So the other day I came across these Salon articles here, here, and here on homeschooling.
And what struck me about them is the parallels between what women pushing for homebirth/out of hospital birth or even just midwife-led birth are doing and what these parents are doing.
In both cases, there is a problematic institution dominating a family’s life. The difference being, there is probably more variety in schools than there is in hospitals. But for a family living in a given state or neighborhood, unless they have serious amounts of cash to spend on private school, public schools are the only option. And as these articles point out, for some kids, maybe for a majority of them, extremely regimented and test-oriented schooling is counterproductive. And so some parents, if they can afford to, are taking their kids out of the regimented routine and reinventing what it means to get an education. They are abolishing desks, clocks, tedium, standardized testing, and classrooms and attempting a more direct form of teaching.
Just as women who choose non-hospital birth, or who fight to break down restrictions on hospital birth, are trying to reinvent what it means to give birth. They are rejecting hospital schedules, unnecessary procedures, and in some cases, the need to be in a hospital at all, in order to attempt a more direct, less disconnected form of giving birth.
In both cases of course, there are varying levels of success. In both cases income and class divides are coming into play. In both cases, there are those motivated by liberal ideals and those motivated by strict religious views who are (sometimes) finding themselves allies.
I want to be clear; this is not about me advocating for either homebirth or homeschooling. For me, the hope is not abolishing hospitals and public schools; far from it. I want universal health care of all kinds and universal access to education of all kinds, too. But what would be interesting is if the pressure of those rejecting the standard path will inspire real change in either of these institutions.
Clearly, groups like ACOG think of homebirth as a worrisome trend, despite the miniscule number of women currently doing it. Schools, being more local and less monolithic, vary in their treatment of homeschoolers; some are more tolerant, some put strict restrictions on it but it is still legal in all 50 states, which is more than you can say for midwife-attended homebirth.
So share your thoughts; are there any other areas where a significant group is pushing against the mainstream in the way natural birth advocates* do?
*by the way, is that what you call us now? I have yet to hear a good label for “people fighting to reform birth practices.”