It doesn’t have to be either/or
Far too often, people shift from “that doesn’t work for some students” to “this shouldn’t be used with any students.” In the process of reminding people that “one size doesn’t fit all,” people forget that one size does fit some.
I’ve met home-schoolers who were deeply wounded by their home-schooling, because an overbearing parent became a tyrant or because a laidback parent was simply unavailable to ever provide structure. I’ve met unschoolers who are bitter that they didn’t get aspects of education that they would have gotten in another model. I’ve met people who went to charter schools that were essentially business rackets duping low-income communities. I’ve met public-schoolers who were deeply wounded by the stifling of creativity (I’m one of them). I know of people who had a horrible experience in parochial schools, traditional schools, evangelical schools, Muslim schools, New Agey hippie schools, Montessori schools and Waldorf schools.
I’ve also met people who thrived in every one of the models described above. I’ve met home-schoolers who found it to be a safe haven and unschoolers who loved the freedom they had and public schoolers who found the safety and structure of school to be a refuge.
It’s true that one size does not fit all. But it is equally true that the solution you found for your family, your context or your community do not necessarily fit all children. As a teacher, I am limited in what I can do (though not as limited as one might think). However, as a father, my goal is to listen to my kids, to know my kids and to help them figure out which type of a model will work best for them.
Ultimately, the solution has to be relational. It has to involve children being known. It has to be humble. It has to be bound by context. It has to be humane. Anything else is simply another stifling model, a fancier version of a factory and a new set of ideology that is just as flawed as the rest.