Friday, November 9, 2007

Things I have learned about myself regarding homeschooling

Okay, so last night I couldn't sleep. I got this horrible cold going around. So, I prayed, offered up my suffering for my husband (who life at work has really sucked lately) and started thinking about things I have learned about homeschooling after having been at it for over 10 years.

1) I am drawn to curricula. I find it fascinating. I even like to buy it. However, in all reality it barely, if ever, gets used. There is saying someone told me comes from AA that goes "insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again but expecting different results". Clearly, I have been insane many times over the past decade buying curricula that I thought my kids would like to use, but they didn't. Because no matter how pretty it looked from the outside, or how well laid out it seemed on the inside, it was still contrived lesson plans that someone thought my kids should know. Well, the kids DIDN'T want to know it. Not then, and/or not in that way, so it unded up being a waste of money. Today, I say goodbye to that. Good, real books, cool reference materials, neato toys and projects; those will be the things I will spend money on from here on out.

2) I really LOATHE the institution of school. The more I read about the history of compulsory schooling the more the very thought of it just makes me want to hurl. When I think about how historically UNNATURAL it is to have little kids sitting around all day, at a desk, and told what to do, where to go, when to go, how to do things, what to think, the social bullying and general cruelty of (schooled) kids.... UGH!!!!...all I can think about is PRISON. I really cannot stand schooling. It goes against the very gift that God gave us; the gift of free will. I mean where do people make the connection that somehow being in school helps one to form their free will? If anything going to school ends up turning people in sheeple.

3) I love unschooling but get really mad that some who take this same approach think that unschooling is synonymous with "un"parenting. That whole TCS (Taking Children Seriously) crowd are a bunch of wackos. (I can say that it's my blog). Of course, we should take our kids seriously, but not the extent to which some of the more idealistic TCSers do that is patently ridiculous and downright dangerous to kids. Conversely, I resent those who think that because I am an Unschooler that it implies I let my kids do whatever they want...and call my dedication to my faith into question. Heck, I can't even do whatever I want, so I know they aren't. There is a difference between mindfully parenting (which I do) and learning (which we all do).

My kids are allowed to learn the way that they want, but they have chores, responsibilities, expectations for good behavior etc (which my dh and I better be modeling for them first!) . The Bible and Catechism are remarkable silent in expressing a method of education. They both state that it is the job of parents to raise their kids in the faith and that we are their primary teachers (if you will). The Bible states that we are not to exasperate our children. Man, how many kids are beyond exasperation with school, yet we keep making them go?

Most modern Catholic schools teach exactly the way our Prussian based public schools teach, they just add Religion, Mass and Prayer. I don't think that is necessarily a better alternative. Not when you finally learn that breaking things into subjects and starting kids in formal academic learning (that they have not asked for or chosen) is actually an impediment to real learning...and an encouragement to "learning disabilities". I would rather have unschooling, Mass, prayer, Adoration etc... At least, then, my kids are living the faith withing the context of life and not school. When faith is another subject at school, it runs the very real risk of becoming just that, another subject to get through with. I never want my kids to view the most important thing in life (their faith) like that.

4) I am really bugged by people asking my daughter what she learned today regarding homeschooling. Most people can't think outside the box enough (thanks, school) to try and really understand unschooling. It makes so many so very uncomfortable. So, they ask what did you learn today. What is that about? When I ask my highschooler (his choice to go ,not mine) what he did in school, rarely does it have to do with any academic subject. When I ask Ben about school he's virtually nonresponsive. And most kids are. You ask kids who go to school about what they did or what they learned and alot of them just shrug their shoulders. Surprisingly, no one takes much notice. They assume (and rightly so) that the kids are exhausted and just want to go home and play or veg in front of TV. BUT, when my daughter is asked about what she is doing or learning, as a homeschooler, she (and I) are judged far more harshly than her "schooled" peers and their parents. The time has come for that to stop.

5) All this being said, I really want my son out of his special needs public school setting. Yes, he can drive me completely mad, but he's my boy. I am so sick of the school administration treating me like a second class citizen. Like they know what is best for my Ben. I am sick of having to lie (to prevent a social worker from sending a nasty truency letter) everytime I want to take Ben on some homeschooling field trip that his sisters group may attend. I'm sick of having to talk Ben into going to school everyday, when he doesn't want to. He's there because last January, after homeschooling him (but trying, for dh's sake, to be more structured) things didn't work out and then Ben just became mentally unstable, so we all needed a break from each other. However, I realize now that I need to be more firm in my stand regarding unschooling both Autumn AND Ben ( for I have seen how it works in my 18 year old highschool senior). I have to stop vascillating for the sake of others and stick to my convictions. (Again, thank you school for undermining my confidence in myself and giving me that never ending need to get approval by those who are so-called "experts:!) The truth is I am not the "school at home" type of homeschooler, and neither are my kids...and that is just that. Time to accept it and move on. By fighting my convictions for the sake of others I just go crazy, the kids become little monsters, and I waste alot of money.

Okay, so my self reflective rant is over, for now.

Hopefully, I will get to take a nap today.

1 comment:

boomer said...

Wow, great 'rant'.. Rachel!

You said so many things I believe and part is the sticking to my guns part. I often feel like as if I am in defensive mode, trying to walk the fence... justify what we do, or what it *looks like* we don't do.. iykwim.. that we don't look like learning is happening.

You have given me much to think about- your kids are so lucky to have you on their side.. you are doing great sticking up for them.. keep it up!