An online question about homeschooling got me reminiscing a bit with old blog posts. Occasionally I think I should redesign my website so some of these old essays of mine are more accessible because the ideas are still very relevant today. More and more people are choosing to homeschool and I often find myself talking with people who are considering it.
Here’s what I wrote on August 7, 2005, newly embellished with a photo from that day. (Back then I didn’t include photos in my blog posts for some reason I don’t remember.) The title is linked to the original post.
I never finished reading Dumbing Us Down two years ago. I started it over again a couple of weeks ago and I just finished it. I am commited to homeschooling now. Not just because of the book. I’ve been acting as if I’ll be homeschooling for the last two years, and in that way have been commited to it all that time. I started a local homeschool group (FAHA), participate in a number of online homeschool groups, collect homeschool resources (books and links), and otherwise kept to that path. But I have had a few nervous thoughts as the time to “officially” declare we’re homeschooling draws near. (Rhiannon would be starting kindergarten just a year from now!) So, having ignored them for months, I decided to pick up some books on homeschooling that have sat on my shelves for two years, and reaffirm my choice. Dumbing Us Down does more than just support my choice though; I’d be afraid to send my girls to school now that I’ve seen the point of view of school as an institution that thwarts individual creativity and expression, a factory to build robots to serve the ones in power, and a medium for commercialism and a culture of being followers rather than leaders. I can see it in myself, in how well-trained I am at following rules and customs without even thinking. I dare anyone with doubts about homeschooling to read this book!
Someone commented the other day, not for the first time, that it’s a good thing I got my teaching credential so I can go into homeschooling with confidence. It is totally unfounded (but an example of the thoughts we have thanks to the successful training we received from institutional schooling.) To parents who think they can’t homeschool, I ask: Who taught your child to walk? to talk? to stack blocks? to sing nursery rhymes or other songs? Why would it suddenly be different when a child turns 5? Teacher education teaches us how to manage a classroom full of kids. You don’t need a teaching credential to follow your child’s lead and provide learning resources. Rhiannon is beginning to read and compute already and I still haven’t managed to regularly plan daily activities, let alone put together any kind of structured curriculum. (I’m beginning to think we’re destined to be unschoolers always.) I am a member of many homeschool groups (the best being VaEclectic) and know there are many homeschooling parents who don’t even have bachelor’s degrees, let alone teaching credentials, yet their children are thriving, learning all the time, and growing into confident people who don’t just follow the mainstream, who have delved deeply into personal interests, and who know how to think.
We are on an exciting learning journey—our whole family—and I’m so glad I learned about homeschooling as early as I did.
Now with Rhiannon at 15, Caroline at 13, and Ian at 10 I continue to be grateful I discovered homeschooling, and unschooling. It’s a wonderful lifestyle!
Note to anyone living in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area: FAHA is still an active group!