I was over at Veda’s looking around since she came & commented on my blog last night & ran across this Now this is a subject near & dear to my heart. I am actually surprised how little interest people have in hearing what people who were homeschooled have to say about how it went for them. I mention it occasionally & almost no one has ever said to me ‘Really? How was that for you? Did you like it?’ I guess it’s easier to think about the whole thing in theory rather than in reality.
My mother was a big proponent of the unschooling type of homeschooling- in theory- in reality she was very controlling in a passive aggressive way. (not a good combination) I won’t get into all the unpleasantness that ensued over the years, though when she began homeschooling in 1978 the whole movement was in it’s infancy & for the first couple of years it was ok- I was only 10 after all & I did learn a lot from her in the beginning. As I got older though, things went rapidly downhill, I had been in ‘free schools’ before my mother began homeschooling & I know some people looked upon me as ‘ruined’ having been in school already rather than being purely homeschooled as my younger brother was. I also see now that being homeschooled was more about my mother’s need to ‘help’ my brother try to overcome his obsessive-compulsive tendencies rather than having anything to do with helping us become educated, well rounded people.
I will say that I would never homeschool my children & wouldn’t have done so when I was married either. The #1 reason is that old saw: Socialization. My family, on my mother’s side, is painfully shy. Just talking to someone they don’t know could bring my mother or grandmother to tears, one of my mother’s given reasons for homeschooling was to save me that & keep myself & my brother sheltered & control the environment that we met people in. (my brother was outgoing- so not really a problem for him either way) Not a good idea because it fed into my shyness & added to it. To this day my mother still says I’m 100 times more outgoing than she ever was but I can’t just strike up a conversation with a person I’m walking past in a store or at work. Case in point: the director of my call center is from Massachusetts too. He ends up walking into the call center at nearly the same time I do every morning & he always says hello to me, if we pass in the center during the day he always makes sure to say hello to me too. I can’t for the life of me bring myself to say anything more than hello to him. I know he knows I’m from the same area he is because we also have a general manager who’s mother lives in the town I grew up in in MA. & we have had some small discussion about this & he told me the director is aware I’m from the area too. (once again though, I know this about the GM only because my ex aunt in law used to work there & she had a conversation with him about this in front of me & drew me into it) I pretty much go out of my way to avoid face to face small talk. I excuse this in myself- to my kids also, in that I have to make small talk on the phone as part of my job & so am tired of doing so & don’t want to be in situations where I have to do so on my days off. (True but I know in my heart it’s an excuse, I just don’t want to talk to people face to face)
As a homeschooler I attended ballet classes, Music appreciation & Campfire girls among other things over the years, I was always the odd one out because the other kids knew each other from school & didn’t want anything to do with me, kids know, they can tell when you’re odd or not the same as them- We got flack at church, (and I was brought up Unitarian, the most accepting church in the world, I think!) At the grocery store, at museums we’d visit in the off hours & on the street. The only place where there was ‘real’ socialization was when my mother started a homeschoolers group & we met once a month with other homeschoolers in the area in a rotating homes setup which allowed all the kids to play with other homeschooled kids. Technically, this is how I met Chrissea in the first place. Because her mom homeschooled her for a year. I haven’t kept up with any of the other homeschoolers over the years, there were only 4 or 5 others who were in the same age range as I was, most were closer to my brothers age or even younger than that. I often got on better with the parents, much to my mothers chagrin- I believe she took it as a personal affront that I preferred to talk to these women rather than to her.
At about 15 I decided I wanted to go to school, I went to my mother & asked for her help in the spring of that year, to prepare & learn what I needed to know to go to school the following autumn, she refused, saying I didn’t realize how horrible it would be & that the kids would eat me alive, I’d hate it & would want to quit after a day. I disagreed, after all, Chrissea was there, I knew other kids through her who were friendly enough to me when I was with her & I felt they’d be ok to me at school, yes, maybe there’d be others who weren’t so friendly but I wasn’t really worried. Nope, no way was my mother going to allow it. A few months later I lucked into going to my Uncle’s house & babysitting his kids ‘for the summer’ I stayed 6 months & did a little school work from there which I sent to my mother to grade, but it wasn’t anything I did with any real feeling. I was pretty upset about not going to school when I wanted to, the point was supposed to be about choice & in not allowing me to make one my mother ruined the homeschooling idea for me. When I went home because at the end of 6 months I had found that my Uncle & Aunt weren’t much more mature than I was & did not value my time enough for me to feel comfortable there anymore, I had already turned 16, old enough to drop out of school & get a job which is exactly what I did & I never looked back. I eventually got my GED but I’m old enough now that it hardly even matters anymore.
I realize things have changed somewhat these days in regards to socialization for homeschoolers, but I truly feel homeschooling set me back & kept me from functioning normally in day to day life for many years & I could not do that to my kids no matter how much they think they want me to- which they routinely say they do. I tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about. Another thing having been homeschooled has done to me, it makes me very leery in school situations, times when I have to go to the kids’ schools & deal with teachers or principals I get very edgy. I don’t do PTA & have a rather lax attitude about attendance. As long as their grades stay ok.
As I often tell my kids when they fuss at me about ‘you never had to go to school-why do we?’ Attending public School, at the very least prepares you for adult life in that you have to get up every day & go someplace you’d rather not be & do things you don’t much want to do because someone tells you you have to. I’m also a big proponent to them of the fact that sometimes you just have to do certain things (like study history or do math equations- or in my own, personal case, at my job tell people that it’s going to cost money to have someone come to their house & fix their DBS system) That you don’t want to do, that aren’t pleasant or easy & that you just have to get through it & move on. I feel like School prepares you for that a lot better than Homeschool & these are lessons it took me most of my twenties to learn rather than my teens like ‘normal’ people. (I admit though, there are plenty of people out there who never ‘get’ that- my ex is one!)
Really though, there are plenty of good reasons for homeschooling, it’s just for me, none of them outweigh the bad ones.