Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Beginning of a Great Adventure

Today was the start of our family’s grand homeschooling adventure. By all accounts from my wife, it got off to a smashing beginning and much learning and fun was had by all. She realizes that not all days will be as productive or enjoyable as this one, but it’s always helpful when a major new endeavor gets out of the blocks without incident.

By the way, when I speak of “our” homeschooling adventure or say that “we” are homeschooling our children it should be clearly understood that my wonderful wife is bearing most of this burden. Sure, I’ll be helping out in the areas of history, religion, and political indoctrination science when needed, but she’ll be the one primarily responsible for ensuring that our childrens is learning. It’s somewhat similar to when a man says that “we’re” having a baby. While it’s true that the man plays an important role in the decision to have children in the first place and an makes an even more important contribution to creating the unviable tissue mass fetus baby, when it comes to “having” a baby the woman is going to pay a far higher price in blood, sweat, and tears. A price that most mothers gladly pay during their labor of love and one that is usually forgotten afterward (how else do you explain having more than one?).

One of the more interesting aspects of our decision to home school has been the reactions that we’ve received when we’ve told people about it. After speaking with others who have homeschooled we expected to receive the usual comments and skeptical concerns about socialization and sports and questions about how long we planned to do it (answer: we’re taking it one day at a time). While we have heard some of that, I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised by how supportive most people have been. Perhaps they’re just being polite, but most seem genuine when they say that we’re making the right choice. This even includes a few with backgrounds in education whom you would expect would be the most anti-homeschooling. My uncle-a university professor-expressed his approval in his usual style by saying something along the lines of “with the state of the public schools these days you can hardly do worse.” Coming from him that’s a compliment and we’ve been very appreciative of the positive feedback we’ve received so far.

Another unexpected reaction has been seeing how some people get defensive about the subject. They say things like “we would love to home school too but…” as if they had to justify their decision not to home school to us. While we had expected that people would deliver judgments because we were homeschooling we didn’t expect that people would assume that we necessarily thought they were wrong for not homeschooling. To be clear, while we strongly believe that it is the best option for us, by no means do we think it is for everyone nor do we think less of those who choose alternative approaches to their children’s education.

And that’s what this should really be all about. Parents should have the opportunity to decide how they believe their children should be best educated. Whether that’s a private school, a public school, or at home should be the parent’s decision and as much as possible the government should make those choices as widely available as possible. Ever since the early part of the 20th century there’s been a conscious effort to limit educational choices and take control of their children’s education away from parents. The results have been disastrous for the most part and it’s encouraging to see our society moving (slowly) toward a model where a variety of educational choices are available and encouraged.

It’s obviously not going to be possible for everyone to home school and there are perfectly valid reasons why people can’t and or don’t want to. For us, it seems like the right thing to do for our kids. For you it might not be. We get it and consider ourselves fortunate and blessed to be able to home school.

The great adventure begins today. We look forward to see where it takes us tomorrow.