This was first published on September 10, 2008.
Since I’m on a scenic tour of the great State of Humility right now I thought I would share some of the sights I’m encountering along the way.
Deciding to homeschool is one of the most rebellious, terrifying (it damn well should terrify you), and prideful decisions a parent can make.
Deciding to homeschool your child is very rebellious. Most of us homeschool parents came out of the system. We got up in the morning and were shuttled off to classrooms where we experienced snacktime and recess and maybe some bullying and being picked first (or last) for the dodgeball team. Whatever our experiences there, good and bad, most of us never gave a thought as children that it could be any other way.
It is deeply ironic then that within the homeschooling community obedience is held at such a high premium. It is deeply ironic that we–who are really doing something quite rebellious, like eschewing the deeply ingrained American tradition of institutionalized schooling–set our eyes and our hearts upon raising compliant, obedient children.
Well, we want them compliant to our ideals anyway. We expect them to rebel against the world like we’re doing.
And sometimes they don’t.
Homeschooling is the ultimate control-freak parenting decision, and still you really don’t have control. You just have the illusion of control.
The problem with philosophies like “tomato-staking” is that we aren’t raising tomatoes here, godly or not.
We’re raising human beings.
And human beings have this nasty way of being autonomous and bursting out of even the most well-built cage and thinking for themselves. Just like you thought for yourself when you decided to homeschool (even though your own mother thought you were crazy and your Aunt Sally is now convinced of it) that’s what will happen one day with your child….they will think for themselves.
Homeschooling offers this alluring promise that you, the loving parent, will have the lion’s share of the influence over your child. And there is truth in that. You’ll have the influence. But you won’t have control. Not really.
Deciding that you can do a better job than a billion dollar industry complete with basketball courts, and science labs, and a multitude of trained professionals takes Pride with a capital P.
Yeah, yeah, I’ve read John Taylor Gatto’s book on Dumbing Us Down. I’ve attended dozens of homeschooling pep rallies, ummmmm, I mean homeschooling conferences, so I know how homeschooled kids get better test scores and get into Harvard and all that stuff. But I’m not talking about results because when you decide to homeschool your children you got no results, all you got is your kid and a dream.
Yesterday, we spent our one hour talking with out son’s counselor about homeschooling. The counselor was homeschooled (that’s a rare find) and homeschools his own children, so it was a friendly discussion. I’ve definitely had some unfriendly discussions with professionals who want to blame everything on homeschooling as though institutionally educated children never do drugs or go astray or forget to turn in their homework or walk away from their faith. I don’t have to tell you that’s hogwash, but when professionals (or even mom and Aunt Sally) start questioning and bringing up homeschooling’s weaknesses (which it has) that can sure put the homeschooling parent on the defensive.
We’re defensive because deep down we don’t know how it’ll turn out. This is a serious decision that will affect you and your child for the rest of their lives in postive AND negative ways. And in the end you will have no one to blame but yourself.
The investment of time and energy and money (in lost wages if nothing else) on the part of the mother is so huge that it is nearly impossible to disengage our ego from the venture. Shoot! This is a decades-long project here raising up these kids and us homeschooling moms are giving it our all! It hurts the pride when it just doesn’t work out the way we imagined.
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 16:18 that, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
I thought if I did everything perfectly, of course it would turn out perfectly.
And that’s my lesson for today. Not my lesson for any one of you…that’s my lesson.