Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Homeschooling Choice

In my blogosphere, one of our homeschooling families is sending their son to school. That's somewhat misleading-- he is a freshman in high school and is choosing a small, private situation, so there's no real "sending" about it. Indeed, the real point of this blog entry is the absence of that sense of having something done to you or chosen for you. There is such a variety of homeschoolers out there, but for those of us who do it specifically to raise emotionally-intact autodidacts and self-sufficient people, the day will come when we have to hand over the tools of path finding to the very ones for whom we are blazing that trail. Chances are good that it comes a bit sooner for some of us just by the nature of children raised in intellectual freedom.

This morning, EHLT was musing that many people were confusing this event as a failure of her homeschoooling program; that perhaps either she was giving up, or the boy was rejecting it. I have become so immured in this worldview that homeschooling is such a natural lifestyle, that I found myself surprised by those assumptions. Further, I discover myself increasingly annoyed with the attitude I encounter that "homeschoolers struggle so much" when they enter a school setting. While I realize that may be true for some-- especially kids who were schooled-at-home in deliberate, exclusionary methods-- kids raised in an open, eclectic fashion tend to feel and be responsible for their own intellectual prowess. They own it. That responsibility is what makes these kids actually really GOOD at "school."

I'd like to share her take on it, written here on The Homeschooling Legacy:

In fact, I see the Boychick's choice as one that fits as well into the trajectory of our homeschooling journey as would homeschooling high school. As we progressed in homeschooling 'middle school,' we also progressed in handing over more and more of the decision making about his education to the Boychick. Over those years, we moved from being "sages on the stage to guides on the side" as our philosophy evolved from school-at-home to a certain kind of unschooling. The Boychick has become used to thinking of himself as the master of his education, as well as the learner. He has learned to take responsibility for his learning methods and goals. He did not decide to go to high school because homeschooling was a failure; rather, he was able to choose because homeschooling was a success.

Unlike most of the students who entered East Mountain High School this morning, the Boychick sees attending school not as something he must do, but as something he has chosen to do. He knows that the responsibility for his successes or failures lies on his shoulders, and that although there are people ready to help him and guide him, in the end, the secret to his education lies within. He has become a self-directed learner.

This has always been the goal for me, as the homeschooling parent. I view preparing them for learning with the same gravity as I view preparing them for leaving my home for the outside world. Homeschooling is not an extension of my parenting, as so many are wont to say. It is an integral part of my parenting. The big joke on me is that this whole gig started when I was trying to prepare my first, wee preschooler for a Montessori school with a waiting list. I bought some supplies, applied the method and discovered a world of joy I'd not anticipated. In some respects, I suppose, I continue preparing my children for their place to open up. The difference is that I can expect it will be my children telling me when it is time for them to matriculate somewhere. I hope I can be as graceful letting go then as EHLT seems to be now.

She goes on to write:

Homeschooling, regardless of the individual's reasons for it, is a political act.

Making a choice against the received wisdom of the dominant culture forever changes how one views that received wisdom, as well as how one views the locus of control over individual decisions. In so doing, a person steps outside the herd mentality and lives liberty in reality. And succeeding in doing so means never being quite so willing to let others assert control over individual choices again. This is the legacy of homeschooling for us, just as it is the legacy of homebirthing, the legacy of living Judaism, and the legacy of growing up libertarian.
While we aren't Jewish, the rest of it certainly applies. This legacy we are creating-- this life we are crafting out of thin air and Thoreau-- I am betting everything we have that it is the best gift we can give our kids. But that legacy, I have taken some of that into myself. Homeschooling has been something I have done for my children, but it is something that most certainly nourishes the parents of this family as well.


  1. "Homeschooling is not an extension of my parenting, as so many are wont to say. It is an integral part of my parenting."



  2. Thank you so much for the lovely post about my blog. In this process of letting go in a very big way, I have gotten so much support--especially from the eclectic homeschoolers!

  3. Very neat way of looking at it. You know I always follow your homeschooling posts VERY closely....