Monday, January 19, 2009

Homeschooling - Part II (On Airplane)

Here I am on an airplane. It is 1:22 AM, and I should be sleeping. But I can't. Where am I going? To Chile! Am I excited to go? No. I, once again, am on a trip that I don't want to be on. While I imagine that Chile is going to be a great place, I would rather be at home with my wife and kids.

Did I ever mention that I am a man of routine? I really do fear change. I hate the fact that I am not going to know where to get breakfast, or even what I can eat for breakfast. I, just like my daughter, am a very picky eater. I have a very hard time adjusting to new food and such. So, travel for me is not very pleasant. Especially to exotic places in which the culture is very different than ours. Like Chile. Or Alaska.

Ok, so I can't be at home.

Back to homeschooling.

Actually, before we get back to homeschooling, let's discuss happiness. This is an issue that I struggle with all of the time. What makes you happy? What makes you content? We have already established that it is not travel for me. I would have to say, as all of you know, that I am not the most happy and content person in the world. Why is that? What made me not content? What made my insatiable drive that won't allow me to be satisfied with mediocrity? I feel like this drive is what keeps me from being happy.

I think that my wife has the same type of drive also, but it is slightly different. She wants the best of everything. She can not be happy unless everything is just right, or, more precisely, some, very specific, things are just right. And those very specific things can alter from day to day. Now, that was just poking fun, but there are some constants in this. School is one of those constants that she has to have just right. Or at least, firmly under her control. This makes her happy. Having the kids in public school, or an uncontrolled environment, where bad things can happen, makes her miserable. Which, in turn, makes me miserable. And the kids miserable.

Ok, I think I dialed the telescope up a little too much there. Lets go back to the forest. The happiness forest, if it pleases you.

What makes a person happy? Can we, as parents, predict what will make our children happy? Or, more importantly, what will make them happy adults? I find that I have a hard time just wrapping my brain around this issues, since I don't know what would even make me happy.

Does having a good job make you happy? Obviously, finding a good partner helps. How can we prepare our kids to find what they truly desire? And, if they find it, will it really be what they want?

Crab-Mama has read many books about this that say that we, as a society, tend to put our children into situations in which they are not adequately prepared to handle. Kids, obviously, handle it in some way. Crab-Mama believes that the way that kids handle it is to lash out at other kids and tear each other down. Which creates a self-perpetuating chain of badness. This, in her eyes, is school. She believes that children should be sheltered for as long as they can. They should be allowed to be children until they are ready to be more. Instead of other children deciding that our children should be one way or another, then attempting to inflict this view on them, she believes that we should be the ones guiding them.

And how can you really argue with this? "No, you should put your kids in school where we know that there is a lot of negative peer pressure, and that they will obviously have some very bad experiences." That argument doesn't fly very far.

The other, extremely obvious argument against this is thought is that school is what everyone does. That is what our society does. That is who we are. And not doing it is, in many respects, spitting on a lot of people. School was good enough for me. It is good enough for everyone else's kids. Why is it not good enough for our kids? Why can't we just fit in like everyone else?

Those are really the fundamental questions that I grapple with all of the time. Those are the arguments that I have used, and they appear to have no weight what-so-ever. Why? Because some people (and they, once again, know who they are) don't care what everyone else thinks (at least about this - but about dirty toilets, then is all "clean the toilets - do you want people to think that we are heathens?").

I must say that I don't buy this argument at all. I firmly believe that we are a community of people. That one of the intrinsic things that we have to learn as children and adults, is how to get along with others. That, while bad things happen to people all of the time, good things happen too. While school has a large number of drawbacks, it has a lot of very good points also. School is a lot like life in that regards.

So, now I am rambling on a bit. Fighting both sides of the argument. Sorry. I am a little groggy.

Let me summarize.

I never considered homeschooling until Crab-Mama talked about it. It never even entered my brain. Sort of like living in Texas. But that is another story. Once we talked and talked and talked and talked about it, I could clearly see that there were many advantages and a few disadvantages to homeschooling. When we homeschooled Crab-Girl for the first 9 years of her life, we did a very good job. She is an incredibly intelligent little girl, who, when she started school, was above average in all of her Michigan Assessment test scores except for writing (she likes to type). This tells me that we were doing a lot of things right. She is still above average. Crab-Boy's first year of school was a miserable failure. This year has been great. We worked with him almost every night on spelling and reading (i.e., augmenting school with homeschool...)

Do I want to homeschool? No. Why? I really don't know. The best argument that I can come up with is that I want them to be 'normal'. What ever the hell that means. I want that for my kids. The second argument is that homeschooling is a lot of work. There is a lot of effort involved. Especially when both parents have jobs (one who is working full time, one who is working part time).

Do I think that homeschool will hurt my kids at all? I don't think so. But, I don't know. I don't know whether controlling their environment will make it better or worse for them in the future. Who can know? Could you have looked at any kid in the 6th grade and tell whether they were going to be a happy adult? I have to say, our kids are pretty happy. They enjoy life. Which is more than I can say about me right this second (2:12 - still in the airplane...)

Alright, I have to try to sleep.....

1 comment:

Krista said...

As a parent, I understand the opposing ideals that live within. Should we be doing this? Are there better options for our children? Am I really doing what's in their best interest? So I would say to you at this simply asking those questions, and taking action, in what you think are your children's best interest, you are already a step ahead. You chose to color outside the lines, and home school your children. In doing so, you offer your children the same room to breathe, and be free to make those difficult decisions for themselves as adults, and their children in kind. That takes courage. So many of us follow societies rules blindly, without asking those pertinent questions that challenge the status quo. So for you, homeschooling it is. Now about being normal...I'm quite sure that none of us know what normal is. We are all freaks of nature in our own right. So what. Embrace those idiosyncracies in yourself and others, and just know that "normal" or not, you and your children, will still be loved.