Thursday, March 9, 2006

March 9, 2006: Behind What? Behind Whom?

Great post below by my friend TIA echoes a conversation I was having recently with several moms. What's all this about "I'm so behind!"?

(Begin Tia's entry) "Foremost on my mind yesterday were the current waves and ripples in the world of homeschooling. I’m always a bit discouraged when I hear of mom’s who throw in the towel. Sometimes using a school system, whether it’s public or private, is a valuable tool. Regardless of how we do it, parents are the ones responsible for how thier kids are taught and no one lives in a vacuum. I get that. But often, in sharing thier change of decision or method, they will share the why that came behind it, and that’s where my heart strains.

"Homeschooling and the very different education it can offer is part of a big picture. When all is said and done I hope my children are better equiped to think, to reason, to learn for life, than I was. It’s a comparison of the end product. I understand why governement systems want to evaluate along the way for “progress” but apples and oranges couldn’t be plainer. Why would my children test well on a scale formulated for children using not only different materials, but a different basic philosophy in general? Except in the case of co-incidence and overlap, they wouldn’t. But the process creates a monster of comparison nonetheless.

"The big picture, the end result, the out-of-the-box product is getting lost. Pressure to conform, to fit into someone else’s dress, eats moms up. “We didn’t get to everything today so we’ll have to make it up tomorrow.” Tomorrow comes and the work load is burdensome. Everyone is crabby, everyone miserable. Mom shouts and yells. Kids take a passive aggressive stance. She starts to realize she can’t remember when she was “just thier mom”, reading to them, baking cookies, and smiling. Things start to feel claustrophic.

"But wait. Where did that “we didn’t get to everything” come from? Who imposed the everything? Who’s system was it? Who set the calendar we live by and what the reason behind that date system? I don’t see even the weather cooperating with our little calendar system. Take it away for a moment and imagine….

"Children are eternal. There is a lifetime to learn what needs to be learned. It doesn’t have to happen by next May. What is May? Well, it’s the month they released farm kids to go help with the busy time of year with thier families. Is there really any reason I need to stress myself out to fit into a time schedule that has zip to do with my life, my philosophy, my end goal?

"Who said “x and y” had to be part of the everything I’m breaking myself to accomplish? Does that person know my kid? Does that curriculum creator or government overseer care about my intentions and motivations? Did they consider that when they dictated what a school day should look like?

"Who said homeschooling had to mean we were together 24/7? If mom needs a break (and dad needs to get more involved) should it wreck the time line and impose more pressure on her to finish if she takes some time off? I hear it all the time. “I really need a break but that will just make us more behind”. BEHIND WHAT?!? BEHIND WHO??! Really, I”m ready to get my sword out and get swacking at these little voices that discourage and drive us into the ground, making us doubt our real convictions.

"I supose it helps a bit that I’ve always been an “outside the box” thinker. I won’t let the government put me in a box and I won’t let a curriculum seller or home educatation writer do so either. But I do fall prey to the same traps. Check lists of things to do are convenient. No one wants thier kids to be “behind” in anything and our world is rather unaccustomed to watching people learn and live on different continuums. We are fond of uniformity; it helps validate our own actions and desires.

"All these pressures feed into a “grass is greener on the other side” kind of desperation. It’s not really. I sometimes say, “I know the other side has problems but at least they are different ones than these I have now, which I am so tired of!” That’s true. I just hope that in changes and choices in different tools, we don’t loose sight of the big picture. That we let our kids really learn and not rely on a “fake it till you make it” abilty to blend in. It might take longer than the charts and standarized tests say. Or, the topic may not really be worthwhile in the first place. At the least, it may not be worth sacrificing human hearts and relationships over. God lets us start fresh every day, homeschoolers included."
(End of Tia's entry)

This is so reassuring for me today, on a day that I know our schooling will be untraditional. I'm about to head off to Walmart, taking Laurel, leaving sick Duncan with my parents, and giving Jesse has math and creative writing to do at home. Laurel's school today will consist of art class and American Heritage Girls. Jesse's will be the above plus his self-directed game design, reading, and maybe some Teach Yourself Ukranian. My throat hurts. I don't want to read to them today. And isn't that the beauty of homeschooling? We're not going to be "behind" because we "missed" a day of lessons. We simply are what we are.

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