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A Backwards Perspective on Homeschooling

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Posted on : 6:30 PM | By : Nic | In : ,


Women are highly competitive. I don't know if this is true or not, but it seems to me that women aren't friends the same way that guys are friends with each other. Don't get me wrong - women get together, and often women are best friends, but in general it seems as though women are motivated by the sense that if another woman does something better than they do, it makes them feel inadequate.

This is definitely true in the homeschooling world...mothers compare notes and remark about the educational milestones of their children, which would be fine if there wasn't the sense that at some level there is judgment and comparison. For women, I believe this is a perfectly natural and instinctive way that nature improves the species. But, it can make it difficult for women to just feel relaxed around each other.

I realized the other day that homeschool graduates have a unique perspective on homeschooling (duh? right? lol). Unlike the mothers who are throwing their children into it, looking to the future and hoping that they come out of it unscathed, I am looking backwards. Homeschool mothers discuss methods, philosophies and curriculum trying to figure out by trial and error what will educate their kids, or they carefully avoid the topic if there are unschoolers and homeschoolers in the same group.

I, on the other hand, don't really care what other people are doing and I am really only interested in a good book recommendation. I judge all curriculum and methods based on how much fun it is, and how much I remember from it. Why the apparent apathy from someone who's motto is to kill apathy for the fun of it?

Because in the end, all homeschoolers and unschoolers turn out the same. ALL of them have something in common with the picture above, lol. Yes some go on to Harvard, and yes, some go on to be a clerk at a gas station. But there is no predictability to it. Unschoolers may go to Ivy League schools or may not be able to write an essay. Homeschoolers may become Senators or may end up in jail. It all averages out, and all children who are taught at home will simply gain one unique trait: they all think differently from the mainstream. They may be social butterflies or they may be really shy, but even the very socially able will appear unique and a little bit on the geek side.

So, from my backwards perspective, homeschooling (and unschooling) isn't about the academics. It's about helping the child foster independent thinking, a love of learning, and an awareness of the people and places of the world. A child with deep empathy and a love of learning will be successful without being able to diagram a sentence.

Comments (8)

Amen!!! So well said and exactly how I feel about the whole educational journey. I love this quote from Einstein - "I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn."

Have a good one!

“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.” Hodding Carter

Congrats on setting a solid foundation for both!

And, I so agree about the competitiveness of women. Nicely stated.

Yep on competitiveness (though I think that guys are just as bad, with their unspoken rules and games) and, yep, it's probably a good thing for the species. Our social reality is formed in reference to others - how could we not check out how everyone else is doing?

Still, after surviving the preschool mommies (at Montessori, no less) and various preschool dance, gymnastics, and yoga classes comparisons with my Smootch (where the air of competition is palpable enough to be chewy) I was hoping the homeschooling would give me a little break.

My stepmom is in town right now, releasing homeschooled son #2 to college (son #1 was released just two weeks ago). I should ask her take on the whole thing. I think I'd like more wisdom now, as we begin, rather than my own hindsight :D

Too true about us women!

I'm learning all about homeschooling as an option (although I have a couple of years to go yet and it's technically illegal in our state of Australia), so I enjoy reading your perspective on it.

One question though: What is unschooling??

@ Melissa

What a bummer to hear that it is illegal where you live. Ugh. Hopefully that will change?

I wonder if you're OK with me giving my take on your question about unschooling?

Unschooling has as many definitions as there are unschoolers, it seems.

I don't love putting a label on what we do, how we live, how we learn. I guess if I *had* to use it, this would be the closest term to use.

Basically, we totally reject any idea that a child must be coerced or forced to learn in any formal way. I believe that my kids will learn all they need to know to live in and be successful in our culture, simply by living in our culture. Reading, math, writing, social and emotional development... there are thousands of opportunities to develop these skills just in every day living. I believe that if a child is "made" to learn (if that's even possible), the natural response will be resistance and resentment and a diminishing love for learning.

So we "unschool". We live together, we live in the community, we follow our interests, we read and share and talk like crazy together, we share ideas, knowledge, quiet contemplative time, tasks of every day living. And all along the way, the kids are doing their natural thing - absorbing every detail of their experiences and adding them to their pool of knowledge about the world and themselves.

"Academics" happen naturally. They do happen. Kids do learn to read as soon as it has relevance to them. As soon as they decide "hey, I really want to know what that says", they find a way. Most importantly? They find THEIR way. Math is part of every day life as well.....

I love this subject! Can you tell?
I'd love to go on and on but I've got tired kids who need stories and bed...

Sorry, Nicole, I didn't even address your post. Perhaps we'll be able to reschedule that walk that didn't happen today, and we can talk about it then, among the other thousand things that home learners always seem to find to talk about together :)

Melissa, I hope that helped you understand what "unschooling is" at least a little bit. Everyone has their variation and own ideas around it, of course.

Krista I was hoping you would answer that... you know much more than I on the topic of unschooling. :) And yes we'll have to reschedule - although I had lots of fun in the rain while the kids found slugs lol.

Also thanks everyone for the nice compliments. :)

"Be At Peace", an article and a chapter in Fruit of Her Hands, from Nancy Wilson has been of tremendous help to me regarding competition and cattiness:

http://bit.ly/RcxmG

Great post, btw!

@ Krista

Thanks for telling me about unschooling. It's given me something to ponder. Apparently people here just homeschool illegally (unregistered) so still thinking about it.