THIS WEEK, we chat with WRUU show host Leza Chandler, host of "Those Happy Homeschoolers."
Airing every Wednesday at 2 p.m., Chandler’s show explores misconceptions about homeschooling, shares stories of local homeschooling families, and uncovers what she calls “the hidden truth of life as a homeschooler in Savannah.”
You’re a veteran of homeschooling, long before the pandemic. Different people have different reasons to do it — what first prompted you into homeschooling?
Like many parents, our decision to homeschool was made because our youngest child was struggling in school. She developed a severe case of testing anxiety and although we tried multiple ways to help her, nothing worked.
Then one day I happened to be talking to our oldest daughter’s teacher about our problems and he asked if we’d ever considered homeschool. Turns out he homeschooled his own children even though he worked for the school system. We’d never even thought about homeschooling before, but the rest, as they say, is history.
What are some of the most harmful myths about homeschooling?
The most harmful myth about homeschooling is that homeschoolers are some kind of anarchists or religious fanatics who want to overthrow the government or raise their children in secret so they can abuse them.
Unfortunately many people, myself included, had only experienced homeschool through the eyes of mainstream media. Once I entered the world of homeschool for myself and began studying the history of education though, I realized that public schooling was the anomaly, and homeschooling was actually the original method of educating children.
What do you say to critics who say you and other homeschoolers are hurting the cause of public education in this country?
I would argue that public education does a great job of that all by itself. In fact, I believe public schools cause more harm to the cause of public education in this country than homeschoolers ever could, because public institutions of learning consistently make promises to parents and children that they simply do not keep.
As much as they claim to provide a safe learning environment for our children, they cannot and have not proved that every child will be successful in school, or that every child will be able to learn in an environment that is free from abuses from other students or from teachers.
Just the fact that parents now have the option to purchase bullet-proof backpacks for their children speak to the insecurity children experience when in school. To public schools, there is such a thing as an “acceptable loss” when it comes to the education of our children.
But homeschoolers by and large are only concerned with raising and educating their own children according to their own beliefs. This by the way was the original desire of our country’s founders.
Forced education, as it was known in the 1850s, was strongly resisted by our nation’s citizens, some of whom had their children removed from their homes at gunpoint in order to take them to “school.”
Today, public schools do little more than experiment with our children while they brainwash them to love the state more than their own family. Parents turn on children, children turn on each other, the schools blame parents. It’s clearly a mess, but it would be unfair to blame homeschoolers for that mess.
What are some things people say about homeschooling in the pandemic environment?
Public school parents are understandably worried about their children “falling behind” and “missing out” on school. However, when these parents attempt to educate their children at home using virtual public school methods they quickly discover that the level of control they accepted when their children were in school is unacceptable when imposed in their own homes.
Because of legal definitions and rights fought for by the founding homeschooling families, it is important to be clear that what many public school parents are doing in their homes is NOT homeschooling. In order to be a legal homeschooler you not only have to submit the state required Declaration of Intent, but you also have to take full control of your child’s education.
To a homeschooler, there is no such place as “behind” when it comes to their children’s education because each child learns at exactly their own pace. And there is also no such thing as “missing out” because as long as we’re together as a family what could we possibly be missing?
Do you think the pandemic is a short-term boost to home schooling, or are some of these pandemic-driven changes permanent?
Whether you are a legal homeschooler or educating your child at home using the district’s virtual schooling option I believe that home education ultimately causes every parent to question the efficacy of public schooling. I believe those parents who allow themselves to explore the world of homeschooling will find it to be the kind of freedom the Pilgrims came to this land in search of.
And that once parents and children get a taste of that freedom, schools will have to adapt in order to compete for the privilege of educating our children rather than forcing their brand of education upon us with the “like it or lump it” attitude we’ve seen from them so far.
No one is coming out of this experience unchanged. And that should really worry school officials.
What specific advice would you give to those who are considering home schooling for the first time — and who may have been opposed to it before?
First, do not recreate public school in your home. It is not homeschooling and will result in conflict and unnecessary stress on your family.
Next, allow your mind and body to detox from the public school system. This is where you examine and challenge everything you were made to believe about how children best learn and the role of parents/teachers in that process.
Then deschool, which is the process of living life with your children and allowing them to learn from your example. If we really want our children to be successful in life then we must let them learn everything we know so that they are able to replace us one day.
Finally, trust yourself and trust your children. I can’t tell you how many times a public school parent will tell me that they can’t homeschool because they don’t know what to do. My response is always the same — don’t question your ability to educate your own child, question why you send them to be educated by the same people who left you feeling unqualified to educate them.
Anything I neglected to ask that you’d like to discuss?
I’d like to talk a little about socialization because that has been a big argument for returning our children to public school despite the threat of COVID-19.
There are two definitions for the word “socialization.” The first is “to make a person behave in socially acceptable ways” and I believe this is the type of socialization the government is most concerned about.
Schooling is a very effective way to control large populations and create “good citizens” who place the needs of the state above their own needs and the needs of their families. Good citizens are even willing to die for the state if ordered to do so.
Homeschoolers are more concerned about the other definition of socialization which is to interact on social levels for the purpose of enjoying a person’s company. We are concerned with raising good humans who care about their fellow man and are willing to lay down their life for their friends.
Despite the name, homeschoolers learn from the world at large, and homeschooling is not a journey that we take without the support of the community.
Also, homeschoolers in Savannah are very fortunate to have access to the same opportunities as public schoolers including football, cheerleading, homecoming, prom, graduation and a slew of other sports and activities. But it doesn’t come at the cost of our connection to our families, to our communities, or to our own free will.
COVID-19 has affected both homeschoolers and public schoolers alike, and yet our homeschooling community has still found ways to come together to help and support each other while public schoolers wait on the school board to tell them what to do.
All I can say is that there is nothing like homeschooling, and once you experience it for yourself your life will never be the same.