Why Homeschoolers Shouldn’t Avoid Controversial Topics

“That’s not FAIR!  They shouldn’t be able to do that”!  Many years back we were talking about slavery during school.  I explained that people believed they had the right to buy, sell, and own other people.  We talked (in someone gentle terms) about how slave owners took people from their homes.  That they would sell them away from their families on plantations, and would beat them for any number of ‘offenses’.  My tender-hearted son became quite angry about it!  It took several minutes to get him calmed down.  Was this a strong reaction?  Yes, it definitely was.  Was that a bad thing?  Nope!  It’s actually a wonderful thing and illustrates exactly why we homeschoolers shouldn’t avoid controversial topics!

As homeschoolers we should be intentionally teaching our kids about controversial topics in our world so we can prepare them for adult life!

Be Honest About the World

One of the complaints that some outsiders have of the homeschool world is that we ‘shelter our kids from the truth of the world’.  Protecting our kids from the ugliness of the world around them is a good thing.  I don’t think we should be keeping the truth from them, though.

  1. Our kids NEED to know the truth of history.  Throughout all of human history we can see the same basic themes of greed, hatred, and selfishness leading to evil acts.  If we hide the truth of history from our kids in an effort to protect them, they will have a much harder time avoiding the mistakes of the past.
  2. Without the full truth our kids will have a hard time understanding the history and culture of people around the world.  We all want our kids to be able to connect with others.  That will happen much more easily if they understand the experiences of others.  This is why several of the books and journal questions in my Journey Through the USA curriculum and Journey Around the World curriculum deal with tough issues like slavery and the Holocaust.

Teach from Your Worldview

If you don’t teach your children what you believe, the world will teach them what they believe.  This is never more true than when you apply it to controversial topics.  When you choose to teach your children about controversial topics you can ensure that you teach them based on your own worldview.

  1. Intentionally teaching on these topics means you get to be in charge of what your kids learn.  If there are aspects that you feel your kids aren’t quite ready for yet, you can teach about the topic while leaving out details that might be too much for them.  You can choose to teach the facts without saying how they should be interpreted if you choose to.
  2. When you choose to teach your children about controversial topics you get to explain to your children why you believe what you do.  You will be helping your children to form a strong foundation for their beliefs that will carry them through adulthood.  You can even use sites like Common Sense Media to see what issues books and movies have that you might want to explain to your kids based on your worldview.

Increase Compassion

We want our kids to be compassionate.  We all want them to care about and desire to serve others.  When we talk about things that might be controversial, but also matter to others, we help increase our children’s compassion.

  1. There are a lot of past hurts for people around our world.  Wrongs have been done and the scars (both literal and metaphorical) are there to prove it.  When we talk about things that may be controversial like slavery (both historical and modern) and racism we help our children to understand these past hurts. That creates empathy that will help our kids be more compassionate adults!
  2. Teaching your kids about issues like poverty and human trafficking can open up a literal world of ministry opportunities for them.  As you teach about the problems of the world you can also teach about the people and groups working to make it better!  That might just inspire your child to volunteer or work to help others.

Don’t Avoid Controversial Topics

Sometimes in a well-intended effort to protect our kids from the evil of the world, we can go too far.  We don’t want them to bear the pain of others.  We feel that they are too young for some of the uglier details of life.  But we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!  As homeschoolers we should be choosing to confront controversial topics and painful truths head on.


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