Yesterday, I had a conversation that I wish I hadn't. It's funny. When you've been hurt by the words of several people from a group of people, one would think that you wouldn't go back and talk to them again--about the same things. But, that's not the way it often works for me. I realized just now that I'm searching for hope--I'm searching for the needle in the haystack to contradict the other words. Sadly, the pile of words only got bigger yesterday.
Many homeschooling parents have felt animosity from public and private school teachers over the years. I've had more experiences of public school teachers looking down on me when I begin to talk about teaching and homeschooling than positive experiences. I have not felt the same negative feelings from parents of children in public and private schools though. The teachers I've met (unless they are personal friends) often get defensive and go on the attack within a few sentences of conversation. And that's just what happened yesterday. The teacher I spoke with teaches at a public school and has young children of her own.
Out of the blue, she stated that she doesn't have a problem with people--like me--who were classroom teachers homeschooling their kids. But, she has a big problem with parents homeschooling their kids without degrees (in teaching). My response was that about half of my friends who homeschool were teachers and half of them weren't, but that the ones who weren't have learned on the job.
Her next statement was interesting to me. She said that she wouldn't have someone who wasn't an accountant do her taxes.
Hmmm... That was where I stopped. I walked away. From her and the conversation. Inside I was really mad. I felt defensive of my friends who weren't classroom teachers before they started homeschooling. I felt like I'd been given a get out of jail free card because I was a teacher and I didn't want it. The truth is that homeschooling is different than classroom teaching. Very different. It has a different set of challenges and needs. People always think that homeschooling is easier or folks who've been classroom teachers first. Maybe, maybe not. I had to let go of a lot of my expectations of how things should be at home. I had to figure out what were reasonable expectations of my kids at home and in our classroom--for behavior, academics, speed of working, writing... And it took years for me to figure these things out. I had to set aside the idea of grades and learn how to teach for understanding and mastery. I had to reset my classroom ideas about what the best assessment methods for my kids would be.
But, I also chuckled inwardly about the ladies comment (after I got over being mad) when I thought of our accountant and how he tells the story of when I first met with him about our taxes. I filed our taxes for over ten years and we just recently switched to using an accountant. He told me that I'm the lady who knew some things he didn't! Several years later, he'll still harken back to that first meeting and my discussion with him about the ins and outs of our taxes and the research I'd done.
I'm not an accountant. But, I did our taxes. We use an accountant now because it takes pressure off of me and it's that double check and it's comforting.
My mother in law did her taxes for years and never had any issues.
She also homeschooled five of her 6 children and 4 of those 5 all went on to college and earned degrees.
She's not an accountant or a trained teacher. But, she educated her children and did her taxes.
My husband reminded me last night that people love to hate. They love to hate people who have chosen a path that may question that what they are doing is right. People want to be right, not wrong. If I am right to homeschool, then where does that put her?
The thing is that homeschooling or not homeschooling isn't a matter of right and wrong. It shouldn't be seen as a threat. How parents choose to educate their children is not a moral choice-- a matter of right and wrong. It isn't a matter of sin.
Ironically, we met with one of my mom's doctors yesterday who I gave an explanation to of what made me want to homeschool ten years ago. It was the moment when I was listening to a friend who's kids were in public school (and who subsequently withdrew them to homeschool them) and I realized I wouldn't get to teach my kids right and wrong if they went to public school. As a side note, I do have many friends who's kids are in school and I know they are teaching their kids right and wrong. But, for me that moment made me realize that I wanted to choose what my children were taught. I wanted to choose the curriculum. I had taught in the public school classroom. And that's where the seed was planted in my heart to homeschool.
I know I always have an agenda in my head. I want people to see and hear that homeschooling isn't bad for kids. I remember a zoo volunteer I met several years ago who had never had kids of her own. She shared with me that before she worked at the zoo, she had always thought homeschooling was a horrible thing to do. Then, she began to volunteer. Now, she can do nothing but rave about homeschooling as a good thing because she's seen how different the homeschoolers are than she thought they'd be. She thought they asked great questions and were very respectful of the zoo and of her as an adult.
It's hard to stay strong and do what you think when people are hostile to it. My mom said that she has people tell her all the time that it's a bad idea for me to homeschool my kids. She just lets it go, though, and says "Well, it's what we're doing." She's not the one homeschooling, but she supports us in homeschooling our kids and has no concerns about it. She may have at one time, but she's seen my kids thrive and she is glad that I'm homeschooling.
One of the things about life is that everyone is not always going to agree with you or with me. We live in a culture today where we want everyone to tell us that we're okay. We don't anyone to tell us that we're not okay. But, this is a dangerous trap. The truth is that God tells us over and over that He will guide us and that we can trust Him. When we seek Him, we will find Him. The peace that comes from trusting God is what we need--not the false peace, which is really assurance, that we get when people agree with us. Assurance and encouragement is nice, but the hole we're trying to fill can really only be filled by the Lord.
And that's where I come back to. A long, long time ago, I prayed about homeschooling our children. So, did my husband. We felt convicted that it was the decision we should make for our family. And we did. I still have that same conviction for my family. And so we'll press on...