Thirteen-year-old Daniel Hauser has returned home.
Hauser is the (homeschooled) Minnesota boy who last week disappeared with his mother, Colleen, in an effort to avoid court-ordered chemotherapy. The case has obviously sparked a lot of debate. It touches on medical ethics, parental authority and the rights of individuals to make choices out-of-step with the mainstream.
The fact that Daniel is homeschooled adds another layer to the debate. Mike the Mad Biologist posted an interesting response to my post, Full Consent. Check it out:
"My experience has been that homeschooling parents are mostly (a large majority) very much opposed to any kind of scrutiny from the outside whatsoever. The Hauser case is an example of why some is needed: Homeschooling in and of itself is not intended as a means of hiding what we would all agree to be extreme behavior (on the part of parents) but it is very easily used as such.
"It is really up to the homeschooling community to do something about this, but by and large the homeschooling community won't, because, I believe, most individuals in this community prefer their own political purity over the protection of children in their community overall, and do not care, and perhaps even relish, if they are viewed as intractable in this matter by the rest of society. "
I want you to read this and think about it. Really think about it. If you're a homeschooler, your knee-jerk reaction is probably to, well, call the guy an uninformed jerk. But his words are important because he's expressing a common concern. Whether you agree with him or not, his words reflect of the views of a significant portion of the public.
I've thought about Mike's words all morning, the one thought that keeps circling through my brain is this: his underlying assumption is that "someone else" -- the larger society, perhaps -- knows better than parents what is or is not appropriate for their children.
In my opinion (and in my case) I resist greater scrutiny of our homeschooling and family life because I don't believe that society knows better than I what I or my children need. I resist greater scrutiny because I don't even agree with the larger society about what is or is not important. Do I think it's important for my kids to learn to read? Yes. At age 6? No.
Do I relish my own political purity (or, you might say, my individual freedom) over the protection of children in the homeschooling community? No. But do I think that greater oversight of homeschooling and homeschooling families will mean greater protection for our children? No. In fact, I think that greater oversight would cause more damage to more families and children.
What do you think of Mike's comments? Why?