Monday, January 23, 2012

Choosing the Shelter

Dragging out my soapbox........

There are so many misconceptions about homeschoolers.

First of all, our family does not technically homeschool. We school at home.

I know. It seems to be a petty difference, but, believe me, homeschooling families do NOT see us the same. Nor should they.

We belong to a cyberschool, a public school that has all the schoolwork/classes supplied over the internet. Traditional homeschoolers actually plan and buy all their own curriculum. That's not to say we don't buy supplemental stuff. But anyone with school-aged children can do that.

Another misconception is that our kids are stupid.

Hmm... That's "real nice." Like me saying all public school kids are stupid, which I know is not true and would never say.

But, seriously, people think that. As if you can only gain knowledge through entering a school building.

To that I ask: Is everyone who is now walking around and not in school stupid because we're not actively learning in a building?!?

Um, yeah.  Sorry, Einstein and Edison and Beatrix Potter and all those other famous people who were homeschooled. You were all dumb.

We've spent a lot of time instilling the idea into our kids that we are learning all the time. You don't have to set aside a specific time to "do" school. Life is about learning. Otherwise, what happens when we graduate?

Case in point, our Edward (who is in 5th grade and learns on a 6th-grade level for all his math and English courses) was asked last year if he knew what a "legament" was. The boys on his soccer team had just (in 4th grade) learned about these and made a model using them. Edward was confused and said that he didn't. The one replied, "Oh, that's right. You're homeschooled."

Okay. Okay. Breathe. My blood began to boil at that since Edward did indeed know what LIGaments were since he had done anatomy lessons in 2nd grade... He'd just never heard of a LEGament. Hmm...who's the dumb one?

No one.

Everyone learns at a different rate and at a different level. It's easy to compare and feel a sense of pride that our kids are consistently learning above their peer groups. But they would be doing that in a school building, too. They're just smart. Some kids are; some kids aren't.

I'm never sure how to dispel the above ideas without sounding overly defensive about what we're doing. We know what they're doing/what they're learning. We understand it. Somehow other people don't; yet they feel the need to make judgments about it.

I have to wonder how many of these same parents really know and understand all that their own kids are learning.

We entrust our kids to a school with teachers who may or may not agree with our core values and beliefs. And how much are they actually learning in the course of a day?

I went to public schools (many different ones), and there was A LOT of busy work. Of course, I learned. But much of the time, when I should have been listening to the teacher's voice reading from a textbook or lesson plan, I spent drawing and writing. Did I learn anything? I guess so. But maybe I would have learned more at home just doing the schoolwork and then moving on to my art and writing? Who knows. Neither way is wrong. Just different. And in either system I would have learned.

The question we get most often is about socialization. What exactly is that? I mean, really. Isn't it just a buzzword somebody made up to sound educated?

Show me a homeschooler, and I'll show you a kid that can usually (not always) look you straight in the eyes and chat with you about just about anything. Edward, more so than Emily, is a bit shy at times. But we remind him to be polite. That doesn't happen with 90 percent of the kids I talk to who go to public or private schools.

And there's a difference between socialization and socializing.

Think about it.

When kids are in school are all the kids they are mingling with really the kind of kids you'd like them to be around? Where in life will you ever be with 30 people your same age? Maybe in a church or social group. But usually? Ding-ding-ding. That's right!  No where.

So they socialize (maybe not directly but within earshot) with kids who chat about sex and drugs and use words that would make your ears curl. They swap stories about their parents' sex lives or the latest episode of a show that they should NEVER be watching or an article on orgasms in Seventeen magazine. Or they share the lyrics to the latest Katy Perry or Lady Gaga songs.  Or, worse, they kiss each other. Girls to girls. Because, after all, Katy Perry did it and sang a song about it. They do it on TV it must be okay, right?


So, while our kids know about all of this stuff and we have had many many great conversations about it all, we choose the shelter of staying away from it because we find it to be drivel. Mindless garbage.

And as Emily said to me, who would choose to live in a dumpster when you have a nice house to live in?

But we're not sheltered because of ignorance. We are sheltered by choice. We know all the worldly stuff that's out there, and we choose to stay away from that kind of thinking, to stay in the world but not of the world.

Our choice...not anybody else's.

I just wish others could respect that.

"Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me..."


Anonymous said...

Spot on Susie! Glad you can share how you feel.

Woodie said...

I think it is a credit to you and to your son that he was willing to admit uncertainty, especially in the face of such attitudes.