Friday, July 22, 2011

School is not life.

On my local parenting forum, someone asked for top 5 reasons for public schooling or homeschooling our child(ren). Apparently, I saw insinuation in some of the reasons people stated for public school/not homeschool. It stuck in my craw, as it were. Rather than get all defensive and go off-topic there, I decided to muse here instead. It's mine, that's what it's for, damnit.

Homeschooling doesn't have to mean your kid is exposed only to one group/kind/ethnicity/etc. We've purposely sought out heterogeneity and found some--but school is not life. We do lots of activities outside of schooly things, and make damn sure we expose to multiple cultures, ethnicities, economics.

School is not life. I'm the poster child for outcomes-based education. I excelled like nobody's business. I wanted that golden ring. I was afraid to try new things despite having an interest in them because it might hold me back from that ring. When I grabbed it, I realized it wasn't really all that meaningful or sturdy, and it sure wasn't going to be something to hold onto. I see that sense of perfectionism, of adhering to outside standards because no one asked what one's own standards are, in my own kids. I truly think they would hold themselves back out of fear of trying something unknown--when that's where the fun is: doing something you've never tried before.  Especially Khalil, my second. I really did succumb to the "school is life" mentality and feel sad that no one recognized the need to point out to me that life is sooo much more.

My husband  and I had discussed loooong ago (as in, we were still engaged) that we would prefer to homeschool our kids because we felt so held back in our own educations, having to wait for others to catch up, that we missed out on discovering things we would have liked to learn about. I will say that he and I both come from small immediate familes, but large, close, extended families. So the issue of sustained social relationships was moot. We also both agreed that if public school ever looked like it was the better option, then we'd go for that.

Esoteric reasons aside, Khary is...hard to fence in. It's become glaringly obvious over these past couple months that he would immediately be labeled as bad/troublemaker/etc in a school setting. He's not--anyone among our homeschool friends will tell you that--but he just doesn't thrive inside a fence. Some horses do, just not mine, not right now.

For me, I get to discover things with them--and maybe it's because I come from a family of teachers, but I love showing my kids something, their wheels turning, and discovery and understanding beaming from them. It gives me joy.

But I'm also of the opinion that our society pushes academics far too early--little kids are supposed to play, and our brains are wired to learn social interaction years before academics. When we sacrifice the former for the latter and wonder why we have unhappy and undereducated people...I think there's something amiss.

Plus, I'm not morning people.


  1. Anything that scares me about HS'ing (and I've experienced most of the fears on that thread you're referring to), I'm confident I can overcome. I'm like you - I was the overachiever public school teacher's dream child. So I can overachieve and give my kids a pretty damn good HS education. It's funny, one of my biggest fears isn't even about the kids, but about me - what am I going to do to fulfill my own needs in the midst of HS'ing? Now that's something I'll have to work on.
    btw - I'd still love a guest post from you on finding ways to expose HS kids/families to different groups/ethnicities/cultures/etc. I know it would be hard to generalize it, but if you're up to tackling the topic, I'd love to feature it :)

  2. I often hear parents who say they want to expose their kids to the real world so that their kids can learn to get along with duverse groups of society. I find myself wondering why they think that a classroom full of five year olds and one adult is more likely to give that than the "real world" where my children are interacting with people of all ages, political affiliations, religious beliefs, ethnicities, etc.

  3. And apparently I shouldn't type while NAK, as I can't hit the correct keys.

  4. Love this post!!! I totally get your point of view and you had me at the last sentence. My biggest problem with public school is that it starts in the morning.