Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The Debate---Part One: Philosophy
I often find myself feeding the conversation with questions. I ask. I listen. They never ask. They might listen. I leave, and I am even more resolved that I will not homeschool my kids, at least for starters. (I give myself permission as a parent to always change my mind when it seems that it will be best for my children, my family.)
The homeschool rage is more of a Christian cultural movement. You'll have to excuse me for any stereotypes embraced by this verbal process against this choice for my family. The other day at my 4-month-old's appointment the Dr. found out that I stay home, breast feed, and plan on doing so for a year. Oh, and I knew the word spelunking. I guess that is way he asked, "So, do you homeschool." I looked at him and said, "No!"
A friend reminded me that I was homeschooling my oldest. I don't count preschool as homeschool especially when he was 3 when the school year began.
I am constantly running in to homeschool blogs and support groups for mom's who choose to teach their children outside of traditional institutions. But, where is the network for those moms and dads who CHOOSE to send their kids to public school? Or even a private school? This is a choice. This is a conscious choice.
As a parent I do not want to keep my children in any sort of bubble. My home is my child's safe place and place of comfort. It is a place of dialogue. It is already happening. They are already learning that the world is not a place where everyone thinks, believes and acts the same as we do. We've already learned a few new words at other houses that we don't use in our home, and that is OK. They learned the new word. They tried it out. They received the consequence. Now they know. They don't use the word. They know it exists. They aren't afraid of it. They are choosing to be different.
An older adult friend was having a crises of faith and asked me, "When did you learn that the world wasn't a good place."
"I guess I always knew this." If you read the Bible you know this. Read the Old Testament: flood, Philistines, Prophets of Bael....the list goes on, even in to the New Testament with Herod and his massacre of baby boys.
I don't want my children to be devastated when they discover that we've been sheltering them from reality.
I want my children to be equipped to see various ways of living and to choose the best way to live their lives. The world teaches this well. There are natural consequences for poor choices. My sons openly talk to me about what they see. They ask why, a lot. I am their parent. They trust me. I see this trusting relationship evolving as they continue on their educational path.
Is my plan flawless? No. Could it backfire? Yes. But, God never called us to raise perfect children. He calls me to raise my children into the Light. He is a relational God who wants relationships with his creation. That is my call as a parent, to guide them into this loving relationship. This is what I'm doing.
I don't always like what they learn and see in the world, but this is where we live. This is our culture. This is how we live a missional life. Christ didn't call his disciples and then build a house for them all to live and learn in. He went, called, and sent out. He lived and interacted. He is our example.
I'm sure there are many flaws in my theory here. I'm sure there are readers who disagree strongly with me and fear for my children. But, fear only cripples action. After I had my first I was consumed by fear. I now had someone in my life that I loved; if anything bad happened to them I would be forever altered. I could choose to hold on even tighter, or I could return them to the care of God. Each night as I rock my new baby to sleep I look into his eyes and think, "He is yours God. Not mine. Remind me of this when bad things happen to him. May I release my need to control, but give me wisdom to guide and grow him into the Light."
This is my goal as a parent, not to get them ready to be adults, but to help them live now. We are to live now and be now, not just get ready to be 18 years old... when we are adults and can all of a sudden totally handle the bubble bursting. Our missional lives begin from birth.
This is the philosophy behind my choice. Next I'll discuss the reason I'm choosing institutional school for academic reasons. Remember, I was a passionate and excellent middle school teacher in the public schools before I became a parent, and I actually think I would be a good homeschooling mom, however, I think the institutional school is better....for a number of reasons.
I'd love to hear your reactions. I'm taking quite a risk, since I am feeling more and more like a minority in my opinion in this schooling debate.
I guess I was inspired to write this today after I had a conversation with a mom who sends her kids to public school and said, "I just sometimes feel like I'm making the less holy choice by not homeschooling. That is how moms who homeschool make me feel." That might not be the intention, but that is definitely the feeling many get.
Oh, and I will also be processing the positives of homeschool, highlighting those that I think are doing a good job of it and for the right reasons. So, come along on my journey. Maybe we can learn and grow from this.
It will be interesting. There are huge groups of "graduating" homeschoolers coming of age now. I wonder what impact that will have on our communities, if any.