... but that didn’t stop Newsweek from suggesting, in the online subhed of my new article, that that is who today’s urban homeschoolers are. Okay, no biggie—many of them are kind of crafty. But their headline on the print magazine is another story: “Are homeschoolers out of their minds?”
Literally another story, because I did not write that one. The editors wanted me to—I got some pushback that I was making urban homeschooling look like “just another choice,” rather than this outlet for crazy mothers who couldn’t bear to be away from their kids. (I don’t read Newsweek much and had not realized that its prime directive these days is provocation.) Homeschooling isn’t for me, given that one of my favorite moments of the day is when John and Milo—I love you guys, sorry—leave for the morning and the house is quiet. And I do have concerns: that homeschooling parents may make false presumptions about public schools (and therefore their kids miss out on services they could benefit from), that there is something solipsistic about having your whole environment tailored (and sometimes smoothed) for you, that spending so much time around your mom makes you less independent in the early years than I like my own child to be.
But my thinking on such choices was molded largely by the time I spent with a teenager named Gaurav Thakur in 2004, for a Washington Post article. Gaurav was an introverted math whiz whose high school teachers didn’t have much to offer him, so he learned online from home. I went in to my reporting thinking “Weird” and left thinking “Why not?” You know, I am fine with people making their own educational choices for their kids—including this choice. Besides, just about every urban homeschooled student I met was a walking advertisement for Not Being Screwed Up And Perhaps Even Made More Interesting By Homeschooling. They did not lead isolated lives. And their days were pretty fun.