Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thinking Too Much Again

Haven’t blogged much in a while. Moving is an interesting endeavor. Busy combined with all kinds of emotions leads to a little bit of the blues for me. It always does. Add the blues to my normal back to school nerves, and you get me writing a blog post that's more emotionally motivated than I usually like to do. I guess I just had some thoughts I'm needing to work out. Hope I don't wish I'd just kept quiet later. Anyway, been doing some thinking as I go about the business of getting boxes unpacked and keeping things I’ve already organized neat and tidy, no easy feat with three bored kids at home.

I’ve decided that there are things about the back to school time of the year that I find, well, frankly, irritating. Because it’s at back to school time that the snarkiest of the home school comments start coming back around. I’ve already written about this here and here, but, well, let’s just suffice it to say that I’m stressed enough as it is, I don’t need the homeschool pressure right now. I’m very, very glad for those who do it, I know it is not easy and it has been an uphill struggle to get to where it is today. However, it isn’t for all of us.

At this point in my life, I don’t want to homeschool. There. I said it.

I know that a lot of the comments I hear and see and read have to do with how defensive my homeschooling friends feel because of the flack they get about socialization and with how hard it has been to get the respect and legal standings necessary to do it well. I’m not dishing out the flack. I know that if homeschooling is done right it can be an excellent and extremely wonderful and rewarding way to educate children. I'm even thankful it's a valid option out there. I’m not knocking homeschooling, so don’t hear me saying I am. To each his own, do what’s right for you and yours. However, I get a little tired of the superior and persecuted attitude that pops up a lot of times in discussions about it - not in every discussion, but I'm sure you know what I mean. You aren’t the only ones who are being criticized for your choice about schooling. It goes both ways. There is a growing pressure on and judgment of those of us in the seriously, biblically Christian community about homeschooling that I am just, frankly, tired of. I am not a worse mother because my children go to school outside my home, so I really wish we could stop taking quotes out of context and implying that all kids who go to school are bullied or scarred in some horrible way.

Here’s the thing, for those who know my kids, I mean really know them, can you honestly say that Drew and I have done them a disservice by not homeschooling them? I don’t believe we have. I do believe it is our duty and responsibility to look out for what is best for them and to protect them and train them up in the way of the Lord. How we do so is between us and Him.

Here’s another thing, for all the discussion about ‘socialization’ and how bad public school is about negative socialization, can I just be very, bluntly honest about something which may be a little shocking? Most of my bitterness and emotional hurt that I still struggle to overcome did not come at the hands of my public school friends. Most of those hurts that well up in me unexpectedly at times and which I have to remember are over and done with came from church youth group and my own internal insecurities and misunderstandings. Just being honest. I stumbled across a site recently with pictures from my old youth group - some from my time and some much later, and at first I really enjoyed looking and remembering. But before I knew it, there was this empty, hurt feeling welling up in me and I wondered, “What is this? Where is this coming from?” And that empty, hurt feeling was all too familiar. I told my husband that I really like who I am now, and I really like our life together, and so much of my life has been since high school and youth group and so much of who I am has developed in the years since, so why did it take a few pictures to bring back all that emotional hurt I thought I had left behind? I did not leave behind my faith, mind you, but I did leave behind the pecking order and unkind joking and other things that marked a lot of my time in youth group. I do not mean to imply that everything about our youth group was bad. There was MUCH that was so good and beneficial for which I am thankful. But there was a lot of hurt along the way, too. My husband, wise man that he is, told me that I wouldn’t be who I was today if I had not lived through those experiences, all of them, though, and he’s right.

Anyway, my point is, you can shelter your kids from public school, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re sheltering them from the emotional hurt that can come from pecking orders, bullying or just the angst and unkindness of teenagers. The worst of that for me was not experienced at school. There's probably a whole other discussion we could have about the benefits vs. non-benefits of church youth groups and what we adults need to be doing about it, but that's for another time.

So, dear friends, homeschooling is a great option. It is not, however, for everyone - even some of your Christian brothers and sisters, so please understand and lets all of us, all of us, and I am so talking to myself too, please guard against pride in how we discuss the issue. And I hope I don’t regret posting this later. Not looking to start an argument.

Just tired of having to hear it all again every stinkin’ July/ August. I’ll just hit the post button and walk away from the computer now.


Lisa writes... said...

A post I could have written, my friend. Well said. May we each be faithful to the Lord's conviction in this as in all things.

Kim said...

Good thoughts.

I have been on both ends of the criticism. I was criticized for homeschooling, and also for putting them back in the public system in high school. I hear what you are saying about the emotional hurt element. My daughter had similar experiences.

I have to say, though, after having my older kids both graduate from public high school and the last one with two years left to go, I wish they had stayed at home. And not for any social or emotional reasons, but for academic reasons. My son, who just graduated from high school, told me that he only had one teacher in four years who taught him to think. One of the inevitable occurrences of any institutional learning is that the instruction must gravitate to the average. This is a simple necessity when you have 30 kids in a class with varying levels of intellect. For my kids, who were all very bright, natural students, public school was a drag. They found the material boring, and the environment less than stimulating. I believe that if parents homeschool strictly to "protect" their kids, they are not doing it for the right reasons. There must be a motivation that revolves around academic outcomes.

The only other thing I find that was a serious issue in public school is the rampant feminism that exists in the education system. It was a lot of hard work homeschooling, but it was even more work combatting the attitudes that my kids have come home with. Ensuring that our kids have a good education is hard, no matter how we approach it.

And it is a matter of conviction, not law.