At the Eagle Ceremony we recently attended, I got into a discussion with another parent about the merit badges my boys are working on. One of them is Citizenship in the Nation. It’s a fairly involved badge with a lot of requirements. I’m blessed that my mom has agreed to be their merit badge counselor and is giving them a weekly class that incorporates the BSA required study. The other parent, whom I’ll call Michael, gave me a lecture on how that was unfair to the boys in the troop who were government-schooled. His main point was that to use the Scouting requirements as curricula meant that homeschoolers would only have to do half as much work. After all, government-schooled children had to go to school all day and then do the requirements for the badges.
It took me a minute to absorb what he was saying, and I had to agree with him that my homeschoolers definitely do have an advantage. Michael looked pretty smug at my admission. I did not, however, say that homeschoolers have an unfair advantage. Giving your child the freedom to pursue his interests, the flexibility to learn in an unconventional manner, and the resources to do his best is what homeschooling is about. Parents who don’t homeschool have made a choice not to do so. Maybe the choice is the right one given their circumstances, but it’s still a decision. Whichever decision a parent makes, they need to be prepared to deal with the consequences .
Fifteen years ago, when my mom was still homeschooling the last of my siblings, the argument was that homeschoolers weren’t going to be up to par with their government-school peers. With that disproved, I’ve noticed in the last few years that the new argument is that homeschooling is unfair to other children. While the change is a welcomed break from the previous trite comments, the comment’s focus is wrong. It’s not that homeschoolers don’t have an advantage in activities that government-schooled children must do as extra-curricular, they do. It’s just that it’s not an unfair advantage.