Quick hits: Are a lot of people who homeschool/unschool middle-class and white? Yes. (Am I? Yes.)
Are there some people who homeschool/unschool who lack privilege in meaningful ways? Absolutely.
Is homeschooling/unschooling possible for everybody? I would guess no. That’s one of those tricky points, where I know people who struggle incredibly with lack of privilege and who still manage home education. But I would never tell someone what sacrifices should be made to unschool, and many obstacles are very real and very big (single parenthood, suspicious neighbors/government officials, disapproving grandparents or other authority figures, disabilities and illnesses, poverty, the not insignificant weight of cultural expectation) — I’m not going to stand from my place of privilege and tell someone else to just suck it up. That’s ridiculous. Educational paths are each family’s choice (or lack of choice).
Does the unschooling community need to continue to address issues of privilege? Yes. And I wish the schooled community would as well!!
Does anyone’s not-unschooling help the less privileged? I can’t see how. Honestly. I put my kids in public school, and that magically makes the world more equal? (I’ve thought long and hard on this, too. There’s not much I can do to transform the public school system — or our society’s treatment of children — except by modeling our family’s own preferences.)
Does putting children into a school environment you believe would be toxic for them reflect a respect for all humans? Um…no. Children also suffer from a noted lack of privilege, and I’d rather they had free choices about learning, as mine do.
Quote from the article:
Of course, all parenting realities are influenced by privilege. Many parents with kids in school spend their energies trying to effect improvements for their children or their child’s school; most do not take on the larger cause of educational and social inequities. Notably, many of the progressives who I’ve seen voice anger or angst about unschooling or homeschooling and privilege, either don’t have children at all, or have children already privileged in terms of race, socioeconomic, health, family support, heteronormative family structure, neighborhood safety, and the school options available to them. Et cetera. “Privilege” accusations, in some cases, begin to feel like a red herring.
However, I will always support the discussion of privilege and oppression, and even more so action-based strategies, within any group I find myself allied with, a member of, or sympathetic to (this goes far beyond education and parenting, for me). On a personal note, even more than discussion at a macro level about systems and socioeconomic realities, I enjoy working with families on a one-on-one basis for them to have more of the family life they want.
And referenced within, this post: "The Unschooling Put Down: Economic Privilege" at Parent at the Helm:
Second, and this deserves more space than I can give it now, is something Matt and Bruce have touched on: unschooling as a program, as a method, as a cult. I really wish we could talk about learning and living, but these terms have been marginalized by schoolspeak: now babies and children must learn how to learn (it isn’t something they have a biological imperative to do); unschooling is a program administered by parents rather than a description of how children can grow while they explore the real world with different types of support from their families and others. The social capital unschooling/homeschooling provides to children—access to adults who are doing things besides teaching children; strong interest by parents in making sure the emotional, nutritional, physical, and spiritual needs of their children are met—is far more important for helping children learn and feel secure in their lives than focusing on improving their test scores.
And "Thoughts on unschooling and privilege?" at life in the radical lane:
I think that the unschooling community as a whole does a really bad job of recognizing and acknowledging their privilege, and of admitting that that privilege affects both their ability to unschool, and how easy (or even how safe: those targeted by CPS and similar for unschooling, attachment parenting, and the like, are almost always already marginalized in some way) a time of it they have when unschooling. When questions and discussions of privilege come up in a group type setting, they tend to be quickly shot down and silenced by a bunch of fairly wealthy white people. That said, I’ve made many really incredible friends in the unschooling community who are really aware of and talking about privilege. But on a large scale, that discussion is noticeably absent in the community.
However, I also get extremely frustrated with the reaction from radical and social justice type people who are not unschoolers, which is more often than not “only privileged people can unschool, so it’s privileged and horrible and selfish to do so, and no one should do it.” I feel like this is another example of how little children and teens are valued and respected, because with most oppressed groups, at least in words if not actions, SJ and radical peeps are quick to talk about concrete changes that should be made, yet when it comes to kids in school, it’s just a reaction of “oh well, it kind of sucks that they’re being indoctrinated with the tenets of the dominant culture, and that’s not very good I guess.”