Homeschooling: Two Sides

Friday Five: Bonus! It’s Two Sets!

What The Internet Taught Me That I Missed Out On Through Homeschooling

People Will Mock. This is okay. Sometimes good people make mistakes, and sometimes mean people are being mean. Mockers aren’t always evil, and they aren’t always wrong, either.

People Are Mean, and You Don’t Have to Listen. Almost all of what I heard growing up was “constructive criticism”, so I came out into the world believing that I needed to change based on the “feedback” I received. Not all this feedback is necessary. You can ignore it.

Sure, Everyone Will Fawn Over You…As Long As You’re Playing the Game. You can get all the validation you want, provided you spend all your effort to get it. You can have an unending chorus of people praising you and shooting down your detractors…if you make it your life’s work to cultivate that circle of friends. I assume high school cliques and college sororities were the old versions of this. Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook now make it easy to elicit continual doses of validation. But if you want to have a real and fulfilled life, you’ll need to detox from the ego drugs.

Growth is Not Threatening. Our family had done a lot of research into homeschooling and had determined that it was the Right Thing to Do. A lot of other things were also the Right Things To Do. It had all been figured out for me. Somehow I got the idea that, if I changed who I was or what I believed, I was either duplicitous or weak. When you’re raised believing that you have The Truth, and that there is little need to assess your philosophy, the natural push of adolescence can be perceived as a threat to the status quo. But when you look around, you’ll see a whole lot of people trying out other things in life. This is normal. It’s also good.

It Takes a Village. We were an island unto ourselves for most of my childhood. One of the benefits of having a big family is that there’s always someone to play with, right? But the truth is that people need more diversity than can be found in any one family, no matter how large it is. We need more perspectives on life. We need the voices from the wider world. (That “myth” that homeschoolers say about the need for socialization? Bull. Socialization is crucial. In many ways, on many levels. Far too much to get into here and now.)

What Homeschooling Taught Me That Many People Don’t Seem to Know

It’s Really Easy to Learn. The internet seems to have caught on to this sooner than the rest of the world. Want to learn to knit? YouTube. Need to know how to harvest black walnuts? eHow. Interested in going vegan? One Green Planet. Before the internet we used the library for everything from books on history to guides on making corn husk dolls.

Society May Have a Calendar Which is Different From Yours. Adjust it to Fit Your Needs. In our home, the school year was from January through October. We took off school somewhere in November to accommodate several birthdays, three holidays, and the invariably wet, miserable weather that made us want to curl up in blankets and read instead of do schoolwork. These days, depending on how enmeshed I am in society’s rhythms, adjusting my personal calendar can be tricky–but at least I give myself permission to recognize where I’m the square peg.

Fads Are Not Life. We never followed fads. Not current, mainstream ones, anyway. So when I left home and saw people going crazy over trends–without realizing why–it made no sense to me. (Now, a trend that one decides to get into voluntarily–those are fun! And something I missed growing up.) But knowing that there is more to life than what society (and companies) market to us is pretty invaluable.

Real Stuff is Best. Real food, not processed crap. Real fresh air, not air-freshener-scented. Nutritious food, not vitamin pills. Building a fort over playing a computer game. Avoid the chemicals. Choose the tangible and real over the artificial.

It Doesn’t Matter What the Odds Are. My parents never listened to logic in determining whether something was a good idea. They just went for it. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but the point was that they didn’t back down just because other people doubted. I’m a lot more cautious than they were, but I still appreciate that undaunted spirit.

What are some of the things that stuck with you from your childhood? What do you wish you’d learned earlier?


4 thoughts on “Homeschooling: Two Sides

  1. A great post! I homeschooled my two boys. A different experience for each. As to what I wish I’d learned earlier for myself–being smart and nerdy is a *good* thing.

    • You’re a wise mother to realize that children require a individual experience. Not everyone learns in the same way. I’ll bet they really appreciate you!

      And yes, being smart and nerdy is awesome–luckily it’s not as uncool these days, either. πŸ™‚

  2. Your “growth is not threatening” comment is interesting, because it relates to a subject that I’ve been thinking about lately. We often hear both about the youthful judgmentalism of home schooled kids, and about the vicious peer pressure faced by public school kids. It seems that young folks of both groups define themselves by who they are not. Both feel a need to contrast themselves with others in their quest to see who they are. I rather think that to some degree, this is simply a necessary developmental stage. However, it’s also the job of a parent to help kids grow through their “stages” with as much grace and kindness for others as possible. The question I’ve been pondering is how to best do this.

    • It’s a tough question to ponder! I, too, hear from those on both sides who have had challenging experiences until I wonder if there actually is a “right” answer. Until I have children of my own (and they are raised, and are mature adults, and choose how to raise their own children) I’ll only have untested theories. πŸ™‚

      For myself, I think that if my world had been less about the “other” whom we were not to associate with (the “worldly” people, or “nominal Christians” or “public schooled kids”) and more about appreciating the perspective that everyone had to offer, it would have been better for me. It was meeting people of all different sorts that knocked (most of) the judgementalism out of me.

      (But in some ways I still define myself by who I am not, as you mentioned–I’m not the super-conservative that I once was, or a fundamentalist. I’m not sure if it’s a transition stage or if there is a point at which all people define themselves in some way by who they are not. Thoughts?)

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