A gentleman, Stephen Downes, down my way (Closer to Andrea actually I think) has made a video to explain why he doesn't think much of the idea of homeschooling. Dana over at Principled Discovery has a detailed response to his video, Half an Hour: On Home Schooling, which is much better then anything I could write. However, I'm still going to take a stab at two points of his that just annoyed the hell out of me.
Stephen, uncritically accepting the stereotype of the isolated school-at-homer, tells us that:
...I have never envisioned a society in which we simply replace the classroom with a mini classroom in the garage. If we are going to develop personal, deschooled learning we don't want to create miniature instances of that all over society. Homeschooling can be supported, I agree, but homeschooling should not simply be in the home.
He then goes on to detail his vision of community based learning which, funnily enough, looks exactly like what actual, real-life homeschoolers are doing. Forming clubs, sharing resources, searching out mentors, sharing expertise, volunteering and providing community service, building networks in the community to further the education of our children and ourselves...His vision is our reality. True, what we do doesn't happen because of government initiative or funding and isn't subject to oversight by that government but frankly, if we waited for that to happen, it never would.
According to Stephen it's the well off who homeschool. Somehow that threatens to create a two-tiered education system by leaving the children of single moms and the working poor to the public school ghetto. Except Stephen is so wrong about this that he's not even wrong. We started homeschooling when we qualified as working poor. Why? Because we didn't want to deal with the public school system and our only affordable option (cheaper then the local public school it turned out) was homeschooling. Time and time again I've met with people, in real life and online, who are poor are/and who are single parents for whom homeschooling was a blessing because it offered them an educational option that they could afford. Taking away that option would hurt those who Stephen is concerned about the most.
I think this is a man with good intentions who's clearly thought about the issue of homeschooling. The problem is that the image in his head of what homeschooling isdoesn't match what's actually going on in homeschooling families and communities. He needs to contact local homeschoolers and see how it really happens rather than argue against a strawman because we've read Ivan Illich too and while there are lots of people discussing the man's ideas it's the homeschoolers who are out there making them come alive.