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Paradigm Lost

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Homeschooling

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Lisafer

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I thought I'd write a blog post about homeschooling, one of the parts of my upbringing of which I have both good and bad memories.

To be frank, I'm actually currently homeschooling my own older child (the other is too young yet). I think a lot of the difference between me and my parents lies in why, not as much in how. I'm not doing it to keep my children from the world. I'm not Christian myself, but probably 90% of the public school teachers in this area are. I'm homeschooling because I enjoy providing my children with an educational experience that I can tailor to their learning styles. If it stops working for us, we'll re-evaluate putting them in school. 

My parents homeschooled their kids because they firmly believed that public schools were instruments of Satan (although they might not have used that specific term). They thought that the government used schools as indoctrination camps to make children into atheists and evolutionists. They had both been educated in public schools, so I guess the atheist indoctrination didn't take. They both held professional licensures as well in a medical field (not being specific for privacy).

Needless to say, our education was heavily Christian-based. We used Rod and Staff, Abeka, Apologia, Sonlight, etc. in our curriculum, and participated in a homeschool reading program in the summer and homeschool spelling bees as well. My mother focused heavily on seat work and completing workbooks. Every morning she'd have a list of the tasks to be completed written out on a whiteboard. We were allowed to take the different tasks in any order, as long as they got done. We weren't allowed free play time until after the schoolwork was completed, usually by 1 or 2 in the afternoon at the latest in the older grades (we'd get up, have our private Bible time, breakfast, and start school by about 7:30). We had family Bible time in the morning and evening, and my mother would read fiction aloud to us before bed. 

The cons: massive focus on fundamentalist Christianity, extremely whitewashed American history (MLK was scorned as a lying communist--??? still haven't figured that one out), young-earth creationism, lack of education about other religions.

The pros: my mother enjoyed teaching, and I enjoyed learning. We had access to a lot of books, fiction and non-fiction. Except for the gaps noted above, I got a pretty solid educationin English, math, literature, music, and art and had no trouble moving into college classes when I was about 18. Homeschooling was one of the few things I remember fondly about a childhood I describe as "kinda sucky." I learned to cook and sew pretty well, skills that have come in handy for me, and in spite of the no-evolution bias, I was damn good at college anatomy and physiology classes because I'd learned a lot of it already from Apologia curriculum. 

It was hard to fill in the gaps, though. I'm still catching up on movies that most people my age saw years ago! And I thought I had a lot of history knowledge, but what I had were dates and fact snippets, not understanding, because I was taught a biased view of history that showed white Christians as the saviors of the world. Ugh. And studying the Bible as if it was all completely factual didn't do me any favors, either.

All in all, I'm not sorry that I was homeschooled, and I know my parents were trying to do what they thought was the right thing in educating us at home. What makes me angry is that my parents both went to college, and then tried to deny me the same choice because I was a girl and I was "supposed" to focus on homemaking, marriage, and babies. I started community college under a cloud of disapproval, but my mom had encouraged the love of learning, and I wasn't about to stop just because I'd finished high school. I had a lot of mental conflict because of not "honoring" my parents, but the urge to do something with my life overpowered the doubts that stemmed from my upbringing. I couldn't imagine just sitting at home waiting for a man. And I didn't want a bunch of kids.

My older child is doing great with homeschooling so far. But I have no fear that Satan is lurking in the halls at the local public school. If anything, I'd be worried about too much Christianity there! I know some people had utterly horrible experiences with homeschooling, and wouldn't dream of doing it with their kids. I feel that I can give my kids some opportunities with homeschooling that might not be available in our local public schools. As I said before, it comes down to WHY people choose to educate in that manner. Parental involvement is key. And as screwed up as my mom's beliefs were, she was involved and genuinely making an effort to educate us.

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