Believing in the inherent worth and dignity of every person is the first of the 7 UU principles. I love this principle because it is so simple and yet provides perfect guidance for dealing with everyone from a homeless person to an obnoxious driver to your own children (hence my religious opposition to the plumbing supply line people).
Some UUs passionately believe that homeschooling is an expression of this principle. This quote is from an essay by UU homeschooler Mary Schnake:
Homeschooling honors this inherent worth and dignity. Parents have a vested interest in and an intimate knowledge of their child. This, and the fact that they are dealing with only a few children at most, makes it possible for every gift and learning style to be more easily recognized and more fully validated.
What I ask is, what about everybody else’s children? Are they worth less than your child? Is their dignity in learning less important? Are their gifts and learning styles not worth nurturing?
While you could say that anyone could homeschool her/his own children, we all know this is not true. Many lack the resources to even consider such a plan, and for some families, homeschooling would not provide a superior—or even adequate—education.
I am reminded of an incident at a preschool birthday party thrown by a family at Rhino’s private preschool. Most families were quite wealthy. One parent, who lived in the neighborhood that was widely considered to have the best school in the best school district in the whole state, said to Mr. A, “I know Best Elementary is a good school, but what I want to know is, is it good enough for my son?”
This man was considering private school, not homeschooling, but the idea seems the same to me. My child is worth more than all other children and deserves something more special that is not available to everyone else.
Of course we all want the very best for our own children, and many of us extend this feeling in the abstract to other people’s children. But what do we actually do to fight for the inherent worth and dignity of every child?
Well, if you are my family, you felt really superior for having all of your kids in urban public schools for 11 years, and now question the morality of your existence.
I believe in Rhino’s worth and dignity, which is why she’s homeschooling. The problem is, I believe in all other children’s worth and dignity too, and that’s why I hate what I’m doing.