..and lived to tell about it.
I just read this Salon article, Confessions of a Home-Schooler, by Andrew O’Hehir, and I come away from it nodding my head and shrugging my shoulders in a “Yeah, I can identify” sort of way.
No, our children aren’t school-aged yet, and yes, we have a great Catholic school in our community that we plan on sending them to once they’re there.
But I will admit that the thought of homeschooling has crossed my mind a number of times, and–like O’Hehir mentions–it’s not because I’m some sort of denim-jumper wearing, Bible-thumping Christian (not that there’s anything wrong with that.) And it’s not even due to recent news stories like this and this (although they’re certainly up there on the list.)
It’s a whole number of different things, from the seemingly minute (“I don’t want to surrender my kids for so long at so young”) to the arguably more important (“I can’t believe some of the stuff they’re teaching my kindergartner!”)
I also know a lot of people who either homeschool their children, have been homeschooled themselves and still somehow manage to be normal, socialized human beings (note the sarcasm, please), or who, like me, dare to entertain the mere thought in the dark corners of their minds, and who find themselves pilloried for even mentioning it in certain sectors. So, yes, I identified a lot with the Salon writer’s thoughts. As someone who wasn’t homeschooled and isn’t currently homeschooling, I sometimes ironically find myself in conversations where I feel as though I am a defender of the Homeschooling Unclean.
I can also remember the 13 long years of mind-numbing boredom I suffered during my schooling years, and I retroactively realize the amount of everyone’s most precious commodity–TIME– that could have been saved and savored had it just been me learning at home, by myself. (Which brings to mind #14 in the bitter homeschooler’s wish list, linked below: “Stop assuming that because the word ‘school’ is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we’re into the ‘school’ side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don’t have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.”
If you’re reading this and find the usual “Yeah, buts” popping into your brain, I highly suggest reading the article. Just the stats on what kind of and how many people in this country choose this for their families is staggering–and probably underreported. If you’re still not convinced (and no one said you have to be) at least read “The Bitter Homeschooler’s Wish List” by Deborah Markus so that you don’t accidentally fall into any of the annoying habits of non-homeschooling Concerned People. I read it, and nearly fell off my chair laughing.
For the sake of total clarity and transparency, I have by no means been a life-long advocate of homeschooling, and at this point, we’re sending our kids to our local Catholic school. Homeschooling was never an idea that would have made sway in my brain even five years ago. But parenthood is a surprising enterprise, and it sometimes takes us places we would have never before imagined.
And I would still never be caught dead in a denim jumper.