Thursday, March 31, 2005

Talking about homeschooling

Having made the decision to homeschool (although I'd rather refer to it as letting my kids pursue independent learning, or something like that), I am now beginning to talk about it with other people who are not homeschoolers. I had mentioned to my mother-in-law that we might homeschool, and then the other day I told her our plans. She clearly pictures us sitting down for a few hours a day and doing lessons. I don't! And she is concerned about them "learning what they need to know" -- in other words, what the school teaches in each grade. At church playgroup today it came up too. The other mothers there are fairly supportive, but also share the view that schools teach what kids need to know, and that especially at the high school level, school, or at least teaching, are definitely needed.

I don't share that view. One of the main reasons for homeschooling is to let my kids see the world and find their own place in it. I think school fails miserably at that. I was good at school, and so I went to graduate school. I didn't learn much in 18 years of "education" that made me good at life -- I feel like I'm just getting the hang of that now, at almost 38. I feel like I finally have a feeling what I'd like to do when I grow up. My husband is currently trying to figure out how to alter his career trajectory -- he wants to combine his job with his hobby and make money doing it. I would like my kids to be able to figure out what they like and be able to pursue it, so that maybe they can know how they want to shape their life before they hit their mid-30's. Maybe I can't do it, but I can't believe I'll do a worse job of guiding them towards a vocation than the schools do. People do not all need to know the same things, and the life of a school-age kid should allow time to pursue special interests independently. That's crucial, I think, to finding a fulfilling career.

Of course, my oldest is five, and I don't imagine he'll be finding a career anytime soon. But I do see him figuring out what he needs to learn, and then figuring out how to learn it. He's working on addition, and he makes up games that require addition. He's working on writing, so he writes signs and notes. The other day completely of his own volition, he labled lots of household items (I walked over the "stairs," and "rug" labels for a few days!). I have great hopes for the unschooling approach. I hope I can keep from triggering his reflexive "no" with my suggestions!

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