Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sometimes I can't figure people out...

At this juncture of the journey, I am used to people thinking I am weird - not quite understanding where I am coming from. I am way beyond all those comments like "I could never stay with my children all day". I have come to realize that I am different and the choices my family has made are different from mainstream - but I am happy with them. I have for the most part found like-minded people and groups here and there that remind me that it's ok to be different. Then you get to the homeschooling community. One would think that we would have an inherent boud because homeschooling is so different from what is going on with society - but there are some stark differences that I am experiencing right now. I am not sure whether it is religion - because although one could call me a Christian - in that I follow Christ, I do not adhere to the mainstream Christian perspective on things. I am not a MCCain voter - I am not a voter period. If I were a voter I would vote for the "other" - and my "other" does not appear on the ticket. This is a digression - it is not about politics. Perhaps it is about the fact that the Christian group requires one to sign a "statement of faith" - which I do not agree with and will not sign. For them - I am a scary influence on their children.

I think it is more than this. I think it is school-st-home versus whatever one wants to call what I do. What I do know is that by supporting my children and letting them follow their passions - they have become very good at certain things. Brianna is extremely talented in all things musical and theatre. I know that if I had, had the same chance to pursue it I would be way ahead of where I am now - but alas school and the "have-to's" get in the way. So could this be it? My experiences of late of other homeschoolers - who just are a bit snarky and not very nice - is it because of a jealousy thing - or because the way we do things are so different from them?

I am far from the perfect mother - but I am learning as I go. I know that I don't want to be yelling at my child or correcting other people's children in public. I do know that if I knew my child was making mean remarks about some other child, I would address it.

I know that this is something others have had to face within the homeschooling community. We are a diverse group and don't always get along or see things the same way. But what really gets to me is that often the meanness comes from those professing a Christian faith. The exclusion comes from those supposedly wanting to spread the Gospel. I realize we are all only human - but some are quick to pick-apart others without seeing the hypocrisy of their actions.

I haven't been able to sleep well as I try to figure out how to handle the situation. I probably should just come out and say something - get it off my chest. Maybe I can phrase it as a "let's unify" and get over the issues speech. I will have to give it some thought.

What I do know is that I will continue to be myself and let my children develop their talents and I am proud that they are unique - that we are unique as a family. I never know where life will take us - and it does bother me when people you think would support you and you would have camaraderie with, turn out to be not very nice. John thinks I should just quit - if I am not enjoying the play - however it is not the play - and I am not willing to give up support of the theatre because of people that I may not encounter all that often after this. I guess they call it "acting" for a reason ;-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Homeschooling has changed me.

The other day it dawned on me, how much I have changed since beginning to homeschool. In the very beginning I was not all the confident in my ability to home educate my child. Having read David and Miki Colfax's book "Homeschooling for Excellence" I was thoroughly inspired to provide an alternative than the average school education for my child. She was already reading - and so creative before even entering school, that I though "I can do this" and I would take it a year at a time. Years following, I read a lot of John Holt and spent a lot of time reading about Unschooling. I watched my children develop their abilities based upon their interests - learning all the time. Here I sit, with 14, 11 & 9 year old children. All educated at home, none ever having been to school - and it has changed me.

I no longer think I believe in the All- Powerful education system of this country. I don't see that it is preparing our children adequately. It certainly is preparing them for the corporate world - ever working, ever reaching higher, ever making more money and getting more and more things, more and more debt. What I have found for myself is that all those visions I had of myself being some executive have kind of died out as I realized that is not who I want to be - nor what I want my kids to strive for. I want them to be independent thinkers. I want them to be able to earn their living, by pursuing their passion.

I used to worry that I would be bored being home, that I could not conceive of what I would do with myself if I didn't work. Now I have no idea how to fit work into my life - that is full of teaching children and volunteering everywhere. I used to define myself by what I would do for a job - or how "educated" I was. Now I realize that, while it is important to be educated there are so many ways to get there. Some of the things I learned best where the things I really wanted to know about and learned them outside of school.

This year, my oldest child wanted to do a "cyber Charter School" and although it has the promise of being flexible and letting children work at their own pace, through interesting courses - the school is still kept to the stupid, standardized tests and you can see the "teach to the test" mentality slipping in. They have these "cram: courses in 10th and 11th grade - so that they can get students to score well on these tests. Regardless of whether this is the best method for teaching, or helps students " learn". The Director - who of course has a PhD basically says this is the way it is - so deal with it. So, who know how long this school will last for her. She likes most of her classes - but I don't see that she is enjoying all the dumb, rote, work. She loves Biology - and her teacher uses all kinds of websites and interesting articles. Her history teacher sticks with the boring text book. If the subject is relevant and interesting - children will learn. If it is meaningless to them - it becomes no longer education, but rather getting through the next test and then forgetting the material and moving on.

I love the freedom homeschooling provides. The funny thing was that when Brianna went into this school - she is doing great - including taking Honors classes. She was not held back by homeschooling - if anything it made her a proactive student. She doesn't view education as the "teacher's" job - but takes full ownership that it is in her hands. Her guitar teacher today, told me how talented and gifted she is. If it wasn't for homeschooling - would I have been able to let her sit and play piano all day - or stay up until midnight playing guitar? I know there are lots of schooled children that excel in the arts and music as well - but I think I had the same talent and it went to the wayside - because I didn't take the time to practice and play- I didn't have all that free time to figure out what I wanted to learn. I remember even through college - waiting for the semester to be over so that I could read the books I wanted to read. While my college experiences where pretty positive and I had some great teachers - there were of course those classes that just didn't do anything for me - whose information I have never used.

I have also been changed in that I no longer have any doubts or embarrassment that I am not doing the best job by homeschooling - or that my children are receiving an inferior education. They are doing great- and I think that my "education" is working enormously in supporting their learning efforts. I wish more people recognized the importance that homeschooling mother's provide to our society. It is dedication and sacrifice - but this is the best job that I ever could have asked for.