I was at a grocery store today. It wasn’t an accident that I went to this specific store on this specific day. I was there for a reason. I was there to buy coconut milk, which had been advertised at what I thought was a very attractive price.
I picked up, amongst other things, a sizeable amount of it and made my way to the cash register, where I noticed I was not getting the advertised price.
I mentioned that to the cashier.
No, the cashier says, that’s the price.
That’s not what was advertised, I insisted.
Maybe that’s a different brand, she argued. This one’s price is right here on the screen. I just scanned it.
At that moment, pinned down with all my other groceries and my three children (because let’s face it, they’re almost always with me) I chose to return said coconut milk because it wasn’t at the price I had assumed I would pay for it. I paid for the rest of the groceries and left. (I make no excuse for my frugality. My husband works incredibly hard for the money he makes and I refuse to be frivolous with it.)
Anyway, because I’m obsessive or crazy, I chose to go back through the store to see if I had seen the advertisement incorrectly. As it turned out, I had been right. I had not made a mistake.
This time, as I loaded the cart with the coconut milk again, I took a picture of the advertisement under it and headed back the cash register.
It was only then that the employee decided she would send someone to check the price. After looking at my picture, enlarging it and turning it this way and that. It was only when another employee rushed to save her from herself that she backed off and gave me the discount and couched in an off-hand “Sorry.”
I walked out of the store with a smile. I had won.
Well, yes, I had won. And I felt good about winning. I may have muttered In your face! as I walked out of there.
But as I thought about it, besides the fact that this was just bad customer service, it made me think of how much this small interaction resembled the burden of proof that we, as homeschoolers, face in the world.
It reminded me how homeschoolers are questioned, looked at strangely and asked what it is they do and how they could do it even after it has been proven time and time again that homeschooling works, that non institutional learning yields better results than government schools can ever hope to provide.
As I have written about in my free giveaway essay Nine Questions Every Homeschooler Should Be Able to Answer, most people immediately shift the burden of proof of homeschooling onto the homeschoolers.
The evidence that homeschooling works is there, but the picture must be enlarged, we need additional proof and perhaps we need someone to go and check it because, hey, perhaps it’s still not true.
But the system says, they cry, the system says. What the system says must be true after all!
Sure, you’re homeschooling them, they say. Let’s see if they can keep up with their grade levels. Okay, you’re homeschooling, they say. Can we test them each year to see if they’re on par? Or perhaps we can just come and visit and talk to them awhile. See, because the system says all children must learn multiplication at this grade and algebra at this. The system, the system!
What is it about the system that guarantees such adherence, such unquestioning obedience? The system is a liar; as in the grocery store, the system could have very well said something else had it been updated.
What most people forget is that the system was made for convenience. The system was put together so that workers could be churned out for industrial jobs. The system is defunct.
The system was made for people, not people for the system. Homeschoolers see that. And even with the burden of proof on us, we are beating it.
Keep at it, homeschoolers. Even when your friends roll their eyes at you. Even when your extended family does not understand. You’re winning. You have the proof. Don’t bow to a failed system.