for a young teen, that is. It’s there where life is often at one of its most difficult, decisive points. Everything is changing, emotions are raging, and popularity is absolutely paramount.

If my acquaintance’s presumed assumption rings true, I should have been eaten alive. I shouldn’t have been able to adapt. But I did. And it worked out swimmingly.

Home-schooling isn’t a selfish option. Aside from making the financial sacrifice to send your child to a private school when you could otherwise take advantage of what your tax dollars buy you at public school, the decision to home-school one’s children is perhaps the most un-selfish move a parent could make.

Indeed, in my family’s case, my parents gave up an income they otherwise would have had, and my mother put her own career on hold so she could stay home with us. She did everything—from curriculum construction to field trip planning with the local home-school group (yes, we actually interacted with other children!), and in doing so she invested her precious younger years entirely in her four children.

In this photo taken on Tuesday, March 25, 2013, Mrs. Mary Natali goes over some information on the dry-erase board with her first grade class at George Buck Elementary School in Indianapolis. The national math and education standards outlined in the Common Core are everywhere at Buck Elementary. Stapled packets of the standards hang outside classroom doors, and individual guidelines are cut out and displayed in the hallways next to hand-drawn graphs scribbled in crayon. A bill signed last Monday by Gov. Mike Pence makes Indiana the first state to revoke those standards, but what will replace them is unclear in a state where teachers are still reeling from years of change. (AP Photo/AJ Mast) (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

There are myriad arguments against home-schooling, but deep, deep down the crux of the issue is simple: it is different. It challenges the status quo. And it’s not always necessarily because of the fact that the kids are staying home; after all, public school has an online option for home-schoolers.

Rather, it’s the revolutionary idea that a parent knows just as well, or better, than a state-assembled curriculum.

Don’t get me wrong. I know plenty of people who attended public school and did well. And, without a doubt, home-schooling is not for everyone, nor can it always be. I don’t know if we would or should make the home-schooling decision with our future family. To be certain, today it’s a little harder in an economy that often necessitates a dual-income household.

But it’s something to think about, especially with the onset of such incredible resources as Liberty University Online, a private school option available to parents who may not feel that traditional home-schooling is a fit.

Home-schooling may not be for everyone, but what should be part of every parent’s modus operandi is the firm belief that, unlike Melissa Harris Perry’s “your children aren’t yours” worldview, your kids ARE yours.

You are entirely responsible for them and what they learn, whether you choose to teach them at home, or send them to a more traditional school. And with the onset of Common Core, which creates federally mandated education standards that take choice away from the states, and ultimately away from the parents, investing in your child’s education is more important than ever.

You are the ultimate arbiter in the upbringing of your children—choose them, not what’s easy. Don’t conform. Believe me, us kids thank you for it.

Mary Ramirez is a full time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com--a political commentary blog, and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show. She can be reached at: afuturefree@aol.com; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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