"....Your children shall be like olive plants all around your table." Psalm 128:3

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Elitists Among Us

As of late, there has been some talk in blog land of elitist attitudes amongst homeschooling families. I have heard it from several blogging friends. Followers of one particular method or philosophy of home education have quite a lofty opinion of themselves and look down upon other homeschool families who don't follow their way of home educating their children. According to what I have read and heard, these elitists (sometimes they are called "snobs") think it's their way or the highway, as the saying goes. I have heard of Math snobs, college snobs, etc..

And not only have I read about these elitists, sadly, I have experienced them first hand in the AO community.

Early on, when we first began using the AO curriculum, I had a hard time navigating the website, although it has improved somewhat over the last couple of years. But when we first started out, it was definitely not user friendly. (Other moms have told me the same thing about their difficulties with the site.) So I tried to find help from "seasoned" AO moms (mostly bloggers) about book lists, scheduling, etc. And yes, I got help...along with an attitude of "you're a newbie and know nothing" attitude. (And there was always the question - "What?! You mean you haven't read all six volumes of the Charlotte Mason series???")  Because I hadn't read all 6 volumes (I had only started volume 1 at that point), these moms made me feel like a failure before I even got started. Encouragement - instead of discouragement - would have made such a big difference in how confident I was in those early days. It got to the point where I was almost ready to give up on the idea of using the AO curriculum altogether.

These elitists apparently think that if you don't follow the AO curriculum to the letter, your children will not be getting the full spectrum of the Charlotte Mason education. And they let that be known.
They look down on families who use textbooks. Or the classical trivium. Or whatever else is "not CM". And it's sad.  I have actually seen the comment, "You can't use that book. It's not CM!" either on the forum or the AO facebook page.
Speaking of the AO Forum, the attitude is there, too...so much so that I have backed away from it. I used to visit it often. But I don't go there much at all anymore, not even to see if I can offer help to some other newbie who needs the encouragement. There is also a book club at the forum. I considered participating in that, then decided against it. The less I visit there, the better off I will be.

I also refuse to put certain CM blogs on my sidebar because I don't want that elitist attitude on my site.

But not all moms were condescending and belittling. There have been one or two moms that have been a wonderful help to me.  I have mentioned before that my friend, Silvia (love her!), has been my biggest help during our transition to the Charlotte Mason philosophy. And, thankfully, I am meeting more wonderful AO moms as time goes on.

While the AO curriculum is rich and wonderful, it is the not the only way to give your children a CM education. There are other ways to do so. And there are many other books not listed in AO that would be classified as Charlotte Mason-ish. For example, this term, I wanted my boys to read Famous Mathematicians by Frances Benson Stonaker. It wasn't on the Year 6 booklist, so I added it to my boys' schedule (*gasp!*), and they are loving it.  :)

We  will continue to use the AO curriculum, but I will tweak it and change things up if need be. And you know what? My children will still be getting a Charlotte Mason education.

I will continue to read Miss Mason's writings, but if I don't get all the volumes read within someone else's time frame, my children will still be getting a CM education.

So what's my point in all of this grumbling and complaining?

Just this:  the homeschool community should be just that - a community. There shouldn't be divisions or condescension or a better-than-you attitude.

Also, the academics aspect of homeschooling is only secondary to character training, right? At least it is in our family. Why are we blasting each other because of individual families' curriculum choices?! Each family is autonomous, and has to answer to no one but the Lord.
Each family must do what is right for their family.
It is their choice.

We are in this together, and even though the number of homeschool families is growing, we are still in the minority. We should encourage one another instead of tearing each other down.

Thanks for reading, friends.

"Therefore, comfort one another and edify one another..."  ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11