Because, in my opinion, school is not benign. School are actively damaging, particularly (but not solely) to self-esteem and natural confidence in the intrinsic rewards of learning.
If I could accompany my kids to school the whole time they were 'trying' it, I think it might be possible at all to have them experience that in a way that was neutral or even educational. But left alone in that overwhelmingly persistent and pervasively indoctrinated system... particularly at a time when they're going through major brain development and having a hard time even driving their usual lives with balance and ease.
Going into that system alone might make it so that some of what happens there is handled beautifully --a direct conflict, say. But then there is All Of The Rest. Most of which is never handled, never addressed and is very rapidly seen as 'normal.' Or perhaps 'inevitable.'
- The seat-to-seat nastiness that the teacher sees but doesn't address (because, really, who has time, and they're sitting quietly).
- Or all of what the teacher doesn't see.
- There is the teacher-down bullying that is directed at the kids the teacher doesn't like (which is no biggie for the kids who are likeable...unless they're sensitive to the struggles of others).
- There is the casual and ongoing violence in the halls and grounds.
- The tremendous energy of resistance to the system itself that is sometimes just 'forgetting' and inertia, but is often outright rebellion --where does that observation go?
- The basic lack of civility which (it has been my observation) homeschoolers are used to and expect --how to handle that, how to see it without it affecting the collective of 'this is how I behave in the world' a child's already gained.
- What to do about the errors in the textbook the teacher is marking based on the incorrect answer key?
- How to approach the subject that's being taught by the teacher who doesn't understand it or visibly dislikes it?
- What about the clowning, distractions and utter disrespect for the teacher --notably more pronounced when teachers are insecure or incompetent? Do we sit quietly while the struggling teacher is being tormented? Do we laugh? Do we try to moderate it? Model more respectful approaches?
Do you stand up to the teacher about the bullying seen but not addressed? Every single instance of it or is there some scale of 'that's not bad enough to comment on'? What about the sexual assault? What about the child who is utterly ignored? What about the one getting a disproportion of the school's or teacher's attention? What do we do about the kids who are left to flail about, or sit dully until their aid comes back tomorrow? Nothing? Anything?
What about the lack of respect for the humanity, body wisdom and personal pace of everyone except the strongest willed and most confident?
It was not lost on me in the system that affected me deeply, and for years, that I alone was allowed to wander the halls during class time, get up and leave a lecture while the teacher was speaking (without a murmur of reproach) or completely fail to hand in any portion of an assignment without it negatively affecting my grade. Somehow, I managed to import a sense that 'Linda's doing something else that's important' into teacher's heads --or I was far more trouble to deal with than I was worth-- or both, so I was respected (or at least not stomped on) when I felt the need to move around, or believed I knew enough about this subject already, or whatever provoked me to routinely leave the classroom and, say, go have a smoke. I was marked present for classes I spent at the orthodontist.
All of this, without even talking about the quality or composition of the curriuculum, its relevance in today's world, the subjectiveness of grading, the pervasive and contrived competition, the propaganda, the age-segregation and sexism inherent in the system.
photo Classroom Panorama by grampymoose, used with permission (Creative Commons, attrib/share alike)