The post on anti~homeschooling views at Why Homeschool got me thinking about a conversation I had a few years ago with some Soccer Moms. My boys have been involved in recreational soccer for a number of years and my husband is usually the coach or assitant coach. So I know the parents and kids pretty well. These are all nice intelligent women who care passionately about their kids. So we are all sitting around on the bleachers watching our kids practice soccer when one of the mom's announces that "She doesn't know why anyone would homeschool. All homeschooled kids are social misfits that can't hack "real" school". I calmly announce that I homeschool (you could have heard a pin drop - I definitely heard her jaw hit the ground). Then she replied in shock "But they are so normal and added they were the exception to the rule" at which point I just had to point out that three of the other boys on the team were also homeschooled. She couldn't believe it, and the three other boys were so normal that she couldn't manage to pick them out either.
After further discussion I learned that she didn't realize she knew kids that were homeschooled. All she knew about homeschooling she had gleaned from magazine articles. And that she was feeling guilty because her son was doing poorly in school and wanted to be homeschooled. At this point a public school teacher added her two cents which was that homeschoolers were usually more well rounded students. And while some public school teachers may be anti~homeschooling, it's important for us to remember that not all of them are. I have exchanged lesson plans and classroom ideas with many public school teachers I am acquainted with and when I have run into problems they have always been willing to help me. In fact it was one of Jonathan's public school teachers that first put the idea of homeschooling in my head.
So maybe homeschoolers should start talking about homeschooling more when we are in public. I had known these ladies for a number of years, but the only one who knew I homeschooled (we had exchanged lesson plan ideas) was the public school teacher. After all if people don't realize they know nice sane homeschool families can we blame them for believing the misinformation they read in the media? After my friend got over her initial embarrassment at having put her foot in her mouth we had a nice productive conversation about homeschooling. A conversation that wouldn't have happened if I had gotten defensive.