Living Stones Academy

Educating by atmosphere, discipline, and life

What we don’t believe Part 1

on April 11, 2010

A couple months ago, I received an email about home schooling. It was one of those general mass-circulating emails that go around the globe a few times. This one was about (or against, rather) people who have objections to trying to home school. Not those opposed to it in general, just opposed or scared of trying it themselves.Frankly, I found some of the fears mentioned to be true of me, though now I know—from the “answers” to these objections, and the fact that the person forwarding it said they loved the email and thought it was “great”—that I should be hesitant about admitting to having them before. I did agree with some of the responses, but overall I found the tone mocking, derisive, and downright rude. Especially to the last one, which I certainly did not agree with. The very last objection (I’m assuming the idea is, once the first few dozen have been wiped away, this is all a person would have left), was, “I don’t want to home school.” The response was again derisive and jeering and accused a person who would say that as caring more about themselves than their children’s welfare.

One big reason we (by the way, I shared this email with Steve and he agreed with me on the tone and wrongness of it, so I can safely say “we”) didn’t like that answer was because we feel not wanting a to do something is a VERY good reason not to do it! A parent who has no desire to home school, yet does it because she’s going to be called a loser otherwise—in other words, does it because of peer pressure and anxiety over public image—is not going to be of any benefit to her child. Her attitude will come through, her methods will be sloppy, she will have little patience with herself AND her children, and will create resentment in her home towards herself, towards education, and towards any methodology she tries to employ. I recently came across an anti-Charlotte Mason group on Facebook. Wanting to see if there were some genuine objections, and find out what they are, I took a look. It had only a handful of subscribers, and the admin of the group had put this statement on the wall: “Everything she says is like diarrhea in her mouth.” That sounds like the words of an unhappy former homeschooler who’s mother either A) didn’t teach well or with any sort of compassion or concern for her daughter’s personal learning style, merely quoted Charlotte at her all day or B) didn’t understand it herself, or didn’t want to do it, yet was doing what all her peers were and so did it wrong. (I think that judgment is safe, because I don’t see a grown up examining the CM method using that kind of language.) So to deride a parent who says, “I don’t want to” is wrong. And since I can guess by the responses to the other objections, that the author likes statistics, I’m sure there are some out there to support what I said.

But there’s another reason that we flat out did not care for the email in it’s entirety. This view that I’m going to share is highly unpopular in home school circles. I can’t imagine we’re going to find much sympathy or agreement. Ever. But here goes:

We don’t believe home school is THE answer.

Home school is not the answer any more than marriage is the answer, than having children is the answer, than having a high paying job is the answer. None of these things are the answer in and of themselves. Yet that is how nearly all people approach these Ideas. That’s all they are, Ideas with a capital “I”. They are Ideas in the same way Democracy, Communism, and Socialism are Ideas. People never seem to take into account that human beings are involved in these Ideas, and therefore the likelihood of screw-up is very high! People are scared to death of Communism and Socialism because human beings in the past have abused them. Likewise there are people who support those Ideas because they FORGET that human beings  are involved and can misuse them. People are scared of marriage because of statistics that show the divorce and infidelity rate, forgetting that those things happen for various reasons, and not everyone who gets married is going to have those problems if they know the pitfalls. Likewise there are those that only dream of getting married, and forget about the marriage part of it, or that the person they marry is more important than getting or being married.

In the same way, home school is not the ultimate answer just because statistics say so. What people forget in statistics is the minority: if it says the majority do well, that still means there’s a group that doesn’t. If it says majority of students fail, it means there’s a minority that does not. Every child is different, and the parents’ job is to determine which one THEIR child is. Not every child should be home schooled, and not every parent should attempt it. I lived it, I was home schooled for about 4 years of my school life. I met the socially awkward ones, the ones that were scared to be by themselves at a public mall because they were surrounded by “THE WORLD” and didn’t know what to do with it. (The fault of either the parents or themselves, it’s always debatable.) I also know from first-hand experience that not every kid that comes out of a home school environment is going to be on the straight and narrow. I personally know of 2 in a family of 2 that went the complete opposite direction of everything they’d been taught. I knew those that weren’t learning a whole lot. And I personally went to public school and never got into drugs, alcohol, gangs, or sex. Public School is no more the Big Bad Wolf than Home School is the Ultimate Safe Haven.

We are home schooling because it is harder for me to continuously bundle up 3 other kids to walk one kid to a bus stop. It interrupts our schedule 3 days a week, and with kindergarten it would be 5 days a week. I might as well keep him home and teach him for 1.5-2 hours a day, and be able to carry on with other things. Not to mention we can then take part in storytime at the library, take them to farmer’s markets and museums and parks to do our schoolwork, not answer to teachers and bus drivers when he or one of his siblings is sick and I can’t get him to school, go to other homes for play/learning time . . .the freedom it is affording in the next few years is exhilarating!

We are home schooling because the public schools really are not teaching a whole lot . . .as a whole. Now, if we at some point are in a district that has a highly performing school, and our kids decide they want to go, we’ll consider it when the time comes. But until that time, we would like to know first hand that they are learning something, and that that something is worthwhile. (And for the record, private school is not an option for us, for reasons I won’t bother to digress into.)

Most importantly, we’re home schooling because we want to. As tiring as it’s been trying to put together our schedule for next year, I’m loving it. I’m loving trying to work out how different subjects come together, looking at the books and curriculum, I’m excited to start guiding my child into new things. It is wonderful to be on this journey and I can’t wait to get started!

So if you’ve decided not to home school because it scares you, take an honest look at those fears and see if you have the desire to over come them. If you plain old don’t want to do it, then you shouldn’t. Instead just be the teacher you’re supposed to be by being an attentive, loving, supportive parent in all your children do. If you’re religious, make sure you are invested in teaching that at home (do not rely on the church organization 100% for that, you do have an active part in that subject). If you’re home schooling, please try to recall the time you were unsure about the next step. If you never were that person, then take a moment and thank God for giving you a different spirit from most people. But if you did have that scary time please try to remember it and let it temper you’re dealings with non-home schoolers with compassion.

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