We home school our kids. We always have. Which means that Owen, age 10, and Eleanor, age 7, have never been to “regular” school, as Owen and Ella like to call it.
Now, immediately this brings visions to your mind. I know it does, so don’t even try to be all polite and pretend that it doesn’t. You have now drawn conclusions of one kind or another, many of which have nothing to do with my family, and lots to do with your experience, if any, with home schooling. I get it. I don’t mind. At one point I did mind, and I would try to painstakingly explain to people our reasons for home schooling, our commitment to our children, our relative normalcy in contrast to the freaky school thing. I don’t try anymore. I don’t care. Well, that’s not quite right. Here’s what it is: I don’t care what some woman in the produce aisle at the grocery store thinks of me. I certainly used to. Now I don’t.
I do care what some people think: family members and close friends and such. On the other hand, my family members and friends know me for the thoughtful, level-headed, committed parent that I mostly am, with enough wine and a little daily exercise. If they don’t agree with our home schooling, then they at least need to respect the fact that there MUST be something to it, otherwise I wouldn’t be spending so much of my life doing it. That’s finally the speech a few people in my family have gotten. I don’t know if I changed anyone’s mind, but they shut up about it around ME at least. Which is all I really needed.
Let’s address a few of your unasked questions: We don’t home school for religious reasons, unless it is possible to feel so strongly about revisionist history that you consider it the devil incarnate. We don’t home school because we think schools are bad, or evil, or out to transform our children into worker bees. We don’t home school because we have issues with authority (my therapist says I’m over that now). So why DO we go to all this trouble?
Here’s my elevator speech: “Education is not the filling of a vessel, but the kindling of a flame” -Socrates
It generally makes people pause for a moment, and, as an added bonus, I just got to quote Socrates on an elevator without looking like an pompous windbag. So there’s that.
I like the idea of my children having an interactive relationship with education as part of their responsibility as humans. So instead of their personal learning responsibility consisting of staying still and complacent while a teacher “Fills their vessel” , it becomes their responsibility to reach out and grab what they need to know. (If Owen read this he would immediately point out that there is plenty of time at our house spent with him learning what I think he needs to know, not just what he thinks he needs. He’s right. I’m the grown-up).
And then there’s the family thing. We spend a lot of time as a family unit. It’s good, and it’s hard, and where it’s hard it’s good, because when you spend a lot of time with each other you HAVE to figure out how to enjoy each other’s company or you’ll all end up bloody in the bathtub. Not that it’s ever happened…
I was talking to a mother the other day who was thinking about home schooling, and seeking advice from me. She was torn: “I’m just afraid that my kids will miss out on things they would have had in school”
“They will.” I told her. “They absolutely will miss out on experiences that they would get in regular school if you pull them out. Just like they will miss out on experiences only home schooling can provide if they stay in school. There is no right answer. There is only what works best for your family”
Then I started thinking about how true that was just all over the place! Wouldn’t it be cool if I could walk around all day knowing that there was no “right” way. That there are just ways, with consequences inevitably coming right along afterwards. Then I started thinking that Man, I will use ANY excuse to get all deep and philosophical. Geez!
So there. That tricky blog is done. Still with me? I think it’s gonna be good.