Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler

Right now we are preparing for our fourth year of homeschooling. I am still in shocked awe that this is a path our family is walking together!

Five years ago I didn’t have anything against homeschoolers – except I really believed the require attire for the home educated was a denim jumper; that girls had long hair worn most commonly in a bun, boys wore button down shirts with the top button buttoned and well-geled crew cuts, and they always had pasty skin and buggy eyes because of lack of sunshine. In my mind, they also were very clean.

Not to work off of stereotypes.

My husband and I would talk about how we wanted to educate our children and dream of supporting their public school teachers, being involved in the Parent Teacher Association, and warm cookies around the kitchen table while asking, “How was school?” each day.

It was a good image. {sigh}

Once Uno hit school age, however, we discovered our perception of school wasn’t quite as “Norman Rockwell” as we had originally assumed. Uno is a rule follower and her pre-K teacher quickly put her into a leadership position by assigning her to be the constant companion of the most troublemaking boy in the class.

The first time she came home and told us he punched her in the face we thought she was joking. By the third time we weren’t thrilled with the education our child was receiving. We met with her teacher and learned her veteran, very well respected teacher just loved having Uno in class because, “I never have to worry about the other children behaving when she’s around, she keeps them right in order!”

We started looking for options. Homeschool reared its ugly, bun-sporting head.

I am NOT a college-trained educator but I do have a background in educational concepts: my Bachelor’s is in Journalism and Humanities, my Master’s is College Administration, and I have a good chunk of a PhD completed in the History of Education with a focus on colleges and universities. When I started looking at what my child was experiencing (that pre-K is a year more concerned with learning how to treat others, raise your hand until recognized, stand in line, and share than how to hold a pencil, letters, numbers, or colors) I was able to trace it pretty easily to the literature I’d learned in my own studies, specifically to the man who overwhelmingly influenced modern educational practices.

John Dewey, father of modern education, founder of the Dewey Decimal system, and orchestrator of society. Buildings across the U.S. are named after him and there may even be some educational nerds who say his name in a voice hushed with reverence.

The idea that our public schools should create societal norms and shape the relational philosophy in large part comes from Mr. Dewey. In 1897 Dewey published his pedagogical creed, which includes the statement: “I believe that the school is primarily a social institution. Education being a social process… “

And here, I always thought going to school meant my child would be prepared for a career. But it turns out the schools feel it’s more important to teach community values. I’m not inherently against that – except that’s my job as a parent – not a school system that in intent on pushing children into cookie cutter molds so they will pass a test, resulting in more governmental funding for the school.

Something’s fishy about that to our family.

I’m going to take a few days to walk through the Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler.

I don’t want to be homeschooling. When we chose to make this switch I was working professionally in a field I felt God’s calling to work within. I don’t have a teaching degree and I honestly don’t love children that much. They move and shriek and occasionally drench you with nastiness!

I don’t want to be homeschooling – but we’re in it for the long haul.

We’ve spent a good amount of time thinking through our decision and I’ll share that thought process with you. I know some of you cringe about your child’s educational system and wonder if you could – maybe??? – pull off a change. For others, there’s a reasonable chance you can’t relate to our rationale at all and think you can smell the crazy on us.

But just in case it’s helpful… I’ll share. Stick around for the next few days as I continue to tell the story of a Reluctant Homeschooler.

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