Once considered the domain of only deeply religious families who didn't want to send their kids to secular schools, homeschooling has been gaining popularity among not-particularly-religious families. In "Meet My Teachers: Mom and Dad," Business Week covers the growth of homeschooling specifically within the "creative class."
According to Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class and The Flight of the Creative Class, the creative class consists of educated, affluent people who, um, "create for a living":
[They]...seek not only fulfilling jobs, but also tolerant and vibrant communities and cities. This new class of workers does not define itself by national boundaries, but is highly mobile, willing to relocate for the best social, cultural, and economic opportunities. The creative class, 38 million strong in the U.S., produces a disproportionate share of wealth, accounting for nearly half of all wages and salaries earned - as much as the manufacturing and service sectors combined.
Sounds like a pretty good life:
Highly educated? Check.
More than adequate income? Check.
Freedom to live where you want? Check.
So what do they have to complain about, these jazzy, improvisational creators? School, apparently. If they don't like their public schools, the creative class can presumably find a different community with more suitable schools. Or they can pony up and send their kids to private schools — in fact, some of these parents attended elite private schools themselves. But they're homeschooling their kids instead. Why?
According to the US Department of Education, 85% of homeschooling parents cited "concern about school environments, including negative peer pressure, safety, and drugs" as their primary motivation for homeschooling.
Other motivations include religious or moral instruction and dissatisfaction with the standard educational model. Many parents don't like that in most schools, students cover the same material at the same pace, no matter how poorly that content and pace might suit them individually. They also cite the emphasis on rote learning and standardized testing.
The Internet and changing economy have helped make homeschooling appear easier now than it once did. It's always been possible, of course, but information about any topic is now just a Google search away, and online courses abound. Plus, the creative class can move around as jobs and the economy change without putting their children through the struggle of being the new kids in school.
Homeschooling Is Like a Box of Chocolates
The beauty of homeschooling is that no two homeschool environments are alike, just as no two families are alike. Each family can tailor its "school" environment to its own set of learning styles, interests, skills, schedules, and even biorhythms. That said, a few common flavors of homeschooling exist.