Homeschooling Journey #2

November 20, 2016

It’s been two years since I posted about homeschooling. Yes, we are still doing it. When it comes to my son’s education, I claim unschooler more than any other identity in the homeschooling universe. I admit that when we first embarked on this journey, I was still in the grasp of traditional schooling and therefore, printed out copious amount of worksheets, bought books that contained things I assumed he needed to know, etc, etc. We, my son and I, both struggled with the workload I wanted to assign him. Eventually, as we got into the groove, I let go of a lot of traditional education thinking that was, truthfully, handicapping the process. That was year one.

Year two, my ideas were still muddied about the whole thing but I had to consistently remind myself why I pulled him out of school and what I wanted to accomplish with this new process. I wanted him to be a free-thinker. As I said, over and over, to family and friends and acquaintances, I’m not raising a slave. If unschooling was something that required a mission statement, that would be it: I’m not raising a slave. Of course that means he is free to disagree with me and frequently does; which sometimes raises my parental ire. As I tell him “sometimes, it’s just best to say yes, mom” and leave the “battle” for another day when I’m more open to his entreaties.

Heading into year three, I have to say that I am simply amazed by how much my son learns if I step outside the process! As a result of him sharing what he’s researched, I’ve learned things I had no interest in learning but still…I am amazed and proud. Not only is my son intelligent but he has a sense of self I didn’t have at his age (12) and he feels free to share his growth (although he doesn’t yet see it as such) with me.

Of course, I can’t totally let go of things I think he should know; especially as high school creeps up on the horizon. At this point, I am thinking he should go to the local high school and experience what that is all about. But I am not sure. I don’t want arbitrary standardized testing to negatively impact on his educational growth. I also am firmly opposed to some educational bureaucrat trying to track him. When he was still in traditional school, a teacher called me to advocate for that and I shut that down. Quick, fast and in a hurry.

I was tracked as a kid. My mother, an immigrant, assumed that the educational professionals knew something she didn’t know about her troublesome girl child and let them put me into “special” ed. As painful and contradictory as that decision was, I don’t blame her. I understand, now,  that she didn’t understand the context in which such decisions are made. The minute, figuratively speaking, I graduated from high school, I started reading about education. As “troublesome” as I was, I was never anti-education. I was, simply, anti-school.

One of the books I still remember was authored by Jonathan Kozol. Savage Inequalities changed my educational life but still, I couldn’t totally repudiate my mother’s sensibility because I was raised to respect and honor the elders in my family. The fact that their reality  didn’t correspond to my reality was neither here nor there. It is only now, as I approach 50, that I have the ovaries to say a respectful  yet direct no. I refuse to put my son through what I went through. I will not sacrifice him as I feel as I was sacrificed.

So here we are, approaching the third year of unschooling. I find myself starting to think about the high school on the horizon: whether I actually want him to attend in this current environment and what I need to do to prepare him if the mutual (yet parental-directed) decision is for high school  or to go straight to community college as a readying environment for a 4 year college.

 

 

 

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