Is Homeschooling a “Blast from the Past”?

Nov 1, 2001

by Melanie Hudson

Last night I rented a romantic comedy called “Blast from the Past.” The plot was far-fetched, as you might expect, dealing with a couple living in a bomb shelter for thirty-five years, raising a child, then sending him out into the real world. We witness the son’s reaction to modern society, how he copes, and, of course, how he eventually finds true love. As I sat watching the movie with one of my best friends, a non-homeschooling mom, I became uncomfortably aware of the similarities between raising a son in an underground bomb shelter and raising him in a homeschooling environment.

I was first unsettled by the portrayal of the perceived threat and the parents’ overreaction to it. They retreated to the shelter because of the threat of an atomic bomb. When a plane crashes into and demolishes their home, being in the shelter does, in fact, save their very lives and that of the unborn son. However, as heat sensors react to the heat from the explosion, locks are set to keep them underground for thirty-five years, until the supposed “danger” of radioactivity has passed.

Are we, as parents, also overreacting to the threats we perceive in the public and private school systems? Sure, there are some obvious problems and some very real dangers out there for our kids. But is it overkill to retreat into the safety of our homes in an effort to protect them? I, too, have reacted to a threat to my child’s wellbeing and pulled him out of the public schools and into the safety of my own home. In the “heat” of a dangerous situation, I protected him. However, is keeping him and his brother at home, years after the original threat has passed, going too far?

One thing is certain: life will continue to go on around us (or, in the movie, over us). We watch a young man go from selling ice cream at his mom’s malt shop to selling booze and drugs. Meanwhile, the family underground continues to live their 1960’s lifestyle, with their dress, Perry Como albums, and “I Love Lucy” reruns. And what is happening with little “Adam,” the son born in the shelter? He’s learning to read on his dad’s lap, and is being taught his parents’ values and manners. Later, his dad teaches him history, the classics, and foreign languages in a one-desk “school room” in their underground home. Adam receives daily boxing lessons from his dad and dancing lessons from his mom.

Finally, after thirty-five years of this sheltered existence, the locks come open. The father is the first to venture out and is so shocked at the changes that he retreats back into the shelter. But, alas, supplies are running low—it has, after all, been a long time—and Adam is sent into the real world, armed with a list of needed supplies and a suitcase full of old baseball cards, stocks, bonds, and cash. Dressed in his homemade suit, he reacts to everyone and everything with the innocence of the child that he still is. You really can’t help feeling sorry for the poor, backwards geek. But then again …

He manages to out-dance the best dancers, correct the history knowledge of a computer expert, converse fluently in French, defend himself effortlessly when physically attacked, and treat everyone he meets with respect and kindness. He ends up physically healthy, well-rounded, well-educated, and, of course, in the movies, rich.

So how does Adam repay his parents for “overprotecting” him? He brings home a girl to please his mother, builds his folks a reconstructed house without regard to the cost, takes great care to reintroduce them back into the modern world. He adopts his father’s philosophy that children, who are once taken care of by their parents, in turn look after them. I’d say that’s a pretty good return on a thirty-five year investment. I just might buy into that kind of protection plan.

Melanie and her husband, Randy, are currently in their fourth year of homeschooling. They have two sons, Tyler, ten, and Tanner, nine. They live in Mt. Airy, NC.

 

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