Homeschooling is on the rise nationally, but it seems to be especially hot in Silicon Valley right now. Wired profiles techie families who have opted for homeschooling—and are seeing their friends and colleagues start to do so as well. The evidence in the piece is anecdotal, but the reasoning offered by families mentioned in the piece is fascinating:
“The world is changing. It’s looking for people who are creative and entrepreneurial, and that’s not going to happen in a system that tells kids what to do all day,” Samantha [Cook, wife of “lead systems administrator at Pandora”] says. “So how do you do that? Well if the system won’t allow it, as the saying goes: If you want something done right, do it yourself.” […]“There is a way of thinking within the tech and startup community where you look at the world and go, ‘Is the way we do things now really the best way to do it?’” [app designer Jens Peter] de Pedro says. “If you look at schools with this mentality, really the only possible conclusion is ‘Heck, I could do this better myself out of my garage!’” […]“We are going direct to learning,” she [Lisa Betts-LaCroix] says. “We don’t need to hold to this old paradigm of top-down, someone tells me what to do.”
There are a few things going on here. In the first place, it’s notable that homeschooling is spreading outside its original religious context. Given their cultural influence and cache, Silicon Valley families who are adopting and promoting homeschooling will likely accelerate its rise. Secondly, as we’ve noted before, this movement represents a threat not only to outdated schooling systems and models, but also to the entire blue progressive worldview. The threat to the blue model schooling system here is obvious: parents are rejecting a one-size-fits-all “time served” approach to education that does not encourage or allow students to rise to their full potential. They believe schools are failing to prepare their children for today’s economy, and they are right.But the “do it ourselves” attitude that Betts-LaCroix alludes to is also related to a general, and growing, suspicion of experts across many areas of American life. The more Americans feel like they can do things better on their own, the less patience they will have “professionals”—whether that be educators, doctors, or various kinds of bureaucrats (though, as the current uproar over vaccination shows, this isn’t always beneficial). This impatience will undermine the stability of institutions that blue model progressives built and supported. Homeschooling’s rise is just beginning—and is itself only the start of a wider transformation.